LIDA103 Why open matters for learning in a digital age

Join the discussion on why open matters for you in the context of learning in a digital age. This is an introductory forum for us to get to know each other a little better by sharing thoughts on what we think about the concept of “open” in education.

Think about your own context with reference to the current state of learning in a digital age.

  • Does open matter for you personally? Share your reasons why open does or doesn’t matter for you.
  • What can we learn from the current state of affairs regarding access to scholarly knowledge? What advice do you have for the future of learning in a digital age?

As an educator (by choice) and advocate of free and open source software, open matters for me personally. I believe that education is a fundamental human right and that no learner should be denied access to learning because they can’t afford it.

Sadly, many institutions and so-called “open” courses require learners to purchase proprietary software licenses or to sacrifice their data and software freedoms by creating accounts on so-called “free” (gratis) websites in order to engage in learning online. For me open means being able to access learning materials without the need to register a password and the ability to participate in all online activities without any requirement to use proprietary software.

Keen to hear what others think.


As @mackiwg, I am also an educator by choice.
My first teacher position was extremely stressful. I was an undergraduate Psychology student with a lot of initiative but zero teaching experience. This is when and how I discovered Educational Technology. It helped be bridge some of the gap between me and the more-experienced teachers; but more importantly, it allowed me to envision a model where students had more agency over how, when and what they learned.
As I dug deeper, however, I stumbled with the other side of Educational Technology: the high-cost barriers, the proprietary issues on student-generated data, and the overall sensation of control (against freedom) that emerged from many of these technologies. For me, open(ness) represents an essential answer to this prerogative. So yes, open also matters personally to me. As a teacher, and as a lifelong learner.

Open means that a resource or a technology (or even, potentially, a praxis) is available for free (gratis), but it also grants freedom to be used, shared, remixed. This is important because, as stated in this lesson, knowledge increases when it is shared, and resources and technologies are enhanced when they are re-thought and re-designed through other eyes. My experience in teaching has taught me that. No content is ever delivered equally, it is constantly redefined and redrawn through the interaction of teachers and students. Open education promises to bring this dynamic to a bigger scale, by connecting learners throughout the world.


Good point - Open models facilitates greater student agency and that’s good for learning in my opinion.

Let’s work together in connecting learners on a global scale through open education!

I’ve been fascinated by the Open Schoolhouse Model which focuses at the secondary school level… Here’s an introduction: Charlie Reisinger, the educator behind it, has also written a book chronicling his experience.


The learners “became active participants in their own education” is an important takeaway from this video. While active learning is possible without open resources, I think that working in an environment, and with a philosophy, of openness will encourage teachers to empower students in fundamentally different ways from when teaching and learning is bounded i.e in a closed environment. Thanks for sharing this @lightweight


Access to existing knowledge is vital for the creation of new knowledge and understanding. That we should allow knowledge to be deliberately locked away is a travesty. Besides building on existing knowledge, openness allows validation of research findings ensuring that the knowledge that we build on is sound. The Centre for Open Science states that its mission “is to increase openness, integrity, and reproducibility of research …[and]… envision a future scholarly community in which the process, content, and outcomes of research are openly accessible by default.” Being transparent about how research is conducted, the data gathered and the analysis undertaken supports new research and researchers; enables the reproducibility of the research to be checked; and ensures new research is not built on a false prospectus. The current paradigm of being closed, of paywalls, of secrecy is slowly changing. The challenge for #lida participants is to build openness into everything we do, however small that may seem at times. A mountain takes many steps to climb and we will never achieve the summit if we never take those steps.


@Easegill - A worthy challenge and together we can achieve more than working alone.


Yes, as an educator, open access matters to me very much. Many times in pursuit of interesting articles, I basically hit brick walls (paywalls as described in the video) with disappointments. Even with Research Gate, though articles are shared freely at times requires authors consent which takes time. In one such case, I got the consent 9months later from my initial request and by then I had already moved on to some other more interesting research.

Please share more free access journal domains if possible so that I can share with my colleagues.


Indeed - it is frustrating to wait so long for permissions - especially if the original research was conducted by a researcher working at a publicly funded university.

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I teach at a community college. Cost is a big issue for our students. The bookstore and college administration are encouraging faculty to provide low-cost (less that $40 US) or no-cost (open) course resources. Many students have expressed their appreciation. Previously, many students tried to make do without the course textbook because they couldn’t afford even a used copy or a rental version.

The college library does provide online access to some academic journals. The budget for these resources is decreasing while the subscription costs are increasing significantly. The library is having to make some very difficult decisions as to what to provide.

Learning should be free. Credit costs money. I’m a big supporter of open access. It is unfortunate that there is any incentive for academics and their publishers to restrict access to knowledge rather than sharing openly to benefit all.

It’s refreshing to see College administration encouraging academics and instructors to use low or no-cost resources. Its a step in the right direction in returning to education as a public good.

Yes, open matters for me especially when I joined e-learning university where transformation of learning in digital age move faster compared to conventional university. As an educator, besides accessing to existing knowledge or resources supposed to be “open”, we also need to be more creative in delivering course materials and sharing knowledge.

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I agree with your sentiment:

I wonder if “open” generates new ways of being more creative in our teaching online. Keen to here your thoughts.

I think YES, together with “open”, there must be new innovations and technologies that will contribute to the thinking and how people work especially in digital age learning.

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I share most of the sentiments here regarding open education. Any individual interested in knowing and learning more should not be stopped because they can’t afford to go to school or don’t have easy access to a learning institution. This is especially true for students from a high-risk living environment, i.e. poverty, war stricken. Any positive change they hope to make with their lives starts with having knowledge and education.

Absolutely! Education should be a public good for the benefit of all - especially learners who can’t afford access.

Education should be open and free for all. Everyone has all the rights to learn and to gain knowledge from any resources. Information should be made accessible, available anytime, anywhere by the learners. With everyone carrying a smartphones, tablets with access to high speed internet, open learning is very much relevant today. Being open means more dynamic, limitless in sharing information, connecting learners in every corner of the world and promises exciting experience in education.

Yes - I totally agree, the potential for OER to connect learners from all around the world in sharing local experiences and perspectives on a global scale is a significant asset for networked learning.

“Does open matter for you personally? Share your reasons why open does or doesn’t matter for you?”

In short, yes. Why? It is important for many reasons, but I will address a few salient ones. First of all, learning experiences that are tied to proprietary platforms run the risk of vendor lock in. For example, when a student finishes a course in Pearson’s My Math Lab, there is little or no way to export the learning experience for reflection upon by the learner. Secondly, and this is an extension of the first point, even if there was, indeed, access to their own content, why is there often no agency associated with the delivery methodology? Let me explain this with a simplistic example. What if a grad student is working with me on Statistics online, but then starts teaching Stats at the local high school for AP students? Shouldn’t she have a transparent manner of replicating my entire course framework and tweaking and adjusting it to her students? With the freedom to help your community in place, this becomes an expectation not an exception. The converse is true all too often, for example, even with Canvas which permits sharing with a commons and has a partially open source community project, the course “shells” are often shared internally on the school’s intranet only and are often (gasp) licensed exclusively to the site out of fear of other institutions or educators using that content.

  • What can we learn from the current state of affairs regarding access to scholarly knowledge? What advice do you have for the future of learning in a digital age?

I remember when I first suggested to the SF Community College Librarian, fresh out of my B.A. program, in 2001, that there should be a meta-database of all journals, academic writings, etc, and expressed frustration over navigating beteen ProQuest JSTOR, and other platforms. Institutions will likely benefit from leveraging research and superior intellectual designs for funding instead of journals themselves. By removing the financial burden of creating the journal at the site level by providing an open journal mechanism, learners will be able to access ideas and knowledge in the commons without cost. This should and does not preclude profiting off of excellent design and research, but the dissemination of ideas itself, should be both libre/gratis if optimizing learning is an objective for others as it is for me. Google Scholar is harm-reduction form of this since they do a lot for open source and promote educational opportunities in open source, however, the platform itself is not Free, so it defeats the point. This article covers some of the issues: … in my short time on OERu, I noticed that this project seems to cover this concept as well: which I got from @Downes