Teaching & Learning

Openness and the scope of resources

A range of 'Open' philosophies and models have emerged during the 20th Century as a result of several different drivers and motivations - including sharing freely, preventing duplication, avoiding restrictive (copyright) practices, promoting economic efficiencies and improving access to wide groups of stakeholders. Many of these have been driven and created by communities that recognise the benefits to themselves, and sometimes to wider groups. Some of these are listed below:

  • Open source (relating to business and technology)
  • Open source software
  • Open standards
  • Open access (research)
  • Open admission
  • Open curriculum
  • Open knowledge
  • Open data
  • Open content
  • Open educational resources
  • Open educational practice
  • Massive Open Online Courses

Further information on the concept of openness is available on Wikipedia.

The Scope of Open Content and Resources

David Wiley has discussed the meaning of open content and open education in many publications. He provides that the "open" in open content is a continuous construct. To assess the openness of content such as educational resources you need to use the context in which it exists. In most cases educational resources are subject to copyright law. Therefore, how open the resources are is dependent the rights given to reproduce, modify, adapt and transmit them.

Put simply, the fewer copyright restrictions are placed on the user of a piece of content, the more open the content is.(David Wiley)

Further information about defining open content is available at the Open Definition website.

How Open do educational resources need to be?

You must clearly outline your goals and objectives for your educational resources to detemine how open they should be. It is likely that educational content that is to be made open, including third party copyright material included in the content must be able to be, accessed, used, reused, repurposed and redistributed. The OpenCourseWare Consortium identifies the relevant acts that need to be able to be performed as:

  • reuse: using the work verbatim;

  • rework: altering or transforming the work;

  • remix: combining the verbatim or altered work with other works; and

  • redistribute: share the verbatim work, the reworked work, or the remixed work with others.