Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Open Education; need of the hour

[To me] Open Education refers to a complex of various facilities that provide education opportunities without the barriers of money, time, place,  cumbersome procedures etc. It is related to Open Educational Resources (OER) in such a way that the Open Education is a system and OER is the fuel that enlivens the system. 

Cape Town Open Education Declaration says:

“However, open education is not limited to just open educational resources. It also draws upon open technologies that facilitate collaborative, flexible learning and the open sharing of teaching practices that empower educators to benefit from the best ideas of their colleagues. It may also grow to include new approaches to assessment, accreditation and collaborative learning. Understanding and embracing innovations like these is critical to the long term vision of this movement.”

Is Open Education a new concept?

In reality, from times unknown, open education is the original concept and practice because the Universe - the greatest university for all time - is wide open to all, and in the eventful paths of the evolution of history, all living beings, including man, have been kind and intelligent enough to share the knowledge they are able to gather through the habitual or intellectual interactions with the Universe, for the sustained betterment of respective living environments. If this hypothesis is not convincing for you, just ask yourself "What would have been the destiny of human beings if our ancestors who had discovered/identified/popularized the use of Fire and Wheel had also invented Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)?"

Open Educational Practices today

Today’s Open Educational Practices chiefly include (not exclusively)  activities under the following two broad categories
  1. Creating a congenial environment for free and open sharing of knowledge, which includes:
    • Development of government/intergovernmental/institutional policies
    • Making legislation
    • Supporting open technological innovations
    • Ensuring access to such open technologies
    • Development of open Qualification Frameworks and Credential Systems in support of Open Education that would be approved universally
    • Awareness campaigns
    • Organized activities to facilitate/promote all the above initiatives
  2. Creation, use and re-purposing of Open Educational Resources, which includes:
    • Creation and publishing of OERs
    • Adoption and re-purposing of OER by Academic Institutions and Authorities for studies based on respective qualification frameworks.
    • Establishment of Recognized Systems that offer courses and credential services based on studies that completely depend on OERs.

Further expansion of conventional classroom setups for higher education is in a saturated condition in almost all parts of the world. This is caused by many factors such as resource constraints, population explosion etc. Moreover it is reasonably impractical to ensure a seat in the classroom for all those who seek higher education in a world that is heading to touch 10 mn + mark in the current century itself.

Apart from above accessibility issue, there is affordability issue as well. The expenses for conventional classroom kind of education is skyrocketing. Forced by unstable economic situations and added worries of climate change etc governments also keep on reducing financial supports to Universities and other higher education institutions. All these together makes the question "how to keep higher education affordable?' a complex issue.


Possibly, only Open Education would be able to solve this issue, with the support of open technologies and voluntary engagements, by ensuring accessibility along with affordability; but without compromising quality and acceptability. How?

Writing in progress.... Being written openly in connection with Open Education Week celebrations

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Open Education; need of the hour by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.