1 Definition of Open Education


By reading this section you will define open education and differentiate between an open education resource and open education.

Defining Open Education Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are materials that make open education possible. In this book we will use the Washington State College Librarians and Media Specialists definition of open education materials. That definition is:

Open Educational Resources (OER) are educational materials in any medium whose reuse, redistribution, retention, revision, and remixing is permitted through any of the following mechanisms:

  • Open licensing such as Creative Commons
  • Inclusion in the Public Domain
  • Permission granted for the above uses by the copyright owner(s)

(Based on the “5Rs of Openness” by David Wiley and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Definition of OER)

Defining Open Education

Open education is an educational practice in which teachers and students use openly licensed materials to engage in new and interesting ways with educational content. It revolves around the use of open education resources (OER), however it is bigger than the educational resources themselves. Educational resources are books, videos, lessons, audio-visual tools. Educational materials include any content teachers assign to students, so that students develop knowledge in a content area. The philosophy of open education includes the practice of openly licensing one’s own work, encouraging new pedagogies that increase remix of existing resources, and practicing the values of the open education movement such as sharing, reflective course design, and helpful feedback. There are six open practices that educators can practice in support of open education.

 6 Open Practices

The six open practices are sharing, giving feedback, new ideas of teaching and learning, applying open licenses, giving credit, and focusing on students and their needs for access and supportive learning.

These six practices are areas of open that individuals can use to inform open practices. The following is a more complete description of each of the 6 Open Practices.

Sharing: A foundational belief of open education philosophy is that by sharing our own work we can grow a body of learning materials that is stronger than any one of us can do on our own. To practice sharing, try showing your materials to your colleagues or with a wider audience using the web.

Feedback: Sharing is an incredibly vulnerable practice, but it is necessary in order to grow the overall quality of the educational materials. Materials can only get better with constructive and healthy feedback. One of the more important values of openness is the ability to give constructive and supportive feedback so that materials can improve, but in a way that we can honor our colleagues’ work.

Ideas: New ideas are central to the practice of teaching and learning. Beyond fostering new ideas within our discipline, open educators practice ways of sharing new ideas about how to best connect learners with educational content. The practice of ideas is the practice of seeking new ways to engage learners with the materials that will grow their agency as individuals who are growing in their learning.

Licenses: Open educators seek to understand and use open licensing whenever and wherever possible. We respect the open licenses and try to grow our understanding of how the licenses can be applied to our own organizations and teaching.

Credit: Open licensing works because the original creators are given credit for their work. Open educators strive to give credit wherever possible for openly licensed works.

Students: Open educators consider students and their needs as central to the activity of teaching and learning. As a practice, students are encouraged to practice their skills by learning about and applying tenets of scholarly communication by adding to the open materials available. When possible open educators strive to teach students about open licensing, so that students can practice licensing their own work in a open and available way.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Librarians as Open Education Advocates by Library As Open Education Leader Grant is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.