I first heard of the open education movement during a life changing experience that ran in August called Ontario Extend. Since then I have dove into the movement head first by engaging with peers on Twitter, exploring opportunities through eCampusOntario, adopting (and reviewing) an open textbook, and taking a course called Introduction to Open Education through edX. This journey has been exciting and challenging as you may be able to tell if you follow my blog. Please join my connected community as I delve deeper into the open education movement, exploring the evidence around it.

What is Open Education

Good question – the definition of “open education” or “open educational resources” will vary based on who you talk to.  There is no standard definition in the literature (Wiley, Bliss, & McEwen, 2014) that I have come across to date. In a future post I hope to explore this concept in more depth, but for now let’s consider open educational resources as characterized by

  • Free high quality learning materials
  • Visible and accessible to the public
  • Can be used for teaching and learning

Why Embrace Open Education

There are so many reasons to embrace openness in education. Some of the ones that stood out for me include removing barriers to learning, therefore increasing access to education and creating new ways of engaging with learners around the world. One of my favorite take-aways so far in this OpenEdMOOC course is that

No longer do I need to sit in front of a computer being my own critic. With a simple press of the “publish” button inside word press I can invite discussion around evolving ideas in my head that will ultimately increase my reflection and promote a higher quality end product. [Side note: Yet, in academia these open resources are traditionally not regarded as acceptable sources of information (a topic for another post someday)].


Openness should be widely accepted in education, in my opinion. After all, education is about sharing knowledge …

If you are an educator you have probably dealt with students who have not been able to afford text books. Think about the difference it would make for them if you could remove that barrier to education – good news! you can. More an more high quality open textbooks are being published. There are not nearly enough yet, but it is a work in progress.


With an open approach to education you can literally break down the walls of the classroom and create more meaningful learning opportunities for students. Students can interact with people from all over the world and get answers to their questions.

Openness is also beneficial for educators. Being open invites critique on a public platform where ideas can be shared and developed. It has made me stronger as an educator.

My Commitment to Open Education

If one perceives openness as a value (Wiley, 2016) then I have been committed to the idea of open education since before I became an educator. As a student I remember making my study notes “open” in a way by sharing them with my peers. If I had a website back then I would have posted everything I had. Sharing knowledge is just part of who I am as an educator. The idea is that sharing in study groups or with everyone would ultimately make us all more successful as nurses. Flash forward a few years and I became an educator who freely shares whatever I can wherever I can. The values underpinning open education resonate with my own values. It feels like I have found a home among friends who share common beliefs as I get more and more connected to open educators.

While exciting this new journey I am on comes with scrutiny from those who fear their jobs will be replaced by open educational resources. The videos from week 1 briefly touched on this fear, dismissing it, but I hope there will be more discussion in the future.

Fotomek / Pixabay

I am particularly interested in Week 2’s content about Copyright, the Public Domain and the Commons.

NDE / Pixabay





Wiley, D. (2016). Iterating toward openness. Retrieved from https://opencontent.org/blog/archives/4828

Wiley D., Bliss T. J., & McEwen M. (2014) Open educational resources: A review of the literature. In: Spector J., Merrill M., Elen J., Bishop M. (eds) Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology. Springer, New York, NY.


Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit http://nursekillam.com/.


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