This session focused on exploring how open education and lifelong learning are connected.

Lifelong Learning

Lifelong learning as defined in the literature focuses on adult learning both within and external to formal classes. There is a shift in defining it as something that happens from the time we are born until we die.

Open Education

We like it because it increases access to high quality education. Education is about sharing.

The Intersection

We as a group see the connection between lifelong learning and open education. Participants talked about how there is a connection between the two terms in groups. What is the role of the institution in this world of free information everywhere? Tony would say that it is not about lecturing or delivering content. Some would say that people pay for the degree and the expert curation of content.

Non-formal learning is an important part of life-long learning. We had some discussion about the definition of open being problematic. What is considered open?

Sharing is an important aspect of learning. Encouraging learners to share what they know encourages students to develop the skills to be life-long learners.

There are concerns about the quality aspect of distance education in the room.


At JIBC they designed a course for people to do on their phone in small chunks in an open way. The research found that it helped to increase knowledge. It is an open course – there is no registration needed to access the content.

There is a public health crisis and first responders are at risk of exposure. This course was developed to help address that need. It shows how institutions can serve the community by developing open courses.

There are several other examples of courses that were designed and shared publicly to teach content. At a national level we can work together to have impacts like this. Here are some examples participants shared.

Thoughts in the Room

We need to teach our students the skills to find and curate educational materials to foster lifelong learning. Technology gets obsolete so fast that the skill our students need is how to find information – learn to Google it. Sometimes it depends on context as there is some legacy information that does not change rapidly. The trick is to find a balance.

Can we think beyond MOOCs?

How do we think about the internet vs. the institution as a life-long learning providers?

Where do we go from here?

Different institutions are doing various things. Should it be open? Sold? This session left us with questions to ponder.


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


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