This definition is framed in the UNESCO document Opening Up Education where a ten-dimensional framework outlines six core dimensions (access, content, pedagogy, recognition, collaboration, and research) supported by four transversal dimensions (strategy, technology, quality, and leadership) (Inamorato dos Santos et al., 2016). This framework is helpful in understanding the construct of open education.
Open education is a way of carrying out education, often using digital technologies. Its aim is to widen access and participation to everyone by removing barriers and making learning accessible, abundant, and customisable for all. It offers multiple ways of teaching and learning, building and sharing knowledge. It also provides a variety of access routes to formal and non-formal education, and connects the two (Inamorato dos Santos, 2019, p. 6).
Stories abound in the field of open education - #101OpenStories. Open education predates digital technologies (Noddings & Enright, 1983). Open education is not constrained or limited to digital resource production, digitally enabled teaching and learning, or electronic distribution of learning materials. For this research, digital is a primary component of open education. Cronin and MacLaren (2018) posit the extensive reach of open education conceptions to describe "not just policy, practices, resources, curricula and pedagogy, but also the values inherent within these, as well as relationships between teachers and learners" (p. 217). That being said, there are many conceptions, definitions, and visions for open education in relation to:
- open educational resources (Bayne et al., 2015; Rolfe, 2012; Weller, 2014);
- open scholarship (Stewart, 2015; Veletsianos, 2015; Weller, 2016);
- the open education movement (Alevizou, 2015; Couros, 2006; Farrow, 2016; Rolfe, 2017);
- open pedagogies (Armellini & Nie, 2013; Hegarty, 2015, Paskevicius & Irvine, 2019, Wiley & Hilton, 2018); and
- open education practices (Couros, 2010; Cronin & MacLaren, 2018, Paskevicius, 2017; Roberts et al.,, 2018; Roberts, 2019; Stagg, 2017).
For clarification, I differentiate between open education practices using OEPr, rather than the usually applied acronym OEP which is commonly applied to both open pedagogies and open practices. In this way I hope to add to the evolution of this term and provide clarity in naming this concept. I will next define OER, explore a framework for open pedagogy, and elaborate on conceptions of OEPr.