Open Content

Time-to-Adoption: Two to Three Years
Open content was identified in the short-term horizon (one year or less) in the 2010 Horizon Report, and this year’s advisory board was not at all in agreement as to where it should currently be placed. It appeared to be something that would take academia by storm, but this clearly has not happened; in fact, there is less agreement today about what is needed to tip open content into the mainstream than there was one year ago. Open content continues to be of interest to educators, due perhaps to its focus on collective knowledge and on the sharing and reuse of learning and scholarly materials. At its core, the notion of open content is to take advantage of the Internet as a global dissemination platform for collective knowledge and wisdom, and to design learning experiences that maximize the use of it. Open content pairs naturally with the affordances of electronic books and digital content; open resources are generally, though not always, electronic. Because they are digital in nature, open learning materials can incorporate activities to support multiple modes of study — reading, listening, interacting — though they can be challenging to create as a result.

Relevance for Teaching, Learning & Creative Inquiry

  • Open content promotes a set of skills that are critical in maintaining currency in any discipline: the ability to find, evaluate, and put new information to use.
  • The same set of materials, once placed online and made sharable via the appropriate licensing, can inform a wide variety of learning modalities.
  • Open content allows teachers to customize their courses quickly and inexpensively with materials that keep up with emerging information and ideas.

Open Content in Practice

For Further Reading

Around the World, Varied Approaches to Open Online Learning
(Simmi Aujla and Ben Terris, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11 October 2009.) Many countries are using open educational resources to reach students who would otherwise be unable to attend university.

Open Societies Need Open Systems
(Bill Thompson, BBC News, 2 February 2010.) Bill Thompson argues the need for open systems in this editorial piece for BBC News.

The Open University’s Patrick McAndrew: Open Education and Policy
(Timothy Vollmer, Creative Commons, 27 September 2010.) Creative Commons interviews Patrick McAndrew of The Open University, who discusses his thoughts on the value of open content and how it can used in higher education.