Why Open Matters

Currently I am enrolled in an edX Mooc that focuses on Open Education as well as Open Educational Resources (OERs). As an individual who works in the virtual classroom environment, I was encouraged by my superiors to take part in this course and see what could be gained from it – what I could share with my department.

So why does Open Education matter?

For me, open education matters because education itself is about the sharing of knowledge, ideas, and perspectives, and open education allows individuals to streamline this sharing. As more and more courses move to online formats many textbooks will move to a digital version, however, these digital copies will not vary dramatically in price in relation to their physical copies. Why is that? It this is just a money making scheme created by publishers? Why does information need to come at a financial cost?

Wiley and Green (2012) discuss the need for openness in education in order to ensure that the instructor is able to freely share knowledge with their students. Now, with more and more classes being online, students are more empowered than ever to attempt to “copy and share with an efficiency never before known or imagined,” and that includes course resources such as textbooks (Wiley & Green, 2012 pg. 82). Students who do the have the financial means to acquire necessary textbooks for their course are either a) forced to drop the class b) forced to do poorly in the class c) forced to acquire their textbook through illegal means by violating copyright laws. But what if there were no copyright laws to violate? What if, any student, despite financial differences, had instant access to their course materials at the click of a button without any costs or fees? A likely result would be an increased rate of retention in the course as well as an increased interest in the course by students who do not want to pay large amounts of money for course textbooks.

While this posting is primarily focusing on textbooks, there are other forms of openness that would be beneficial for both the student and faculty such as open access journals and open teaching.

Why should anyone need to pay to learn for the sake of learning? The students have already paid their tuition, why should they also pay for the tools they need to be successful in the course? These are the questions I would like to continue to explore as I move through this MOOC course.


Wiley, D., & Green, C. (2012). Chapter 6: Why Openness in Education? In D. Wiley, & C. Green, Game Changers (pp. 81-89). DC: EDUCAUSE.