What does it Mean to Open Education?

What Does it Mean to Open Education? Perspectives on Using OER from the Field at a U. S. Public University,
L. Vanasupa, A. Wiley, L. Schlemer, D. Ospina, P. Schwartz, D. Wilhelm, C. Waitinas, K. Hall;
contributed chapter in Open Education: International Perspectives in Higher Education, to be published Dec. 2016.


The proliferation of Open Educational Resources (OER) is a disruptive innovation. At first glance, using OER occurs as simply replacing a traditional text with an alternative. Often, little attention is paid to the process of adopting and adapting OER materials. In the course of creating a learning community for faculty who intended to use OER, we experienced that this seemingly minor shift of instructional resources opened onto an entire landscape of questions around the meaning of education, the nature of power differentials in education, the meaning of authority and credibility, the risks associated with change, and our own identities as participants in higher education. We present here the themes that emerged from our learning community, which consisted of an OER librarian and seven faculty members. These themes related to the process and methods of teaching, the goals of using OER, and our fundamental goals as educators. This modest case study reveals that, to use OER, a faculty member can build personal capacities by joining a peer-to-peer research and learning community that is designed to support transformative learning. An additional benefit of such a learning community is that it revitalizes the spirit of scholarship.