Topic 2. Open Learning – Sharing and Openness

Why is Open Education Important? Roundta by giulia.forsythe, on Flickr
Why is Open Education Important? Roundta” (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) by giulia.forsythe

During the last month I have gained new insight into open learning. One of these reflections was the realization that the digital revolution is inevitable in the area of education. I came to this conclusion because of a similar evolution in other areas such as music, games, and magazines. Higher educational institutions and universities are seeing a number of opportunities and challenges as a consequence of digital and online media development. Despite these achievements, open online learning such as massive open online courses (MOOCs) [1] and open access publishing seems to be developing slowly [2]. One question is how to evaluate the way in which an organization or institution adapted to the digital challenges. Weller et al., (2013) investigated the ability of two institutions (the UK’s Open University and Canada’s Athabasca University) to adapt to new technologies by using the resilience metaphor from ecology. The authors used a qualitative approach evaluating 4 factors [3] using a ranking of 1 to 10 (1 = weak resilience, 10 = strong resilience), a score of 35 indicated that there wasn’t a particularly new challenge or that the institution was exceptionally well adapted already. A low score of less than 15 indicated that the institution faced a considerable threat from this challenge which it had not adapted to.

  • Latitude: the maximum amount a system can be changed before losing its ability to recover.
  • Resistance: the ease or difficulty of changing the system; how ‘resistant’ it is to being changed.
  • Precariousness: how close the current state of the system is to a limit or ‘threshold’.
  • Panarchy: the influences of external forces at scales above and below. For example, external oppressive politics, invasions, market shifts, or global climate change can trigger local surprises and regime shifts.

The resilience factor for MOOCs for the UK Open University was 29 (Latitude= 8, Resistance= 8; Precariousness=7 and Panarchy=6) while the Open access for Athabasca University was 28 (Latitude= 8, Resistance=5; Precariousness=7 and Panarchy=8). The result showed differences in resistance and panarchy factors between these institutions which have largely been discussed in the article. They concluded that the resilience metaphor could be a useful framework to examine an institution’s ability to adapt to digital challenges. In my opinion, this model could be useful to evaluate how flexible an institution is and how it follows digital development, but the raters need to have up to date knowledge of the digitalization process in the institution to participate in the study. Due to being new in this field and just having started in my post, I do not have sufficient knowledge in the field and I don’t feel competent to evaluate the resilience factor in my institution.  The value of this article for me is that I will pay more attention to these factors in my future work.

Another new insight was that I became aware of the dilemma of several teachers who face the challenge of sharing their open educational resources (OERs) [4], and how these OERs can be used without modifying the aim and content of the materials. A great way to ensure that the OERs will be used with caution is by using Creative Commons (CC) [5]. Another reflection was that it was better to share the teacher’s recourses with others between institutions and collaborate to enhance the quality of education.  I think using MOOCs, CC and OERs could be an important factor for the evolution of the “Worldwide ONL”, where students from all over the world can participate and share experiences. Using such education, students and teachers can share and enhance their knowledge of different cultural contexts and the different problems each individual has to face.

  1. What is a MOOC? Short explanation by Dave Cormier, one of the people behind the first ever by Neal Gillis – Research by: Bonnie Stewart Alexander McAuley George Siemens Dave Cormier,
  2. Weller, M., & Anderson, T. (2013). Digital resilience in higher education. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 16(1), 53.
  3. Walker, B., C. S. Holling, S. R. Carpenter, and A. Kinzig. 2004. Resilience, adaptability and transformability in social–ecological systems. Ecology and Society 9(2): 5. [online] URL:
  4. Devin Henson, Midlands Technical College – Columbia, Open Educational Resources (OER’s), SC 3/17/15,
  5. Creative Commons guide. Nice short overview to CC-licensing by Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand.

3 thoughts on “Topic 2. Open Learning – Sharing and Openness

  1. fritzellkaisa

    Thank you for your interesting reflections on Topic 2 and presentation of results in the area. You mentioned that the online education field in higher education is developing slowly compared to other fields, for instance the music business. My experience of online education is limited but now when I’m doing this course I think that we need to educate teachers and ”support staff” in digital literacy. With knowledge we may not be so worried about sharing and openness.


  2. onl162roelita

    Hi Kaisa – wow – thanks for sharing this amazing insight! I think that there is still a long way to go with openness and sharing. And this is evident from your research. But we need to start somewhere. And this is just what these institutions have done. Very interesting insight you have shared!



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