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Athabasca University


MDDE 622: Openness in Education

Delivery mode: Online course using Moodle*

Credits: 3 - Elective

Prerequisites: MDDE 601, MDDE 602 for MEd program students only

Instructor: George Siemens



Openness in content, data, government, and access is influencing organizations of all types. Education is influenced heavily: open educational resources and open teaching hold potential to disrupt the full spectrum of education: policy, learning development, delivery, and accreditation.

This course will offer a detailed overview of the history of openness in education, current trends including legal and technological developments, as well as future directions. Educators in all sectors (primary, secondary, and higher education), as well as administrators, will benefit from being well informed of trends and the organizational impact of open education.

Through review of literature, participation in group discussions, online lectures, and related open education resources, students will be able to:

  1. Define openness in an educational context and describe its various instantiations in different educational sectors
  2. Identify the potential of openness to contribute to systemic change in higher education and policy
  3. Plan, search, deploy, and integrate open educational resources (OERs) from design to delivery phases of learning
  4. Analyze current research views on how openness influences higher education enrolment, course design costs, and the distinctions between peer-developed resources (“crowd sourcing”) and centrally curated resources (expert).
  5. Describe the history of openness in education (including early literature on open universities in the 1960’s) and detail the impact of technological developments on openness
  6. Evaluate prominent intellectual property and copyright systems, detailing the influence of each on scholarship.


Course Units

Unit 1 – Defining openness

  • History of openness in higher education
  • Types of openness: content, teaching, scholarship

Unit 2 – Licenses and content protection

  • History of copyright
  • Alternative licensing systems
  • Open source/Linux models
  • Creative Commons
  • Current copyright/content protection initiatives  (ACTA)

Unit  3 –Models for developing open resources

  • Crowdsource? Or Expert?
  • Economics and impact of open source

Unit 4 – Searching for resources

  • Semi-open resources (Wikipedia, iTunes, YouTube, Academic Earth)
  • OER databases
  • Search engines

Unit 5 – Scholarship

  • Open access journals
  • Informal peer review
  • Open press and textbook publishing

Unit 6 – Openness and systemic change

  • How does openness influence learning design?
  • Do OERs save university money?
  • Does the university’s role in society change when content is freely available?

Unit 7 – Future trends

  • Open Teaching
  • Open accreditation


Course requirements are as follows:

  1. Critique and Review : Based on literature reviewed in the course, detail the key trends (historical and current technological) that have contributed to the development of openness in education (value 20%).

  2. Reflection Paper: Following a review of various licensing and content protection models, provide a personal reflection on the benefits and drawbacks of different systems and which you favour (as well as why!) in your content creation (value 20%).

  3. Concept Map: A detailed concept map of how course concepts are related and the value that you assign to different “concept nodes” (value 20%).

  4. Open Education Module: Create a short module comprised entirely of open educational resources. Criteria for content (media) selection will be presented early in the course (value 40%).


Course Organization and Structure

The course consists of the following components:

  • Online Study Guide containing overviews, objectives, resources, activities and commentaries.

  • Assigned electronic resources – readings and videos – reflecting current directions and concerns in open education.

  • Participation in related online activities (such as related open online courses) assigned by instructors.


*Please note that the Winter 2015 semester of this course is part of a research project and will include public participants in some portions of the learning activities outside of Moodle.



Last updated by CY December 15, 2016

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