Open Education Thoughts about Openness

What does “open” mean to me?

When I think about the word “open,” I’m immediately drawn to a personal quality and value that I desire to uphold, transparency. I want to be seen as someone who is honest and authentic. I strive to be transparent with my failures as well as my successes and share how I do things so everyone can learn from them. I work towards openmindedness, ready to learn from others, especially those whose lived experiences are different from mine. Although I don’t always overcome fear, I embrace new things and gladly accept challenges, seeing them as learning experiences. This idea of openness keeps me grounded and often changes my perspectives in new and surprising ways.

Image provided courtesy of Quotefancy.

Prior to becoming a teacher educator, I taught elementary-age students. They taught me so much about remaining open to wonder and to the world. They were curious about the world and about the lives of others. They often asked questions and generated solutions to problems that were “outside of the box.” Although they often quarreled and needed time to cool down, in time they were able to listen to their peers with an open heart to understand their perspective on the situation. From them and with them, I learned to see the world in the way that Robert Muller describes, with an open heart, open door, open eyes, open mind, open ears, and open soul.

Nowadays, this idea of openness drives my teaching as an educator. I believe in building and empowering a community of learners to construct knowledge together and share that knowledge more widely. To me, this is the idea of open education. The brilliant minds at the Community College Consortium for OER (CCOER) explain, “Open education is an attitude, a practice, and a method of teaching that inspires inquiry, equal access to course materials, and sharing lessons and materials with the wider community.”

Why Open Educational Resources Matters? by Brendan Walsh, Why Open Education Matters, U.S. Department of Education is licensed under CC BY 3.0

An open community is: open to choice; open to diverse ideas; open to collaboration and constant improvement; open to new experiences; open to all who want to help build. Free access to knowledge, community, shared effort, and flexibility are at the heart of it. Creating an open community that allows for democratized power and voice isn’t always easy. Yet, it’s a challenge I’m willing to take on for the betterment of my students, the community, and the world.

6 replies on “What does “open” mean to me?”

I am posting this after having read the articles so my views on the definition of open has changed. What open means depend on the what the subject is. Whether the subject is material, theoretical or even digital causes the definition to change drastically. I rarely saw the word as variant. I thought all its definition could be categorized under the one defintion of ” free to use, or in thoughts. In other words no restrictions.” If a store is going out free items that means everyone can receive the item. If a person is open that means their mind does not think in a restrictive pattern, or is not limited to certain ideas. An open person could also mean to be non restrictive when sharing personal stories or experiences.

I never thought that the word “open” could be such a dividing word, that it can mean so many different things to many people. I also never though I would read so many thoughts on the word. College is crazy, its crazy how something that we barely think about can be so controversial. For me the word “open” should mean free and transparent but there’s a part of me that questions that. If I heard something like “open education” when I was a child I would think “oh free education.” However, now that I’ve been through enough life experiences as a 20 year old, I think, “open? open for who?” Now, it feels like some things are too good to be true and life has taught us this lesson in different ways so I understand why I think this way.

I had never heard of Open Educational Resources (OER) prior to being introduced to this class. I also had never seen the word “open” being used in this context. I think it’s really intriguing when we think about where are academic system derives from. Hundreds of years ago, children were expected to be “seen and not heard”, which created this distant relationship between the teacher and student. This archaic system has affected individuals, including myself, with how they perceive education. I remember feeling afraid or nervous to participate in class since I thought my teachers only wanted to hear “correct” responses. I believe that being “open”, specifically in a classroom, means to adhere to the idea of transparency and, thus, embrace collaboration. We don’t just want to teach students, we want to connect with them. The only way to connect with individuals is if we get to know them personally and be “open-minded” with diverse perspectives.

I agree with how you describe “open”. Transparency is key to its definition. The word in itself is blatant and unambiguous: open is open. After reading the article, “Fifty Shades of Open,” I felt so confused as to why this word was torn apart and beat into a million definitions when it has always seemed explicitly bound – for lack of a better word – to being comparable to transparency. This post reigns in what I understand “open” to mean, and I’m not sure how why others may find it illusive.

I understand your sentiment in wanting to simplify the definition of open to one denotation. However, I argue that open is necessarily complicated because the word can mean so many things in different contexts. Basically, I think the connotation of the word open can be understood differently. Open can mean easy to access, like an open door. At the same time, is the door really open if you feel judged when you walk through it? Is the door really open if you have a disability and use a wheelchair for mobility, but there are stairs between you and the door? I think the nuances are what make defining the word “open” feel more illusive.

I had never thought of “open” as being an extremely complex word. I guess being “open” doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will have equal opportunities. “Openness” also doesn’t mean that every individual will be advocated for or even acknowledged. It’s a sad, but, at the same time, realistic thought to have in mind.

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