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The Open University launched its open educational resources platform, OpenLearn, on the 25th October 2006. OpenLearn began as a 2 year institutional project funded by the Hewlett Foundation and sought to test out and build upon its previous notions of how openness in adult education were instantiated through its mission of being open as to people, places, methods and ideas (Author, 2006; Gourley and Author, 2009; Author and Author, 2010) as well as enter the new world of openly licensed content. OpenLearn has since become a mainstream part of University business and has been the focus or the prompt for a large number of related internal activities and externally funded projects where openness in one form or another has been a key feature. This presentation reviews and reflects upon ten years of OpenLearn within open education, taking the original proposal and its aims as its starting point. In particular it will look at what has worked well and what has not worked well or at all from that original conception. It will compare and contrast the key features of openness within OpenLearn itself: openly licensed content (re-used, remixed and syndicated around the world); open sourced and open standards based systems software (Moodle, Drupal, Mozilla open badges) ensuring best chances of interoperability with other campus based systems; open to other participants (via OpenLearn works) encouraging others to enter into open education provision and to support localisation; open and accessible – no registration required, with free, short, shallow but enticing steps into longer and more meaningful and challenging learning journeys; open ended journey – with routes from those free learning journeys into formal study (and back again) for anyone anywhere in the world; to the key features of openness in the culture and business of the University: open entry to its undergraduate programmes requiring no prior qualifications; open recognition of informal learning to motivate learners; open engagement with other organisations and networks for mutual benefit; open access to research combined with participatory action research on its own practices; and the release and use of open data within semantic technologies. The presentation will conclude that the success of OpenLearn at The Open University has been the fostering of a philosophy that openness in education is not an add on or extra to education but is an integral part of education and that the question is one of how openness most appropriately manifests itself within all the strategies and operations of the organisation.
Gourley, B.M. and Author. (2009) Re-invigorating openness at the Open University: the role of Open Educational Resources, Open Learning 24(1): pp 57-65
Author. and Author. (2012) Open engagement through open media, commissioned HEA/JISC Open Educational Resources Case Study: Pedagogical development from OER practice, 9pp
Author. (2006) Motivations for OpenLearn: the Open University’s Open Content Initiative, 10pp, available at http://www.oecd.org/edu/ceri/38149250.pdf