What is the meaning of Open Education?

Image by Gideon Burton, Flickr

So Open Education by the Open University will be my 6th MOOC (Massive Open On-line Course) and I think that sums up my personal definition of Open Education. I don’t think I achieved my full potential at school, college or university. I also don’t think I was “mature” or confident enough to make the right decisions when it came to institutional learning. Now I know what I want to study but I have little time or money to do so. Tough. I had my chance and blew it. How wrong I was. My yoga teacher posted a link on Facebook about websites that change your life. I can’t remember what the others were but the one that caught my eye was Coursera

My initial reaction was “what’s the catch” as they were offering on-line courses from some amazing universities for free. I took a risk and signed up for Greek Mythology, something I have always wanted to study but never got the chance. I loved it, got 92% with distinction and was hooked. The last course I studied was E-Learning and Digital Cultures and it was a blast. I “met” some amazing people and learnt so much from my fellow students. There were professors but mainly in the background. It was us students who drove the course and in fact still do as we continue connecting, communicating and learning. It was a fellow student who introduced me and others to this Open University Course. I am now in the middle of a philosophy course Know Thyself, a course called Internet History, Technology and Security and next week start on Open Education, The Ancient Greeks, and English Composition. For the rest of the year I will be studying an Introduction to International Criminal Law, Animal Behaviour, Critical Perspectives on Management, A Brief History of Humankind, Planet Earth and 3 different psychology courses. All of this is free.

The dictionary definition of Open Education is;

Open education is a collective term[1] that refers to educational organizations that seek to eliminate barriers to entry. Such institutions, for example, would not have academic admission requirements. Such universities include Open University in Britain and Athabasca University in Canada. Such programs are commonly distance learning programs like e-learning, mooc and opencourseware, but not necessarily.

I think there will always be barriers, poverty, limited/no access to technology etc, but the fact that people are trying to reduce, limit and remove them is what is important. I am not saying that MOOCs are the solution to the barriers to education but they are a bloody good start.