Pedagogy Resources

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Open Education

Open education is more than MOOCs.  

What is It?

The essence of education is about freely sharing knowledge but often this idea comes from a privileged perspective where higher education content is only available behind a paywall for those who can afford it.  Open education supports free and openly accessible course content that helps break down the barriers of traditional course modalities for learners. In a time where educational opportunities are a click away, lowering the barrier to the learning experience is key.

Through providing opportunities through open frameworks, open education can promote creativity, active learning, and facilitate greater student agency of their education experience.  When courses are held in the open, they are often operating with higher expectations for both the instructors and students, which can help to foster excellence in both course materials and methods. 

Open education can take place at any scale but one common and increasingly popular form of open education is the Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC. These courses have a free level of access, are open to the public and can host enrollments of the tens of thousands.  Through AlaskaX, the UAF edX MOOC, we are sharing knowledge with the world through a growing list of open courses and programs. 

How Can I Use  Open Education?

UAF eCampus strongly supports open education in a variety of forms, from complete open courses to sharing of open educational resources. Our institutional Canvas LMS provides access to open content sharing and use through the Canvas Commons feature.  UAF eCampus also provides a community course website framework  hosted in WordPress and a site that gathers and features open courses and open educational resources. It is our belief that providing open access to the educational materials we create is both a positive moral act  and  a pragmatic method for attracting and recruiting students.

Technology such as Canvas LMS, WordPress, or Google Sites can help provide the architecture to host open courseware.

example site

In Practice

Here are some examples of open courses:

Considerations for Online Courses

Your choice of technologies have an impact on your ability to take advantage of open teaching and learning. UAF is a “Blackboard Institution,’ making the Blackboard learning management system (LMS) available to everyone. However, Blackboard’s design makes the open sharing of material difficult, if not impossible. However, Blackboard remains the students’ first step to find your course. It is their home-base, so we still recommend using it for posting cohort-specific announcements and grades. A link to your open course site should also remain in Blackboard.

We provide an open  Community WordPress server  which, by default, makes all class content and activity public. It can be used to host all course material, for blogging, discussion, for integrating multimedia. It cannot be used for grades or providing private feedback to students about their grades.

Google Sites is also available for anyone at UA and provides the perfect location for students to create their first domain of their own. It is easy to use and available for posting open course materials. Create a new Google Site by opening Google Drive and choosing ‘NEW’ and then under ‘more’ -> ‘Google Site’.

Of course there are thousands of other free services available for sharing course material and/or having open discussions and other engagements, such as,  Blogger, and  WikiSpaces.

Research Foundations

Carson, S., Kanchanaraksa, S., Gooding, I., Mulder, F., & Schuwer, R. (2012). Impact of OpenCourseWare publication on higher education participation and student recruitment.  The International Review Of Research In Open And Distributed Learning,  13(4), 19-32.

Dalsgaard, C., & Thestrup, K. (2015). Dimensions of openness: Beyond the course as an open format in online education. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 16(6).

Hilton, John III., Bliss, T., J., Robinson, T.J., & Wiley, D.A. (2013). An OER COUP: College Teacher and Student Perceptions of Open Educational Resources.  All Faculty Publications. 1355.


Where Good Ideas Come From

This video is a summary of the ideas of Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From.  Open education is founded on the idea that  a culture of openness leads to better ideas. Although not considered a traditional pedagogical source, the concepts of collaboration and connection are well illuminated in this short, animated lecture.

Open Education: Further Resources

UAF Instructional Designers

This page has been authored collectively by the experts on the UAF Instructional Design Team. Let us know if you have suggestions or corrections!

Instructional Design Team, UAF eCampus