Master of Education in Distance Education (MDDE) 622

Openness in Education

Course cover

Delivery Mode: Online course using Moodle

Credits: 3 - Elective

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

Early access to the Moodle Learning Management System begins a few days before the official start date of your course. At that time you will have limited access to the course.


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

MDDE 622: Openness in Education provides a detailed overview of the history of openness in education, current trends and legal and technological developments, as well as future directions. Educators and administrators in the primary, secondary, and higher education sectors, will benefit from becoming well informed of trends and the organizational impact of open education.

Course Goals

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

  1. Define openness in an educational context and describe its various applications 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 the 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 1960s) and discuss the impact of technological developments on openness
  6. Evaluate prominent intellectual property and copyright systems, including the influence of each on scholarship.

Coures Outline

The course is composed of seven 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

Learning Resources

All learning resources are provided online.

Student Assessment

Students will be graded on the bases of four assignments. Course requirements are as follows:

Activity Weighting
Critique and Review: Based on literature reviewed in the course, describe the key trends (historical and current technological) that have contributed to the development of openness in education. 20%
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 identify which model you favour (as well as why!) in your content creation. 20%
Concept Map: Develop a concept map of how course concepts are related and the value that you assign to different “concept nodes”. 20%
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. 40%
Total 100%

*Please note that this course is part of a research project

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.