1.1 What is open education?

Multicoloured neon sign reading 'open'
Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash (Unsplash licence)

This resource explores the use of open educational resources (OER) and open educational practices (OEP) for teaching and learning. OER and OEP can be broadly understood as two facets within the broader concept of open education. But what is ‘open education’? The European Commission defines open education as:

a way of carrying out education, often using digital technologies. Its aim is to widen access and participation to everyone by removing barriers and making learning accessible, abundant, and customisable for all. It offers multiple ways of teaching and learning, building and sharing knowledge. It also provides a variety of access routes to formal and non-formal education, and connects the two. (EU Science Hub, European Commission, 2016, CC BY)

Education is a fundamental human right. Multiple constraints and restrictions act to limit access to and engagement with this fundamental human right for many individuals and groups. These may include physical, geographic, financial, technological, cultural and/or social barriers. Open education seeks to eliminate as many of these barriers to education as possible, with the aim of improving educational access, effectiveness and equity.

Open education is widely seen seen as an important means of achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #4, i.e. to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

There are many open education initiatives in institutions across the Irish higher sector, with noticeable growth in the past year. A summary of open education initiatives from institutions across the sector was published by the National Forum for Open Education Week 2021. You can find all of the ways that the National Forum supports open education in Irish higher education at www.teachingandlearning.ie/open.

1.2 Open Educational Resources (OER)