Permalink for this paragraph 0 Open education has grown into a potentially transformative force for higher education. The growing amount and quality of open content, the emergence of new forms of online learning, and the maturity of open source tools combine to present liberal education with institutional challenges and pedagogical opportunities.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Liberal arts colleges and universities are now engaging with open education in diverse ways, usually at the level of pilots and early adoption. Some campuses encourage the production of open content through textbooks, social media, or entire courses. Others focus on consuming externally created and supported open materials, exploring resultant pedagogical and curricular opportunities. The rationale for doing so recalls reasons for using open source software: reduced financial costs, greater flexibility in usage. Such reasons also echo the rationale for open access scholarship: reaching a broader audience, contributing to the commonweal, raising personal or institutional profile. But perhaps the most compelling reason to explore open education is the opportunity to improve learning by sharing educational resources that can then be built upon, making innovative pedagogical approaches more visible, enhancing students’ information fluency, developing new learning models, and enlarging access to educational opportunities. Challenges include building faculty awareness, identifying and creating more content appropriate to the liberal arts curriculum, addressing concerns about quality and developing appropriate economic models to support and sustain open education.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Open education also offers opportunities beyond the campus. Inter-institutional use of open content, sometimes mediated through open platforms and open source technology, has opened new venues for collaboration and learning. As populations increasingly socialize and learn digitally, open education articulates new ways of shaping and supporting online instruction. While individuals on campus may follow these routes on their own, institutions can grapple with openness by taking strategic steps. These include: launching and assessing pilot programs; recognizing open work by faculty, staff, and students; exploring new business models or changes to current ones; and adopting a stance of willing yet critical experimentation.