OE Global Blog

As we get ready to meet, learn, and share at #OEGLOBAL18, we are pleased to introduce a blog series, Transforming at #OEGLOBAL18.

Hear about the conference from the planning committee, get insights about the keynotes, and from guest speakers.


Open education can make universities more inclusionary

The following is an excerpt from: McKiernan EC (2017) Imagining the “open” university: Sharing scholarship to improve research and education. PLoS Biol 15(10): e1002614. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002614  It is republished here under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license.

Universities are by nature exclusionary — there are limited spots and often only those with the highest grades and test scores are accepted. In the 1940s, people began referring to academic institutions as ivory towers, where an elite few engaged in intellectual pursuits, largely “disengaged” from the concerns or needs of the public (Shapin, 2012). If anything, the perception of universities as ivory towers has only grown over the last decades, as competition for student and faculty positions increases, leaving many more on the outside. As Shapin writes, “Today, almost no one has anything good to say about the Ivory Tower and specifically about the university in its supposed Ivory Tower mode” (Shapin, 2012).

How can institutions move away from this negative image and become more inclusionary? Increasing acceptance rates is not feasible for economic and infrastructure reasons. However, universities can allow everyone access to the knowledge created inside their walls. Open educational resources (OERs) are a prime example of openness increasing inclusion (Bossu et al., 2012; Conole, 2012) and are especially important for increasing access to education in developing countries (Kanwar et al, 2010; Kumar, 2009). When universities make lecture notes, exams, and textbooks openly available online, even those who cannot attend in person can benefit from what the institution has to offer. In fact, 20%-50% of surveyed visitors to open courseware (OCW) websites identify as “self learners” (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2007). Educators also benefit from OCW sites, making up around a quarter of visitors from regions like Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East and North Africa (Carson, 2006). As an educator in Mexico, I use open textbooks available through projects like OpenStax, run by Rice University, because I know my students cannot afford expensive textbooks but still need access to quality information to learn. 

Read the full blog at blog_OpenEd_Erin

What does Transforming Education through Open Approaches mean to you?

The main theme for the OE Global 2018 conference is ‘Transforming Education through Open Approaches.” To me, being involved in open education at a technical university (TU Delft) this theme describes 2 different aspects and the relationship between them. On the one hand, ‘transforming education’ translates strongly towards innovation of education. On the other, ‘through open approaches’ marks how open approaches, in the area of informal education, impacts innovation in formal education.

Open approaches can consist of many different elements. Starting your first OCW or MOOC project for some institutions could be the first spark to ignite innovation in formal education. Where one uses it to expand the reach towards more learners around the world, the other would grasp the shared resources to flip the entire course design, where in the next situation, ultimately, the entire formal educational practice could be influenced by whatever was done in informal education. Developments in informal education, from simply increasing access to your contents, towards providing more flexibility to formal students and informal learners, changing business models based on openness, the ability to acknowledge the learning outcomes of informal courses such as MOOCs and translate them to formal credits, etc can have a big impact on formal education, as a spark to innovation at teacher level to larger scaled innovation and evolution at an institutional level and eventually education as a whole.

A second element I would like to highlight is that open approaches do not only happen in an educational context. Openness happens in many other contexts, such as research, data, software, etc (check the Year of Open perspectives for instance.

The foundations of openness are more or less the same in every context, and whether you are involved in one open context or many, all have the power to impact innovation in education, and transforming education and universities.

We are honored to be able to host the OE Global conference in 2018 and are looking forward to meeting and discussing other perspectives, examples, experiences and new developments on how open approaches you are involved in might transform education as we know it. And I look forward to sharing ideas and exchanging experiences between April 24-26 at TU Delft!



2018 Open Education Global Conference Sponsorship Announcement

The conference planning committee is pleased to announce that Canvas is the first major sponsor of the eleventh annual Open Education Global Conference, to be held on April 24 – 26 in Delft, the Netherlands. 2018.  This will be the 3rd year that Canvas has supported the Conference.  

Launched in 2011, Canvas is now used by more than 3,000 universities, school districts, and institutions around the world.  Through open, usable, cloud-based technologies, Canvas enables easy integration of the content, tools and services that teachers need and students want. Canvas was recently recognized as a silver winner in two categories and gold winner in three categories by THE Journal’s Reader’s Choice Awards.  

Learn more about Canvas at www.CanvasLMS.com.   



Long and Winding Road to a Program for OEGlobal18

On the 1st of December, notifications of acceptance and rejection were submitted to the authors. Before this was made possible, a trajectory of opening a call for proposals, waiting for the submissions, closing the call, divide the proposals among reviewers, waiting for the reviews and, finally, based on the reviews, per proposal reach a decision about acceptance or rejection has been walked.  Read more about the interesting and informative long and winding road of building a program for the Open Education Global Conference 2018!




“Sustainability” has gained substantial currency in education internationally and is an important motivation for open educational practices, although the definitions educators attribute to this term may differ from what is meant institutionally. Uses of “sustainable” or “sustainability” in higher education range from taking into consideration students’ future needs, to notions of cost effectiveness, accessibility and environmental footprint, synonymous with economics and ecology, and viewed as a business model. The future brings many as yet unknown challenges which will certainly require access to lifelong learning opportunities for growing populations.

Learning and teaching are human activities which take place through communities of practice, often but not exclusively formal institutions such as schools and colleges. In higher education and beyond, knowledge sharing is no longer limited exclusively to academic publishing and conferences. Technological developments have enabled social interaction through social media tools which are rapidly changing the way we live and work, providing new networks for learning. In this article, we explore the assumptions underpinning the terms “sustainability” and “open education” as they are utilised in current university policy via a meta-analysis of published policy documents. We posit that notions of “sustainability” are simultaneously one of the most important triggers of and obstacles to Open Educational Practices, and examine to what degree Australian (and international) university polices address these issues.  Read more

Transforming Education Through Open Approaches – different perspectives







This years conference theme is ‘Transforming Education through openness’ and offers many sessions in different tracks. We realize that the main conference theme could inspire different perspectives. Therefore, we will regularly reflect on the main conference theme from different perspectives. Visit the first perspective below by Robert Schuwer, OE Global Program Chair.

Keep an eye on this blog and do not hesitate to share your opinion.

What does transforming education through open approaches mean to you?

The current conference theme, Transforming Education Through Open Approaches, is the result of a discussion with the program committee earlier this year. However, the large variation in topics from the more than 200 proposals received is an indication that analysis of this theme leads to many interpretations.

My interpretation of the theme is mainly determined by my interpretation of “transforming”. The Cambridge Dictionary provides the following description of transform “to change completely the appearance or character of something or someone, especially so that that thing or person is improved”. For me, the goal “is improved” is key. The change can be completely (e.g. from 100% campus-based to a mixture of campus-based and online education or even 100% online education, from teacher-centered approaches to learner-centered approaches), but at the end of the day these changes should have led to a situation for the learner which is better than it was before: better results and a nicer learning experience.

Openness in all kinds of forms can help to achieve this improvement. Depending on the start situation of the learner, openness can reach from improved access to quality learning materials because these materials are openly shared, to improved learning results because of a pedagogy better suited to achieve the outcomes and made possible by forms of open education. Achieving these improvements through openness is what motivates me to be active in this field, hopefully for many years to come.


Endorsement of Dutch Ministry of Education

The ministry of education is excited that the Open Education Global Conference 2018 will be held in the Netherlands.

Juriaan van Kan, policy advisor for open education in the Netherlands, believes that open education supports the ministry’s mission to ensure a knowledgeable, skilled and cultured country. He also sees the Open Education Global Conference as a perfect opportunity for Dutch education to share the experiences of Dutch universities and learn from the global community to accelerate the adoption of open education.

The former Minister of Education, Jet Bussemaker, received the 2017 Open Education Leadership Award of Excellence for her work in open education creating a structural granting programme supporting bottom-up initiatives for universities.

The Dutch Ministry of education is pleased to endorse the conference and highly recommends everyone interested in open education to attend this conference in April 2018 in Delft.