:sync: Open Education and the Future of Knowledge Mobilization

Author: Rory McGreal
Institution: Athabasca University
Country: Canada

Topic: Global Collaboration, Strategies, & Policies in Open Education
Sector: Higher Education
UNESCO Area of Focus: Developing supportive policy
Session Format: Presentation


This paper investigates open education initiatives in Canada and internationally to gain insights into ways that open resources can contribute to knowledge mobilization. The intention is to identify issues in implementing and using open resources, and recommend possible means of addressing them, making knowledge more freely available in academia and in the general population. Recommendations focus on addressing those problems and solutions that might best improve knowledge mobilization using open practices. The issues identified are based on a survey of known international open education experts. The experts consulted are familiar with open implementations that have already been put into practice. Their views were surveyed in an attempt to understand the relationship between open education efforts by institutions and the actions necessary for effective implementations promoting knowledge.

Following from the survey of experts in open education, the following recommendations are put forward for consideration.

  1. All publicly funded research should be made freely available to the public using an open license.

  2. Institutions should take the lead in open education capacity building by educating their faculty and staff on open licensing OER and OA.

  3. Institutions should train faculty in assembling/adapting reusing and repurposing OER.

  4. Extrinsic motivation of faculty should be considered, using career incentives and compensation for meeting open education performance goals.

  5. Faculty should be advised to search for OER first, before choosing commercial resources. This could be considered as an essential step in the development of new courses.

  6. Institutions should work with publishers of educational content to ensure quality digital content is produced using open licenses.

  7. The Creative Commons – Attribution or the Creative Commons – Attribution – Share Alike licenses should be preferred or even made mandatory.

  8. If international publishers do not make their existing content available to institutions and the public at reasonable prices, then countries should join the boycott Elsevier movement.

  9. Institutions should accept that more research is needed on OER/OA to determine not only the cost effectiveness, but also its effect on learning achievement, retention, students and faculty.

  10. Institutions should consider that the best approach to increasing awareness is to visibly use open content. Awareness will then become less of a problem as OER/OA become more widely accepted by faculty and their institutions.

  11. Institutions consider placing more emphasis in promoting local influencers, particularly students, to campaign for OER/OA within institutions.

  12. Institutions, while consulting faculty and students, can devise action plans to use and integrate OER/OA and support open policies. Collaborative agreements can be more effective than confrontational approaches. A negotiation amongst the various stakeholders can achieve this.


Knowledge, Mobilization, OER, OA, Open Educational Resources, Open Access

Welcome to this session.


UNESCO’s Futures of Education initiative aims to rethink education and shape the future. The initiative is catalyzing a global debate on how knowledge, education and learning need to be reimagined in a world of increasing complexity, uncertainty, and precarity.
See: https://en.unesco.org/futuresofeducation/

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Hello Rory. Thank you for your continued leadership.

Video of the session:

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