Module 4. The Practicality of Open

Though the open education movement is largely rooted in an ethical pursuit to improve teaching and learning for all students, there are some practical benefits for the shift to open as well.

We need practical evidence.


Read the following articles on some practical considerations for open textbooks.

Robinson T. J., Fischer, L., Wiley, D. A., & Hilton, J. (2014). The impact of open textbooks on secondary science learning outcomes. Educational Researcher, 43(7), 341-351.
Hilton, J., Robinson T. J., Wiley, D. A., & Ackerman, J. (2014). Cost-savings achieved in two semesters through the adoption of open educational resources. International Review of Research on Distance and Open Learning, 15(2).
Kimmons, R. (accepted). Expansive openness in teacher practice. Teachers College Record. [available shortly]


  • What are the benefits  of openness?
  • What are the challenges?

Practical Benefits

Direct practical benefits of open education practices revolve around three main areas:

  • Cost - lower cost of texts means that schools and students save money, which can be invested in other areas (e.g., personnel, technology) or utilized for keeping texts up-to-date
  • Flexibility - since texts are electronic and can be printed, revised, and redistributed as needed, monolithic textbooks are no longer needed and can be replaced, supplemented, or updated with sets of smaller texts
  • Adaptability - since texts may be revised by teachers and curriculum designers locally, texts can be adapted to the local needs of students, making them more meaningful and grounded

Together, it is anticipated that these benefits can have an improvided impact on learning by improving access, timeliness, and fit of texts for students.

Learning Check

  1. The greatest barriers to openness in K-12 are...
    1. Macro.
    2. Local.
    3. Personal.
    4. [There are no major barriers.]

  1. a & b - States, publishers, and local admins need to get on board for openness to be adopted.


Watch this interview with Scott Cook, Idaho State Department of Education Director of Content, as we discuss open educational resources at the state level.