Module 2. The Ethic of Open

This module provides an overview of what it means to be an open educator and prepares learners to effectively participate in future activities.

Open ed sure sounds nice.


Watch this video entitled "Open Education and the Future." As you watch this video, consider:

  • How might your own lifelong learning be improved as others adopt an ethic of openness?
  • What prevents us from being open as educators?
  • How can you be more open as an educator?

"The only proper role for technology in education is to increase our capacity to be generous." - David Wiley

Gratis vs. Libre

Watch this video entitled "What do we mean by 'Open'?" As you do so, consider the following:

  • What does "open" mean, and what does this word suggest to the typical person?
  • What is the relationship between gratis and libre?
  • Why are both gratis and libre important?

The terms "open" and "free" colloquially have many meanings. "Free" generally has two that may be best understood by referring to their latin equivalents: gratis and libre. In the context of open education and textbooks, gratis means that content and resources are provided at no cost. Libre means that you are free to do what you want with content and resources.

As an example of this distinction, you may find a website with "free" videos or another teacher may give you a set of old textbooks for "free" (i.e. gratis), but you are not then able to do whatever you want with those videos and textbooks (i.e. not libre). Similarly, Facebook is a gratis service, because you do not pay a fee to use it, but it is not a libre service, because you do not have access to download, delete, or control your data within Facebook. This is an important distinction, because many gratis resources are not libre, and when we talk about openness, we mean both gratis and libre.

That is, Gratis + Libre = Open.

The Five "R's" of Openness

Openness may mean different things to different people, but when we refer to openness and open education, we mean openness that gives us freedom to do the five R's:

  1. Retain
  2. Reuse
  3. Redistribute
  4. Revise
  5. Remix
Hilton III, J., Wiley, D., Stein, J., & Johnson, A. (2010). The four ‘R’s of openness and ALMS analysis: frameworks for open educational resources. Open Learning, 25(1), 37-44.

Learning Check

  1. Which discussed invention prior to the internet had a significant opening effect for education?
    1. Paper
    2. Printing press
    3. Gun powder
    4. Chalk
  2. With the advent of the internet, digital expressions of knowledge, like knowledge itself, have become:
    1. Nonrivalrous
    2. Irrelevent
    3. Anarchic
    4. Insipid
  3. Digital technology...
    1. Increases openness
    2. Decreases openness
    3. Has no effect on openness
    4. Can increase or decrease openness depending upon how it is used
  4. If a resource does not cost any money, then it is ...
    1. Open
    2. Free
    3. Gratis
    4. Libre
  5. Which of the following is not one of the Five R's?
    1. Revise
    2. Reuse
    3. Remix
    4. Recycle

  1. b - Gutenberg's printing press is still perhaps the most revolutionary educational technology of all time.
  2. a - Meaning that they can be shared without giving them away.
  3. d - Technology is a tool that can be used to reshape policy or to enforce it.
  4. c - Gratis means that it has no cost. Open and free, as we are using them, include both this and libre, however. So, though the reosurce might be open and free, this does not necessarily follow just from the fact that there is no cost.
  5. d - But it's still important.