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  • This blog is written by specialists from the Education Division of the Inter-American Development Bank. Its objective is to provide arguments and ideas that will spark debate about how to transform education in Latin America and the Caribbean. This blog is a call to action for the reader. An idea, a project, or a question can make a difference.

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    Las opiniones expresadas en este blog son las del autor y no necesariamente reflejan las opiniones del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo, sus directivas, la Asamblea de Gobernadores o sus países miembros.

    The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inter-American Development Bank, its Management, its Board of Executive Directors or its member Governments.

    Still Thinking About It? Open Education: From Fear to Curiosity, from Rejection to Urgency

    By - 2 Oct 2012

    By Nadia Mireles

    The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement began over 10 years ago. In 2007, the (OECD) warned that educational institutions should consider the risk to ignore OER. In 2012, only a few years later, the movement has gain its great momentum. Just a few recent advances proves it:

    • July 18th, MIT and Harvard announce the project edX, where around 150 thousand students enroll in one class, and 7 thousand students obtain a certificate.
    • April 17thHarvard denounces that the outrageous cost of major periodical subscriptions cannot be sustained.
    • April 24th, Thousands of researchers in the UK signed a petition to show their support to publishing on open access journals and boycott some of the biggest editors.
    • May 2nd and July 18th, meanwhile, more professors and institutions continue to announce the opening of their courses to the world.

    The Open Education topic went from being a rarity only noted by institutional letters to appearing in articles of popular newspapers. Many of those who entered the open education movement went from rejecting and fearing the topic to the curiosity for such a novelty, and the urgency for opening courses.

    According to the  NY Times, for those institutions that begin to understand the scope of this movement, the reaction has been curiousity but also fear of losing competitiveness. This is not a surprise. It is clear that maintaining the content and ocurses closed will shortly be evidence of a lack of quality and lack of commitment for education. Soon, students and the whole society will demand open courses developed in their native language and adapted to their local context and culture.

    Even though such evidence in the innovation of open educational practices, many institutions continue working under “traditional” teaching models and systems which for some such as Cable Green from Creative Commons, more than closed, are perceived as broken.  But, where do we begin? Some actions to take include:

    • Teachers: learn about and investigate what Open Educational Resources are;  get support from biggest users of OER: your students; when you find high-quality OER, try to adapt them to your context and language, and redistribute them to other students and peers; try to lessen your attachment to text books.
    • Students: Be conscious and take responsibility about your learning; stop waiting to be taught and become more independent learners; find open courses that meet your interests and academic needs; look at OER as a real educational opportunity, as a support for your professional development and for a lifelong learning.
    • Researchers: Open and share your research findings to get a bigger impact; publish your work on open access journals; share and collaborate in open acces journals to increment their quality.
    • Accreditation bodies: Encourage the use of open textbooks and the use of OER; stop counting the amount of books on the library shelves; promote the implementation of open courses and of open educational practices.
    • Research-funding institutes: Encourage and reward the publishing of scholarly research findings in open access journals; promote and implement open access policies.
    • Educational stakeholdes: Join in and promote the open education movement as soon as possible, following the guidelines of the 2012 Paris OER Declaration.

    Either individuals to whole institutions, those who don´t like the change less they will enjoy being obsolete. It is clear that the open education is part of the present and not of the future of education. Still thinking about it?


    * Nadia Mireles is currently a consultant in E-learning and Instructional Design at the IDB, where she supports the design and development of various online education programs for Bank employees and also the region through INDES. Previously, she collaborated with the Universidad de Guadalajara as head of the language self-learning center and then as head of the Unit for the Promotion of Internationalization, where she was responsible for implementing the Universidad de Guadalajara’s self-learning centers, in addition to carrying out language learning projects with technological support.

    Nadia has a double master’s degree in E-learning from the Universidad de Guadalajara and the Universidad Oberta de Catalunya. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Education (through a distance-learning program) at the University of Calgary, Canada. Her areas of research include the “open access” movement and open educational resources in Latin America, e-learning trends, Web 2.0 tools, and social and informal learning.

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