Forward for the Blog

I am currently enrolled in the inaugural cohort at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Professional Program in Open Education. I plan to publish my assignments in the OPEN as part of my own reflective practice but also for critical and respectful reflection from the OPEN community that I value. So thank you in advance. The following reflection is related to the first-course Theory and Philosophy of Open Education (OPEN 9100)

2.4 Assignment 1: Defining OPEN

Open Education is at its foundation a social justice movement with a shared goal to re-examine educational practices by engaging collaboratively with others. That engagement seeks to understand the contexts and lived experiences of others so that together meaningful changes to accepted educational practices can be made to improve people’s daily lives.

Kim Carter, October 2022

My definition of Open Education is based on my fundamental belief that quality education should be available to all people. This aligns with UNESCO’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) and specifically #4 Quality Education for all (UNESCO, 2022). The challenge to my definition is to determine what specifically are the shared goals of such a complex topic. Suppose a proponent of Open Education wants to engage collaboratively with others to make meaningful change. In that case, a critical examination of what is shared experiences combined with the assumptions that the proponent is bringing to the collaboration is necessary.

Cronin (2019) challenges open advocates to critically examine the underpinnings of idealistic and utopian beliefs of Open Education or run the risk of exacerbating inequalities. With this thought in mind, I find it helpful to think about co-construction as a tool for meaningful collaboration. Co-construction engages people in a way in which we can begin to understand the contexts in which each other lives. For example, if I am at a collaboration meeting and people share their goals, I may have a surface understanding of what they may need. Only through critical self-reflection of the assumptions I bring and building trust through activities such as co-construction of knowledge may I truly begin to understand the contexts in which other people live and how their worldviews may differ from my own. Cronin (2019) supports this thought by indicating that OPEN is personal, and people re-examine and negotiate with themselves when they will share in the open and when they will not. Cronin (2019) also refers to the work of Jesse Stommel in co-constructing OER with learners in ways that are different than traditionally accepted practices and suggests that this is an opportunity for collaborators to think differently and challenge accepted norms.

A helpful reference from my co-learners was that of Lambert (2018 – para 10), who proposes that social justice successes are measured by their ability to provide resources to those that need them, recognize gender and cultural differences, and ensure that their voices are represented. I found that these three descriptions of justice helpful as a framework for discussion and co-construction for finding shared goals within the context of those that I am collaborating with. While the SDGs and Open Education remind us that Open Education is a Global social justice movement. I think that my definition also applies to my local context and within my own institution. It has been my experience that all people wish to be valued and understood, and engaging collaboratively to seek to understand what educational changes others need to improve their daily lives is important.


Cronin. C. (2019). Open education: Walking a critical path. In D. Conrad, & P. Prinsloo (Eds.), Open(ing) Education: Theory and Practice. Leiden: Brill.

Lambert, S. R. (2018). Changing our (Dis)Course : A Distinctive Social Justice Aligned Definition of Open Education. Journal of Learning for Development

UNESCO (2022). Leading SDG 4 – Education 2030. UNESCO Education transforms lives. 

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