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Measurement of Openness in Education Systems

I’m not a fan of measurement – largely because it forces technique and structure onto systems often better served by acknowledgment interdependence between entities. But, we need a way to measure openness in universities. Why? Largely to raise awareness of the multi-faceted nature of openness. Being open involves more than posting a few courses online. A metric has a way of drawing attention to concepts that can be analyzed and understood in policy meetings. Plus, seeing your university rated below your competitors can be very motivating for administrators.

So, to this end, I recommend the formation of something like Measurement of Openness in Education Systems (MOES). This should include:

  • Strategic statement of openness and commitment to funding open projects
  • Systemic integration of openness – i.e. openness is part of the curriculum development process, not as an after market add on
  • Open course content
  • Open publication (journals)
  • Data collection transparency (learners know what the university collects)
  • Data control – the learner is able to change her profile information
  • Data ownership – the learner owns and is able to export his work to open formats
  • Academic press publications (for download and in open formats such as epub)

What else should be considered for a metric of openness?


  1. Hi again – could I suggest the inclusion of something about whether or not, in addition to content, some ‘ learning menus’ / ‘plans’/ curriculum maps are offered/made available?


    Thursday, December 31, 2009 at 6:18 am | Permalink
  2. Great comments George! Posted a note here:

    Thursday, December 31, 2009 at 10:33 am | Permalink
  3. Jay Cross wrote:

    I’m wondering if a description of “closed” wouldn’t help clarify things here.

    Like formal and informal learning, things are rarely 100% black or white. Assessing where openness or closedness falls on a continuum enables you to describe shades of gray.

    Thursday, December 31, 2009 at 11:27 pm | Permalink
  4. Hey George -

    I’m a member of Students for Free Culture which is a group that works for the public interest in intellectual property and information policy.

    We are currently working on something very similar which we have named the Open Education Report Cards (part of the Epen Education Campaign) –

    We, too, believe that measuring educational openness can provide an important resource for those of us interested in promoting the trend. We’ve got some good momentum and are actively seeking partners, so it would be great to get in touch.

    Sunday, January 3, 2010 at 12:40 am | Permalink
  5. Hi everyone, I have been interested in this conversation because I am looking to “evaluate” or “measure” the outcomes of an open course I have been involved with over the last three year – “Facilitating Online”: – and thinking about how I can do it.

    Working for an academic organisation I have to justify the time I spend on the course, and feed back to my managers how I see things working out in the future.

    Sunday, January 3, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Permalink
  6. I think that the discussion really needs to parse content from tools. I say this because the content can be totally open, while tools may be closed (making content closed).

    For example, CMU has the OLI ( which is “open” but the courses, more or less are closed to educators (and some even have prices to get your own copy). While the content is open (I can link to it easily and embed it all somewhere else using a more open LMS) the tool is, in effect, closed.

    Does that make sense? I like your list, I think it’s a proper start, but before we make a nice rubric I think we should differentiate the various parts (and content/tools may not be all the parts) that can be ‘open’.

    Monday, January 4, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Permalink
  7. psychederic wrote:

    Transparency should be considered now as a lower level of openness : NOW.

    THis is like the concept of “democracy” : and democraty : republic, parlement.

    The word are dangerous : the simple word : are ideology : and has you may have noticed : ideology give a society that is far from an open system. (read Georg Lukács)

    Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 8:18 am | Permalink

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  1. Measuring Openness « on Monday, January 4, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    [...] 4, 2010 · Leave a Comment George Siemens, perhaps as a result of recent discussions, has posted on measuring openness in higher education. [...]

  2. [...] December 31st, 2009 // sharing George posted a note on elearnspace blog on developing a Measurement of Openness in Education Systems (MOES) to raise awareness and draw attention to openess, while at the same time providing a measure that [...]