Open education and society

This course is part of the programme
Master in Leadership in Open Education (Second Level)

Objectives and competences

The aim of this course is to present and explore the relationship of open education to economic development, cultural change, and democracy.

Students will acquire the following competences:

  • Ability to identify and explore the links between open education and economic development, cultural changes and democracy;

  • Understand open education as a historical, global and social movement;

  • Ability to analyse or forsee the consequences in the state, local community, organisation or institution that applies open education principles in its policies or practices;

  • Understand the theoretical underpinnings of the UN and UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals, particularly the call for universal, quality education and its relationship to open education as a historical, global and social movement;

  • Understand the relationship between the social objectives and the affordances of open education based on lower costs, open communities and practices;

  • Identify and analyze potential positive and negative changes to existing institutions and develop socially appropriate and innovative uses of open education;

  • Understand OE as seen by from the perspective of different actors and geopolitical realities.

  • Compile a critical report with an analysis of a country, state or municipality, organization or institution that makes use of open education principles through policy or practice.


Students should be able to identify different strategies for the use of open education and identify a wide variety of open education projects, whether governmental, business or educational in nature. Students should be able to identify publicly available data sets, reports and cases to analyze the actual and potential impacts of open education on civil society and its institutions.


During this course, students will examine how and in what form, and with what limitations open education can contribute to social, economic, political and cultural development, particularly through the framework of UNESCO SDGs. By examining the implementation of open education in different contexts, countries and institutions, students will gather a critical perspective on the potentials of open education for social change.

The following topics will be explored in more detail:

• Frameworks for the use of open education

a. Universal access
b. Cost/benefit
c. Cultural preservation/minority language

• Examination of potential consequences of OE in different scenarios

• Social class, race, gender – inequality, inequity and open education

• North/south divide and geopolitical consequences

• MOOCs, higher-education, policy and society

Intended learning outcomes

After completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the goals of open education as a vehicle for economic and social improvement, including UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);

  • Identify the political, economic and social barriers, inequities and differences related to the achievement of SDGs;

  • Identify current impacts on social situation, particularly in education, and predict possible future impacts;

  • Identify varying uses of and responses to open education by governments, corporations and NGOs.

  • Design a sample open education project corresponding to the needs of a specific sector of civil society.


Hodgkinson-Williams, C., & Arinto, P. B. (2018). Adoption and Impact of OER in the Global South. African Minds. Retrieved from

Daniel, J. (2012). Making Sense of MOOCs: Musings in a Maze of Myth, Paradox and Possibility. Journal of Interactive Media in Education. Retrieved from

Grimmelmann, J. (2014). The Merchants of MOOCs. Seton Hall Law Review, 44, 1035–1049.

Weller, M. (2015). MOOCs and the silicon valley narrative. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2015(1). Retrieved from

Nyahodza, L., & Raju, R. (2017). Open Educational Resources within a Knowledge System for Achieving Quality Education SDG.

Warschauer, M. (2002). Reconceptualizing the digital divide. First Monday, 7(7). Retrieved from

Miao, F., Mishra, S., & McGreal, R. (2016). Open educational resources: policy, costs, transformation. UNESCO Publishing.

McGreal, R. (2017). Special Report on the Role of Open Educational Resources in Supporting the Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education Challenges and Opportunities. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(7).

Tomaševski, K. (2001). Removing obstacles in the way of the right to education (Right to education primers) (p. 51). Lund, Sweden: Raoul Wallenberg Institute.

Amiel, T. (2013). Identifying Barriers to the Remix of Translated Open Educational Resources.
International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 14(3), 126–144.

Wiley, D. (2007). On the sustainability of open educational resource initiatives in higher education. OECD. Retrieved from

CERI. (2007). Giving knowledge for free: The emergence of open educational resources. Paris: OECD.


• Interim presentations • Final project

Lecturer's references

Dr. Tel Amiel is Professor at the School of Education at the University of Brasília. He headed the UNESCO Chair in Open Education at the University of Campinas (2014-2018). He co-leads the Open Education Initiative in Brazil ( He completed his PhD in instructional technology (University of Georgia) and was visiting fellow/researcher at the University of Wollongong, Stanford University and Utah State University. He is currently part of projects focused on data-based school improvement, understanding organizational barriers to new media use in schools, and promoting open resources and policies in higher education. He is engaged in production and management of educational resources at the Open University of Brazil and in academic production on OER in Portugese.
Dr. Tel Amiel is involved in organization of Annual Workshop on Open Educational Resources and in the project MITA: Map of open education initiatives as well as in the project on “The role and potential of the Open University municipal centers between the formal and non-formal”.

More detailed information is available at: