The early days of the open education movement, particularly in the pre-Web 2.0. era, appears to be sparsely documented. According to Wiley (2007, p.1), there is a lack of specific scholarly mention of open educational resources (OER) prior to 1994. To document a more robust history of the early OER movement, we will interview OER pioneers in an effort to preserve the evolutionary practices of open education, document their work, preserve their formative practices, and share their artefacts.
Open Education History in Broad Strokes
The current history of OER largely cites MIT’s 2002 initiative of publishing 50 open courses as the beginning of the OER movement. However, OER began with the proliferation of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s. Inspired by the open source software movement, David Wiley coined the term “open content” and made available the OpenContent License in 1998 (Wiley & Gurrell, 2009, p. 13). In 2003, they officially launched their official OpenCourseWare (OCW) with 500 courses. The prestige that MIT brought to the OER movement increased the visibility of open education and encouraged other similar projects (Wiley, 2007, p. 1).
Early Innovators in a Pre-Social Era
In the current landscape in Canada, various innovators are cited as the first to teach in and name the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) phenomenon. These include Alec Couros (ECI 831) and George Siemens and Stephen Downes (CCK08) in 2007-8. In one online interview on the history of the MOOC, Cormier acknowledged a great history prior to the history of what he calls the “MOOC proper.” Although Cormier has coined the term MOOC, he points out that there have been open courses prior to 2007 with international followings of likely large or massive scale. As one example, ten years prior to the “MOOC proper,” open courses were offered out of the University of Alberta by Craig Montgomerie, David Mappin, Michael Szabo, Dwayne Hrapnuik, and Valerie Irvine starting as early 1996 and the University of Victoria starting in 2001. The OERs developed as part of these courses were listed among other OERs cited in the T.H.E. journal in 2005. Emails artifacts received were from students participating in UK-based courses that had “wrapped” the OERs.
It is clear that the impetus for the rise and mainstreaming of the open education was largely influenced by the emergence of the social web. A consequence of this on the history of early open pioneers, who created OER’s in the pre-social era, is that their work was less likely to be documented or spread via networks. This research will add to the body of history around open education, and help us understand our recent past as OER educators.
Feldstein, M. (2009, January 10). ITOE: History of Open Education.
Turner, L. (2005, June). 20 Technology Skills Every Educator Should Have. T.H.E. Journal Web Exclusive.
Wiley, D., & Gurrell, S. (2009). A decade of development…. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 24(1), 11–21. doi:10.1080/02680510802627746.