Open Learning

While there is no broadly accepted definition of open learning, the term generally refers to resources, activities, and teaching practices that expand access to learning by removing barriers to information and education systems. One way in which proponents of open learning increase access to information is through developing and adopting open educational resources (OER). Advocates for open learning have also prioritized increasing public access to academic research data to increase access to information.

The expansion of online learning has led to a number of new open learning initiatives that seek to increase access to higher education. The past decade has seen a proliferation of massive open online courses (MOOCs), as well as other efforts to break down barriers to higher education.

The federal government has contributed to the growth of of open information by promoting open policies at the national level. Open access policies, open data policies, and open use policies have expanded public access to federally funded research, government information, and educational resources produced and funded by federal agencies. Further, several bills have been introduced in Congress that would advance open learning.

Open Educational Resources

OER are freely available educational materials that can be downloaded, used, shared, and updated by schools, educators, students, and any other users.


Open Access

Open Access refers to the free, immediate, online availability of research articles, coupled with legal permission to use them.

MOOCs and Higher Education

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have emerged over the past decade as a potential strategy to increase access to higher education.

Federal Open Policies

Over the past decade the federal government has adopted a range of policies that promote greater public access to publicly-funded information.