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Research Article

Openness in Education, Systems Thinking, and the Practitioner

1 January 2014


Openness in education can be illustrated as expressions of iterative socio-technological innovations that reduce barriers and create multiple opportunities for practice. Through the convergence of collective intelligence and ICTs, particularly Internet-based applications, openness has been reincarnated as the “new paradigm of social production in the global knowledge economy” (Peters, 2008, p. 10). The ensuing open education renaissance—proliferated through open source, open access, open content, and MOOCs—has radically disrupted the insular worldview of the traditional academy and reignited debate about the purpose and future of formal education. This paper proposes that thinking of openness as a system is a useful construct for examining its complexity, both as a whole and the sum of its parts, in order to gain insights, evaluate, and manage the wide range of possibilities available to educators seeking to respond to changes occurring outside of institutionalized settings.


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