Open Education: Looking at Canadian Higher Education through a Critical Research Lens


  • Mara Bordignon Faculty of Education, Western University (London, Ontario, Canada)



critical research, policy analysis, open education, higher education


Open education (OE), as the sharing, use, and reuse of resources, pedagogies, and teaching practices, is an evolving phenomenon globally. OE has gained momentum by challenging, transforming, and even displacing systems which exclude, disenfranchise, and marginalize members of both the public and academic communities. Traditional, dominant systems are problematic because they create barriers that restrict access, agency, ownership, participation, and experience. OE approaches represent a wide range of solutions from free open educational resources to open access of scholarly research. A complex open and closed ecosystem, coupled with flaws and weaknesses in OE practices and approaches themselves, create issues and tensions needing closer interrogation.

This paper provides a brief literature review on OE, with an emphasis on how meaning has evolved from being content focused to practice focused, alongside with the progression in an aim towards social justice and equity. A look at how OE is constituted within international and Canadian policy discourse also informs how conceptualizations form under social and political contexts. It is argued that critical theoretical frameworks can interrogate the OE phenomenon, particularly within Canadian higher education. A critical research lens can be beneficial in providing understandings of power relations as they affect social justice and equity.


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