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Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity


E-learning in 'open source' education: exploratory study

Final report

The report is available from:


This is a report of work in progress (as part of a formal course). Please refer to the linked documents and references for more information.


A review of a range of education initiatives, analyzing pedagogies and teaching/learning roles to test the concept of 'open source education' i.e. open source ideas from computing applied to education. A further focus is on uses of e-learning.

Focus Group

A focus group is being held in London, U.K. on June 12, 2008, 18:00 - 19:00. If you would like to attend, please contact or As this is a focus group, numbers may be limited, but there will be opportunities for future presentations and discussions, so if you can't attend but would like to register your interest or receive further information about the research, please let me know.

Information sheet

Agenda, questions and ground rules


Review of initiatives and e-learning use

Summary of review

Analysis of pedagogical themes


The open source approach is very successful in computing where there is collaborative production of 'open source' software, free to use, modify, adapt and distribute. It is argued that there is great potential in applying the open source principles and methods to education (Dillon & Bacon 2006; Staring, Titlestad & Gailis 2005). A significant implication is how teacher and learner roles may be reconceptualised to enhance collaboration (Dillon & Bacon 2006; Staring, Titlestad & Gailis 2005). There are some commonalities with ‘alternative’ education ideologies for example radical pedagogy, and educational concepts like constructivist and learner-centered learning (Dillon & Bacon 2006; Smith 1996; Wright 1989). This research aims to explore this concept of 'open source education'.

The study performs a qualitative literature and internet review of example education initiatives analyzing their pedagogies, open source elements and uses of e-learning, followed by a focus group to begin identifying pedagogical and e-learning ideas or methods from such approaches that can be valuable for teaching and learning.

The investigation successfully identified strong evidence of open source influences and elements in a variety of projects, sometimes explicit, but also reflected in open democratic organisation, collaboration and calls for participation. “Facilitation” is a strong theme with initiatives providing structures and processes to help learning. The distinction between teachers and learners is de-emphasised, but the teacher concept is often similarly manifested as a "facilitator" role that participants fulfill.

Specific pedagogical emphases include collaborative learning, lifelong and informal learning, learner-directedness, critical thinking and practical learning.

Wiki technology is popular and other common e-learning uses include discussion boards, community blogs, mailing lists and document repositories, often taking submissions. Some publish journals or newsletters and there are also many face-to-face events.

The study concludes that there is value in developing ways of organising, teaching and learning informed by both the open source movement and education approaches embodying these principles, and that social technologies like wiki can significantly enable this.

Selected references

Dillon, T., Bacon, S. 2006. Opening education. The potential of open source approaches for education [online]. Available: [accessed 02-06-2008].

McGettigan , T. 1999. What is Radical Pedagogy? Radical Pedagogy 1 (1).

Smith, M. K. 1996. Ideas. Key concepts and theories in informal education, lifelong learning and social action [online]. Available: [accessed 15-02-2008].

Staring, K., Titlestad, O. & Gailis, J. 2005. Educational transformation through open source approaches [online]. Available: [accessed 02-06-2008]. Wright, N., 1989. Assessing radical education. Milton Keynes/Philadelphia: Open University Press.

Some Examples

These are the projects I've looked at in some detail so far:

Autonomous University of Lancaster

Copenhagen Free University


Free Floating Faculty

Free University of Los Angeles

Highlander Research and Education Center

The Independent Art School

manoa free university


Minciu Sodas

mobilised investigation

New University Coop

Olympia Community Free School

Pirate University

School of Everything

Seattle free school

Toronto Anarchist Free University

The Travelling School of Life

University of the Third Age

University of Openess

Vidya Ashram


Other Examples

These have been discovered post review

OpenLearn Informal University in Foundation Factory School


The Open Source Definition

Some technologies

Free School Activity



Other projects




See also

Some Links


External links



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