Open Learning, Open Research: Introducing OLnet

Thanks to the Internet, there is a vast amount of free information available, including educational materials. The Open Learning Network, known as OLnet, is looking at the Open Educational Resources movement to find out what works and how the system can be improved.

Information Access For Everyone

Through Open Educational Resources (OER), teachers and learners are able to access free educational materials. According to OLnet, there are already more than 150 universities around the world taking part in OER. With the extreme popularity of the Internet and the easy access it provides to all sorts of information, it makes sense to share this information. After all, don't we want to promote learning? If we do, then making education information free is a great start to creating better access.

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How OLnet Fits In

Supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 'OLnet is an international research hub for aggregating, sharing, debating and improving Open Education Resources,' according to its website, It is run by Carnegie Mellon University, located in Pittsburgh, PA, and The Open University, located in the UK.

There are several features of this website, including blogs and discussions, that give individuals a chance to interact on the topic of OER. Additionally, through OLnet's Cloudworks, people can share ideas about teaching or related research. Interested parties can also exchange ideas through OLnet's virtual or in-person events. As the OER movement continues to gain even more momentum, it will be important for those involved in it to share their knowledge, which will benefit the education field as a whole.

In addition to conducting research, OLnet has a fellowship program to support 'researchers and practitioners who wish to contribute to the understanding of...OER design and use worldwide.' The fellowships typically last three months and include one month of work with OLnet's own researchers.

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What It Means For OER

The work being done by OLnet seeks to improve Open Education Resources, which will only benefit those in the higher education field. For teachers, it will provide more materials they can use to teach their subjects. When their budgets get tighter, it will be a relief for educators to know they can turn to free materials. Students will also be able to access resources that will help them with their studies without hurting their wallets.

Read what the University of Barcelona's Dr. Ignatius Labastida has to say about open education.

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