Unwritten History Open Education

I read a post on All MOOCs, All the Time by the unnamed doctoral student asking if we were examining the open education history in a biased way.  I guess it depends on the definition of open education, which we are still writing.  What is included in that definition in turm depends on what we include in the history.

For a start, what I would like to superimpose on the history of open education timeline are the dates of the establishment of certain institutions dedicated to open education.  I can see some convergence with the open source movement, but open education is not so recent.


“The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC) was started in 1878 to provide those who could not afford the time or money to attend college the opportunity of acquiring the skills and essential knowledge of a College education. The four-year, correspondence course was one of the first attempts at distance learning.” Chautauqua History

I bet some more stuff happened in between, but I’ll fast foward to the 20th century…


The Open University was estblished and it opened to its first students – 25,000 of them – in January 1971


Athabasca University was established and in 1972 piloted an open distance course that set it on its open path


SUNY Empire State College was established in and modeled on the OU

Over time open universities have been established in other countries and new models have evolved, but we can’t assume that open education began with us whether we be boomers or millenials.  The Chautauqua Movement never resulted in the credentialling offered by colleges and univerities but it was certainly influential and those who participated developed expertise.  Maybe it was more about learning than credentialling.

Our bias is living in our own time and a history that still needs to be written.  Even the Wikipedia entry for open education starts with a bare mention of the OU and starts the history in 2002.  Are there folks out there who can fill in the gaps?