Technological advancements and the availability of information that is constantly updated have changed the way that we see teaching and learning. Gone are the days of attending a lecture and spending hours in the library in order to collect and assimilate information – information that was often replicated by students as there were limited sources available, leading to a lecturer or teacher assessing countless assignments and hand-ins based on the same foundation.
The modern environment makes the world smaller, to a certain extent. Except for new and current research and information being uploaded on a daily basis, the ability to follow news events in real time, as it is happening, also allows students and lecturers to raise the bar when it comes to teaching and learning, as it encourages students to be actively involved in the process.
Open learning allows for students across the globe to participate and further their knowledge in a vast variety of courses, topics through a multitude of institutions. Open learning is, in my opinion, a big step forward in the education realm, combining the needs, constraints as well as capabilities of students into consideration. The opportunities to further and educate yourself while not necessarily being confined to a campus or static location opens the doors of education to a number of people with constraints. Sharing information as it becomes available, and assisting fellow students who, most likely, you will never meet, but work with to reach a common goal, teaches you a lot about yourself, but also other people and sharpens your collaboration skills. Networking skills, together with platforms like LinkedIn can also broaden the horizons of participants on a professional level.
To me, the opportunities and advantages of open learning and sharing are beneficial for yourself as well as a lot of other people. Except for formal, institution driven degrees, one can register for a short course in a field that you are interested in, complete it at your own pace, and engage with various participants across the globe, meaning that you are gaining information and perspectives from a number of different role players, while engaging in content that has been developed and shared by a number of people, assisting you in your quest for new information.
Open learning and the use of shared information opens up the world, and we should see it as such – opportunities to further ourselves, by making use of the tools available on a real-time, accessible platform, opening education to us all.