Topic 5: Reflection

I chose to focus my response to this topic on open access (OA) from the perspective of an academic. While I had some basic knowledge on this topic already, I had very little appreciation of its scope; it certainly proved a challenge to remain concise.

Hesitation over the transition to OA is evidently the result of factors operating at multiple levels. From macro-level legislation and national investment in research; to the mediating (and often hindering) effect of journals at the meso-level (Lepitak, 2013); and to micro-level attitudes, and concern over intellectual property rights (Hylén, 2006). However the issue is not as simple as this suggests, and there are relations between these scales, as has become clear from conversations about the possible role of legislation in changing attitudes (Eloane’s post).

Other blog posts have discussed: broad implications for economic development (Alexander); a student’s perspective (David), and Wil takes the discussion further by exploring the precise complications that arise with regard to the various working definitions of ‘open’ access. Based on discussions with Sharon, potential solutions to the sustainability of open access were brought to my attention (Sharon) (see also Philip and Harriot). Both Eloane and Andy prompted me to think about more familiar examples, such as open access within YouTube and the music industry, which indicates that there must be improved distinction between ‘need’ and ‘want’ going forward. Nevertheless, there appears to be consensus over the net value of open access.

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Four scenarios of the future of the UK's HE sector.
Figure 5.1 – Four potential scenarios for the future of the UK’s higher education sector. Source: Yuan and Powell (2013, p.15).


Continuing to look ahead into the future, whilst the direction in which we are travelling as a digital society may be obvious (see Alexander’s post), what remains less clear is whether this transition will become universally accepted, how long it will take, and whether it really will close the ‘education gap’ through equal access (TEDx, 2012; Wiley et al., 2012).


Word count: 296


Hylén, J. (2006) Open educational resources: opportunities and challenges. Available from: [Accessed on 04 May 2017].

Lepitak, S. (2013) 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests. Available from: [Accessed on 03 May 2017].

TEDx (2012) The Science Gap: Jorge Cham and TEDxUCLA. Available from: [Accessed on 04 May 2017].

Wiley, D., Cable, G. and Soares, L. (2012) Dramatically bringing down the cost of education with OER: how open education resources unlock the door to free learning. Center for American Progress, 1-5.

Yuan, L. and Powell, S. (2013) MOOCs and open education: implications for higher education. White paper in Centre for Educational Technology and Interoperability Standards, JISC.


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