Unleashing the power of Open Educational Practices (OEP) through Artificial Intelligence (AI): Where to begin?

The term Open Educational Resources (OER) was first coined at UNESCO’s 2002 Forum on Open Courseware, and it was defined in the recent UNESCO recommendation on OER as “learning, teaching, and research materials in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open license that permit no-cost access, [reuse], [repurpose], adaptation, and redistribution by others” (UNESCO, Citation2019a). With the rapid evolution of the open education concept, researchers have shifted their focus from content-centered approaches, which mainly focus on OER, such as creation and sharing, to more practice-centered ones that foster collaboration between learners and educators for creating and sharing knowledge (Zhang et al., Citation2020). In other words, researchers and educators have shifted their focus from creating and publishing OER to practices that can be implemented using OER for education; these are referred to as Open Educational Practices (OEP). From the pedagogical perspective, Downes (Citation2019) stated that the learning process occurs not through the consumption of the OER content, but through the ways of using it.

However, designing OEP can be challenging as many issues could be raised, such as culture tension in open courses, where learners can be from various countries with different cultural backgrounds and beliefs. Therefore, more research should be paid to enhance the adoption and design of OEP. Downes (Citation2019) claimed that the evolution of technology could also impact the evolution of OER and OEP, since the nature of educational content changes with technology. In this context, several leading organizations have focused specifically on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to unleash the power of OEP. For instance, UNESCO (Citation2019b) created a workshop on how to combine OER and AI for better learning practices. This workshop focused on two areas, namely: (1) the policy solution to support adopting OER and AI; and, (2) technical solutions which focuses on using open algorithms and open data to provide smart OER repositories and platforms that can help learners learn in a way most suited to them. Another pioneer of open education, namely Creative Commons (CC), set up four working groups focusing on the future of openness where one of the groups is dedicated to AI and open content (AI@School, Citation2021). This shows that AI technologies play a core role in the future of OER and OEP.

Despite the increased attention towards harnessing the power of AI to enhance OEP, applying them both could be “tricky” as each area (namely AI or OEP) has its own challenges to be considered, and combining them together could be a “blessing and a curse” at the same time. A blessing, as AI-based OEP will help provide more adaptive and engaging learning and teaching experiences; while a curse, as researchers and practitioners need to pay an extra eye to the challenges merging from both areas together (i.e. copyright, privacy, and data normalization). For instance, learners might be treated unfairly by the system due to not considering some individual factors like culture, background or language in open education. This further might stress the risks of AI to reproduce some injustices of similar experiences. To extent the understanding of this topic, this collection (still in progress) specifically focuses on how Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology could reshape OEP, for better teaching and learning experiences. In this context, several case studies are reported (see section Collection in Progress – Papers in this collection). This collection also calls for more research to help better understand how AI and OEP could be combined for better future open education (see section Call for papers).

Full access at: Tlili, A., & Burgos, D. (2022). Unleashing the power of Open Educational Practices (OEP) through Artificial Intelligence (AI): Where to begin? Interactive Learning Environments. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10494820.2022.2101595