Openness Through the Systems Lens

In acclimatizing myself to the world of open education and the diverse perspectives on what the concept means and what it encompasses, I was thrown slightly off kilter and in search of a stable ground to plant my feet on. I found what I was looking for in Anita Zijdemans Boudreau’s 2014 article, Openness in Education, Systems Thinking, and the Practitioner. In applying systems thinking to the concept of openness in education a seemingly complex array of competing elements shift from the chaotic to the find their place in a comprehensible interconnected framework.

Open education encompasses the learner, the teacher, educational content, and learning environments woven together in an interdependent network that fuels 21st Century education in a concerted effort to reduce barriers to access and create multiple opportunities for inclusive, equitable, and global education.

Kahle (2008) aptly articulates the fundamental role of systems design in open education, “Recognizing that design matters, that the values and goals of open education can be either hindered or advanced through design choices, is the primary motivation for establishing design principles” (p. 44) and Zijdemans Boudreau (2014) elaborates with a systems-informed construct for openness.

I am indebted to Anita Zijdemans Boudreau for lighting my path.


Zijdemans Boudreau, A. (2014). Openness in Education, Systems Thinking, and the Practitioner. Journal of Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications. (29).