What are the requirements for an open course?

My requirements would be

  • access course materials
  • share course materials
  • change course materials

All without having to sign up or agree to something that restricts any of the above.

Anything to add, change or remove from that very short list?

1 Like
  • acknowledgement (if sharing/changing).

@dirk, Why would you not want an open course to require users to sign up before changing content? Would this not open the way for spam and abuse? Or am I misunderstanding what you mean?

There are many courses that are said to be open, but you cannot actually see any content without signing up to the course and agreeing to some “Code of Conduct”. I don’t think it is wrong for people to have that requirement, but it disqualifies the course as being open in my opinion. It become an “open on certain conditions to certain people course”.

Hi @dirk,

Ok I understand. It seemed to me that you were suggesting that anonymous
users should be able to edit course content without needing to first sign
in. But what you explain makes a lot of sense.


Our current license also requires ShareAlike. That’s not set in stone, but worth considering / discussing.

Why are you asking?

I think our courses are open. But wondering about it for other courses.

A thing that irks me many times is that courses require sign up before you can see the content. Lots of these courses calls themselves open. My first problem with that is practical, I have no way to see what the course is really about in any more detail. And I don’t want to register an account, verify my email address, find the link to the course again, sign up, finally look at the content, read two or free emails and then try to unsubscribe from the course, and then try to unsubscribe from the platform announcements.

But the question remain, does that actually disqualify the course from being open? Software that is release under the GPL does not need to be downloadable on the public web. So I guess courses like that qualifies as being open?

Yes - I agree it’s annoying and unnecessary, and not open. “Open” means many different things for different people.

I guessed that was going to be your issue @dirk :). The max restrictions imposable that still qualifies as open is always going to be a movable feast that will depend on who you ask.

To state the obvious, anything other than C0 release (ie public domain / relinquish all rights) involves restrictions of some kind, so worth keeping in mind decision re ‘is it open?’ will almost always be a question of degree - not simply presence or absence - of restrictions imposed.

On your specific example, agree filing behind a log-in is annoying and not entirely in the spirit of open.

Coursera recently had to block access for students from US sanctioned countries:


As of this week, students attempting to log into course pages on our site or create new accounts will be restricted from access to these resources. It will still be possible to browse the course catalog and explore the Coursera website and blog, which are considered public information rather than services and therefore not subject to restrictions.

So, does that mean if coursera were more open they wouldn’t need to block access?

Also, does something like this hold in any risk for us?

Hey @dirk starting another thread on open / social learning materials.

I don’t think it is an issue, because P2PU is public information rather than education service, but it is something we should keep an eye on going forward. Export restrictions are a serious issue in the US.