3 Bozkurt, Koseoglu, and Singh, “An analysis of peer reviewed publications on openness in education in half a century: Trends and patterns in the open hemisphere.”


Bozkurt, A., Koseoglu, S., & Singh, L. (2019). An analysis of peer reviewed publications on openness in education in half a century: Trends and patterns in the open hemisphere. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 35(4), 78–97. https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.4252.


This study focused on identifying trends and patterns in peer-reviewed literature, focusing on openness in education. They used a systematic review to find publications from 1969-2017 that contained the following keywords: open education, open learning, OEPs (open educational practices), and OERs (open educational resources). In the first phase of this project, researchers conducted a content analysis of 970 publications identified as sources of data. In the second phase, research was carried out using Social Network Analysis to compare the dynamics of networks and their components. In the final phase, researches used text-mining to examine emerging themes and concepts. The overall data collection and analysis process can be examined in this figure. Overall, findings suggest that openness in education has increasingly become an interdisciplinary research topic. The next section highlights key points from the article.

Key Points

  • Search Result Findings
    • OERs, open education, open learning, MOOCs (massive open online courses), and e-learning were identified as the most common keywords.
      • Research on OERs was by far the most common.
    • Research found there were three major themes: barriers in OERs, OERs as vision for higher education, and the relationship between OER and OEPs.
      • It was also discovered that there is a lot of ground for more research with OEPs.
  • Geographical Findings
    • Country distribution of publication revealed that research on the topic mostly stemmed from developed countries:
      • “This finding raises questions as to the sustainability of openness in education and its efficiency and effectiveness to lessen the digital divide” (Bozkurt, 2019, page 86).
      • Publications were limited to having been written completely in English or at least with English abstracts and titles. This limits the study sample, so there may be many other publications on the topic that are written in other languages.
  • School Findings
    • Many universities that claim that they use open learning have not contributed much to research in the field.
      • This begs questions as to whether they are actually using openness, or if they just advertise it to attract more students.
  • The trends in publications in subject areas show that social sciences published the most research on the search terms at 44.51%. This is not surprising considering that in this study, education falls under social sciences. Other top subject areas include computer science at 23.07% and engineering at 8.51%.


Openness in education has become a trend of sorts in the past decade, but the idea started as early as 1948. There is not a set definition for openness in learning, so the variety of interpretations could have an affect the results of this study. “Coffey (1977) defined open learning as the removal of both administrative and educational constraints to learning” (Bozkurt, 2019, page 79). As trends in online learning continue to become more popular, research in the different fields will also increase. Technology is becoming a staple in the classroom, and in order for it to be utilized most efficiently in the classroom, the research behind it is necessary.

Open learning seems to be a solution to the digital divide, the patterns in this research study have shown that undeveloped countries have much less research. This means that openness in education could actually be creating more of a digital divide for countries that don’t have the means to use it and they don’t have findings in research.

Discussion questions     

  1. How is knowing the trends in publications on openness in education beneficial?
  2. How do the results from this study identify digital divides?
  3. Why are OERs the most common trend?
  4. How could the researchers have improved their process for finding the publications to include?

Additional resources


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Online Learning Toolbox Copyright © 2019 by Evrim Baran is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.