A meta-analysis of open educational communities of practice and sustainability in higher educational policy

Teresa MacKinnon, Sarah Ellen Pasfield-Neofitou, Howard John Manns, Scott John Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


"Sustainability" has gained substantial currency in education internationally and is an important motivation for open educational practices, although the definitions educators attribute to this term may differ from what is meant institutionally. Uses of "sustainable" or "sustainability" in higher education range from taking into consideration students' future needs, to notions of cost effectiveness, accessibility and environmental footprint, synonymous with economics and ecology, and viewed as a business model. The future brings many as yet unknown challenges which will certainly require access to lifelong learning opportunities for growing populations.

Learning and teaching are human activities which take place through communities of practice, often but not exclusively formal institutions such as schools and colleges. In higher education and beyond, knowledge sharing is no longer limited exclusively to academic publishing and conferences. Technological developments have enabled social interaction through social media tools which are rapidly changing the way we live and work, providing new networks for learning. In this article, we explore the assumptions underpinning the terms "sustainability" and "open education" as they are utilised in current university policy via a meta-analysis of published policy documents. We posit that notions of "sustainability" are simultaneously one of the most important triggers of and obstacles to Open Educational Practices, and examine to what degree Australian (and international) university polices address these issues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • interaction
  • openness
  • lifelong learning
  • sustainability

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