Open Way LearNing

Transforming education through collaboration, freely exchanged knowledge, & innovation

Open Way Learning (OWL) offers a set of principles that can transform schooling through leveraging the power of open communities. It is a framework that encourages educators to create, tweak, and share best practices to help education keep pace with a rapidly changing economy, society, and environment. OWL encourages educators to prioritize shared vision, distributed leadership, collaboration, freely exchanged knowledge, and innovation in creating customized solutions for their learning communities.

This website provides resources to help educators practice Open Way Learning, while also helping people connect with the OWL community.

OPEN UP, EDUCATION! The Definitive Resource

Would you rather people saw you as open or closed minded? The answer should be obvious. Why is it then that we tend to allow our legacy systems in education to be closed, when they clearly don't enable the same level of performance as open ones. This phenomena is well-established in education, where many educators tend towards isolation, in-fighting, and hoarding resources from each other. Meanwhile, students often lack a clarity of purpose in terms of how what they are working on relates to things they care about in the wider world. Stuck inside an unengaging status quo, many students see "doing school" as irrelevant to their interests and ambitions. This book is the antidote to this closure: from the classroom to system-wide policy. It is a call-to-action for educators who want to become relentless collaborators networked with professionals in and outside the school. They are then poised to quicken the pace of innovation through accessing the endless supply of free knowledge available to them. This is the definitive resource on how to create an “Open Way Learning” ecosystem in your school, district, or region.

"Adam and Ben are committed educators who have invested deeply in Tri-County Early College High School, an innovative, progressive institution nestled in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. With their colleagues, they have created a school where students engage in meaningful learning inside their classrooms and with the wide learning beyond. In Open Up, Education!, Adam and Ben generously share stories of the practices inside their school and the rich set of research and resources that have inspired them. Adam and Ben understand that great teaching starts not with individual teachers but with a community of educators devoted to building trust, sharing ideas, and working towards continuous improvement."

Justin Reich
EdD, Assistant Professor in Comparative Media Studies and Director at MIT Teaching Systems Lab, Cambridge, MA
More Praise for Open Up, Education

Join the Network

Open Way Learning has partnered with two dynamic organizations to grow the OWL community: Become part of an online community of educators committed to the principles of Open Way Learning by joining Curio and tagging #OpenWayLearning as an area of expertise. You can also take a deeper dive into the key elements of Open Way Learning through the online learning platform Odigia, where participants will develop a customized OWL Action Plan that can help them adapt and implement an Open Way Learning culture in their own learning community.

Open Way Learning ingredients


Creating innovative teaching and learning environments requires an intense level of collaboration organized around a crystal clear shared vision. Radical collaboration that relies on a diverse set of perspectives and the collective creativity of the entire learning community - students and faculty - as they bring creative prototypes to bear on the often messy challenges we deal with in education. This also applies to modified governance frameworks where distributed leadership is highly encouraged by using teacher-powered schools frameworks.

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Free Knowledge

We learn more from each other and are able to respond to the needs of our learning community when information is open. The information age has changed the paradigm regarding the acquisition of knowledge. No longer dependent on formal institutions, today’s learner can easily find what she needs, when she needs it. Rather than fighting this current, educators need to learn to leverage it by shifting away from hoarding tendencies, shifting from being “teachers” to “learning guides,” and encouraging open, transparent sharing in their classrooms.

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The challenges facing our world demand innovative thinkers that use creative problem solving to tackle messy problems. But the term “innovation” has been thrown around so much that it has lost its potency. Open Way Learning focuses on true innovation that thrives in an environment of radical collaboration and open, freely exchanged ideas. It is within this environment that educators and students are able to use the Design Process to develop continuous improvement mindsets that help them solve pressing problems in their schools.

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Open Way Culture

Open Way Learning is not a methodology that tends to work with "window-dressing" changes for your classroom, school, or district. It is a fundamental shift in culture away from the comfortable traditions that produce relatively predictable results that may be “good enough,” to a new paradigm that welcomes uncertainty, demands continuous improvement, and produces learners ready to take on the challenges in a rapidly changing world. It’s a compelling model for the pioneers ready to create change in an educational system that stubbornly resists it.

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Ben Owens speaking with Jan Smith of Red Hat about the power of Open at BestNC Excellence in Education Innovation Lab 2018


Adam and Ben have had the privilege of partnering with a number of innovative organizations that offer state-of-the-art solutions, programs, and approaches to help schools and teachers do their work more effectively and better meet the needs of their students and the communities they serve. Open Way Learning fully endorses the work of each of these organizations and recommends that you research each to see how they can help your students and your organization. We can also offer customized collaborative workshops and/or advocacy programs on behalf of these organizations to help apply their subject matter expertise to your local needs. Click on any of the icons below to find out more about each organizations.

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Ben Owens


Adam haigler

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