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What does "Open" mean?

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

“Once upon a time, a woodcutter asked for a job with a timber merchant, and he got it. The pay was excellent, as were the work conditions. For that reason, the woodcutter was determined to do his best. His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he was supposed to work. The first day, the woodcutter brought 21 trees. “Congratulations,” the boss said. “Go on that way!” Very motivated by the boss’ words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he only could bring 17 trees. The third day he tried even harder, but he only could bring 10 trees. Day after day he was bringing less and less trees. “I must be losing my strength”, the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on. “When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” the boss asked. “Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees.”

You may have heard that skills are the “currency of the future”. This woodcutter certainly would have benefited from keeping his skills sharp, but what if he dreamed of moving around in his career field, or changing careers altogether?

How would this worker express his skills, discover what he lacked or needed to achieve his goals? How might he connect his education, employment history, and his relevant skills and share those with those who can help him on his learning and employment journey. The answer is encoded in one word – open.

The philosophy behind open skills is recognizing that skills themselves are dynamic and when enhanced with metadata into Rich Skill Descriptors (RSDs) and categorized into Skills Libraries they become alive. They are skills in motion and open to all. Open means visible, transparent, and publicly available – nothing concealed.

The Open Skills Network believes in a free exchange of ideas around skills, RSDs, and the tools used to create skills libraries such as the Open Skills Management Tool (OSMT). The principle behind OSMT is open-source code available to all. The idea of openness demands this of us and the community we strive to enable.

Open also means inclusivity. We seek to break down barriers and remove walls with the intent of creating space on the field for creative problem solving to be done in the skills arena. The key to doing this is being open to full collaboration and to constant improvement, meaning listening to all the voices possible and welcoming the additions and changes they enable.

This philosophy opens the door to a flexible, adaptable, and accessible space in which to create a true network of interoperable tools, mechanisms, and platforms. This foundation is what people can better their learning, earning, and growth upon, by not only using what is created but by understanding it too. Open is the standard we measure ourselves by in code, technology, connection, and implementation. Open is fundamental to who we are at OSN.

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