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Open Educational Resources (OER) 

COL's OER initiatives...
Searching for Open Educational Resources...


The term ‘Open Educational Resources’ (OER) was first adopted at UNESCO’s 2002 Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. 

COL has adopted the widest definition of Open Educational Resources (OER) as ‘materials offered freely and openly to use and adapt for teaching, learning, development and research’. While OER are mainly shareable in digital formats (both online and via offline formats such as DVD or CD-ROM), COL sees OER not just synonymous with online resources, online learning or e-learning, and within the development context COL is working, OER can also be in printable formats.

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is strongly committed to the creation, adaptation and use of Open Educational Resources (OER) because they have the potential to increase access to education while cutting costs and improving quality. They are, therefore, an important element of COL's mission of Learning for Development.

OER can be deposited (by donation) by a variety of sources to one or more of the many OER repositories, which are mainly online.

The term ‘Open Courseware’ (OCW) is used for publicly available materials that are either a part of, or a complete course from an educational institution such as a university or college.

Both terms have been evolving in their definitions since 2002.


COL's OER initiatives

In 2010, in collaboration with UNESCO, COL launched an initiative: Taking OER beyond the OER Community: Policy and Capacity that aims to expand the understanding of OER by educational decision makers and to promote their wider use. Activities include publications on the use of OER, advocacy workshops and online discussions on different topics/issues in OER and OER policy support to government and institutions. The initiative has also developed materials for one-day workshops on the use, re-use and re-purpose of OER, A Basic Guide to OER and Guidelines for Open Educational Resources in Higher Education.

Growing from this, COL and UNESCO have embarked on an initiative that aims to encourage more governments to adopt policies that include OER: "Fostering Governmental Support for OER Internationally".

COL has also developed a Policy on Open Educational Resources.


Searching for Open Educational Resources

Visit COL's Directory of Open Education Resources