OER Policy Forum in Paris
Took place on 1 December 2010
UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning extended an open invitation to attend a Policy Forum on Open Educational Resources (OERs) next month in Paris within the framework of the UNESCO-COL initiative, “Taking OER beyond the OER community: Policy and Capacity”.
OER Policy Forum
Wednesday, 1 December 2010, 9:30 to 18:00
Room XII, UNESCO Headquarters
7, Place de Fontenoy, 75007 Paris, France
The UNESCO/COL OER Policy Forum examined the results of the “Taking OER beyond the OER community” initiative and strategise next steps. Decision makers in governments, institutions and funding bodies will contribute to a strategy to move forward OERs and the open content movement more widely in order to promote quality education.
- establish a common understanding of open educational resources and their potential to promote access to quality education in developing countries;
- explore how OERs can maximise the impact of investment in higher education;
- discuss the role of OERs in advancing the Millennium Development Goals;
- review progress made in this UNESCO-COL initiative; and
- discuss and propose a way forward for UNESCO and other bodies to harness OERs and open content for education and explore related issues, such as the adoption of open licensing by intergovernmental organisations.
A Background document and Draft Agenda are available at the top of the column to the right. Links to media coverage by University World News, are also on the right.
See also: http://oerworkshop.weebly.com
At the heart of the movement towards Open Educational Resources is the simple and powerful idea that the world’s knowledge is a public good and that technology in general and the Worldwide Web in particular provide an opportunity for everyone to share, use, and reuse it (Smith, M.S. and Casserly, C.M. 2006. The promise of Open Educational Resources. Change, Vol. 38, No. 5, pp. 8-17)
The term ‘Open Education 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 Hewlett Foundation.
Open Education Resources (OER) are defined as:
“digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and re-use for teaching, learning and research”
OER can be deposited (by donation) by a variety of sources to one or more of the many OER repositories, which are mainly online.
UNESCO has taken a leadership role in making countries aware of the potential of OER. The online OER Community, with over 900 members from 109 countries, already links developing and developed countries to share information and experiences across the wide spectrum of OER development and support.
At the 2009 World Conference on Higher Education: The New Dynamics of Higher Education and Research For Societal Change and Development (UNESCO, Paris, 5 – 8 July 2009) it was communicated that ODL approaches and ICTs present opportunities to widen access to quality education, particularly when Open Educational Resources are readily shared by many countries and higher education institutions (Communiqué, 8 July 2009). [link to English communiqué]
The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) has made the use of OER an important component in all aspects of their work. COL has taken a holistic and process-oriented approach to OER, emphasising the delivery of products - mostly in the form of course materials. Examples of COL's OER work are OER for Open Schooling, materials developed through the Virtual University of the Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC) and the Commonwealth Computer Navigators' Certificate (CCNC), to name a few.
Despite the progress generated by this activity within the OER community, which has indeed contributed to the wider use of OER, the OER concept is still not widely known and understood, especially by policy makers and institutional managers. Moreover, it is probable that the flow of OER is currently occurring mainly in one direction – from the north to the south. Despite some emerging initiatives OER are still a marginal and donor-driven phenomenon in most of the developing world (Kanwar, Balasubramanian & Umar, 2009). This presents the danger that a potentially important development is perceived as a manifestation of neo-colonialism before it has had a chance to embed itself in Africa and other developing countries.
Objectives of the Initiative
The objectives of the initiative are to:
1. Ensure greater support for the use of OER created and used both in developing and developed countries by educational decision makers (governmental and institutional)
2. Enhance capacity of educational practitioners in developing countries to create and use OER.
1. Dossier as basis for workshops and policy debate
2. Capacity building workshops
3. Policy forum