• What are open educational resources?
Open Education Resources (OER) are any type of teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain or released with an open license allowing for their free use, adaptation and distribution. Open licensing is built within an existing framework for intellectual property rights, as defined by applicable international agreements, respecting the authorship of the work.
The most common confusion is to believe that if educational content is freely available, that makes it OER. Although a resource may be freely available on the internet, it may be protected by copyright, in which case it may not be reused and adapted or incorporated into derivative works without the permission of the author.
The origins of the term “OER” go back to 2002, when UNESCO organised the Global Forum on the Impact of OpenCourseware the term "Open educational resources” was coined. The tenth anniversary of the term was celebrated at the World Congress on OER, held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France from 20 – 22 June 2012.
• What opportunities and advantages are offered by OER?
Open educational resources provide a strategic opportunity to improve the quality of education as well as facilitate policy dialogue, knowledge sharing and capacity building. OERs offer us new opportunities to rediscover and to put into practice a fundamental value of education: the free sharing of knowledge. UNESCO believes that universal access to high quality education is a key to the building of peace, sustainable social and economic development, and intercultural dialogue.
• How can students in developing countries with internet access benefit from OERs?
The Open Educational Resources Movement is part of a global effort to make quality education and knowledge available to everyone. In this way, the usage and promotion of OERs is part of the basis for democratising education. Over and above licences and technologies, what is at stake is a route leading to collaboration, interchange, and the creation of networks that favour equity, to guarantee the right to education.
• Have academic institutions and teachers got behind OER, or have they been more reticent?
Different levels of progress have been achieved, often with differences between countries. There are relevant examples, such as the open MIT courses (OpenCourseware Initiative), which are making all the high-quality contents available. But we are also seeing countries that spend huge sums on education resources, and do not provide them with open licences. In all countries, but particularly in countries with low and middle levels of development, governments must promote the use of ICT to favour equity - and the OER movement is a way to help stop the divide from growing.
Creating, building, and using open educational resources may seem a little intimidating and requires learning about technology, as these resources are based on the conscious and proactive use of technology. However, the best incentives for doing so are a passion for sharing knowledge and a willingness to learn alongside others. Teachers are key stakeholders in this process, as they understand the needs of students must build the bridges necessary to create the environment necessary for the uptake of OER.
• What advances does UNESCO hope to make in The 2012
Paris Declaration on OER was approved at the recent World Congress on Open Educational Resources, and this document includes objectives such as encouraging governments to openly license the creation and usage of State-financed educational materials. It is our hope that with this proposal, alongside many efforts by the Open Education Resources movement, by 2015 at least twelve Member States will be implementing national OER policies, and that millions of education stakeholders will be participating in OER communities and using such resources.
Publication Date: 06-07-2012