Global Trends

Topics: Open content, Open source, Open access Pages: 14 (4269 words) Published: May 20, 2013
Policy Brief
November 2010

UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education

GLOBAL TRENDS IN THE DEVELOPMENT AND USE OF OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES TO REFORM EDUCATIONAL PRACTICES CONTENTS: Introduction The forces driving publication and use of open educational resources From open educational resources to open educational practices Impacts on educational systems Recommendations

Open educa onal resources (OER) have become a major focus of discussion and ac on within educa onal circles, par cularly those related to higher educa on. There are a number of names associated with this movement that was ini ated in the late 1990s but gained global prominence in 2001 when MIT launched their Open Courseware ini a ve1. Names such as open content, open educa onal content, open learning resources, open educa onal technologies, open academic resources and open courseware are variously used in the literature and in online and face-to-face discussions; but it is the term open educa onal resources adopted at a UNESCO mee ng in 2002, that is most commonly used. There are also a number of defini ons but this modifica on of the original UNESCO defini on is o en quoted: OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others. Open educa onal resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, so ware, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge (Atkins, Brown and Hammond, 2007, p. 4).


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IITE Policy Brief

November 2010

This defini on does not make an explicit dis nc on between resources created specifically for an educa onal purpose (e.g. lecture notes) and those resources that can be used for educa onal purposes (e.g. historical images from an archive) but implicitly it is dealing more with the former. Since that me there has been a rapid expansion in OER provided through funded ins tu onal repositories (e.g. MIT, UK Open University2), funded and non-funded community based ini a ves (e.g. Connexions3, WikiEducator4), proprietary channels (e.g. iTunesU5, YouTubeEDU6), and many web sites of projects, groups and individuals. This growth in OER matches the growth in the use of the Crea ve Commons intellectual property licences for allowing free use and re-purposing of digital content in general7. Equally there have been a number of interna onal, regional and na onal consor a set up and/or take on responsibility for extending the role and scope of OER amongst their members (e.g. Open Courseware Consor um8, EADTU9) as well as organised global discussion and knowledge sharing ini a ves (e.g. UNESCO OER Community10, OER Commons’ OER Community11). Much of this growth has been organic, been driven by funding from The William and Flora Hewle Founda on12, or more recently through Government backed publicly funded ini a ves (e.g. UKOER programme13). All this ac vity has led to a great diversity of OER being published and used in a large variety of ways and se ngs. Nevertheless, while OER ac vity is global (as can be seen, for instance, by the membership of the Open Courseware Consor um coming from at least 41 countries), the largest and best funded ini a ves have mostly been in developed countries from North America and Europe, and have mostly been in English. While interest is widespread, significant implementa on and use is patchy but growing.

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