The Open Education Resource (OER) Foundation (OERF) maintains the highest level of respect for the privacy of individuals who create accounts on the websites maintained by the OERF and information collected by other means to support the delivery of the philanthropic services of the OERu network. The OERF has adopted this Privacy and Terms of Service Policy to ensure that we handle your personal information in accordance with the New Zealand Privacy Act 1993 (the country where the OERF registered offices are located).
This policy also documents the terms of service which the OERF provides in good faith to support free learning opportunities for OERu learners. OERu learners and participants in the OERu network agree to the terms of this policy by registering for OERu courses or websites maintained by the OERF to support the OERu network.
- Open Educational Resources (OER) are materials used to support education that may be freely accessed, reused, modified and shared by anyone (Downes 2011.)
- Open Education Resource Foundation (OERF) is an independent non-profit entity which provides leadership, international networking and support to education institutions to achieve their strategic objectives using open education approaches. The OERF coordinates the OERu initiative.
- OERu (OERu) also known as the OER Tertiary Education Network (OERTen) is a philanthropic international collaboration of accredited universities, community colleges and polytechnics which aims to provide more affordable access and pathways to achieving formal academic credit from participating partners.
- OERu learners are individuals who register to participate in OERu courses hosted on the OER Foundation websites for free. OERu learners may include academic volunteers, learners participating informally out of personal interest and learners intending to enrol for formal assessment and credentialing services at one of the OERTen partner institutions.
- OERu students are learners who decide to formerly enrol and pay assessment fees for credentialing services at one of the OERTen partner institutions.
- Users include any individual or organisation who registers an account on a web site maintained by the OERF, including but not limited to WikiEducator, ask.oeru, and the OERF's Moodle and Mahara installations.
- Parallel delivery mode refers to an OERu anchor partner who offers an OERu course in parallel with OERu learners for full-tuition students enrolled at the respective institution.
- is restricted to personal information held by the OERF and terms of service for courses and technologies hosted by the OERF to support OERu learners.
- excludes personal information held and related terms of service provided by OERTen members for OERu courses offered in parallel delivery mode, or as standalone courses hosted by OERTen members. These services are governed by the specific institutional policies of the respective OERTen members.
- excludes any services of third-party providers which OERu learners may choose to use in support of their learning.
Personal information we collect
The OERF collects, holds and uses personal information from:
- OERu learners who register for OERu courses hosted on the websites maintained by the OERF.
- Academic volunteers who assist with OERu courses.
- Selected staff members employed by OERTen member institutions.
- The open education community and general public interested in the OERu network.
Personal information is usually collected when an OERu learner registers on one of the websites and by online survey form from OERu learners and individuals interested in or associated with OERu courses or OERF operations. This information may include:
- Your name, address, contact number(s) and email address
- Name of institution or organisational affiliation
- Responses to OERu learning activities
- User comments and opinions
Purposes for collecting information
The OERF collects information directly from users for the following specified purposes:
- To provide services which support the operations of the OERu, including: OERu announcements and technologies to support the OERu learning process, for example, discussion forums, e-mail lists, OERF hosted microblog posts, collaborative editing environments, databases used to aggregate OERu learner contributions, OERu surveys, technologies for the submission of assignments etc.
- Internal analysis and record keeping.
- Confirmation of identity related to OERu services and websites hosted by the OERF.
- Follow up on any queries made by OERu learners.
- Conducting research on open education in general and the OERu in particular. However, when reporting research findings, the data is aggregated removing any personal identifying information.
- Sharing of information with OERTen partner members who provide assessment and credentialing services to support their registration processes.
- Reporting requirements for relevant agencies including the New Zealand Charities Commission, shareholders of the OER Foundation and Inland Revenue New Zealand (General Sales Tax returns for New Zealand OERTen members and reporting requirements for registered charitable organisations).
- Inform OERu participants about OERu related publications, projects and activities unless you have selected not to receive such information.
- Contact individuals about any changes to this policy.
The OERF will never publish, sell, trade, rent or share personal information with third parties other than uses specified in this policy and for the public health and safety purposes listed below. The OERF may outsource operational activities and services provided. For this purpose, and only for the purpose of providing official services of the OERF and related OERu activities, personal information may, as required, be handled by:
- Individuals, professionals or organisations working under contract to the OERF to provide such services in accordance with the policies of the OERF.
- Official members of staff of the OERu partner institutions to facilitate registration and identification of students opting for assessment and credentialing services from one or more of the OERu partner institutions.
In accordance with the Privacy Act 1993, the OERF reserves the right to disclose personal information where it believes on reasonable grounds that the disclosure of information is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to public health or public safety or the life or health of the individual concerned or another individual. The OERF also reserves the right to disclose personal information where authorised by the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner if the public interest or benefit to another person substantially outweighs the breach of privacy.
How we manage personal information
The OERF is committed to keeping personal information secure. We manage our systems to ensure your username and personal information is protected as best we can. In accordance with generally accepted practice, where personal information under this policy would require the use of a secure website, for example, financial transactions, these will take place under secure website and corresponding SSL certificate registered by the OERF. The OERF may enter your information in a database with appropriate computer, network and communications security. The personal information collected will be destroyed when no longer required.
All access to financial information, is strictly limited to professional staff who need to process those data. No such data are given to any person, organization or group who does not need to access those data.
The OERF only uses online payment processing services with world class security and strong reputations. The OERF does not store, nor does it have access to, your credit card information, bank account numbers, or other account data sent to those processing services.
Access or correction of personal information
You can access the personal information the OERF holds on you or your organisation. If the information held is inaccurate, incomplete or not up to date you may request the OER Foundation to correct this by contacting the Privacy Officer in writing.
OERu terms of service
The OERu is a philanthropic initiative which provides free learning opportunities for OERu learners.
You are responsible for the use of the services provided by the OERF, for any content you post to the OERF maintained websites and, for any consequences thereof. The OERF does not accept responsibility or liability for the actions of its users. Any use or reliance on any content or materials posted via the OERF websites or obtained by you through these websites is at your own risk.
- OERu learners may participate in OERu courses at no-cost
- Accreditation and / or additional services offered by OERu anchor partners or the OERF are optional and provided on a fee-for-service basis (see below).
- OERu courses are based solely on OERs and / or open access materials
- OERu learners are not required to purchase any textbooks or resources in preparation for formal assessment and credentialing services from the OERu anchor partners
- OERu courses are designed for online self-directed study and incorporate technologies and opportunities for peer-learning support.
- As an open project, academic volunteers from the community may provide some level of support to OERu learners.
- There are no entry requirements for participation in any of the OERu courses. However, there may be institution specific entry requirements for enrolling as an OERu student at one of the anchor partners providing assessment and credentialing services. Links to these entry requirements, if any, will be provided on the website of the specific OERu course. It is the responsibility of the OERu learner to appraise themselves of any entry requirements at the beginning of the course if they intend to pursue formal academic credit from an OERu anchor partner.
- There is no contractual relationship between OERu learners and the respective OERu anchor partner until they formerly enrol as OERu students at the respective anchor partner for assessment and credentialing services. The relationship between OERu student and the anchor partner is governed by the terms of service between the OERu student and the OERu anchor partner concerned.
- During the prototype phase of the OERu, the OERF will not provide certificates of participation or any other form of certification.
Assessment, credit transfer and credentialing services
The OERu collaboration operates in accordance with the following terms of service:
- The OERu does not provide summative assessment services
- The OERu does not confer degrees or credentials. OERu anchor partners who are accredited institutions within their own jurisdictions provide assessment and credentialing services.
- Credentials are conferred by the respective OERu anchor partner in accordance with the local institutional policies of the anchor partner.
- Individual OERu anchor partners may not necessarily provide assessment and credentialing services for all listed OERu courses. The OERu course websites hosted by the OERF will provide information on which OERu anchors partners provide assessment and credentialing services for the respective OERu courses.
- The OERu network aims to maximise credit transfer for courses within the network in the future, but this is subject to individual articulation agreements between the anchor partners and / or local recognition of prior learning policies. During the prototype phase of the OERu, credit transfer will limited. Where credit transfer agreements are in place, these will be clearly linked from the respective OERu course.
- The OERu assessment and credentialing services are provided by the OERTen members on a fee-for-service basis to OERu students.
- The price for assessment and credentialing services is determined by the individual OERu anchor partner and indicative prices for these services from the respective anchor partner(s) will be linked from the OERu course websites.
Users retain copyright of any content submitted, posted, or displayed on OERu services. By submitting, posting or displaying content on, or through the OERF maintained websites you provide this under a default Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. This means that you provide permission to copy, distribute, display and perform your work, to make derivative works and to make commercial use of the work on condition that you are attributed. Users may apply the ShareAlike provision but this must be clearly indicated in the relevant content contribution.
Your rights to use OERu content
The OERF does not own the copyright of the course materials, other than the contributions of OERF staff members. The OERF courses are generally owned by the respective contributors.
All OERu course materials hosted on the OERF web sites are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license or Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license and the license is clearly identified on the respective web pages. This means that the copyright holders provide you with permission to copy, distribute, display and perform their work, to make derivative works and to make commercial use of the OERu content on condition of attribution and /or ShareAlike provisions specified by the respective license.
Third party web services
OERu learners may choose to use third party web services to support their learning including, for example, blogs, microblogs, online document services etc. The OERu privacy and terms of service policy does not extend to third party web services and OERu learners should consult the respective terms of service of these third party web sites.
The OERF may suggest that OERu learners use third party webservices available at no-cost to the user. The use of these services are optional. The OERu privacy and terms of service policy does not extend to these third party web services and OERu learners should consult the respective terms of service of these third party web sites. Suggestions for the use of these optional third party web services are at your own risk, and does not in any way constitute an endorsement by the OERF for these services.
Public forums and websites
The OERu publishes user communications associated with OERu courses on the Internet including wiki edits, and posts on chat rooms, forums, message boards, microblogs and/or news groups which are openly available to users and the general public. These posts may be accessible to the general public without username or password access. Please remember that any information that is disclosed in these areas becomes public information and you should exercise caution and take responsibility when deciding to disclose any personal information.
Discussion moderation, SPAM and inappropriate conduct
As an open initiative, the OERF does not moderate forums, chat rooms, discussions, wiki posts etc. While we apply reasonable measures to manage SPAM, unsolicited advertising or inappropriate comments the OERF does not accept responsibility for the behaviour of its users. The OERF does not have any control over the content of posts which are sourced and aggregated from third party web sites in support of OERu learning environment.
The OERu serves many countries and users are encouraged to be respectful of the diverse cultures participating in OERu courses. Offensive comments, insults, personal attacks, and inappropriate language will be deleted from OERF maintained websites. The OERF reserves the right to ban disruptive user accounts on any of the websites maintained by the Foundation to support the OERu network.
Disclaimers and limitation of liability
As a charitable initiative, the OERu courses are developed in good faith by the contributors and are peer-reviewed by the OERu anchor partners to ensure acceptable international quality standards.
As an open source collaboration, the OERu courses are provided on an "AS-IS" and "AS-AVAILABLE" basis. The OERF and OERu anchor partners do not provide any express or implied guarantee or warranty for fitness of any purpose of the free services and corresponding content hosted by the OERF for the OERu network and OERu learners. The terms of service do not constitute a service level agreement between users and the OERF and while the foundation operates these websites under best practice, we do not guarantee continuation of service which may, for example, be disrupted due to excessive demand for these services.
If you have questions about this OERu Privacy and Terms of Service Policy or if you wish to be removed from our e-mail/postal contact lists, then please email for the attention of the Privacy Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to:
The Privacy Officer
OER Foundation Limited
c/o Otago Polytechnic
3rd floor, F Block
Private Bag 1910
Changes to the OERu Privacy and Terms of Service policy
The OERF may amend this policy from time to time by resolution of the executive management of the Foundation.
- Downes, S. 2011. Educational Resources: A Definition.