- 1 Introduction
- 2 Country Demographics
- 3 State of the Art of Open Education in Brazil
- 4 Legal Frameworks and Regulations
- 5 References
With over 204 million people, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) – July/2015 , Brazil is the 5th most populous country in the world in territorial area (covering 48% of the total area of South America) and the 8th largest economy on the planet .
Even being such a huge country, Brazil has achieved significant advances in education over the last 15 years, as reported by the World Bank, 2010. The report points out the continuous public policies and the effective long-lasting reforms as factors that have contributed to these advances. However, to guarantee, make and improve the country´s progress, it is unquestionable that much more has to be done, in terms of providing economic, educational and social equalities to all Brazilian citizens, unevenly spread in the country´s territory.
Education in Brazil is controlled by the Federal Government, by means of the Ministry of Education, which defines the rules and demands for the organization of educational programs in the country. The local governments are responsible for establishing and implementing the programs which use the funding supplied by the Federal Government.
The Brazilian tertiary education system is not compulsory. Higher education is offered by private, public universities, colleges, higher institutes and educational technology centers.
To pursue higher education in Brazil, it is mandatory that students have secondary education. In addition, students must also pass a competitive entrance examination (Vestibular) to be able to take the course of their interest in higher education. Similarly to Vestibular, the National Examination of Secondary Education (ENEM) is another type of higher education entrance examination adopted by a number of public universities in the country.
Most of the growth at the tertiary level has been absorbed by private institutions which enroll almost three quarters of the total student population. Educational attainment rates in Brazil have been rising over the past decade, according to the OECD Educational Glance 2013. As registered in the document, tertiary attainment rates stand at 9% among 55-64 year-olds and 13% among 25-34 year-olds.
To improve equity and opportunities for tertiary education, the Government of Brazil has launched the ProUni program  to help place academically qualified low income students into private education institutions. Also attempting to give underprivileged Brazilian students a chance of getting free higher education and, thus, access to better jobs, a new law was approved in 2012. . The so called Lei das Cotas n. 12.711/2012] (a polemic law) guarantees 50% of the places in Brazil´s federal universities and institutes to students coming from public schools, low-income families and who are Afro or indigenous descendent.
Due to Brazil´s territorial extension and the number of people wishing to have access to education, Distance Education (EAD) in higher education started to be seen as a feasible and interesting solution. The 2011 Higher Education Census has confirmed the tendency of growth of distance learning programs in Brazil. Considering the academic background, it reports that the enrollments of authorized courses were mainly in the higher level, with a larger incidence in licentiate´s degrees, technological courses and bachelor´s degrees.
Despite the fact that technological infrastructure is yet a problem in Brazil and the existing regional and socioeconomic disparities in ICT access, data shows that the number of Internet users has been increasing along the years in the country.
In 2013 the number of Internet users reached – for the first time - 51% of the population (85.9 million Brazilians), according to the survey carried out by the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI. Br) published in October 2014. The survey points out that Internet users via mobile phone stood out in 2013. The survey also unveils that while 24% of small businesses claim to have an IT area, the percentage reaches 51% and 89% for medium and large companies, respectively.
According to Forbes , 23.3% of Brazilians use their phones to access the internet and Reuters forecasted that as of the end of 2013, Brazil would be home to the largest mobile phone market in Latin America.
Even though computer use in schools is encouraged by the Brazilian government, in general, computers are still mostly used in computer labs. Technological infrastructure problems are a significant barrier to frequency of ICT use in a great number of schools in the country. Another existing barrier is the need for training programs that help teachers to develop abilities and competencies in the use of technologies in the learning and teaching process.
The challenge to include all students and teachers in the universe of information and communication technology still persists in the country.
State of the Art of Open Education in Brazil
“Despite appearing in the literature since 2006 and the increasing actions to raise awareness of OER […], the Open Education Resources movement still has a long way to go in Brazil” (Inamorato, 2011).
According to Inamorato, by involving all private and public education sectors in the implementation of specific national policies relevant to OER, it will be possible to have a significant impact on widening participation of OER in Education in the whole country.
The Open University of Brasil System (UAB System) , which is composed of public universities, was created under Decree 5800  in June, 2006. Through distance education methodology, it aims at expanding and democratizing access to higher education courses and programs for the population at large and in particular for primary teachers living in areas far from big urban centers. The UAB System supports researches in innovative technological higher education methodology and stimulates collaboration between the Union and its Federate members. It also encourages the creation of centers for permanent training in strategic poles located in the countryside, thus trying to curb the migratory movement towards the big centers by those seeking higher education opportunities.
At present, 88 institutions (among federal and state universities, and federal education, science and technology institutions (IFETs) compose the UAB System. UAB System is the articulator between the higher education institutions and the municipal and state governments in attending to local demands for higher education.
Considering the main Brazilian government goals for national education for the next decade, OER can help bring about (as summarized by Inamorato) the following:
- Additional extra-curricular basic and secondary educational activities using ICTs;
- Encouragement of the use of tutored and self-study OER programs;
- Career development opportunities for teachers;
- Collaboratively written textbooks for public access;
- Collaboratively produced pedagogical and training materials for teachers and students;
- Broader participation in higher education.
Virtual University of the State of São Paulo (UNIVESP) [univesp.br] is the newest and most innovative public university of the State of São Paulo. Created under Decree No. 53.536  on October 9th, 2008, the program of the Government of São Paulo aims at expanding access to free quality public higher education for the population of the State of São Paulo. To achieve the objective, the program counts on three universities - University of São Paulo (USP), Campinas State University (UNICAMP) and University of the State of São Paulo (UNESP) - and on Technological State Center Paula Souza (CEETEPs). The program receives grants from the Research Aid Foundation from the State of São Paulo (FAPESP), Paulista Administrative Development Foundation (FUNDAP) and Padre Anchieta Foundation (FPA). While the universities are responsible for the academic project itself, UNIVESP guarantees the material; financial and technological conditions for the courses and does the follow up of the students´ development and performance. Associated with face-to-face activities in the learning poles (settled in several regions of the State), the virtual learning environment includes pedagogical materials, articles, videos, forum and chats. Besides the internet, UNIVESP counts on UNIVESP TV  - a digital channel from Padre Anchieta Foundation directly linked to UNIVESP courses.
e-TEC BRAZIL NETWORK  – created under Decree n. 7589/2011  aims at developing, expanding and democratizing access to public professional and technological education. The Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC) is responsible for the funds. The States, Federal District and Cities provide the structure, equipment, human resources and everything necessary for the courses delivered by public universities nationwide.
According to information presented on the Website of Recursos Educacionais Abertos (REA) , the visit of an international commission to the Ministry of Education and a series of events on the relevance of OER in both São Paulo and Brasília gave rise to the OER Brazilian Project (Projeto REA.br). Also, the REA project - launched by Carolina Rossini in 2008 -, was the first attempt to suit the international discussion on OER and on Open Education to Brazilian reality. It has partnership with and counts on Digital Institute , the Law School of São Paulo of Fundação Getúlio Vargas , UNESCO , among others. Funded by the Open Society Foundation , it is conducted in conjunction with several international projects and initiatives focused on OER. The REA-Brazil Community gathers whoever is interested in discussing about and or reflecting upon OER and Open Education.
To delve deeper into the history of REA-Br Project, see Inamorato, 2011, whose link to the electronic copy of the whole publication is in the References below.
Besides the REA project, many other initiatives related to OER and Open Education have been tried and implemented in Brazil along the years.
Cases of International Collaboration on OER
There have been interesting cases of international collaboration with Brazil that contributed to the sharing and spreading of good OER practices in the country.
It can be mentioned as examples: In 1997, Brazil set an agreement with the United States of America to develop technology for pedagogical purposes. Two years later, in 1999, the Interactive Virtual Education Network (RIVED)  - one of the first initiatives in Brazil to provide free digital learning materials through the web - was launched, as a result of a partnership between Secretary of Secondary Education and Technology (today SEB) and Secretary for Distance Education (SEED). In 2004, the production of learning objects was transferred from SEED to the universities, giving rise to RIVED/Virtual Factory. RIVED sponsors multidisciplinary teams at universities for research and production of learning objects. All contents produced are public and are gradually being licensed through Creative Commons License, allowing copy and distribution of the materials, once credit is given to the authors. RIVED presents itself as the Brazilian counterpart in the Latin American Network of Educational Portals (RELPE). Access to educational contents produced by the participant countries can be shared among them. Besides Brazil, Peru and Venezuela also participate in the project.
In 2008 the Ministry of Education in partnership with the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Latin American Network of Educational Portals (RELPE), the Organization of Ibero American States (OEI) and others launched the International Database of Educational Objects (BIOE), a repository that offers public access to digital learning resources, in various formats, languages and for all educational levels. The objects can be accessed individually or in collections.
Mapping of OER initiatives in K12 in Portuguese and Spanish in Latin America (MIRA)  is a research project that received grant from Hewlett Foundation  to develop a prototype for a world map for Open Educational Resources. The objective of the project is not only to develop software but also gather content. It works in synergy with other mapping projects, including POERUP  and Emundus . MIRA website is accessed in English, Portuguese and Spanish. One of the results of MIRA Project was launched in 11/11/2014. It is the first Brazilian video  on OER. It resulted from a collaborative work among Open Knowledge Brazil (OKBr) , Instituto Educadigital (IED) , Núcleo de Informática Aplicada à Educação (NIED-UNICAMP)  & Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL) . The video with subtitles in English and in Spanish is licensed under Creative Commons.
UNESCO Chairs Programme in Open Education/UNICAMP, whose opening dates from November 11, 2014, focus on developing projects, research and training on Open Education and Open Education Resources, mainly for elementary school teachers and teacher training. At UNESCO Chairs Programme in Open Education/UNICAMP one can find several links to OER map, resources, publications, events, open data tables. It is worth visiting the site .
UNISULVIRTUAL  collaborates with the OpenLearn project - an OER repository launched by the Open University in 2007. UNISULVIRTUAL is also an active collaborator of Open Learning Network (OLnet)  whose focus is on researching and identifying OER users and the impact OER can have in the users´ life. Recently, UNISULVIRTUAL was invited by the Open University to participate in the OpenScout project . Funded by the European Community, the OpenScout aims at researching technologies for adaptation, creation and greater reuse of OER. It also aims at offering internet educational services that help users find, access, use and exchange contents in business management areas.
Virtual Campus for Public Health (CVSP)  is a space to develop interdisciplinary cooperation in the field of public health training. CVSP resulted from a partnership between the Health Pan-American Organization (OAPA) and the countries in the region of Americas. It is a decentralized network of individuals, institutions and organizations that share courses, resources, services and educational activities aiming at strengthening the labor force competences in public health. It is expected that it becomes a space of creativity and innovation. Some courses and learning resources are licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 for Intergovernmental Organizations; others may appear under another type of CC license.
The Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) was the first Federal Brazilian University to become a member of the Open Education Consortium through Imagine Project . It is an international solidary project aiming at the scientific inclusion and the cultural exchange between diverse communities. One of the specific goals of the project is to develop teaching tools which will be available in digital format in several languages, as OER.
It is important to mention that Brazil has higher education institutions which are members of the Open Education Consortium (The Global Network for Open Education):
- University of Southern Santa Catarina (UNISUL) offers a range of undergraduate and graduate programs and specialized online training programs for students in general, as well as for various governmental and non-governmental Brazilian organizations. UNISUL was elected member of the Institutional Board of Directors of the OEC in May 2011 for a two-year mandate and relected in May 2013 for the second mandate.
- Higher Education School of Administration and Management (ESAGS) ) offers courses, such as How to Write Scientific Texts; Time Management, Leadership Training, among others, all of them free of charge.
- FGV ONLINE , created in 2000, is an online higher education program that serves undergraduate, graduate students, executives and entrepreneurs, besides the corporate universities that develop e-learning projects. It was the first Brazilian School to become member of OEC. In 2011, FGV Online awarded the first edition of OEC People´s Choice Awards for the best initiatives within the consortium in the category of most innovative programs.
Case of National Collaboration
This initiative started in 2014 aiming at developing a collaborative work between the University Center of the Educational Ignatius Foundation “Padre Saboia de Medeiros” (FEI)  and eMundus partner through the Engineering School of University of São Paulo (POLI/USP) . FEI developed an open source game engine software for teaching computer programming. This game is based on a previous business game developed in the Production Engineering Department from FEI. The initial results indicated that such approach to teaching computer programming could improve the learning process and motivate students. To learn more about the objectives and initial results of the use of the learning tool, see .
Other Brazilian OER Initiatives
Several important initiatives have been emerging in the area of OER in Brazil. To mention a few, we can cite:
THE PUBLIC DOMAIN PORTAL  - launched in 2004 - is the biggest virtual library in Brazil. The library was implemented by the Ministry of Education and Culture to provide access to a collection of pieces of work – mostly literature, academic papers, audio and video files, among others-, which are in public domain or whose use was authorized by the author.
THE TEACHER´S PORTAL  launched in 2008 by the Ministry of Education in partnership with the Ministry of Science and Technology is a collaborative work with numerous resources to enrich the teachers` pedagogical experiences and practices. The resources are either licensed under Creative Commons or authorized by the authors to be used by the Ministry of Education.
VIRTUAL LABORATORY (LabVirt)  is an initiative from Escola do Futuro  (an interdisciplinary lab that researches the use of new technologies in education) from the University of São Paulo (USP). LabVirt is at present being coordinated by the Education School from USP and aims at making up a successful learning community. The lab offers simulations; links for simulations and sites of interest found on the Internet; examples of education projects, among other services. Specialists answer questions sent by users from the website. One can choose between accessing the resources from Chemistry or Physics.
ESCOLA DIGITAL  is a searching platform with a vast repository of videos, games, infographs, maps, among others, categorized by level, course, theme, idiom, level of accessibility, among other functionalities. The platform was developed to help teachers easily find educational materials to enrich their classes. Escola Digital can be used, reproduced or even adapted by anyone or any interested organization.
DIGITAL REPOSITORY OF THE FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF RIO GRANDE DO SUL (LUME UFRGS)  is a collection of digital documents produced in the university or of interest to the Institution. The digital collection (texts, images, videos and audios), is mainly of free access; however, there are some exceptions restricted to the University community.
CRUESP SCIENTIFIC PRODUCTION REPOSITORY  launched in October 2013 offers about 75% of all Brazilian scientific productions without any charge. This metasearch tool collects intellectual production from the University of São Paulo (USP), Paulista State University (UNESP) & Campinas State University (UNICAMP). It is the first initiative that integrates more than one repository within the same interface. This initiative expands the visibility and accessibility to research results, empowering the reciprocal transfer with other national and international institutions. It also encourages knowledge sharing, thus expanding and giving back to the society the investments it has made.
THE INSTITUTIONAL REPOSITORY FROM THE FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF BAHIA  aims at spreading the academic production developed in the university. The repository is in agreement with the governmental recommendations of free software use.
CONDIGITAL PUC-RIO  is a project from Pontifical Catholic University, Rio de Janeiro . The project aims at developing chemistry multimedia digital content: audio, video, software and complementary materials (found in the chemistry virtual museum and in the reading room of the site).
e-UNICAMP PORTAL  aims at disseminating knowledge produced in the Institution by means of videos, animations, simulations, illustrations and classes. The Portal was developed to stimulate the use of educational technologies that allow the establishment of new relationships among professors, students and the community in general. All the content is licensed under Creative Commons and the conditions established by Law 9.610/98  of copyrights. The access to the material is free of charge. However there is no assistance from the authors and accessing the Portal does not imply in any compromise between e-Unicamp Portal and the user.
To encourage the habit of raising education-oriented funds, the Education, Research and Extension Board (CEPE) approved in May 2014 under Resolution n.10/14 the evaluation criteria for promotion and progress in the Higher Education Career in the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR). The Resolution provides that when OER activities are published in the Institutional Repository of the University, 25% be added - the grade being rounded up to the next decimal place.
The Federal University of Paraná  also offers a collection of OER and OE practices (PEA) produced in the university. All the resources are under license of Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.
Reflecting upon the social function of the university and the necessity of qualifying biology teachers so that they could create effective learning environments, the Teaching, Research, and Extension Nucleus of the Department of Cell Biology of the Federal University of Paraná (NUEPE/PR) , came up with the initiative of producing videos, interactive resources, 3D modelling and hypertexts for elementary and high school levels. All the resources are licensed under Creative Commons. The NUEPE stimulates experiments and/or research projects; the production and the evaluation of learning materials, and socialization of the knowledge produced.
Another interesting initiative to be mentioned is concerned with the Open Educational Tools developed by undergraduate and graduate students from USP /São Carlos in 2015. The tools offered at  are meant to teach computing. These tools are under GNU/GPL license and can be used by students and teachers.
MOOCs in Brazil
Aiming at democratizing access to information and knowledge Paulista State University “Júlio de Mesquita Filho” (UNESP Aberta)  launched the first MOOC initiative in June 2012. The courses with videoclasses, texts, activities, animation, educational software from various areas of knowledge were open, free of charge and available to anyone via Internet . There was no certification, tutoring or evaluation of the activities done along the course.
In the second semester of 2012, the first MOOC in Portuguese language was launched. MOOC-EAD (on Distance Education), whose site is no longer online, was a MOOC organized by two professors: one from Brazil and a colleague from Portugal. The MOOC with support from the Post Graduation Program in Inteligence Technology and Digital Design from São Paulo Pontifical Catholic University (PUC-SP)  and the Brazilian Association of Distance Education (ABED)  did not offer certification. However, this initiative resulted in a dissertation in e-learning pedagogy presented at Open University.
From April to June, 2013, the same Brazilian university professor who organized MOOC EAD coordinated MOOC LP (on Portuguese Language). Differently from the first initiative, this MOOC offered a certificate issued by the Brazilian Association of Higher Education Maintenance (ABMES) .
In June 2013, to contribute to better the quality of education in Brazil, Veduca  - an edtech company that provides business to consumer and business to business solutions in education and professional training - in partnership with the University of São Paulo (USP) launched two MOOCs: Basic Physics, and Statistics and Probability.
From then on, other renowned Brazilian universities also started to offer courses at Veduca. Among them, we find Brasília University (UNB), Campinas State University (UNICAMP) , Paulista State University (UNESP)  and Santa Catarina Federal University (UFSC) .
Little by little, more and more universities and institutions are offering their courses and materials for free at the plataform. At present, Veduca platform hosts MOOCs, courses for professional development, MBAs, free classes offered on the Internet by their respective institutions, and video classes selected from some of the best institutions in the world, such as the Brazilians USP, UNESP, UNICAMP and Harvard, Stanford and Princeton in the US, and Oxford in the UK. As being demanded, the open free courses offered by the foreign universities are being translated into Portuguese by the community of volunteers.
All the content at Veduca is free of charge. However, not all courses hosted at the plataform grant an official certificate. When they do so, student wishing to earn a certificate must pay for it, after proving the competences and knowledge acquired in the course. The certificates are issued by the Brazilian Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC).
Veduca also hosted the first World Open Online MBA in 2013. To learn more about this initiative, see .
In September, 2014, Coursera (a for-profit educational technology company) was launched in Brazil hosting Portuguese language MOOCs from University of São Paulo (USP) and Campinas State University (UNICAMP). Similarly to Veduca, the courses offered by Coursera are free of charge and some give the option to pay a fee to join the "Signature Track", which allows the students to receive a verified certificate, appropriate for employment purposes.
In June, 2015, Paula Souza Center from the Government of São Paulo  launched online courses aiming at better qualifying professionally the population. The two first courses are Labor Market (with certificate) and AutoCad (without certificate). The courses are dynamic, with videos, games, exercises, many readings and online evaluations. The platform works via browser. Anyone can take the course without any costs. It is necessary only to create an account with login and password. The Center is already working on new courses to offer the population.
UNESP Aberta  is an open learning environment that offers training and professional development in several areas of knowledge to any citizen in Brazil or in the world via Internet. It is necessary only to create a login and password to access the courses. It is an initiative of the Dean Department of Paulista State University “Julio de Mesquita Filho” (UNESP) along with the Distance Education Board of the Institution (NEAD/UNESP). The courses are free of charge. There is no tutoring, evaluation or certificate upon completion of a course.
IPED  is a portal that offers dozens of free online courses separated by area of knowledge. The courses offered by IPED without any charge lack tutoring, study groups and live lectures. However, the courses offer a printable online certificate without any cost.
Air Force Technological Institute – ITA OpenCourseWare (ITA OCW)  is a portal that hosts educational content in digital format from ITA under grad and graduation courses. The material is offered to the community without any costs. ITA OCW has the objective to promote engineering education in Brazil. ITA OCW does not issue certificates or diplomas, nor does it offer any pedagogical support or content assistance.
Propaganda & Marketing Higher Education School (ESPM)  offer open online courses for professionals and those interested in the subject, free of charge. To take the courses it is necessary to have login and password. The courses are autoinstructional.
ENAP VIRTUAL SCHOOL  is an initiative launched in 2007 by the National Public Administration School. The School offers certified training and professional qualification to public servers. Some of the courses, such as Ethics and Public Service and General Notions of Authorship without tutoring are open to any citizen interested. It requires login and password.
Another interesting initiative was carried out by the Education School from University of São Paulo (FEUSP): a platform  that offers a free online open course based on graphic animation. It aims at spreading and teaching Braille to anyone who is not visually impared. The program can be downloaded and works in computers with very few resources.
Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG)  in partnership with ABCD Institute  has launched DISLEXIA BRASIL , a free online course. The virtual environment offers basic content on dyslexia, ways to identify the problem and how to deal with it. Soon DISLEXIA BRASIL will also be offered in a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The objective is to offer even better training for teachers and other professionals. In the VLE the learning process will be assisted and a certificate can be received by those who get 70% or more in the final evaluation.
Bradesco Foundation Virtual School  is an e-Learning portal that offers courses both at a distance via Internet and hybrid. Students and former students, educators and collaborators from Bradesco Foundation have access to the Escol@ Virtual, as well as any community or unemployed individual wishing to gain a new specialization or re-qualification for the labor market. Besides the several free courses offered, the students may organize themselves into a community of practice for continuous training. With a minimum of 70% proficiency, the student is able to print a certificate.
SENAI Network on Distance Education - by means of SENAI (Serviço Nacional de Aprendizagem Industrial - National Industrial Learning Service) & SESI (Serviço Social da Indústria - Industry Social Service) ,- offers short distance education courses with printable digital certification for those who perform with a minimum of 70% proficiency.
Several universities are offering video classes for free on the Web. Some examples are listed below.
Portal of Video Classes from Fluminense Federal University (UFF)  hosts several video classes which can be accessed via Internet by anyone, without the need of login or password. The videos from different areas of knowledge serve as a supporting tool or rather a complementary material to recycle one´s professional knowledge. The videos can be downloaded and watched offline.
E-classes from University of São Paulo (USP) [www.eaulas.usp.br] – free online classes without tutoring, evaluation and certification. It is not necessary to be USP student to access the e-classes. Depending on the program and subject, there is no knowledge requirement.
NEADUNESP has launched an education Youtube channel  with several video classes, interviews, news and events from UNESP.
The Education School from University of São Paulo (FEUSP)  is an example of a School from a Public University that is offering a course via UNIVESP TV (the communication channel of the Virtual University of the State of São Paulo). The free online video classes are on Topics of Epistemology and Practices . Any teacher or person interested in widening their knowledge in teaching and education can access the videos. The classes focus on education and the elements that help to organize the school spaces and times, and to redefine the teacher´s role and authority.
Legal Frameworks and Regulations
Discussions on the issue of openness in education in Brazil still need to be done. So far, three Law Projects support OER in Brazil: 1. Federal Statute-Law (PL [bill] 1513/2011- Paulo Teixeira)  treats of the policy aimed at contracting for, and licensing intellectual pieces of work funded by the public and private sectors;
2. São Paulo State Statute-Law (PL [bill] 989/2011 – Simão Pedro) establishes the OER policy acquired or developed through funding from direct or indirect administration;
3. São Paulo City Decree No. 52681/2011 – Alexandre Schneider)  provides for compulsory license of intellectual pieces of work produced with educational pedagogical objects within the scope of the municipal public education network.
The adoption of public policies and enactment of laws in effective support of OER, will make it possible to guarantee the right established in the Constitution to inclusive education for all Brazilian citizens.
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