FAQs: Background & hstory of the OER Foundation & strategic relationships

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Why are the OER Foundation offices headquartered at Otago Polytechnic, New Zealand?

As leaders in open education in the formal education sector, Otago Polytechnic offers a unique environment to foster the future success of the OER Foundation as an independent entity. Otago Polytechnic's commitment to sharing and furthering the aims of open education is demonstrated by the decision of the Council of Otago Polytechnic to register the OER Foundation as an independent non-profit as opposed to an institutional initiative.

Specifically, Otago Polytechnic:

  • Has an institutional commitment to education for sustainability which is documented as a distinctive contribution to teaching and learning in the strategic plan for 2008 - 2012[1].
  • Are the first New Zealand tertiary education institution to sign the Cape Town Open Education Declaration[2] declaring their commitment to the values of open education.
  • Are one of the first institutions in the world to implement a new OER friendly Intellectual Property Policy which defaults content developments to a Creative Commons Attribution license[3].
  • Has recorded impressive growth in OER content development and use of OER in teaching as the result of a progressive intellectual property policy, championing efforts of the Educational Development Centre, and pioneering teaching staff at the Polytechnic[4].
  • Has initiated an open process for establishing a New Zealand national OER collaboration, by recently hosting the "Heywire8 Think Tank" to bring together key educational practitioners, policy makers and decision makers to explore opportunities and pathways in achieving these goals. This open planning meeting included representation from Universities, the Wānanga (a type of publicly owned tertiary institution that provides education in a Maori cultural context), Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics, the Ministry of Education and the Commonwealth of Learning [5].

What is the relationship with the Commonwealth of Learning?

As a strategic partner, the Commonwealth of Learning continues its support for WikiEducator through a financial contribution to the OER Foundation to supplement the hosting of the WikiEducator servers under its three-year plan for 2009 - 2012.

Why did WikiEducator migrate from COL to an independent, nonprofit OER Foundation?

From May 2006 to June 2009, the WikiEducator project was generously supported by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL). COL's President & CEO, Sir John Daniel served as WikiEducator's Patron.

During this vital incubation at COL, the WikiEducator project achieved tremendous growth and success, achieving international recognition, stakeholder engagement and community support, far exceeding its original goals.

As of 1 July 2009, WikiEducator, moved from COL to the independent, nonprofit OER Foundation. This has enabled the WikiEducator community to expand its global OER collaborative, and to achieve greater scalability and sustainability in the international arena by:

  • Expanding its focus beyond the Commonwealth countries to support multiple language wiki installations;
  • Extending funded training initiatives beyond Commonwealth countries;
  • Implementing an institutional membership model to directly assist educational institutions in achieving their objectives using OER;
  • Securing the funding necessary to invest in strategic software development features including, for example, the implementation of rich text editing and improving technical interoperability among mainstream OER projects.
  • Pursuing corporate sponsorship and public philanthropy under the auspices of a charitable foundation in fostering education's core value of sharing knowledge freely[6].

COL is continuing its support of the WikiEducator project with three years of funding support for WikiEducator's server hosting configuration, now located at Athabasca University in Canada.

What is the relationship with the Wikimedia Foundation?

The Wikimedia Foundation and OER Foundation are independent projects in their own right. In the spirit of the free culture movement there is a strong culture of sharing between the these organisations for the social good of education.

Wayne Mackintosh, the Director of the OER Foundation and Founder of the WikiEducator project sits on the International Advisory Board of the Mediawiki Foundation. (Mediawiki is the technology which powers WikiEducator, Wikipedia and numerous other wiki projects.) Erik Moeller, the Deputy Director of the Mediawiki Foundation is a member of the WikiEducator community council, and provided hosting services for WikiEducator during its formation years.

What is the relationship with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation?

The WikiEducator project has received funding support for its innovative wiki skills training project, Learning4Content through several generous grants from the Hewlett Foundation.

References and links

  1. http://www.otagopolytechnic.ac.nz/about/corporate-information/strategy-2008-2012.html
  2. http://www.capetowndeclaration.org/
  3. http://www.wikieducator.org/Otago_Polytechnic:_An_IP_policy_for_the_times
  4. http://www.wikieducator.org/Otago_Polytechnic:WikiEducator_helps_advance_open_learning_at_the_Polytechnic<
  5. http://www.wikieducator.org/Heywire8_Think_Tank
  6. As an international, intergovernmental agency funded by Commonwealth governments, WikiEducator was not able to support official languages outside the Commonwealth, appoint full-time software development staff or raise general funding outside of specific COL projects