FAQs: OER Foundation

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Image courtesy of daita

What is the OER Foundation?

The Open Education Resource Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that provides leadership, networking and support for educators and educational institutions to achieve their objectives through Open Education. The OER Foundation confirmed its commitment to open philanthropy at the official launch on 17 September 2009 inviting educators and institutions to participate in its open planning and implementation strategies as equal partners in open education.

How is the OER Foundation supported?

First and foremost, the OER Foundation is supported by the gifting culture of thousands of WikiEducators around the world who donate time, skills and expertise in developing OERs for the social good of education.

Financially, the OER Foundation is supported through multiple revenue streams, including institutional membership contributions, government contracts, international donor agencies, OER contract work, general public donations and honesty-box commissions from consultancies using WikiEducator's infrastructure and networks.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has generously provided seed funding for various OER projects and initiatives, including the groundbreaking Learning4Content project, the largest free wiki skills training initiative on the planet.

Without your support, we cannot provide the services we offer to thousand's of educators around the world.

Who manages the operations of the OER Foundation?

The OER Foundation, is managed by a Board of Directors. The board is:

  • Robin Day, Ph.D, Deputy Chief Executive of Otago Polytechnic, New Zealand, is the Chair of the Board
  • Rory McGreal, Ph.D, Associate Vice President, Research at Athabasca University, Canada, is the nominated representative of the international contributing members
  • Wayne Mackintosh, Ph.D., founding Director of the International Centre for Open Education at Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand as nominee of the International OER Centre.[1]. He is also the founder of the WikiEducator project and elected member and Chair of the WikiEducator Community Council.
  • Christopher Staynes, as nominee of the Otago Polytechnic Council.
  • Philip Cullen, Chief Operating Officer, Otago Polytechnic as Secretary
  • Jim Taylor AM, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor, University of Southern Queensland, Australia.

Can my institution contribute to the planning of the OER Foundation?

Yes. The OER Foundation subscribes to open philanthropy which means that all our planning documents and operational plans are developed transparently in the wiki. Your institution is invited to contribute to the ongoing discussions and refinements of our strategic and operational planning. In addition, all funding proposals of the OER Foundation are also developed openly and transparently in the wiki, so you will have up to date information and unrestricted access to all our activities and planing for the future.

How many full-time staff are employed by the OER Foundation? Will this increase?

The OER Foundation is a virtual international organisation comprising a large network of experienced OER professionals around the world. The majority of our services are subcontracted according to the needs of our members and community. The OER Foundation has a full-time staff of 2 members: The Director and Lead Software Engineer. We do not envisage growth in our full time staff in the foreseeable future relying on international consultant services thus keeping our organisation agile and administrative overhead to a minimum.

Are membership dues paid to Otago Polytechnic?

No. All income, including membership dues, are paid to the OER Foundation as an independent non-profit entity. The OER Foundation rents office space from Otago Polytechnic on a cost recovery basis. For more information consult the the operational budget of the OER Foundation which is published openly and transparently in the wiki.

Does the OER Foundation Support Projects in addition to WikiEducator?

Yes. The OER Foundation's vision is to foster the development of sustainable OER ecosystems extends beyond the WikiEducator project.

WikiEducator is the OERF's flagship initiative: a global platform for educators to collaborate on the creation and reuse of OER. The OER Foundation has launched WikiResearcher, an exciting new international collaboration of researchers using the power of open wiki technology for research collaboration and peer-reviewed dissemination of research findings through open access publishing models. The OERF also provides consultancy services to increase OER scalability, sustainability and performance. Moreover, the OERF collaborates with other mainstream OER initiatives in the education sector.

Does the OER Foundation support multiple language installations of WikiEducator?

Yes. The OER Foundation supports different language installations of WikiEducator. For example, WikiEducator hosts installations for:

A key motivation for establishing the OER Foundation as an independent project was to facilitate the installation of language localisations which would not have been possible under the auspices of the Commonwealth of Learning. Multilingual development of WikiEducator is in its early phases, and we will refine our language internationalisation as the project matures.

How does the OER Foundation support the professional development of my staff?

The OER Foundation's professional development model exemplifies just-in-time and on-the-job professional development for academic and support staff because educators work on the development of OER teaching materials directly related to their teaching responsibilities. This is an authentic learning experience because all professional development takes place within a live international wiki community.

The OER Foundation provides at least one online training workshop every month, which will be difficult to replicate at your institution. Moreover, depending on the membership tier you choose, you can include professional OER consulting time for your staff. Should you require further support, this can be provided at discounted rates for qualifying members. Our professional development approach uses an apprenticeship model where our support is aligned with the experience and skills levels of educators and we have the agility to customise support according to a maturity model. Your staff will join an international community of practice with the flexibility that characterises peer production systems.

The OER Foundation also facilitates networking and collaboration in the creation of professional development resources which are published as OER. This means that your professional support units will benefit from a growing suite of OER materials which can easily be customised for your own staff development strategies.

Can my institution join others in bidding for international projects and / or grant funding?

Yes. The OER Foundation's commitment to open philanthropy encourages institutions to collaborate on bidding for international projects and / or grant funding, irrespective of whether or not the OER Foundation is a partner to the bid. The OER Foundation publishes all its funding proposals under open content licenses and you are free to use these materials as examples for the development of your own proposals. Where direct collaboration with the OER Foundation will contribute to an improved outcome, we are open to discussion, thoughts and ideas for proposals. We will be candid and honest regarding our capacity to support international projects or deliver on the outputs associated with grant funding because our reputation to deliver successfully on our commitments is more important than the funding we receive. Contact Wayne Mackintosh for any queries relating to international and /or grant funding proposals.

Can the OER Foundation assist faculty in coming onboard with wikis and collaboration?

Yes. We understand that the 'wiki-way' of collaborating is new for many folks.

There's a great solution for that -- a pilot project through the OER Foundation which will provide immediate access to facilitation support for internal collaboration and external strategic partnerships (yes, even in developing countries).

This will help build faculty's confidence with the open source wiki and the collaborative options to develop and revise, customise and adapt content – and even publish textbooks! It will definitely help bring folks into the community around content development of importance to them.

It will also help develop an internal use case for organizational learning and success; yield opportunities for scaleable internationalization of programs / courses / learning materials; and demonstrate your institution's leadership in the global Open Education Resources (OER) community and beyond.

Can the OER Foundation support our needs for publishing Open Textbooks?

Yes. WikiEducator, is a pioneer in supporting and developing customised wiki-to-print technologies whereby users can collate customised collections of OER for reproduction in portable document format (pdf). Collaborating with the Wikimedia Foundation, Pediapress and the Open Society Initiative, WikiEducator hosted the world's first production installation of the revolutionary Collection Extension for the Mediawiki (Open Source Software which powers WikiEducator and Wikipedia). Apart from producing high quality print masters, this technology also supports the download of collections in open document format which can be edited locally using word processing software.

WikiPublishing offers exciting opportunities for education institutions to capitalise on the benefits of print-on-demand publishing for educational purposes at significantly reduced cost for their students. The OER Foundation is building relationships with print-on-demand publishers to support low-cost textbook production and distribution while ensuring that individual educators will always be able to compile a customised print collection for local reproduction. The OER Foundation as a non-profit, levies a small commission for open textbooks marketed and distributed internationally by publishing companies which is reinvested back into supporting our technical infrastructure and paying authors for developing commissioned OER under open access licenses.

References and links

  1. http://wikieducator.org/WikiEducator:OER_Foundation/About/Community_communique