OERu share solutions for Education for All at UNESCO World OER Congress

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The worldwide demand for post-secondary education is increasing much faster than the traditional methods alone can provide. At the UNESCO World OER Congress in Paris this week, the OER university (OERu) anchor partners will share solutions for providing free learning opportunities in post-secondary education based entirely on courses built with Open Educational Resources (OER), including pathways to achieve formal academic credit. The OERu provides a sustainable and scalable model advancing UNESCO's vision of Education for All.

UNESCO introduces OER
Abel Caine, UNESCO's Programme Specialist for OER introduces the concept and summarises the objectives of the UNESCO World OER Congress.
Source UNESCO under CC-BY-SA license.
Participants from the OERu 2011.02 open planning meeting
Participants who attended the OERu 2011.11 meeting of founding anchor partners.
The OERu network is an international innovation partnership who will provide more affordable education for learners currently excluded from the formal education sector. The network will be able to accredit OER learning in Africa, Asia, North America and Oceania towards credible credentials. Representatives from the OERu anchor partners will present the closing plenary session at the UNESCO World OER Congress Open Seminar and Exhibition.

Conceived during an open planning meeting held in February, 2011 and streamed live on the Internet with funding support from the UNESCO Office for the Pacific states, the OER university network aims to provide free learning opportunities for all students worldwide using OER courses with pathways to achieve formal academic credit on a fee-for-service basis to cover the recurrent institutional costs of credentialing services. The founding anchor partners convened again in November for the OERu 2011.11 open meeting where the inaugural credential was selected and plans consolidated for the prototype courses currently under development in preparation for the official launch of the OERu in 2013.

The OER Tertiary Education Network, the force behind the OERu initiative, includes an impressive line-up of education providers including: Athabasca University, BAOU (Gujarat’s open university), SUNY Empire State College, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, NorthTec, Open Polytechnic, Otago Polytechnic, Southern New Hampshire University, Thomas Edison State College, Thompson Rivers University, University of Canterbury, University of South Africa, University of Southern Queensland, University of the South Pacific and the University of Wollongong. BCcampus and the OER Foundation are supporting the network as non-teaching partners.

Senior leaders from the OERu partnership attending the World OER congress will share information about: the OER Tertiary Education Network international innovation partnership, the foundations underpinning the OERu logic model, our open planning approaches, plans to leverage OER for professional development and academic support of the network, and concluding with a regional perspective illustrating how OERu transcends national boundaries.

Introduction from the OERF for the Congress
Introduction video recorded for the OERu session at the World OERu Congress by Wayne Mackintosh, Director of the OER Foundation and COL Chair for OER at Otago Polytechnic.
CC-BY license.
"UNESCO is well regarded globally as a trusted partner by Governments, educational and research institutions to advise on the sustainable development and use of OERs in achieving Education for All" said Abel Caine, UNESCO's Programme Specialist for OER. "UNESCO's World OER congress celebrates 10 years since we adopted the concept in 2002 and we are building on these foundations encouraging governments to consider adopting the 2012 Paris OER Declaration"

The OERu represents a major step forward in open learning, for the first time offering affordable university access to credentials to anyone who has the will and the capability of mastering the relevant content, skills and/or competencies.

—Rory Mcgreal
UNESCO-COL Chair in OER, Athabasca University

OER logo developed for the World Congress
Belinda Tynan, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning, Teaching and Quality) at the University of Southern Queensland highlights that "For a University like USQ which has a long tradition of developing content, OERs provide a natural step towards integrating open resources as part of the day to day business of the organisation."

The OERu will place students at the centre of the educational process in such a way that they will develop learning and digital literacies as a solid foundation for meaningful participation across international boundaries in a networked world

—Jim Taylor
Emeritus Professor at the University of Southern Queensland, and
Board member of the OER Foundation

The OER Foundation coordinates the OERu network and subscribes to open philanthropy as a matter of policy. All meetings, planning and developments are conducted openly on the Internet.

What characterizes the OERu development process is its adherence to open planning and radical transparency. This is participatory governance at its finest, and is a model of practice that the OERu partners find easy to support.

—David Porter
Executive Director of BCcampus

Creative Commons is the air which OER breathes. Join us for a free OCL4Ed online workshop.
The open collaboration model of the OERu network is a point of difference in facilitating, national, regional and international open education networks. New Zealand, for example, is leading the way with five national anchor partners to date.

The New Zealand institutions are thrilled to be supporting the OERu initiative, which provides us with the opportunity, as a small country, to make a valuable contribution to meeting tertiary education needs globally. OERu is testimony to the power of collaboration, enabling relatively small contributions from reputable institutions to be leveraged in the interests of bringing credible qualifications to those most in need and least able to afford.

—Phil Ker
Chief Executive Officer at Otago Polytechic.

Central to the mission of the OER Foundation is to provide support for individual educators to achieve their strategic objectives using open education approaches.

Using and repurposing OERs to support staff professional development-especially academic staff seems so obvious on so many levels. Not least as a process for educating staff about OERs through their experience of them.

—Belinda Tynan, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning, Teaching and Quality)
University of Southern Queensland

Working together we achieve far more than working alone.
The OER Foundation will join UNESCO in celebrating the 10th anniversary for OER by offering a free professional development workshop on OERs, Copyright and Creative Commons licenses to coincide with the World OER congress. This celebratory online workshop has already attracted over 440 participants from more than 60 different countries.

"We are inspired by the gifting culture of the OCL4Ed facilitators who have offered their time freely to support workshop participants as academic volunteers" said Wayne Mackintosh, Director of the OER Foundation and COL Chair in OER at Otago Polytechnic.

"A word of special thanks to the open education pioneers who practice what they preach: Cathy Casserly (CEO of Creative Commons), Stephen Downes (Senior Researcher, National Research Council of Canada) Frances Ferreira (Education Specialist, Basic Education and Open Schooling at the Commonwealth of Learning), and David Wiley (Associate Professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University) who have all gifted welcome videos under open licenses for different sessions of the OCL4Ed course".

The OER Foundation extends an open invitation to all post-secondary institutions that care about open sharing as a core value of education to join the OER Tertiary education network in planning these sustainable learning futures.

The opportunity this affords is becoming one of the fastest growing and best kept secrets that will change the future of education significantly for the better. The value and benefits of being on board early in these developments cannot be overlooked.

—Robin Day
Chair of the Board of the OER Foundation

The OERu network is a low cost, low risk but high impact innovation to support Education for All using OER.

About the OER Foundation

OER Foundation logo-small.png
The Open Education Resource (OER) Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that provides leadership, international networking and support for educators and educational institutions to achieve their objectives through Open Education. For more information, Contact Wayne Mackintosh

OER Foundation 2011 Annual Report (1.6MB pdf download)

About the OER university

See: 5 Things you should know about the OER university network planPDF down.png