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How is OER being shared today and by whom?

The OER movement has been forming through projects funded by organizations that have recognized the potential of sharing educational works free of charge. We will first review a number of projects that have expanded the availability of examples of OER around the world and then list some of the organizations that have provided substantial funding to enable these projects to be carried out. The projects are firstly listed in the schooling sector (primary and secondary education) and secondly in the tertiary or higher education systems, followed by the main funding agencies that have made this work possible. More information on each is available on the respective websites. Finally, the section includes some thoughts on what will be needed to continue to advance the use of OER. Sites that have been excluded from the list, include those that have ‘all rights reserved’ copyright or show no copyright notice at all (making it illegal to copy the works) and where no digital versions can be found for downloading (a potential user should not have to request permission to receive the work). A directory of OER projects is also available at http://ci.olnet.org/CILite/ global.php#org-list

K-12 sector – U.S. and International

Teacher Education in Sub Saharan Africa, Open Educational Resources for Teacher Education in Africa
The website describes TESSA as: ‘a research and development initiative creating open educational resources (OER) and course design guidance for teachers and teacher educators working in Sub-Saharan African countries.’ and goes on to say ‘TESSA has produced a large bank of materials directly aimed at enhancing and improving access to, and the quality of, local school based education and training for teachers. These materials (including audio and other media) are modular in format which makes them modifiable for individual country’s specific needs. They focus on classroom practice in the key areas of literacy, numeracy, science, social studies and the arts and life skills.’ TESSA (2011). TESSA resources are used by teacher training institutions in 13 countries to supplement and in some cases, serve as foundational materials for teacher training programs. They are currently available in three languages (English, Kiswahili, and Arabic).

MISTM Math Portal

U.S. state of Maine’s Impact Study of Technology in Mathematics (MISTM) was a US Government funded collaboration. ‘The core goal of the professional development program was to enable grade 7 and 8 teachers and their students in low-performing rural schools to take full advantage of universal laptop availability to enhance mathematics teaching and learning and improve student achievement in mathematics. The program incorporated interactive technology tools, including online applets, to support middle school mathematics instruction, and prepare teachers to integrate these tools into the curriculum to help students attain the Maine Learning Results standards.’ (MISTM, 2011).
List of Mathematics resources: http://www2.edc.org/mistm/ Higher Education – U.S. and International

The Virtual University for the Small States of the Commonwealth, Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

A lack of textbooks and high cost of proprietary materials led the Virtual University of the Small States of the Commonwealth to look to OER as a way to increase availability of workforce skills training. ‘On behalf of Commonwealth Ministers of Education, COL is co-ordinating the development of a Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC). Thirty countries are now actively engaged in making the VUSSC a reality. VUSSC countries have chosen to focus on creating skills-related courses in areas such as tourism, entrepreneurship, professional development, disaster management and a range of technical and vocational subjects. These non-proprietary, electronically-held course materials [OER], which can readily be adapted to the specific context of each country, are used in the offering of credit-bearing qualifications in the countries' recognized institutions, strengthening theireducational capacity and outreach. Small states thus become active contributors to global development and leaders in educational reform through the innovative use of information and communications technologies (ICTs).’ (VUSSC, 2011).

African Virtual University

The African Virtual University (AVU) has launched an interactive OER portal called ‘OER@AVU9’. It contains resources developed together with 12 universities in 10 African countries. (AVU, 2011). ‘The AVU has developed 73 modules as follow: 46 Math and Sciences, 4 ICT Basic Skills, 19 Teacher Education professional courses and 4 related to the integration of ICTs in Education and integration in respective subject areas. A decision was made in 2006 to release the 73 modules as Open Education Resources in order to make the developed courses freely available for all.’ (OER@AVU, 2011).

‘The AVU OER Repository will also serve as a platform for educators to use, modify and contribute to AVU collection, make their educational resources available to others, discuss and comment on them, and collaborate in developing them further. It will host all of the AVU's upcoming open educational resources in areas such as Business Studies, Computer Sciences, Agriculture and Environmental studies. The new AVU OER Repository, OER@AVU, is funded by the African Development Bank.’ (OER@AVU, 2011).

OER UCT, University of Cape Town (UCT)

The OER UCT project is run in the Centre for Educational Technology at UCT with the support of the Shuttleworth Foundation11 and aims to showcase the teaching efforts of UCT academics by encouraging the publication of resources as OER. The collection of open educational resources from the University of Cape Town can be accessed on the UCT OpenContent directory.

OER Foundation, New Zealand

‘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.’ (WikiEducator, 2011c).

WikiEducator, New Zealand

The website states that ‘WikiEducator is an evolving community intended for the collaborative: planning of education projects linked with the development of free content15; development of free content on Wikieducator for e-learning; work on building open education resources (OERs) on how to create OERs; networking on funding proposals developed as free content. WikiEducator is a a global community of +18,600 educators working in the formal education sector and hosts the Learning4Content project, which to date has provided free ICT skills training to over 5,200 educators from 140 countries.’ (WikiEducator, 2011)

Open Learning Initiative, Carnegie Mellon University

The Open Learning Initiative has been supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The project is also supported by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Lumina Foundation and The Kresge Foundation. It has spurred the creation of Open & Free Courses17. The courses are free to take, but learners need to be able to go online to do them; a teacher, for example, may find it complicated to download these materials and present them offline. At Carnegie Mellon University, a Spring 2007 study showed that Open Learning Initiative Statistics students who participated in a hybrid mode (where the course included instructor-led class sessions and student self-paced lessons) learned a full semester’s worth of material in half as much time. Furthermore, the students performed as well or better than students learning from traditional instruction over a full semester.
Copyright license: CC-BY-SA-NC


The MIT OCW project has received funding19 from foundations such as the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; from Corporations such as The Ab Initio Corporation and Lenovo; from in-kind contributors such as Google Grants and the United Nations Development Programme and from Individual supporters.
Launched in 2002, OCW is MIT's program to share course materials - including syllabi, lecture notes, assignments and exams - from virtually all of the Institute's classes, ‘freely and openly’ on the Web. Through the main MIT OpenCourseWare site (http://ocw.mit.edu) and through translation affiliate sites, OCW materials have been accessed by an estimated 50 million individuals from more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. Affiliates have translated more than 600 of OCW's 1,800 courses into languages including Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai and Persian. More than 200 copies of the site on hard drives have been sent to universities in bandwidth-constrained regions, primarily Sub-Saharan Africa. The OCW site also allows visitors to download copies21 of individual courses.
Copyright license: CC-BY-SA-NC

OpenCourseWare Consortium

‘Incorporated as an independent non-profit organization in 2008, the OpenCourseWare Consortium is a community of over 250 universities and associated organizations worldwide committed to advancing OpenCourseWare sharing and its impact on global educational opportunity. The mission of the OpenCourseWare Consortium is to advance formal and informal learning through the worldwide sharing and use of free, open, high-quality education materials organized as courses.’ (MITOpenCourseware, 2010b) Collectively, OCW Consortium members have published materials from more than 13,000 courses in 20 languages, available through the Consortium's website.
Activities of the OpenCourseWare Consortium are supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, member dues, and contributions from sustaining members.

Copyright license: CC-BY

OpenCourseWare, University of California, Irvine (member of OCW Consortium)

Funding by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation allowed for the development of OCW created specifically for targeted audiences such as California public school teachers seeking help in passing state examinations for single- subject science and mathematics credentials. Access to UCI-faculty created undergraduate and graduate courses that are currently being taught to matriculated UCI students, is also offered.
License: CC-BY-SA-NC

Connexions Project

The Connexions Project has received grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and support from the Maxfield Foundation and the Connexions Consortium.

The materials are in a variety of formats, accessible not only online, but in downloadable PDF and EPUB formats, as well as through a print-on-demand option. Connexions houses one of the largest repositories29 of open educational resources (OER) in the world, enabling the creation, sharing, modification30 , and vetting of content31 accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime via the World Wide Web. It has more than 17,000 learning objects or modules in its repository and over 1000 collections (textbooks, journal articles, etc.) are used by over 2 million people per month.

Copyright license: CC-BY

Khan Academy

‘The mission of the Khan Academy is to provide a world-class education, for free, to anyone in the world. It consists of 1700+ videos on YouTube33 covering everything from basic arithmetic to advanced calculus, chemistry and biology, along with a series of exercises that allow students to practice and assess their knowledge at their own pace.’ (Khan Academy, 2011). The short video instruction format and openly licensed material have garnered Khan Academy enormous popularity, with over 70,000 daily video views. Since the site’s inception in late 2006, Khan Academy has received 18 million page views worldwide. Because they are available on YouTube, closed captioning allows translation of the videos into over 40 languages.


‘Established in October 2003, China Open Resources for Education (CORE), a non-profit organization, is a consortium of universities that began with 26 IET Educational Foundation member universities and 44 China Radio and TV Universities. CORE has received approval and support35 for its activities from the China Ministry of Education (MOE).’

‘Twelve CORE Lead Universities were established and in January 2005 and ten Lead Universities were given initial funding for the smooth operation of the program.

The Lead Universities committed to translate 130 MIT OCW and to teach 170 MIT OCW. CORE has given funds to each Lead University to ensure the smooth operation of the program. CORE is grateful to have many people’s support and help since its establishment in 2003. Those people, including university presidents, business celebrities, university teachers and university student volunteers, have strong belief of openness and sharing and make their own contribution for CORE’s development.’ (China Open Resources for Education, 2010).
License: Not Stated on website (website license is © All Rights Reserved)

Utah State University

‘Utah State OpenCourseWare (C()SL) is a collection of educational material used in our formal campus courses, and seeks to provide people around the world with an opportunity to access high quality learning opportunities.’ Copyright: CC-BY-SA-NC

eduCommons software

eduCommons software provides free, searchable, access to course materials for educators, students and self-learners around the world to catalyze the growth of communities of learners. eduCommons received funding from William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and support from MIT OCW.
Copyright license: CC-BY

TEMOA OER Portal, Tecnológico de Monterrey

Temoa, first proposed by Tecnológico de Monterrey, is a private, non-profit academic institution. Temoa was presented at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, in January of 2007 under the project name "Knowledge Hub (KHUB)” and then accepted at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, in January of 2008.

‘Temoa provides a catalog of collections39 of Open Educational Resources (OER) documented through descriptive information cards to facilitate search, evaluation, selection and adoption of resources and learning materials.’

9,185 educational resources

5,948 peer-reviewed

4,363 resources used in class lectures 1,020 courses, topics and activities 5,657 members

Copyright license: Any CC license

OpenLearn, Open University UK

OpenLearn gives free access to learning materials from The Open University.
It was launched in October 2006, following a grant by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and accepts individual donations to support its ongoing its activities.
In 2010 OpenLearn merged with open2.net, The Open University website that supports BBC broadcasts, giving access to interactive content, such as expert blogs, videos and games. Open University channels can also be found on YouTube and iTunesU and can be followed on Twitter.
License used: CC-BY-SA-NC

OTTER, University of Leicester

The OTTER (Open, Transferable and Technology-enabled Educational Resources) project enables the production and release of high-quality open educational resources (OER) drawn from teaching materials delivered at the University of Leicester.

The project is funded by JISC and the Higher Education Academy48 and enables the development of OER for free access, reuse and repurposing by others under an appropriate open license, in perpetuity.
License: The website is not clear on which license is used.


‘Jorum is a JISC-funded Service in Development in UK Further and Higher Education, to collect and share learning and teaching materials, allowing their reuse and repurposing. This free online repository service forms a key part of the JISC Information Environment, and is intended to become part of the wider landscape of repositories being developed institutionally, locally, regionally or across subject areas. We use intraLibrary for JorumUK and a modified version of DSpace for JorumOpen’ (Jorum, 2011). A separate collection is available only to UK-based institutions.

Repository search site: http://search.jorum.ac.uk/

The Community College Open Textbooks Collaborative

‘This collection of sixteen educational non-profit and for-profit organizations, affiliated with more than 200 colleges, is focused on driving awareness and adoptions of open textbooks to more than 2000 community and other two-year colleges.’ ‘College Open Textbooks has peer-reviewed more than 100 open textbooks for use in community college courses and identified more than 550: College Open Textbooks has already peer-reviewed several new open textbooks for use in community college courses and identified more than 250 others for consideration.’ (College Open Textbooks, 2011). The Community College Open Textbooks Collaborative is funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Turkey: Turkish OCW Consortium

In October 2006, a Turkish OCW Consortium was formed with twenty-four member universities, led by the Turkish Academy of Science. The number in the consortium has since increased to forty-eight (Kursun, Engin; Wilson, Tina; McAndrew, Patrick and Cagiltay, Kursat, 2010).

PhET: Physics Education and Technology

Physics Education and Technology (PhET) is a web site that hosts over 100 interactive Physics, Chemistry, and Math simulations. These research-based and user-tested simulations are freely available online or offline as downloadable modules. Simulations are available in over 57 languages and the web site is available in 12 languages.
License used: CC-BY