Welcome to my Blog

Here, I will discuss topics, and current trends on open, online, flexible and technology enabled/enhanced learning (OOFAT), including Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), Open Educational resourses (OER), Open Educational Practice (OEP, and Open Educational Culture (OEC). In addition I will discuss current trends and news related to quality, innovation, serendipity, rhizome learning, agility, and leadership.

  • Ebba Ossiannilsson

Paragons of online education_ICDE

A series of Blogposts will be published by ICDE on Paragons of online education. The first one is with Marta Mena – pioneer and advocate of Latin America. Marta Mena is an online education pioneer in South America who stands out as a paragon. Moreover, she is well known and respected globally in the online education sector. She was president of the Argentine Association of Distance Education and has held important positions in ICDE. During a four years period, she was Vice President of ICDE for Latin America and the Caribbean, and then, with the new ICDE Constitution, member of the Executive Committee for two periods.


I have myself done an interview with one of the early Paragons, namely Professor Börje Holmberg (95 years), my colleague, mentor, friend, and neighbor) )which will be in the following Blog post.

Holmberg studied English, German, Romance Languages and Education at the University of Lund and later went on to earn his doctorate in 1956. Holmberg worked in the field of distance education at Hermods [sv] in Sweden for over 19 years. He held the position of Education Director from 1956 to 1965. In 1966 he was appointed was appointed Director General of Hermods Foundation up till his resignation in 1975.

In 1976, Holmberg became Professor of Distance Education Methodology and Director of the Institute for Distance Education Research at the FernUniversität in Hagen, Germany. During his tenure there Holmberg published several books and made contributions to scholarly journals and papers. Among his works is Theory and Practice of Distance Education, a second and revised edition of which was published by Routledge in 1990.

In 1995 he became Planning President of the new Private FernFachhochschule Darmstadt (Distance Polytechnic, now Wilhelm Büchner Hochschule [de]) in Darmstadt. After his retirement from the FernUniversität, Holmberg continued contributing both to research and debate on distance education as an active practitioner in the field.

In July 2003, Holmberg joined a project concerned with online teaching and learning initiated by Ulrich Bernath and Eugene Rubin. As a member of their team he contributed to the development of the Virtual Seminar for Professional Development in Distance Education, which was successfully conducted in 1997 and 1998 with participants from all over the world. This course became the recommended first core course in the online Master of Distance Education (MDE) program, which is jointly offered by the University of Maryland University College and the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg.

  • Ebba Ossiannilsson

OER and OEP for reaching the UN SDG4 Goals

My latest article has just been published  (3rd July 2019) in the International Journal of Open Educational Resources (IJOER). The article is entitled OER and OEP for Access, Equity, Equality, Quality, Inclusiveness, and Empowering Lifelong Learning. The article discuss  OER related to the UN SDG4, but also on the work by ICDE OER Advocacy Committee. The members in the Committee are all Ambassadors for the global advocacy of OER. 

I am in the Board of IJOER, and the ICDE OER Advocacy Committee, which I Chair collaborate and support IJOER.

Open educational resources (OERs) are catalysts of lifelong learning (LLL) and continuous professional development (CPD). OERs are used in microlearning and nanolearning by lifelong learners, including those in the workplace. OERs have the potential to expand the access to lifelong learning opportunities, achieve quality in education, and establish legal and political frameworks that promote, social justice, collaboration and coordinated partnerships. The mandate, visions, missions, global work, and activities of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) and its Open Educational Resources (OERs) Advocacy Committee (OERAC) were presented at a symposium during the ICDE Lillehammer Lifelong Learning Summit 2019. The work of the ICDE and the OERAC is aligned with the United Nations UNESCO Recommendations (2019). Some of their activities involve collaborative projects and visions that were proposed at the Open Education Leadership Summit 2018 (OELS18). In particular, the ICDE and OERAC will respond to proposals regarding policy. Their responses will identify opportunities for developing some proposed projects and activities and for establishing links with existing and emerging projects and trends around the world. Another activity involves developing guidelines for advocacy and best or better practices for OER advocacy in various settings and levels (e.g., macro, meso, micro, and nano levels).

Keywords: continuing professional development (CPD), human resources (HR), International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE), leadership, open educational resources (OERs), lifelong learning

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  • Ebba Ossiannilsson

Promoting Online Training Opportunities Workforce in Europe

The last high-level conference in  Brussels on 4 June 2019 took place in the context of the ongoing initiative of the European Commission on “Promoting Online Training Opportunities for the Workforce in Europe” (October 2017 – September 2019), that is coordinated by PwC. I participated as an expert and evaluator. Read more about the initiative and the conference here

Experts from all over Europe came together to  discuss the challenges that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are facing in the general context of rapid technological and social changes that force every high-tech company to regularly advance the skills of its employees, how online training as a cost-effective, flexible and accessible way to educate staff addresses the learning realities and needs of modern SMEs.

The conference focused on the measures for policymakers and practitioners that reflect how today’s SMEs operate and learn, and that would truly support SMEs with their (digital) learning journey. It will bring together policy makers, hands-on practitioners and industry professionals, including course developers and publishers, with a shared interest in technology-enhanced learning.

The Interim report was published in December 2018. This document is the interim report for the new European initiative on “Promoting Online Training Opportunities for the Workforce in Europe” (2017-2019) and has been prepared for the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) and the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) of the European Commission. This work is carried out by PwC, EDEN (the European Distance and E-learning Network) and Espace Mendès France. It presents the key findings from the activities performed during the first phase of the initiative (2017-2018).

Currently, I am working on the evaluation of the final report. The final report will be published in summer 2019 and after the Final expert meeting in Brussels 13 June 2019, which I will attend as an expert and evaluator



  • Ebba Ossiannilsson

UNESCO OER forthcoming recommendations

The ICDE OER Advocacy Committee, the ICDE Ambassadors for the global advocacy of OER will host a webinar on the forthcoming UNESCO OER  recommendations,  the 7 June 2019, at 3pm CET.


ICDE Ambassadors for the global advocacy of OER and the UNESCO ICDE OER Chairs will reflect and discuss the recommendations during this webinar hosted by ICDE and the ICDE OER Advocacy Committee. A recent global study on OER from UNESCO, the impacts, achievements, and challenges of OER will also be presented. Webinar participants are invited to a lively dialogue after the presentations are completed.

oer unesco

The recommendations are about to be finalized and were fine-tuned at the UNESCO Policy meeting in Paris 27-28 May 2019. The recommendations will be official and published in November 2019. The recommendations are built on the UNESCO SDG goals, especially SDG4 to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

sdg4 june2019

In addition, the recommendations are built on the Ljublana Action plan and MInisterial  statement, see more below,

Program for the webinar:

Introduction and summary on the forthcoming UNESCO OER recommendations Ebba Ossiannilsson, Chair ICDE OERAC

Svetlana Knyazeva on the recent OER study from UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education

Recent global study on OER from UNESCO; Understanding the impact of OER.     

A short round with comments on the forthcoming UNESCO OER recommendations from the ICDE OER Advocacy Committee: James Glapa-Grossklag, Jean-Marc Meunier, Xiangyang Zhang, and Ebba Ossiannilsson.

A short round with comments from ICDE OER Chairs on the forthcoming UNESCO OER recommendations: Rory McGreal, María Soledad Ramírez Montoya, Christian M. Stracke, and Agbu (Jane) Obiageli

Dialogue and questions with the audience 


ICDE OER Advocacy Committee

The ICDE OER Advocacy Committee works to increase global recognition of OER; and to provide policy support for the uptake, use, and reuse of OER.

Ebba Ossiannilsson, Professor, Dr. Consultant and VP, Swedish Association of Distance Education (SADE), ICDE OER Advocacy Committee, Chair, ICDE Ambassador for the global advocacy of OER, Sweden

James Glapa-Glossklag, Dean and Treasurer of the Board, College of the Canyons and Open Education Consortium, ICDE OER Advocacy Committee, ICDE Ambassador for the global advocacy of OER, USA

Jean-Marc Meunier, President and VP, FIED and University of Paris VIII Vincennes – St-Denis, ICDE OER Advocacy Committee, ICDE Ambassador for the global advocacy of OER France

Xiangyang Zhang, Open University of Jiangsu, ICDE OER Advocacy Committee, ICDE Ambassador for the global advocacy of OER China


The ICDE Chairs in Open Educational Resources (OER) is a network that, where possible, works in collaboration with UNESCO and existing UNESCO Chairs in OER.

Dr. Rory McGreal, Athabasca University, Canada, UNESCO-COL Chair in OER

Dr. María Soledad Ramírez Montoya, Tecnológico de Monterrey, ICDE OER Chair, México

Dr. Christian M. Stracke, Open University of Netherlands, ICDE OER Chair, Netherlands

Dr. Jane-Frances Obiageli Agbu, the National Open University of Nigeria, ICDE OER Chair, Nigeria

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  • Ebba Ossiannilsson

UNESCO Draft Recommendation concerning OER 2019

An updated version of the UNESCO proposal for a recommendation for Open Educational Resources (OER), is now available. This version is based on the views of UNESCO member countries, so even from my own country Sweden, which was sent to UNESCO in January 2019. I have been involved myself as an OER expert, but also as an expert on behalf of the ICDE OER Advocacy Committee

The proposal will now be discussed at an intergovernmental expert meeting at the end of May. Thereafter, a decision to adopt a recommendation will be taken by UNESCO's general conference in November 2019. Will be of interest to follow the necessary strategies and further implementation in Sweden, but of course eve worldwide.

oer unesco

Conclusions in four points

  1. Further to 39 C/Resolution 44, and 201 EX/Decision 9, a Recommendation has been identified as the best-suited form of standard-setting instrument in this area. It has been recognized that in comparison to a Convention, a Recommendation is more flexible and will become operational more rapidly. Despite being a statement of principles, it has the potential to raise the profile of OER collaboration to a higher political level in all Member States of UNESCO. This can play an important role in stimulating the realization of the potential of OER for accessing knowledge freely, providing quality content at no cost, helping to foster equitable and inclusive teaching and learning and supporting curriculum development at all levels.
  2. Recognizing that the Ljubljana OER Action Plan is the outcome of a lengthy process of international collaboration and consensus building, the main themes of the Recommendation are drawn as a starting point from this document. Therefore, the draft Recommendation addresses five objectives: (i) Building capacity of stakeholders to create access, use, adapt and redistribute OER; (ii) Developing supportive policy; (iii) Encouraging inclusive and equitable quality OER; (iv) Nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER; and (v) Facilitating international cooperation. 
  3. A Recommendation on OER could potentially play a strong role in supporting strategic cooperation between the Member States in OER development, to minimize unnecessary duplication in OER development investments and to develop a global pool of culturally diverse, locally relevant, gender-responsive, accessible, educational materials in multiple languages.
  4. Based on the present study, it is clear that a Recommendation on OER would provide a dynamic and effective solution for supporting an international collaboration in this area which is of utmost importance at a time when the usage, creation, and availability of OER has become an essential building block for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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Ebba Ossiannilsson is an e-learning expert and consultant with a range of research interests in the use of digital technologies for learning, teaching and research.
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