Currently we face both a swell of support for open educational resources (OER) and devastating upheaval of our traditional education systems. Resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, over 1.5 billion youth are out of school, countless teachers and parents are pivoting to online teaching and education systems face immense financial strain. While OER are not a magic cure for the current education crisis, there are opportunities to work with open education efforts to build greater resiliency within our learning ecosystems and also support open government efforts.
Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials that are either (a) in the public domain or (b) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to retain, use, change and share the works with others. OER are one facet of open education, or efforts to make education more affordable, accessible and effective–providing unfettered access to learning to as many people as possible. Open education involves open practices, open policies and open educational resources.
Today, we have a stronger need and the established international frameworks to use OER to fuel our education efforts and collective commitments. This pandemic highlights the effects closing access to information and communication has on communities; conversely it demonstrates how essential open practices (free sharing of information, unfettered access to education materials) are to our collective human security.
Now more than ever, governments recognize the potential of OER–and the opportunity to partner under international frameworks that support open education goals. In November 2019, UNESCO unanimously passed the UNESCO Open Educational Resources (OER) Recommendation to advance the construction of open, inclusive and participatory knowledge societies and established a Dynamic Coalition of government, civil society and private sector experts connected to support the recommendations. The OER Recommendation dovetails with SDG4efforts, emphasizing that open education can support “inclusive and equitable quality education” and “lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
How can you get involved?
- Open education networks have provided outreach–offering “how to” webinars, support for emotional wellbeing, and lists of open resources for use. View this wikipedia article section collecting just a few of the resources and responses.
- Join the Creative Commons open education listserv or Slack community or discuss opportunities for engagement in open education efforts with