A short story of the OER. 

Since 2002, the movement for open educational resources (OER) has grown and spread around the world. Its  supporter advocate for  accessible and free educational resources for all. For the latter, all educational resources should be free of rights so that they can be improved collectively for the benefit of everyone. “open educational resources (57) offer a strategic opportunity to improve the quality of education, facilitate political dialogue and share knowledge and capacity building” (« Les ressources éducatives libres », s. d.).. OERs are made up of educational contents such as websites, simulators, images, videos, audio tracks, texts, etc. which can be reused, readjusted and improved by users.

In 2015, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a set of flagship measures that policy makers should take int account to improve the quality of teaching and learning through Open Educational Resource (« Open Educational Resources—A Catalyst for Innovation—En—OECD », s. d.). 

the OECD has made a set of proposals to promote the use of OER, among which are the following.

• Directly finance OER-based programs

• That all educational resources produced with public funding be free of rights by default.

• Make OER an important component in adult education

• Create national counsel centers on OER.

Alongside witht he European Union and the UNESCO other organisation are involved in the promotion of OER like ISKM. Based in  in Silicon Valley’s Half Moon Bay, California, the organisation that defines itself as an “ education nonprofit whose mission is to improve the practice of continuous learning, collaboration, and change in the education sector” propes a large set of training programs based on the used of OER. Thus, we can see that OER is across the world and is gaing recognition and support from public institutions. But how far is are public institions supporting the use and the development of OER? 

Some statistics 

A 2012 study by UNESCO showed that the use of OER is widespread worldwide.It also highlighted the fact that the use of OER is often supported by institutions European Union through the Erasmus+ program. 

The grid below summarizes the statistics of use of OER in Europe and across the world. The respondents were asked if they used OER in their country and in which context among the three proposals mentioned in the grid. 

(Hoosen, 2012)

The Use of The OER in the European Union Policy: 

The UNESCO study mentioned above shows that 55% of respondents in Europe and the United States say that there is a real strategy or a real policy in the use of OER in their countries. This percentage is higher than that of the other geographic areas studied, which shows a real desire to integrate OER into a more global European policy. This desire has materialized over the years through projects among which MyLK and SYLK are two of the most important in relation with OER.

(Hoosen, 2012)

The first advantages of using OER the possibility they offer to the users to enrich the content, improve it and / or adapt it in order to use it into a different learning context. This flexibility and on-going developpement continually increases the quality of the OER.

The second advantage is linked to the fact that the availability of a large number of copyright-free resources encourages and incites people to try new teaching practices. From this point of the use of OER in European projects can be seen a way of promoting innovation in the field of adult training. 

The third advantage is that free educational resources allows to the users to save a significant amount time by offering ready-made content. As a result, it helps to lower the costs, in particular, financial linked to the development of digital educational content. In the general context of economic crisis throughout the countries of the U.E, the use of OER sounds like a relevant answer for both the improvement of trainings and optimizing the costs of such a policy. 

The motivational factors for learners using OER in Europe (and in around world)

In the report published by UNESCO in 2012, we discover four motivational factors related to the use of OER in several countries. (1) the openness and flexibility of learning situations (2) the effectiveness and quality of the content, (3) good value for money (4) the innovative nature of the concept. The results of the study are rather mixed. The percentages of positive impacts on these factors are always below 50% in Europe and North America. Indeed, 35% of the people questioned affirm that the good value for money is a motivational factor for the use of OER in their learning the same percentage of people engage in learning with OER for the innovative nature of the concept. 45% of respondents say that the openness and flexibility of learning situations is the main motivating factor in their learning through the use of OER. We find the same percentage of people who use OER for the effectiveness and quality of content. 

The use of OER in Universities:

A study was conducted in the United States on a platform called the Kaleidoscope Open Course Initiative (KOCI)  (Colvard, Watson, & Park, s. d.). This platform had three objectives:

• Eliminate the costs of textbooks which were very expensive for students and constitute a major obstacle to access to higher education.

• improve the quality of courses to increase the success rate of students.

• create a community for sharing knowledge and learning.

This project brought together 8 universities which had agreed to use OERs in place of textbooks. Two or three teachers from different universities have identified, adapted and created OERs for joint courses in their respective universities. These courses were also used by university teachers who had not participated in the preparation of OER.

The data for this study were collected from the following institutions: Cerritos College (Norwalk, CA, 22,000 students); Chadron State College (Chadron, Nebraska, 3,000,000 students); Mercy College (Dobbs Ferry, New York, 10,000,000 students); College of the Redwoods (Eureka, California, 10,000,000 students); Santa Ana College (Santa Ana, California, 18,000,000 students); Santiago Canyon College (Orange, California, 10,000,000 students); and Tompkins Cortland Community College (Dryden, New York, 3,500,000 students).

Study conclusions:

The results of the study showed that university students using the OER on the  KOCI platform would save $ 900 per year by purchasing more textbooks. If only 5% of students enrolled in the first semester of 2011 in the United States had achieved such savings, the total amount saved would be around a billion dollars a year. (Colvard et al., S. D.)


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CEDEFOP. (2009). European guidelines for validating non-formal and informal learning. Consulté à l’adresse https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/4054_en.pdf

European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Éd.). (2009). European guidelines for validating non-formal and informal learning. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Union.

Hoosen, S. (2012). Survey on Governments’ Open Educational Resources (OER) Policies. Consulté à l’adresse Commonwealth of Learning, UNESCO website: https://en.unesco.org/sites/default/files/survey_on_government_oer_policies.pdf

Iii, J. L. H., Robinson, T. J., Wiley, D., & Ackerman, J. D. (2014). Cost-savings achieved in two semesters through the adoption of open educational resources. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 15(2). 

Open Educational Resources—A Catalyst for Innovation—En—OCDE. (2015, décembre 1). Consulté 24 decembre 2019, à l’adresse Vollmer, N. (2018, septembre 5). 
OER Training and Professional Development | Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education. (s. d.). Consulté 26 décembre 2019, à l’adresse https://www.iskme.org/our-work/oer-training-and-professional-development