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A review of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement: Achievements, challenges, and new opportunities
Atkins, Daniel E. · Brown, John Seely · Hammond, Allen L.

PublishedFebruary 2007
PeriodicalPages 1-84
PublisherThe William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Section one, OER history, structure and definition.

Section two, we will review the portfolio of OER grants to date in the context of the overall Technology/Open Educational Resources Logic Model and the description and goals above. From 2002 to the present the Hewlett Foundation has invested about $68 million in the OER program. We will comment on the distribution of grants across the various activities of the model, focus on important successes, and note areas that need more attention. We will particularly emphasize the unique contributions that Hewlett investments have made in both launching and moving forward the OER movement. We believe it has achieved a nascent movement status. A field of OER activity—a new culture of contribution—is emerging. The initiative has invested internationally in a way that builds capacity for engagement based on mutual benefit between people and institutions between and within developed and developing regions. In the next section we look in more detail at the portfolio of grants.

Section three, we describe threads of activity that we believe complement the OER activities supported by Hewlett and that provide Hewlett and other funders the opportunity for convergence into the next phase of investment and impact. The OER initiative has nurtured a culture of sharing, not only within individuals, but also within major institutions of higher education. It has helped shift faculty perspectives from this courseware is mine to this courseware is for (open) mining. The next phase is to nurture a culture of learning in which both intellectual capital (content) and human capital (talent) spiral upward, together. The conditions now exist, we believe, to consolidate understanding, technology, and incentive from multiple threads of activity into an open participatory learning infrastructure (OPLI).
A socio-technical initiative to form an open participatory learning infrastructure is critical to this culture of learning. By open participatory learning infrastructure we mean the institutional practices, technical infrastructure, and social norms that allow a smooth operation of globally distributed, high-quality open learning. We include the word “participatory” to emphasize that the focus is not just on information access, but on the role of technology in supporting the social nature of learning. An OPLI can leverage diversity of use, radical repurposing of content, and critical reflection. This perspective is consistent with collaboratories in science and humanities communities and the social software and the Web 2.0 movement more generally. Such an infrastructure supports diverse ecosystems of people and learning resources that could have profound implications for preparing people for a rapidly evolving knowledge-based world, one demanding creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurialism from us all. The OPLI should provide participatory architectures for emerging visions and concepts such as the meta-university, the university in and of the world, “learning to be” sooner rather than later, and global-scale massification of higher education. It also extends across level and age: K–12, higher education, and lifelong learning.

Finally, in Section 4 we elaborate on some of the opportunity resulting from the convergence of the threads of activity described in the previous section and we suggest a next phase for Hewlett educational investments. We also make specific suggestions about how Hewlett might approach defining, awarding, and managing the initiative.

Keywords connexions · higher education · K-12 · Lifelong Learning · MIT · OCW · OER definition · OER history · William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

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