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Open Educational Resources: Mainstream adoption and educational effectiveness
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation [corporate]

Alternate titleThe William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Draft for Public Comment
PublishedApril 2011
PeriodicalPages 1-26

The idea behind OER is simple but powerful—educational materials made freely available on the Internet for anyone to use, distribute, and revise. These digital materials have the potential to give people everywhere equal access to humanity’s greatest achievements and to transform teaching and learning through rapid feedback loops and personalized learning. Anyone can tap educational experiences once reserved for students at elite universities and schools. Anyone can translate these resources, enhance their cultural relevance, improve them pedagogically, and integrate them into innovative new approaches to education. Knowledge once locked behind the gates of tuition and tradition can be made available to all.

To realize that promise, however, OER must bridge the chasm between enthusiastic early adopters and an education community wary of new technology. Over the next several years the Foundation plans to help pave the way for the OER movement to reach millions of people worldwide and play a central role in improving the way we teach and learn.

This draft white paper presents the Education Program’s theory of change for helping OER move into mainstream education and describes how the Program proposes to structure and time its investments to achieve its goal. It answers four key questions:

1. Why is Hewlett committed to continued investment in OER?
Since the Hewlett Foundation began investing in OER in 2002, the field has blossomed from the seed of an idea into a global movement. Now, for the first time, OER is poised to alter the course of mainstream education, changing the nature of schooling for students, self-taught learners, educators, and institutions around the world.

2. What will success look like?
By 2017 OER will be increasingly integrated into the educational mainstream, improving the effectiveness of education at all levels throughout the U.S. and around the globe. OER producers will supply high quality, personalized instructional materials for the most basic subjects and most popular credit-bearing courses in K-12 schools and colleges within the United States. At the same time, key OER providers around the globe will be on a path to sustainability, with funding from governments, other philanthropies, institutions, and private sources.

3. What investments are needed to achieve this goal?
The Program envisions investing in the infrastructure required for mainstream adoption of OER and the transformation of teaching and learning. Once in place, the OER infrastructure will deliver a high quality supply of educational content, promote supportive policies, and develop practical standards for OER materials. The Program also aims to underwrite research and support opportunistic innovation.

4. How will the plan be implemented?
The Program hopes to continue strategic investments in OER in close cooperation with other funders. Over time the Program might shift its spending priorities from an early focus on supply to a strong push for policy change and standards adoption, accompanied by funding for innovation throughout the strategy. The Program will refine a set of outcome-focused metrics and targets to track its progress, and time shifts in priorities.

Keywords accessibility · adoption · K-12 · OER adoption · OER definition · OER standards · open education · policy

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