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How open was 2011?

How open was the world in information/knowledge sharing in 2011? Naturally this query takes us to review the advancements in OER domain. While thinking about OER, the first thing that comes to my mind is the statement “ 2011 would be a quantum shift year in the mainstream adoption of OER” that Dr. Wayne Mackintosh usually adds in his emails. Definitely, 2011 is a quantum shift year for OER. Following are some major developments in this respect that I noticed.

(Please be reminded that this is just one side of the coin. The other side - the domain of open technologies, chiefly, Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), was perhaps more dynamic and eventful as usual. The advancements in FOSS dramatically enhanced the quantity, quality and reach of OER. Therefore we can't leave FOSS unmentioned here)

Evolving of OERu

Some important OER/ODL events in 2011
First strategic open international meeting to plan OERu, February 23
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation's 2011 Open Educational Resources Grantees Meeting, OER 2011: The Impact of Open on Teaching and Learning, March 29 - 31
OCWC Global 2011: Celebrating 10 years of OpenCourseWare, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA - May 4 -6
OER 11 Annual meet in Manchester, May 11 - 13
Joint Workshop on Open Educational Resources and Intellectual Property Rights, Moscow, Russia, May 31 - June 1, 2011
Open Access Week celebrations, October 24 - 30. 2011
First Open Meeting of the OERu anchor partners, November 9 - 10, 2011
I think the most important OER development in 2011 is the evolving of Open Educational Resources university (OERu). Open Educational Resource university (OERu) is a system in making under the leadership of Open Educational Resource Foundation for providing pathways for gaining academic credits from the member Universities of the system by studying OERs. The passing year (2011) has witnessed the achievement of many milestones  towards the successful implementation of OERu. Latest in the series was the open planning meeting of OER Tertiary education network anchor partners and stakeholders held in November, 2011. The meeting has decided to implement prototype courses during 2012. The OERu system is expected to be formally functional from 2013.

UNESCO - COL guidelines for the use of OER in Higher Education

In November 1, 2011 UNESCO and COL have jointly brought out  the ‘Guidelines for OER in Higher Education’ at the UNESCO General Conference at Paris Headquarters “ encourage decision makers in governments and institutions to invest in the systematic production, adaptation and use of OER and to bring them into the mainstream of higher education in order to improve the quality of curricula and teaching and to reduce costs.”

Many governments in the world have already started to develop OER policies, many academic bodies have working policies on OER - I hope these guidelines would definitely exert further momentum for the main stream adoption of OER. The policy making bodies are usually found to be comfortable with triggering innovations on the basis of the guidelines and other documentations from intergovernmental organizations.

Adoption of Open Licensing Policy by Commonwealth of Learning

On 30th May, 2011, the Commonwealth of Learning website reported a policy decision taken at the Commonwealth of Learning ( to promote the use of open licensing, , relating to OER, in governments and institutions and release its own (COL’s) materials under the most feasible open licenses including  CC-BY-SA.  As per  COL’s policy on  OER, it will: 
  • encourage and support governments and institutions to establish supportive policy frameworks to introduce practices relating to OER ;
  • advocate the merits of collaboratively creating, sharing and using OER, as one form of intellectual capital in education, to improve quality and enhance long-term cost-effectiveness; and
  • release its own materials under the most feasible open licenses including the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license.

Initiative for setting up a new free license scheme in Russia along the lines of Creative Commons, GNU and FDL.

On 2nd June, 2011 the Kremlin Website reported ( that President Dmitry Medvedev has approved a list of instructions that would setup a new free license scheme in Russia along the lines of Creative Commons, GNU and FDL.

Development of OER through Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program of US Labour Department

In January 2011, the US Labour Department has announced a grant programme that would provide US post-secondary institutions with an opportunity to develop and make innovative use of a variety of evidence-based learning materials, including cutting-edge shared courses and open educational resources. These resources would be available online for free, greatly expanding learning opportunities for students and workers. In addition, these learning tools will help schools and students tailor education so each worker can have a better opportunity for success in the classroom and job market.

Legislation for OER in Brazil

A bill was introduced into Brazil’s House of Representatives, which   1) requires government funded educational resources to be made widely available to the public under an open license, 2) clarifies that resources produced by public servants under his/her official capacities should be open educational resources (or otherwise released under an open access framework), and 3) urges the government to support open federated systems for the distribution and archiving of OER.

Open Data Portal of Government of Canada

In March, 2011 Government of Canada has launched their pilot project for an online Open Data Portal.  It was reported that the application developers can reuse data for commercial or research purposes to benefit all Canadians in a variety of ways.


Interest of the world population in creating and using open content

No doubt, the general trend is in favour of open content and the world is getting ready to further open up opportunities for inclusive education. I think the best indicator to scale the interest of the world population in creating and using open content is Wikipedia statistics.

Wikipedia (English) addition of new articles from  01/01/2011 to 07/12/2011 : 299683 (with the highest number addition of 9270 articles on March 8, 2011).Visits per month 7,507,641,64. Remember- this is the statistics for the English version alone!


Similarly, WikiEducator, another promising project to collaboratively develop open course content, has recorded an average monthly hit of 6853346 in the current year.

Use of Open Courses : OpenCourseWare Consortium

The OpenCourseWareConsortium was incorporated as an independent non-profit organization in 2008. It is a community of over 250 universities and associated organizations worldwide committed to advancing OpenCourseWare sharing and its impact on global educational opportunity. The mission of the OpenCourseWare Consortium is to advance formal and informal learning through the worldwide sharing and use of free, open, high-quality education materials organized as courses. Now, materials from more than 13,000 courses in 20 languages are available for open use. The performance of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s OpenCourseWare (MIT OCW)can be taken as window to the consortium

31 new open courses were added to the repository up to October, 2011. This 31 is also an important count as they are full course materials with text/image/audio/video resources.  Average monthly site visits: 1803377.

This year (2011) also marks the 10th anniversary of MIT OpenCourseWare. It was during 2001 that the MIT faculty decided to make available their course content openly to be used by any one. The world has constructed many roads to open content since then and now it is able to present the OERu!...definitely it was an eventful journey, and of course, more wonders are in store for the years to come!

The penetration of the awareness on OER and ODL has considerably increased during the year. It is evident from the (active) participation lists of various online events, discussions etc on OER, ODL etc. But still it remains to be just the tip of the iceberg. Further concerted efforts are required to educate the academicians in secondary and post secondary education sectors as well as policy makers and administrators on the use of OER and the need of ODL.
Writing in progress...
License CC-BY


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