Chapter ten – Open Educational Resources


There has been a growing interesting in recent years in making educational content freely available. Terms such as ‘open content’ and ‘open educational resources’ have gained currency and there is now a well-established international community of those interested in producing, using and researching OER. This chapter is not intended to provide a comprehensive review of the field, but simply to summarise some of the issues and highlight key references.

Iiyoshi and Kumar (2008; Pg. 2) take a broader perspective looking at the Open Education Movement, of which the OER movement is part, in terms of open content, open technology and open knowledge. They argue that this is beginning to change the way educators use, share and improve educational resources and knowledge by making them freely available.  They suggest that the central tenet of open education is that ‘education can be improved by making educational assets visible and accessible and by harnessing the collective wisdom of a community of practice and reflection.  Oblinger and Lombardi argue that ‘Due to changes in technology, a participatory culture is emerging with a new openness to sharing, collaboration, and learning by doing’ (Oblinger & Lombardi, 2008, p. 398).

Commission by the Hewlett foundation, Atkins et al. (2007) provide a comprehensive review of the development of the OER movement, describing many of the major initiatives in the fields and some of the key achievements. A complementary report emerged at around the same time, commissioned by OECD (Oecd, 2007). Both reports give a good overview of the field, the motivations and aspirations behind the OER movement, as well as reflection on some of the challenges associated with this area. Iiyosh, Kumar and Seely Brown (2008), through an edited collection, consider the wider notion of ‘openness’ and what it might mean in an educational context.

The term Open Educational Resources (OER) was first used by UNESCO at its ‘Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries’ in 2002. However it is worth noting that MIT had already used the term OpenCourseWare with their initiative in 2001. Alternative labels include ‘open courseware’, ‘open learning resources’, and ‘open teaching/learning resources’ (UNESCO 2002, p.24). The Hewlett foundation define OER[1] as:

teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others

whilst OECD define them as

digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self- learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research (OECD, 2007:133).

According to OECD (2007) over 300 universities worldwide are engaged in the development of OER with more than 3000 open access courses. There are numerous initiatives and consortia involved in this area; examples include the following:

·      OpenCourseWare consortium (,

·      China Open Resources for Education (CORE) consortium ( ),

·      Japanese OCW Consortium. ( ),

·      ParisTech OCW project. (,

·      Irish IREL-Open initiative ( and

·      JORUM repository (


The scale of effort and investment in the development of OER is impressive, as the following statement on the OpenCourseWare website[2] indicates:

OpenCourseWare Consortium is a collaboration of more than 200 higher education institutions and associated organizations from around the world creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared mode.

In 2002 Hewlett initiated an extensive OER programme, the chief aim was to ‘catalyze universal access to and use of high-quality academic content on a global scale’ (Atkins et al., 2007:1). More recently, the UK, the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) have initiated a large-scale call on the development of OER,[3] building on existing initiatives such as JORUM and Openlearn.

The Cape Town Open Education Declaration[4] argues that the OER movement is based on ‘the belief that everyone should have the freedom to use, customize, improve and redistribute educational resources without constraint’. It focuses on three suggested strategies to removing current barriers to the use of OER:  teacher and learner engagement with OER, a general policy to publish openly and commitment to open approaches at institutional and government levels.

The OER movement has been successful in promoting the idea that knowledge is a public good, expanding the aspirations of organizations and individuals to publish OER. However as yet the potential of OER to transform practice has not being realised, there is a need for innovative forms of support on the creation and evaluation of OER, as well as an evolving empirical evidence-base about the effectiveness of OER. However, recognition of the importance of investment and effort into promotion of the use and uptake of OER is evident is the prominence given to OER developments in a recent major report on Cyberlearning, commissioned by the National Science Foundation (Borgeman, et al., 2008). ‘Adopt programs and policies to promote Open Educational Resources’ is one of the five higher-level recommendations in the conclusion to the report.

Researching Open Educational Resources raises issues in how to address global connections, reuse, design and evaluation of world wide efforts to work with learning resources that are available for free use and alteration.

OER is not only a fascinating technological development and potentially a major educational tool. It accelerates the blurring of formal and informal learning, and of educational and broader cultural activities. It raises basic philosophical issues to do with the nature of ownership, with the validation of knowledge and with concepts such as altruism and collective goods. It reaches into issues of property and its distribution across the globe. It offers the prospect of a radically new approach to the sharing of knowledge, at a time when effective use of knowledge is seen more and more as the key to economic success, for both individuals and nations. How paradoxical this may turn out to be, and the form it will eventually take are entirely unforeseeable. The report offers some preliminary handles for understanding the issues raised. (OECD, 2007:9)

Open provision of course materials has become a more extended movement with many universities adopting the approach. There are indications of adoption of an open approach, however the diverse OER projects have not received much research attention to establish how best to move from existing provision to better structures for open operation. However the diverse OER projects have not received much research attention to establish how best to move from existing provision to better structures for open operation. UNESCO (2002) identified four elements that have to be considered when talking about Open Educational Resources:

·      The vision for the service - open access to the resource, with provision for adaptation

·      The method of provision - enabled by information/communication technologies

·      The target group - a diverse community of users

·      The purpose - to provide an educational, non-commercial resource“ (UNESCO 2002, p.24).

The main properties of OER are: free access ‘enabled by information and communication technologies’ and a ‘non-commercial purpose’ (UNESCO 2002, p.24). OER is intended to make “high-quality educational material freely available worldwide in many languages”. (Keller and Mossink, 2008).

McAndrew, Santos et al. (2009) argue that despite some terminological differences (Hylén, 2006) open educational resources are largely digital assets (music, images, words, animations) put together into a logical structure by a course developer who has attached an open license to it. In other words, the content is openly available (it can readily be found or discovered), is openly accessible (it is in a form which others can take it away) and openly re-usable (the user can easily modify it and is allowed under the license to do certain things with it without having to ask the creator’s permission first).

A review of OER initiatives

As part of the OPAL projects work to articulate dimensions associated with Open Educational Resource Practices, a review of international OER initiatives was undertaken. A number of criteria were used in choosing the case studies to be reviewed:

1.     Well established: We included a significant number of OER initiatives that were well established, which were likely to have a more mature set of associated practices and an understanding of the barriers and enablers associated with OER

2.     Coverage of key areas: examples that provided evidence along the key areas of interest (policy, quality, innovation, barriers and enablers, etc.)

3.     Geographical coverage: as much as possible a reasonable geographic spread, with a particular emphasis on examples from Europe

4.     Educational sectors: examples, which were from both the field of higher education and from the field of adult education.

A case study template was drawn up outlining the data to be collected. This included background and contextual information, as well as headings around the key areas of interest. The template was validated within the consortium. The case studies were then collated and analysed to draw out key features. An evolving set of OER dimensions was then derived (these are discussed in the next chapter). The scope of research extends to higher education (HE) and adult education (AE). Whereas HE refers to the traditional HE segments, inclusion of the AE sector widens this territory / target group considerably and refers largely to the segment of “ongoing, further education”, but also post degree and non-degree related provision. The higher education sector includes: all European (+ selected beyond) Universities and HE institutions (private and public) offering educational programmes/courses for students, corporations, and professional training, etc. The adult education sector includes: all forms of non-vocational adult learning, whether of a formal, non-formal or informal nature (taken from the glossary of terms of the Lifelong Learning programme: AE therefore refers to all European (+ selected beyond) adult-learning institutions. This goes beyond university education and includes also community colleges, adult learning centres, providers for professional training, and further education for adults. Adult education is also sponsored by corporations, labour unions, and private institutes. Sixty case studies were collected and are available online ( This section will discuss a sample of these to give an indication of the different types of OER initiatives.

The case studies reviewed during the desk-based research are listed below by country/geographic region. Appendix B lists the thirty-four case studies in more detail. Further details on each case study are available in the individual case study templates. The dimensions of OER that were extracted from the case studies are discussed in Section 3 of this document.  The case studies were chosen to give a spread in terms of covering both the HE and AE sectors, geographical local and representative of the different types of projects/initiatives possible (i.e. different types of consortium, different focus, spread of subject areas, models of Quality Assurance, etc.). The case studies are listed below in full, by country: 

United Kingdom

·      OpenLearn, OU UK

·      SCORE

·      UK - JISC funded:

o   Exeter University

o   Nottingham University  

o   Oxford University  

o   University of Westminster  

o   University College London  

o   SC Economics (Bristol)  

·      Cambridge University  

·      POCKET   

·      OTTER   

·      Open Educational Repository in Support of Computer Science, Ulster University and 5 other HE partners    

·      The Humbox project, Southampton, Royal Holloway & Warwick University and 12 other HE partners    

·      Open Educational resources pilot project, Loughborough University and 9 other HE partners    

·      Collaborative open resource Environment (CORE), Liverpool University and 21 other HE partners    

·      Skills for Science project, Hull University and 17 other HE partners    

·      C-Change project, Plymouth University and 12 other HE partners    

·      Art, Design & Media OER project, Brighton, Cumbria and University of the Creative Arts    

·      FETLAR, Nottingham Trent University and 11 other HE partners    

·      Biosciences Interactive Laboratory/Fieldwork Manual, Leeds University and 11 other HE partners    

·      OERs in Simulated learning (SIMSHARE), Warwick University and 4 other HE partners    

·      PHORUS project, Kings College London & 16 other HE partners    

·      Key Social Sciences resources for learning & teaching, Birmingham University and 16 other HE partners    

·      Organising Open Educational Resources (OOER), Newcastle University and 16 other HE partners    

·      Open Content Employability project, Coventry University    

·      Unicycle project, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK

·      BERLiN project, Nottingham University, UK

·      OpenStaffs project, Staffordshire University, UK

·      Open Source Electronics Learning Tools project, York University, UK

·      openUCF, University College Falmouth, UK

·      The Numeracy Bank (Numbat) project, Anglia Ruskin University, UK

·      EVOLUTION project, University of Central Lancashire, UK

·      Chemistry-FM project, University of Lincolnshire, UK

·      Open Educational Resources Project (OERP), Bradford University, UK

·      ICS Open Educational Resources   


·      NDLR    


·      OpenER    

·      Wikiwjs    


·      Akleon    

·      KELDAmet    

·      CampusContent    

·      Podcampus    

·      Zentrale für Unterrichtsmedien    

·      Dual Mode Technische Universität Darmstadt    

·      MatheVital    

·      Skriptenforum    


·      EducaNext    

·      eLibrary Projekt    


·      GITTA    


·      UnisulVirtual  

North America

·      CCCOER/CCOT    

·      BC campus

·      MIT OpenCourseware    


·      EDU.Fi    

·      AVO-SOMETU    

·      Le Mill    


·      Estonia National Network


·      INTERACTIC   

·      Casa das Ciências   


Case study 1:The Openlearn project

MIT was one of the first projects established to develop OER, attracting funding from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in 2000. The Open University in the UK successfully bid for support from the Hewlett Foundation to establish its Open Content Initiative, launched as Openlearn in 2006. Openlearn is an online repository of Open Educational Resources. The site aims to make a significant proportion of the Open University UK’s educational materials freely available on the web.

The initial site was made publicly available in October 2006 and now offers a full range of Open University subject areas from access to postgraduate level, with over 3 million visitors since it was launched. The site is divided into two sides: LearningSpace (which provides access to the quality assured OER derived from Open University courses) and LabSpace (where users can download, repurpose and upload OER).

Figure 1 shows a screen shot of the site. In April 2008 Openlearn reached its target of 5400 learning hours (based on designed time for student activity) of content in the LearningSpace and 8100 hours in the LabSpace. The site was built using the Open Source learning environment Moodle.[5] In addition to the OER, the site provides a variety of learning support and social networking tools. These include forums linked to individual OER to connect and discuss with others, an instant messaging and presence indicating tool (MSG), Compendium for visualizing and representing OER and the development of shared argumentation, Flashmeeting – for live video conferencing, and a learning journal – for users to reflect on and record their experience.


Figure 1: LearningSpace in Openlearn

Lane (2006) provides a commentary on the Openlearn experience and in particular gives an overview of many of the issues involved in initially setting up and running Openlearn. He sets out a conceptual framework for what the project was intending to achieve and then lays down the steps needed to move from the necessity of a fairly constrained re-purposing situation in the short term towards a more open and creative environment. McAndrew (McAndrew, 2006) discusses the rationale for the Open University in developing Openlearn and in particular looks at how the initiative aligns with the practices associated with web 2.0 technologies. He argues that Openlearn – with its associated tools for communication and collaboration provides a useful testbed to explore and research user behaviour in participating in new digital environments. This experimental aspect was identified as part of the rationale for Openlearn which meant that a range of research issues were picked out including:

Some of the key questions and challenges raised by work to date, include:

·        What are the most effective ways to develop OER?

·        What intellectual properties arise from OER initiatives?

·        What are the barriers and enables to the development and use of OER?

·        What models are different initiatives adopting in terms of the production of OER?

·        What are sustainable business models for OER?

·        What accessibility and inclusion issues are arising in associated with OER?

·        What new pedagogical models are needed to support the use of OER across both formal and informal learning contexts?

·        What methods are appropriate to evaluate the effectiveness of OER and how can transfer of good practice be best achieved?


These issues could not all be addressed within a single initiative and lead to the need for a collective understanding of the impact of OER, however results from a single initiative can start to inform the overall research. In the final research and evaluation report for the initiative McAndrew et al. (2009) summarise the research findings from the evaluation of Openlearn and reflect on the implications for future OER activities. An integrative approach was use for the evaluation; research activities included action research, direct and remote studies, trials and experiments, and surveys and interviews. The evaluation provided valuable insights into how users perceived the Openlearn materials and more importantly how they were being used. Three main categories of users were identified based on their level of engagement with the site: enthusiasts, registered users and visitors. 

Findings were both expected and surprising. Although the majority welcomed the concept of free educational resources, it was not always fully understood – many assumed there was an associated cost of some sort. A significant proportion said they would use the site again (there were over 100,000 unique visitors each month). Perhaps surprisingly users classified material as interactive even when it was text-based. Interest in downloading content was high, but evidence of reuse was low when measured in terms of content returned to the site. There appeared to be both technical (lack of understanding of XML) and pedagogical (lack of experience or redesigning and not wanting to alter existing perceived ‘good’ content) barriers to reuse.

A need for a more explicit understanding of the inherent design associated with OER became evident; educators appeared wary of using content without first understanding it. In fact research exploring the design of educational materials and activities was being undertaken in parallel to the Openlearn project, and although this work considered design more broadly in terms of learning and teaching, it was evident that a lot of the tools, methods and approaches being developed could be adapted and applied specifically to an OER context.

Case study 2: Wikiwijs

Wikiwijs is an open, online platform of open educational resources. Teachers and learners can find, download, adapt and re-upload resources. It subscribes to open source principles and is based on open content and standards. As suggested by the name, the project is inspired by the notion of wikis as co-constructed collaborative content. The ministry of education in Holland commissioned OUNL and Kennisnet to articulate a plan for the project around five aspects:

·      The development of an adequate technical infrastructure

·      The collection of sufficient educational resources

·      The establishment of an enthusiastic community of teachers

·      The development of proficient users with the necessary skills to develop and use OER

·      The development of a clearer understanding of the research issues.


Case study 3: LeMill

LeMill ( is a web community of teachers and other learning content creators for finding, authoring and sharing open educational resources.  It has more than 8000 reusable learning content resources, more than 4000 descriptions of teaching and learning methods, and almost 1000 descriptions of teaching and learning tools. There are also teaching and learning stories available. LeMill community has members from 61 countries and content can be found in 13 languages. LeMill was designed and developed as part of European Commission’s 6th Framework Programme project CALIBRATE. Its aims were to support the collaborative use and exchange of learning resources in schools. It brought together eight Ministries of Education including six from new member states and involved 17 partners in all. The continuation of development was supported by Tiger Leap Foundation. The dissemination of LeMill is supported by ESF AVO project. LeMill project is currently run by Media Lab at the Aalto University (Finland) together with Centre for Educational Technology at the Tallinn University (Estonia).

The most active users of LeMill are in Georgia and Estonia.


LeMill supports the idea of working in groups through LeMill community.

There are community blogs for interest groups to coordinate and discuss the group’s work. All learning resources in LeMill are either in the stage of being “draft” or “published”. The member who started the project of making the content may decide when the content will be published. The change from “draft” to “published” does not change anything in the availability of the content. The flag “published” just tells to the users of the site that the author(s) have considered it to be ready. When content is public, its authors are shown. For draft resources the authors are not shown. People can continue to modify and improve the resource after publishing it.


If the user finds some content incorrect they can join LeMill and alter it. The guidelines tell to respect other people’s points of view and possible “deeper thought and reasons” behind the content they have made. LeMill trust the community’s self-evaluation, however the maintainer of the service pretty much track all the editing made to the site. It can block vandals and even report criminal activities for authorities.


In addition to content, methods, and tools there are teaching and learning stories. A story is a description of how some content, methods, and tools have been used together in a single learning event, such as a study course. Stories loosely join the other resources together. From the stories users get valuable hints on how the resources found from LeMill have been used in real teaching and learning. Through stories they may share their own experiences or use them to plan your own teaching.

Case study 4: Podcampus

Podcampus ( is a podcasting platform for scientific and research contributions. Lectures and courses of interest are recorded and published as audio- and video-files. Some items have been produced exclusively for Podcampus. Producers are research institutions, academies and educational institutions from all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The topics range from introductory lectures for various subjects to techniques of presentation and communication, from scientific problems to a snowboard video-podcast.

As a “showcase of science”, Podcampus also offers interesting content for a more general audience outside of universities. However, Podcampus is also expanding in the area of academic teachings. Traditional learning opportunities at the academics can be complemented, improving the service for students. Every academic teacher, every faculty as well as every research and educational institution can publish their seminars or lectures on Podcampus. Content within Podcampus can be sorted thematically, geographically and by several other criteria. Naturally, producers are free to publish their content via their own respective website.


This chapter has provided an overview of the OER landscape, considering the vision behind the value of the movement, the nature of OER and describing a range of key initiatives that have emerged in recent years. OER appear to offer much in terms of helping to transform learning and teaching and more effective use of technologies. The focus to date has primarily been on the creation of digital repositories of resources. However evaluation of these indicates that teachers and learners are not using or repurposing these as much as might have been expected. As a result a number of projects are now turning their attention to explore how a global networkers of researchers and users of OER might be built and supported (for example and to articulation and use of the associated practices around OER in terms of creation, use and repurposing. The next chapter discusses Open Educational Practices and in particular the work being carried out by the OPAL project.

Appendix One: The Broader OER Landscape

This appendix provides a description of the broader OER landscape.

·      Community sites:

o    Peoples open access initiative (

o    The peer to peer university (

o    Wikieducator (

o    Connections (

o    Merlot (

·      OER Research groups:

o    Organisation for economic cooperation and development (OECD) (,3343,en_2649_35845581_35023444_1_1_1_1,00.html)

o    OER Commons (

o    Open eLearning Content Observatory OLCOS (

o    Open Learning network (OLNET) (

·      International agencies:


o    The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) (

o    UNESCO: open training platform (

·      Translation organisations:

o    Opensource opencoursware prototype system ( )

o    China open resource for education (CORE) (

o    Creative commons (

o (

·      Emerging institutions:

o    Technologica de Monterrey (

o    University of the western cape (

o    Universiade do sul de santa catarina: unisul (

Established OER projects

A number of funders (such as the Hewlett Foundation, Shuttleworth, and UNESCO) have had, and continue to have, a significant influence on the nature of OER initiatives, in terms of the funding they provide but also through other forms of promotion and support. Examples of different types of initiatives include; EADTU/MORIL, EU-funded FP7 programmes e.g. ICOPER, ASPECT, ROLE, STELLAR, and the OpenScout initiative, investigating various aspects of OER movements. The nature of these different initiatives is a combination of a number of factors:

·      The nature of the type of funding which supports them

·      The vision and motivation behind them

·      The nature of the organisation or organisations involved (face-to-face/distance, subject-based, institutionally or nationally focussed, single or multi-partnered)


The following alphabetical listing outlines a selection of these varied projects sourced:[6]

·      Anadolu University, Yunusemre Lifelong Open Learning Portal, Turkey (

o     Anadolu University offers149 content rich courses free through its Yunusemre education portal. The courses include the following components; e-books, e-courses, e-TV, e-audio books and e-practice.

·      Athabasca University - Open University, Canada (

o    The University aims to remove the barriers of time, space, past educational experience, and, to a great degree, level of income. Individualized study courses allow a student to learn at their own pace. Flexible instruction frees students from the demands of specified class times and rigid institutional schedules. For undergraduate individualized study courses, there are no admissions deadlines’ students may enrol year-round.

·      Budapest Open Access Initiative, Hungary (

·      The Budapest Open Access Initiative aims to make research articles in all academic fields freely available on the internet.  

·      Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, Global (

·      The Berlin Declaration promotes the Internet as a functional instrument for a global scientific knowledge base and human reflection and to specify measures which research policy makers, research institutions, funding agencies, libraries, archives and museums need to consider. The Berlin Declaration states that, ‘Establishing open access as a worthwhile procedure ideally requires the active commitment of each and every individual producer of scientific knowledge and holder of cultural heritage’.

·      Broadband Enabled Lifelong Learning Environment – BELLE, Canada ( BELLE)

o    BELLE was a $3.4 million shared-cost project (2002) funded under the CANARIE Learning Program. BELLE’s objective was to develop a prototype educational object repository. It is a partnership led by the Netera Alliance.

·      Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative (OLI) (

o    Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI) is a collection of “cognitively informed,” openly available and free online courses and course materials that enact instruction for an entire course in an online format. Ideally, the courses developed and delivered through the OLI project will be used by instructors and students in Colleges and Universities throughout the world as well as individuals seeking education who are not affiliated with an institution.

·      Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Global (

o    The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is an intergovernmental organisation created by Commonwealth Heads of Government to encourage the development and sharing of open learning/distance education knowledge, resources and technologies. Two online databases of learning content that provides support to Commonwealth countries free of charge. Institutions or governments can use these repositories to access a range of free learning content.

·      Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research (DRIVER) (

o    DRIVER aims to establish a cohesive, pan-European infrastructure of Digital Repositories, for both researchers and the general public. It sets out to build an advanced infrastructure for the future knowledge of the European Research Area.

·      European Schoolnet (EUN), Europe (;jsessionid=9126F04FD9B46DEA6697FB41FC8F9643)

o    European Schoolnet (EUN) is a consortium of 28 ministries of education in Europe. EUN provides major European education portals for teaching, learning and collaboration and leads the way in bringing about change in schooling through the use of new technology..

·      Japanese OpenCourseWare Alliance (JOCW), Japan (

o    The JOCW is the consortium of Japanese Universities that have been providing OCW in Japan.

·      Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) Digital Repositories, United Kingdom (

o   JISC has funded a range of initiatives around the creation and use of digital resources. This has included significant work on digital repositories.

·      Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and Higher Education Academy (HEA) Open Educational Resources programme, United Kingdom (

o  Between April 2009-April 2010 the JISC and the HEA funded a series of pilots and activities to promote the open release of learning resources. Projects were required to make a significant amount of existing learning resources freely available online, licensed in such away to enable them to be used and repurposed worldwide. 29 projects were funded in total, around three themes (individual researcher, institutionally based and subject-based).

·      JORUM, United Kingdom (

o    JORUM is funded by JISC (the Joint Information Systems Committee), JORUM is a collaborative venture in UK Higher and Further Education to collect and share learning and teaching materials, allowing their reuse and repurposing, and standing as a national statement of the importance of creating interoperable, sustainable materials. Users can access the learning and teaching materials (which cover a range of subject areas) to enhance their students learning experience. Materials range from single assets (documents, images, diagrams) to more comprehensive learning objects (interactive units and content packages). JORUM accepts learning and teaching resources across all subject areas for both Higher and Further education in the UK .

·      IIEP-UNESCO Wiki of OER repositories, Global (

o    IIEP-UNESCO hosts a Wiki that offers a list of several portals, gateways and repositories. It offers a list of links to OER initiatives, resources and tools. It offers access to a selection of approximately thirty repositories of open learning objects, mostly at the university level.

·      ide@s, North America (

o    This is an initiative by the University of Wisconsin to identify, evaluate, catalogue, and align to the Wisconsin education standards resources that are already on the Internet, such as lesson plans and reference materials. These resources are then made available from the ide@s search engine for pre-kindergarten to higher education and adult education.

·      Maricopa learning exchange (MLX), North America (

o    The Maricopa Learning eXchange (MLX) is an electronic warehouse of ideas, examples, and resources that support student learning for the state of Arizona Maricopa Community Colleges. These resources might include a particular lesson, technique, method, activity, or assignment developed and/or taught.

·      Monterey Institute for Technology and Education National Repository of Online Courses (NROC), North America (

o    NROC is a library of high-quality online courses for students and faculty in higher education, high school and Advanced Placement. Courses in the NROC library are contributed by developers from leading online-learning programs across the US.

·      National Learning Network Materials (NLN), United Kingdom (

o    Working in partnership with subject experts and commercial developers, BECTA’s (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) the NLN Materials Team has commissioned and managed the development of Further Education e-learning materials for use in Virtual Learning Environments. The materials span the UK post-16 Further Education curriculum and are designed to be fitted easily into existing teaching.

·      Open Archives Initiative (OAI) (

o    The Open Archives Initiative develops and promotes interoperability standards that aim to facilitate the efficient dissemination of content. OAI has its roots in the open access and institutional repository movements.

·      OpenCourseWare Consortium (OCW), Global (

o    The OpenCourseWare Consortium is a collaboration of more than 100 higher education institutions and associated organizations from around the world creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model.

·      ParisTech, France (

o    ParisTech is a collective entity that includes twelve of the most prestigious French institutes of education and research

·      Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching) (MERLOT), North America (

o    MERLOT provides free and open resources designed primarily for faculty and students of higher education. MERLOT is a catalogue of online learning materials, peer reviews, learning assignments, and user comments, organized by discipline into specific discipline communities and created to help faculty enhance their instruction, and that anyone can use for free.

·      OER Commons, North America (

o    OER Commons is a teaching and learning network offering a broad selection of high-quality Open Educational Resources that are freely available online to use and, in many cases, to adapt, to support individualized teaching and learning practices.

·      Open Courseware Directory (OCD) (

o    The Open Courseware Directory is an annotated listing of publicly available courseware (lecture notes, handouts, slides, tutorial material, exam questions, quizzes, videos, demonstrations, etc) from the world’s universities, colleges and other educational institutions.

·      OpenCourseWare Finder, North America (

o    The OCW Finder currently shows results from several collections; MIT OCW , Utah State University, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health OCW, Tufts University OCW, Foothill De-Anza SOFIA, and Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative.

·      SchoolNet, Canada (

o    In English and French, SchoolNet is a partnership with the provincial and territorial governments, the education community and the private sector in Canada, which promotes the effective use of information and communications technologies (ICT) in learning.

·      Textbook Revolution, Globa,l (

o    Textbook Revolution is a student-run site dedicated to increasing the use of free educational materials by teachers and professors. The approach is to bring all of the free textbooks together in one place, review them, and let the best rise to the top and find their way into the hands of students in classrooms around the world.

·      The Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Reusable Learning Objects (CETL), United Kingdom (

o    The Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) in Reusable Learning Objects develops, shares and evaluates learning objects and leads on innovation in pedagogical design and tries to achieve the widespread use and reuse of high quality learning objects.

·      United Nations University (UNU) Open Course Ware, Global (

o    The United Nations University is a member of the OpenCourseWare (OCW) Consortium and is committed to the development of an OCW website that showcases the training and educational programmes implemented by the University in a wide range of areas relevant to the work of the United Nations.

·      World Lecture Hall (WLH), North America (

o    The World Lecture Hall publishes links to pages created by faculty worldwide who are using the web to deliver course materials in any language. Some courses can be accessed as full text. Materials include syllabi, course notes, assignments, and audio and video streaming. The WLH contains links to course materials for university-level courses.

·      Wisconsin Online Resource Center, North America (

o    The Wisconsin Online Resource Center is a digital library of Web-based learning resources.


Atkins, D. E., Seely Brown, J., & Hammond, A. L. (2007). A review of the Open Educational Resource movement: acheivements, challenges and new opportunities, report to the William and Hewlett Foundation.

Borgeman, C., Abelson, H., Dirks, L., Johnson, R., Koedinger, K., Linn, M., et al. (2008). Fostering learning in the networked world: the cyberlearning opportunity and challenge, Report of the NSF task force on cyberlearning.

Iiyoshi, T., & Kumar, M. S. V. (2008). Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge: The MIT Press %@ 0262033712.

McAndrew, P. (2006). Motivations for Openlearn: the Open University’s Open Content Initiative, Openlearning workshop paper. Paper presented at the THe OECD experts meeting on Open Educatinal Resouces. Retrieved from

McAndrew, P., Santos, A., Lane, A., Godwin, S., Okada, A., Wilson, T., et al. (2009). OpenLearn Research Report 2006-2008.

Oblinger, D., & Lombardi, M. M. (2008). Common knowledge: opennes in higher education. In T. Iiyoshi & M. S. V. Kumar (Eds.), Opening up education: The collective advancement of education through open technology, open content and open knowledge (pp. 289-400). Cambridge, MA.: The MIT press.

Oecd. (2007). Giving knowledge for free - the emergece of Open Educational Resourcs: OECD.




[1] Definition on the Hewlett website,




[3] See for details of the call and associated documentation






[6] From


3 Responses to “Chapter ten – Open Educational Resources”

  1. Li-ling Says:

    This post is so full of information - thank you!
    One of the most amazing resources I’ve come across, although perhaps more catered to schools than HE is the Khan Academy, completely open, completely free.
    In some states in the US they have actually started using it as a teaching tool in schools, including the concept of flipping classes, which actually makes a lot of sense, although perhaps not as practical in HE.

  2. visitors coverage Says:

    visitors coverage…

    Good blog on ” Blog Archive ” Chapter ten Open … It is very informative but I don’t fully agree with it as I have read other online views on the same. It was good to spend evening going through internet on Monday . I’ll visit aga…

  3. Gráinne Says:

    Thanks Li-Ling glad you find it useful!

Leave a Reply