01.11.2011 - UNESCO

UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning OER Policy Guidelines to be launched at the UNESCO General Conference

Cover of the guidelines

The UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning (COL) Guidelines on Open Educational Resources (OER) in Higher Education, which provides advice on the use of OER, will be launched at the UNESCO General Conference on Tuesday 1 November 2011, at Paris Headquarters, alongside the launch of the UNESCO OER Platform.

Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain and released with an open license (such as Creative Commons). They allow communities of practitioners and stakeholders to copy, adapt and share their resources legally and freely, in order to support high-quality and locally relevant teaching and learning.

The ‘open’ nature of OERs provide Member States with a strategic opportunity to ensure larger access to quality learning and teaching resources at all levels of education.

The UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning (COL) Guidelines on OER in Higher Education indicate how the potential of OER can be harnessed to support quality teaching and learning by higher education stakeholders including:

  • Governments
  • Higher Education institutions
  • Teaching staff
  • Students and student bodies
  • Quality assurance, Accreditation, and Academic recognition authorities

The stimulus for this publication came from the 2009 World Conference on Higher Education (UNESCO, Paris 5-8 July 2009). This conference noted that open and distance learning, and specifically OERs, present opportunities to widen access to quality education.

At the 35th session of the UNESCO General Conference, in October 2009, the United States of America put forth Draft Resolution 35C/DR.40, calling for the strengthening of national capacities and ICT enhanced-learning content and materials such as open educational resources.

Within this framework, and with the generous support of the Government of the United States of America, UNESCO’s Education and Communication Sectors joined the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) in an initiative called: Taking OER beyond the OER Community: Policy and Capacity. The aim was to alert educational decision makers to the importance of OER in expanding and improving education, training and learning generally.

With the generous support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning are organizing the 2012 World OER Congress. The core objectives of the Congress will be to significantly promote the:

  • UNESCO/COL OER Policy Guidelines;
  • The world’s best practices in OER policies, initiatives, and experts; and
  • Release the 2012 Paris OER Declaration calling on Governments to support the development and use of OERs



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