Open Educational Resources

UNESCO believes that universal access to high quality education is key to the building of peace, sustainable social and economic development, and intercultural dialogue. Open Educational Resources (OER) provide a strategic opportunity to improve the quality of education as well as facilitate policy dialogue, knowledge sharing and capacity building.

Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain or released with an intellectual property license that allows for free use, adaptation, and distribution.

In 2001, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in an unprecedented move, announced the release of nearly all its courses on the internet for free access. As the number of institutions offering free or open courseware increased, UNESCO organized the 1st Global OER Forum in 2002 where the term Open Educational Resources (OER) was adopted. 

With the support of the Hewlett Foundation, UNESCO created a global OER Community wiki in 2005 to share information and work collaboratively on issues surrounding the production and use of Open Educational Resources. 
UNESCO is developing a new, innovative OER Platform which will offer selected UNESCO publications as OERs and allow communities of practice including teachers, learners, and education professionals to freely copy, adapt, and share their resources. 

Why should I care about OERs?

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Ed Yourdon, CC-BY-SA

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OERs help improve education across the globe. They are important for developing countries, where many students may not be able to afford textbooks, where access to classrooms may be limited, and where teacher-training programs may be lacking. They are also important in wealthy industrialized countries, where they can offer significant cost savings.

For students, OERs offer free access to some of the world’s best courses and even degree programs. They can also offer huge cost savings as alternatives to expensive textbooks.

For teachers, ministries of education and governments, OERs provide free and legal access to some of the world’s best courses. Educators can then adapt them to local languages and cultures and use them as a basis for innovation.

But you don’t have to be a teacher or a student to understand the importance of OERs. Free information is a fundamental human right, and OERs make it possible for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn more about the world around them and access the tools they need to improve their lives and livelihoods.

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