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Further reading on OER

UNESCO-UNEVOC has compiled a short selection of academic or professional articles that might help to clarify the signification and the use of the term "Open Educational Resources (OER)". It goes thus beyond the definitions stored in TVETipedia while not pretending to offer an exhaustive bibliography on the topic.

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Open Educational Resources and Open Education By David Mosley, for HEA (2013) and Understanding Open Educational resources By Commonwealth of Learning (2015)

These two references are introductions to OER published by recognised international institutions. COL (Commonwealth of Learning) is one of the leading international organisations providing distance education while HEA (Higher Education Academy) is a British non-profit organisation focusing on teaching and piloted by British universities. Both guides are written in plain English and focus first on the meaning of OER.

In the selected quotes, the author of the HEA guide develops a short history of the “OER” concept, before highlighting its core terminological issue: the level of “openness” it implies. A table from the COL guide illustrates this challenge further.


Paris OER Declaration By UNESCO (2012), and Cape town Declaration By OSI /Shuttleworth foundations (2007)

No matter how the “open” of OER is defined, the concept generally raises high expectations. These two policy documents highlight how “OER” are perceived and which roles are usually assigned to the concept in terms of public policies. The Paris Declaration was validated by 400 delegates gathered in Paris during the UNESCO Congress on OER. The Cape town declaration was organised by the OSI and Shuttleworth foundations (private sector). Both were signed by various stakeholders from the private and public spheres.

The selected quotes focus on an aspect that is usually one of the top expectations of OER: how can they help improve access to learning?


MOOCs and the claim of Education for All: A disillusion by Empirical Data By Matthias Rohs and Mario Ganz (2015)

The previous references highlighted how openness and the expectations attached to it were keystones to the OER identity. This peer-reviewed article tempers the link between "openness" and "access to education". It is not assertive in its conclusions: it studies only a very specific kind of OER (the “MOOCs”) - which many would consider as a “free” more than an “open” resource – and is based on a limited amount of empirical data. However, it does demonstrate that “offering” resources do not automatically reduce inequalities, raising (indirectly) the question of how we should understand OER.

In the selected quotes, the authors make a literature review on the limits of MOOCs for reducing the “knowledge gap”, and then submit their own empirical results: MOOCs, no matter the topic, are mostly used by people who already have a higher educational status.


World Report on TVET: The promise and potential of ICT in TVET By George Herd and Alison Mead Richardson, COL (2015)

The previous reference highlighted that most OER are created by Higher Education institutions and targeted at their graduates. This reference from UNESCO focuses on ICT (including OER) for TVET.

In the selected quotes, the authors sum up the current OER initiatives within the TVET field and conclude that there is still “a long way to go” before OER can fulfill their potential in this area.


See also


This article is an element of the TVETipedia Glossary.



page date 2016-01-11






page date 2014-07-24

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