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How Open Educational Resources can Help OGP Initiatives

Los recursos educativos abiertos en apoyo a las iniciativas de OGP

Jennryn Wetzler|

This post is a portion of the original Creative Commons blog post. Read it here.

Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials that are either (a) in the public domain or (b) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to retain, use, change and share the works with others. OER are one facet of open education, or efforts to make education more affordable, accessible and effective–providing unfettered access to learning to as many people as possible. Open education involves open practices, open policies and open educational resources.

Currently we face both a swell of support for open educational resources (OER) and devastating upheaval of our traditional education systems. Resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, over 1.5 billion youth are out of school, countless teachers and parents are pivoting to online teaching and education systems face immense financial strain. While OER are not a magic cure for the current education crisis, there are opportunities to work with open education efforts to build greater resiliency within our learning ecosystems and also support open government efforts. 

Today, we have a stronger need and the established international frameworks to use OER to fuel our education efforts and collective commitments. This pandemic highlights the effects closing access to information and communication has on communities; conversely it demonstrates how essential open practices (free sharing of information, unfettered access to education materials) are to our collective human security. 

Exemplifying the benefit of open educational practices, Slovakia’s most recent OGP commitments include mapping the available open educational resources in the Slovak language. When schools closed with the COVID-19 quarantine, the OGP Slovakia team promptly released a work-in-progress version of the resources overview through social media, which became the most popular of its Facebook posts, ever. Teachers and parents found it very helpful to immediately access, adopt and reuse the resources freely, and the impact may last well beyond the current crisis. Read more country examples leveraging OER in COVID-19 response efforts, in the Creative Commons blogpost here.

Even before the pandemic, numerous OGP countries recognized the powerful intersection between OER and open government. In the last 10 years, many countries such as Chile, Greece, and Romania have leveraged OER efforts to address OGP goals of transparency, accountability, public participation and inclusion in their education systems, fiscal accountability, and improvement of public services. Read how nine OGP commitments are supporting OGP’s goals through open educational resources here

The 2019 OGP Global Report states that at the end of 2018, there have been at least 160 education commitments (pg 6 of the Education section). The Education section also highlights cases made for OER (page 23): potential prohibitive costs of traditional materials, the ability to keep open source materials updated, and higher student performance.

Now more than ever, governments recognize the potential of OER–and the opportunity to partner under international frameworks that support open education goals. In November 2019, UNESCO unanimously passed the UNESCO Open Educational Resources (OER) Recommendation to advance the construction of open, inclusive and participatory knowledge societies and established a Dynamic Coalition of government, civil society and private sector experts connected to support the recommendations. The OER Recommendation dovetails with SDG4 efforts, emphasizing that open education can support “inclusive and equitable quality education” and “lifelong learning opportunities for all.” 

National government counterparts currently seek the partnerships and open projects to help them actualize SDG4 and OER Recommendation aims –something the OGP community has mastered. OGP represents an ideal vehicle for UNESCO member governments to push that work forward. The OGP community has a unique opportunity to help UNESCO government counterparts fulfill OER commitments, while we continue to leverage OER efforts to meet OGP goals at the same time. 


How can you get involved? 

  • Open education networks have provided outreach–offering “how to” webinars, support for emotional wellbeing, and lists of open resources for use. View this wikipedia article section collecting just a few of the resources and responses. 
  • Join the Creative Commons open education listserv or Slack community or discuss opportunities for engagement in open education efforts with; or open data and open source efforts with


This post was written in collaboration with Jan Gondol, Ebba Ossiannilsson, Karolina Szczepaniak and Spencer Ellis.

Featured Photo by Allison Shelly/The Verbatium Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action, licensed CC BY-NC 4.0

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