Global sharing. Affordable Learning

Reflecting on anomalies in OER

Is 'Open' broken, and if so, can education fix it?

Wayne Mackintosh


Open Education Resource Foundation

OER Foundation




The OER opportunity

There is no form of educational delivery more cost-effective, scalable and sustainable than open education

A brief history of OER in HE

1969 Open University founded
1980s Free and open source software
2002 UNESCO coins the concept of OER
2007 Cape Town Open Education Declaration
Wiley's 4R permissions
2009 OER Foundation established
2012 UNESCO Paris OER Declaration
2012 Apereo Foundation established
2017 Ljubljana Declaration
From awareness to action
2019 UNESCO OER Recommendation
2021 UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science

History image by Alan Cleaver published under Creative Commons Attribution license

The OER implementation challenge

Crossing the chasm

Sharing to LEARN

Learning to SHARE




something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected


Square peg, round hole, by Simon Law, Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike

Anomalies of open

Red pea in pod, by Magnascan published under Pixabay license

Many governments reporting actions to support OER policies at the national and/or institutional level, but with scarce published research evidence demonstrating meaningful implementation of OER practices resulting from these policies.

60 UNESCO Member states report actions to support OER policy

Butcher N and Mohini Baijnath (2023) Researching the effectiveness of OER Policies. - Only two countries met the selection criteria for the study.

Anomalies of open

Red pea in pod, by Magnascan published under Pixabay license

The reliance of most OER projects on donor funding for sustainability in the absence of government funded support despite the unparalleled opportunities for publicly funded education systems to lower costs and enhance equitable access to educational resources.

64% of faculty are aware of OER, but only 15% of required course materials are OER.

2023 Bay View Analytics

Anomalies of open

Red pea in pod, by Magnascan published under Pixabay license

A notable presence of mainstream OER initiatives whose replicability is limited by proprietary software dependencies.

Anomalies of open

Red pea in pod, by Magnascan published under Pixabay license

7000 spoken languages, but 90% of OER content is published in English

How do we fix it?


Conservation light bulb by Alexas Fotos dedicated to the Public Domain under Creative Commons CC0

Digital enabler for OER

Open technology

“Open education is not limited to just open educational resources. It also draws upon open technologies that facilitate collaborative, flexible learning and the open sharing of teaching practices that empower educators to benefit from the best ideas of their colleagues”

(The Cape Town Open Education Declaration, 2007).

Seagull sky flight by maleifl dedicated to the public domain under Creative Commons CC0


  • Free online courses to support capacity development for educators in OER and open educational practices (46% rated as “Extremely helpful”)
  • Access to open source software tools (44% rated as “Extremely helpful”)
  • Free access to web-conferencing tools for synchronous communication for OER4Covid collaborators working together (41% rated as“Extremely helpful”)
  • Curated list of recommended resources to support the transition to online learning using OER (39% rated as “Extremely helpful”)
  • Access to OER-enabled online courses for local use at your institution (36% rated as “Extremely helpful”)

N=711 from 85 countries

Lessons from the Pacific SIDS


Many participants exhibit limited proficiency in digital literacy

The challenge of donor overload in the Pacific

Inadequate (or expensive) digital infrastructure for online delivery

Open education ecosystem

Hands and puzzle pieces by PublicDomainPictures publish under Pixabay license





Digital OEP


A SIDS platform cooperative


The OERu Tech challenge


To establish a low-cost, component-based production and delivery ecosystem for OER-enabled online courses.

Scalable for tens of thousands of learners that any institution could replicate utilizing exclusively FOSS tools

Collaborative development and local branded instances

Tech Blog:

FOSS digital learning ecosystem

Component-based system

Our FOSSDLE project vision

Seagull sky flight by maleifl dedicated to the public domain under Creative Commons CC0

Empower every SID to

remix and host their own Open Educational Resources (OER) professional development programs

build digital skills capacity using shared open infrastructure

provide mentorship opportunities to gain practical experience

ensure quality education and knowledge sharing

Self-sufficiency and resilience for SIDS to cooperatively deploy OER-enabled online courses

Software and inclusivity

No learner should be denied access to learning for having to:

Purchase a proprietary software license or

Sacrifice their freedoms in software choice



Tux / GNU logos  licensed under the Free Art License

Ubuntu wall paper by Abyss Alpha Coders free for personal non-commercial use

Kiribati demonstrator

Anee Teiaua

Senior Lecture

Population: 121,388

32 Atolls (20 inhabited) and one raised coral island

Total land area of 811 km2 dispersed of 3.4 million km2

Working together

"If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together"

African proverb


Is Open broken? -Apereo

By Wayne Mackintosh

Is Open broken? -Apereo

Presentation prepared for Asia Pacific Regional Workshop to support the implementation of the OER Recommendation

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