WHAT IS OER? Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.
OER form part of ‘Open Solutions’, alongside Free and Open Source software (FOSS), Open Access (OA), Open Data (OD) and crowdsourcing platforms.
Advantages of using OERs include:
  • EXPANDED ACCESS TO LEARNING.
    Students anywhere in the world can access OERs at any time, and they can access the material repeatedly.
  • SCALIBILTY.
    OERs are easy to distribute widely with little or no cost.
  • AUGMENTATION OF CLASS MATERIALS.
    OERs can supplement textbooks and lectures where deficiencies in information are evident.
  • ENHANCEMENT OF REGULAR COURSE CONTENT.
    For example, multimedia material such as videos can accompany text. Presenting information in multiple formats may help students to more easily learn the material being taught.
  • QUICK CIRCULATION.
    Information may be disseminated rapidly (especially when compared to information published in textbooks or journals, which may take months or even years to become available). Quick availability of material may increase the timeliness and/or relevance of the material being presented.
  • SHOWCASING OF INNOVATION AND TALENT.
    A wide audience may learn of faculty research interests and expertise. Potential students and donors may be impressed, and student and faculty recruitment efforts may be enhanced.
  • TIES FOR ALUMNI.
    OERs provide an excellent way for alumni to stay connected to the institution and continue with a program of lifelong learning.
  • CONTINUALLY IMPROVED RESOURCES.
    Unlike textbooks and other static sources of information, OERs can be improved quickly through direct editing by users or through solicitation and incorporation of user feedback. Instructors can take an existing OER, adapt it for a class, and make the modified OER available for others to use.
UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL SCIENTIFIC CULTURAL ORGANIZATION (UNESCO) RECOMMENDATION ON OER The UNESCO OER Recommendation, which supports the creation, use and adaptation of inclusive and quality OER, and facilitates international cooperation in this field, is the fruit of over a decade of multi-stakeholder efforts in the area of OER. highlighted by an inter-governmental meeting in May 2019 . This Inter-governmental meeting organized by UNESCO brought together some 100 Experts nominated by UNESCO Member States as well as Observers from civil society and partner Intergovernmental Organizations. This meeting resulted in a draft text that was adopted by consensus by all UNESCO Member States at the 40th Session of the UNESCO General Conference in November 2019.

At an international level, the adoption of the Recommendation constitutes a decisive step towards building more open and inclusive knowledge societies and towards the achievement of the UN 2030 Agenda. Indeed, the implementation of the Recommendation will contribute to the achievement of at least six Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), namely SDG 4 (Quality education), SDG 5 (Gender equality), SDG 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG 10 (Reduced inequalities within and across countries), SDG 16 (Peace, justice and strong institutions) and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the goals).