The term open educational resources (OER) encapsulates the simple but powerful idea that the world's knowledge is a public good. The internet offers unprecedented opportunities to share, use and reuse knowledge. Sadly, most of the planet is underserved when it comes to post-secondary education.
But while in our research we have no problem with sharing and building on the ideas of others, in education the perception is that we must lock teaching materials behind restrictive copyright barriers that minimise sharing.
Sometimes universities justify this position on the grounds that the open licensing of courses will damage their advantage in the student recruitment market. These publicly funded institutions expect taxpayers to pay twice for learning materials.
Individuals are free to learn from OER hosted on the open web. It is, therefore, plausible that we can design and develop an "OER university" that will provide free learning for all students worldwide.
Working with Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand, the University of Southern Queensland in Australia and Athabasca University in Canada as founding anchor partners, we aim to help provide flexible pathways for OER learners to earn formal academic credentials and pay reduced fees for assessment and credit services under the community service mission of modern universities.
The OER Foundation will host an open planning meeting on 23 February to lay the foundations for this significant intervention. With support from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the meeting will be streamed on the web, and we invite all educational leaders to join us at this meeting in planning for the mainstream adoption of OER in post-secondary institutions.