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Open Education Resources

UNESCO Releases the 2012 Paris OER Declaration at the World Open Education Resources (OER) Congress

Hal Plotkin, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of the Under Secretary of Education at the High Level Session on OER in Europe and Latin America.

Hal Plotkin, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of the Under Secretary of Education at the High Level Session on OER in Europe and Latin America. (© UNESCO/ Mariana Bittencourt)

Dr. Cable Green of Creative Commons and the 2012 Paris OER Declaration drafting group. (© UNESCO/ Davide Storti)

Dr. Cable Green of Creative Commons and the 2012 Paris OER Declaration drafting group. (© UNESCO/ Davide Storti)

UNESCO hosted the first-ever World Open Education Resources (OER) Congress at  its Headquarters in Paris, from 20 to 22 June 2012 with the participation and support of nearly 500 representatives from government, academia, the private sector, and other relevant stakeholders from around the world. The congress featured prominent participants, such as Dr Larry Lessig, Director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University; the Honorable Dr. Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and Training for South Africa; Sir John Daniel, Project Director of Fostering Governmental Support for OER Globally, and recently retired chief of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL); and Dr Anant Agarwal, Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT.
 
Organized in full partnership with the Commonwealth of Learning and through the generous support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Congress agreed on a list of objectives and practices for governments to adopt in support of OER. This document was approved as  the 2012 Paris OER Declaration. The congress also celebrated the 10th anniversary of the UNESCO Forum on Open Courseware in 2002 that coined the term Open Educational Resources (OER).

OERs are digital teaching, learning, or research resources that are in the public domain or released with an intellectual property license that permits their free use, adaptation, and distribution by others. OERs comprise full courses, course materials, content modules, textbooks, videos, software, collections, and journals, as well as any other materials that can be used to support access to knowledge.

The 2012 World Congress aimed to lead the debate on the present and future development of OERs, in addition to calling on governments to support the development and use of OERs. The congress showcased practices in OER policies and innovative OER projects from universities around the world, as well as from organizations such as Creative Commons and the SAIDE/OER Africa initiative.

Congress speaker Cable Green, Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons, noted that “the opposite of open, in the 21st century, isn’t closed but broken.” By providing unprecedented access to some of the world’s best learning and research materials, OERs make fundamental knowledge and quality education available to all. OERs also allow universities and experts to combine their knowledge, work collaboratively, and thus create better learning resources and improve local communities.

On June 21st U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO David Killion and Mrs. Killion hosted a reception at their residence in honor of UNESCO’s World Congress on Open Educational Resources. Speaking to the guests at the reception, Ambassador Killion praised the OER movement, declaring, “The OER movement is poised to transform education as we know it. UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning are providing the platform for this discussion, but it is up to governments, school districts, private sector partners and educators to make the key decisions on how to carry the revolution forward.”