Milton Keynes, 22 December 2008: A $3m USD injection into advancing free and open access to high quality educational resources will result in the creation of a global Open Learning network run by world-leading universities.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, social education philathropists, has granted the monies to the UK’s Open University and the USA’s Carnegie Mellon University, to establish a social networking forum for greater knowledge exchange about Open Educational Resources (OER) amongst educators and researchers, according to Director of the Open Educational Resources Initiative at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Catherine Casserly.
“This opportunity is well timed as the Open Educational Resources field needs a solid evidence base about the efficacy of open materials to improve teaching and learning. We are delighted to be supporting two research powerhouses - the Open University UK and Carnegie Mellon University – whose leadership in both high quality open materials and learning sciences will add tremendous leadership to the field, “ Casserly said.
Patrick McAndrew, Director of the OU’s OLnet, says the grant is a continuation of a positive relationship between the Hewlett Foundation and the OU.
“Planning this project has meant working with the OER team at The William and Flora Foundation to think through how we can support the OER community, gather evidence of use as well as production, and build on their investment in opening up learning materials over the last eight years. This is a great opportunity.”
“Research will be focussed on the most urgent educational needs across the globe - from how OERs are most effectively used in developing countries to working out how anyone can gain qualifications from free access to university course content online. In practice this will mean at least 12 “Open Professors” from around the world, working with OLnet to take ideas into the real world,” he said.
“This potential for this collaboration is enormous, McAndrew said.
“We have the potential to create an active and meaningful approach to providing high quality educational resources to lesser developed countries and socially disadvantaged people,” he concluded.