In Search of National OER Policies

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Prepared by Sara Frank Bristow for the POERUP Consortium. First draft on 23 March 2011.

Scope Note

This document looks at only those national initiatives outside the UK.

Search Methodology

This text is the result of a very brief period of research into National OER Policies worldwide; results are representative but not (by any means) exhaustive. Generally speaking, we have yet to see full-fledged national policies/initiatives emerge. Moreover there are hardly any studies on this topic which are widely available. It is especially hard to find reliable information about OER in less developed countries, except in the context of UNESCO, COL and VUSSC (in which institutions from different countries join forces and share resources more broadly). It has been suggested that the more advanced institutional entities are "leapfrogging" out of the national arena and directly into mutually beneficial international partnerships, leaving everyone else behind.

Most sources reviewed here are web based, including PDFs of published articles/proceedings, organisations, conference pages, repositories and wikis - and many, many conference presentations and videos. This tends to be a self-documenting, self-referential internet-based field, so web searches are extremely effective. Research has focused (although not exclusively) on initiatives active since 2008, and preferably as recent as 2010.

Search terms have been variable depending on type of content examined. Typically, we have used variations/combinations of national OER policy, with minor modifications e.g. OER, open, educational, resources, content, repository, policy, national, nation*, government, education. The term "free" has gained traction as a synonym for "open" as well. Note also the parallel "Access to Knowledge" (A2K) and "Open Access" (in journal publishing) movements, not explored here. Individual countries may also have their own terminologies, not detected/examined herein - for example, in the US the "digital textbooks" movement is very relevant to OER (yet many involved avoid this term). Note: "OER" must often be in quotation marks within a Google search; otherwise it is omitted as a presumed outlier/typo (e.g. national "OER" policies).

Some Notable National, Regional (Major), or Sectoral Initiatives


Schools Online Curriculum Content Initiative - from The Le@rning Federation

A project of Education Services Australia, which manages the national resource collection and infrastructure of digital curriculum resources. These resources are aligned with the curricula of the Australian states and territories and will be aligned with the Australian Curriculum as it develops. It works with cultural institutions and other public organisations to open collections to schools across Australia and New Zealand. Approximately half of the funding is provided by the Australian Government, with the remainder provided by participating states and territories. The Le@rning Federation is managed by Education Services Australia on behalf of the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA).

eWorks Learning Object Repository Network (LORN) - info from Contact North

The Australian Flexible Learning Framework (AFLF), a $15 million per year operation within the Vocation Education and Training (VET) sector, offers cohesion and uniformity in delivery of e-learning across states and territories. VET incorporates publicly funded Technical and Further Education (TAFE) and private registered training organizations (RTOs) that deliver publicly funded courses.

eWorks develops content based on nationally mandated curriculum competencies for the VET (Vocation Education and Training) sector and coordinates access to existing vendor products into a single environment, generated from a single platform. Standardization of learning objects, storage and accessibility, resulted in a federated search engine; the Learning Object Repository Network (LORN). The success of LORN relies on standards compliance by every state and territory. Every collection must comprise 40% free content.



A Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development, British Columbia, Canada initiative providing educational technology and distance learning services to BC's public post-secondary institutions, their students, faculty and administrators. Its ultimate goal is to help BC's public post-secondary institutions create a federated system where information and student data, curriculum, courses, and programs flow freely and securely between institutions. Over $1 million is allocated annually for OER projects.


CORE: China Open Resources for Education

A non-profit organisation whose mission is to promote closer interaction and open sharing of educational resources between Chinese and international universities (which CORE envisions as the future of world education). In practice, it builds the Chinese side. CORE aims to provide Chinese universities with free and easy access to global open educational resources. Established in October 2003, CORE is a consortium of universities that began with 26 IET Educational Foundation member universities and 44 China Radio and TV Universities.

CORE has received approval and support for its activities from the China Ministry of Education (MOE).

Jinpinke Top Level Courses Project

The task of building and operating this portal went to the Higher Education Press, one of the largest publishers in China, which is owned by the Ministry of Education. See also the "National Course of Excellence" Project - funded by the Ministry of Education. This may be the same as Jinpinke; it is extremely difficult to find English-language materials addressing homegrown OER projects within China. All Jinpinke data is drawn from a single source, with thanks to the Stian Haklev at the University of Toronto, who has released his master's research into the topic:


Sakshat from NME-ICT's

From the National Mission on Education through ICT. A centrally sponsored scheme by the Dept of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development. In the past, recommendations came from the National Knowledge Commission .

NPTEL: National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning

Launched in September 2006, a joint venture of seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, funded by the Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development. The main objective of the programme is to enhance the quality of engineering education in India by developing curriculum-based video and web courses at all levels of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. The NPTEL project has received its funding support through the NMEICT since the year 2009.

The Netherlands

Wikiwijs  - translation: Wikiwise

Nationwide initiative announced by Dutch Minister of Education 2008. Wikiwijs was developed by Knowledge Network and Open University Netherlands, commissioned by the Ministry of Education. It is based on open content , open source and open standards. It is for all sectors, though HE comes later in sequence. "An open, internet-based platform, where teachers can find, download, (further) develop and share educational resources."

New Zealand

There are numerous NZ-based initiatives, many of which are well documented and seem to hinge on the participation/support of Wiki Educator founder Wayne Mackintosh. Initiatives include:


Reusable and portable content for New Zealand schools; Wiki Educator based. As noted on that site, "The Ministry of Education and the Open Education Resource Foundation (OERF) propose to implement a maturity model approach to support the development of a sustainable and scalable OER collaboration for reusable and portable digital content in New Zealand schools... The Ministry has supported the development of tools to make the wiki easier to use for all teachers, encouraged the building of a distinctive New Zealand Wikieducator community, and supported the development of OER exemplars to serve as examples for teachers." Additionally, "We aim to foster the collaborative development of a sustainable Open Education Resource (OER) ecosystem for New Zealand teachers to create, share, repurpose and reuse digital content in support of the national curriculum."

Otago Polytechnic

Otago Polytechnic provides quality skills for quality careers in Dunedin and the wider Otago region in New Zealand. It seeks to share a leadership role with open content collaborators around the world to "implement a quantum shift" for sustainable education, "on multiple fronts, using open education approaches."

Reusable and portable content for New Zealand schools (and perhaps a precursor to OERNZ?). This is a primary source for New Zealand's Open Educational Resources. The site is the result of a collaborative funded by New Zealand's Tertiary Education Commission's Innovation Development Fund (eCDF) during 2006/2007.


See separate document/


Vietnam Opencourse

The goal of this project is to build a rich repository of free, high-quality, open learning materials suitable for Vietnam. Launched in 2007, the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), the VASC Software and Media Company (VASC), and the [US-based] Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF) have cooperated to build up the Vietnam OpenCourseWare (VOCW) project. Interestingly, the project is based largely on US university/foundation support, e.g. from Rice University/ Connexions, OCW consortium, VASC and Creative Commons. VEF transferred its responsibilities for VOCW to MOET in 2010.

VOER: Vietnam Open Educational Resources

"For modulating and posting Vietnamese college textbooks and learning modules on VOER website" - as funded by Hewlett Foundation in 2010.

Spoor of the Search

This preliminary search for National OER Policies progressed as follows (and proceeded in dendroid fashion via links within each resource):

  • eLearning Papers n° 23 (Open Education),; linked papers
  • NZ and Wikieducator site (>> Malaysia OER)
  • Cape Town Open Education Declaration signatures (examined signatories with "Ministry" in title)
  • Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Scientific Knowledge of 22 October 2003
  • Budapest Open Access Initiative
  • Tony Bates' Good, Bad and Ugly blog post; his blog re: OER in general
  • OER Africa
  • WSIS -- new platform of communities
  • ICDE
  • OER university (OER Foundation)
  • COL - lots of excellent info here >> VUSSC countries in particular. Leads from COL speech by Asha Kanwar, VP >> Asia
  • OLCOS (Open Elearning Content Observatory Services)
  • Open Ed 2010 Proceedings (Barcelona)
  • OER policy forum - Paris 2010 (and participant list)
  • Hewlett Foundation OER grants - reviewed international list (Vietnam, others)
  • 2010 Open Educational Resources Grantees Meeting (Hewlett)
  • OCWC Global 2010 presentations/videos: (1) Ed policies and OER in Brazil (this study was seemingly for a proposal and there is no policy/programme to accompany it) (2) KERIS (National Knowledge Information Center of the Korea Education & Research Information Service, Korea)
  • OCW consortium videos
  • WISE (World Innovation Summit for Education) Summit, Qatar 2010
  • Foothills Community College presentation on OER
  • OECD/CERI OER study
  • SCORE - OU
  • Berkman Center, Harvard University: paper on Brazil OER; Wikimedia Brasil
  • UNESCO OER Toolkit
  • Open Society Institute/Foundations (Soros)
  • UNESCO IIEP Oerwiki
  • Mashpedia OER
  • OER University
  • Chinese OER thesis (

Partial Bibliography

See also all web sites listed earlier in this document.

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