D2.3 Report on Comparative analysis of transversal OER initiatives

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Type of outcome: Report (public)

Delivery date (revised): July 2013

Nature: Report

Language versions: English

Target languages: Executive Summary also in Dutch, French and Hungarian

A report synthesising the experiences documented in the programmes inventory and country reports and examining similarities and differences across sectors and countries.

POERUP has prepared a report exploring the distinctive features and common experiences of OER and identifying the characteristics that appear to be required for success with OER. It explores the range of needs being met through the use of OER and analyse the extent to which the needs and the solution differ by sector, country and region.

The report was written with the aim of persuading regional, national and European decision makers that in order to be fully successful in the modernisation and innovation of their schools and universities, they have to look beyond one's own region/country/continent and also learn from other educational sectors. The report will be reviewed by the International Advisory Committee and, in a later stage in 2013, by OER initiative managers and coordinators. It was then used as input for WP 4.


This report synthesizes key findings by examining similarities and differences in 120 "notable" OER initiatives worldwide against a number of key areas concerning OER development. The report demonstrates that OER-based learning, as an extension of online education, offers the potential of wider access to high quality education at relatively low cost, across a range of countries. In order to foster effective deployment of OER in a country or an institution, policy advice is needed explicitly to address issues such as business models and the use of new technologies/media to enable pedagogical innovation and enhance quality.

Individual countries, mission groups and institutions should review and revise their own policies and strategies to ensure that OER-based learning can play a role in their existing framework of online provision to help them achieve their educational, economic and social goals in a sustainable way.

The analysis indicates a complex and changing tapestry of significant OER initiatives across the world:

  1. we identify three distinct categories of initiatives: open courses, open textbooks and collections of digital assets.
  2. whilst the largest number of initiatives (in all three categories) are to be found in north America, there are more than might have been suspected across Europe and rather fewer than expected in the far East.
  3. almost half of the initiatives are focused on higher and further/technical/vocational education with only a quarter on schools - though there is further work to be done in separating higher from vocational education, and from CPD and lifelong learning initiatives.
  4. almost all initiatives cover a wide range of subjects.
  5. there is greater diversity of formats than has previously been suspected and mobile apps for accessing OER are increasingly available.
  6. most OER are in English, some exclusively and many others with English as one of a range of languages. However the list of notable initiatives includes 13 single-language initiatives, ten languages of which are European languages.
  7. the licensing picture is complex and it is not always easy to discern the degree of openness from an initial scrutiny of websites.
  8. educators express some continuing concern about quality assurance, but learners appear largely confident in identifying good quality resources. QA models range from centralised top/down systems, through peer reviewing to contributor/user-driven models.
  9. pedagogical approaches are not always clearly indicated, except in many MOOCs and other open courses. Learning pathways and the extent of learner support are not always clear.
  10. patterns of certification and accreditation vary across MOOCs and other open courses and whilst courses may be free, certification sometimes comes at a price and accreditation, if offered, invariably attracts a fee.
  11. the development of sustainable business models is clearly a significant issue.

The report was finalised by Sero after the original author, Ming Nie, left the University of Leicester

For the full report see File:POERUP D2.3 Comparative Analysis of Transversal OER Initiatives v1.0.pdf

For Executive summaries in French, Dutch and Hungarian see: