The case study of Open Universiteit

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Case Study Title
Open Universiteit (the Netherlands)
Case Study Country
Type of organisation described by the case study, address of organisation, hyperlink to organisation, hyperlink to case study source:
The Open Universiteit is one of 14 universities in the Netherlands.
The address is Postbus 2960, 6401 DL Heerlen.

Case Study Contributed by:
Robert Schuwer

Mandatory: A brief summary of the initiative to be used as a mini case study

In 2006 the Open Universiteit started its first experiment with OER launching the project OpenER (Dutch for “more open”). This project was ended mid 2008. An internal task force then investigated the possibilities to come to a business model in which OER was an integral part. This resulted in the platform OpenU ( Ultimately, the goal is to have 10% of each regular course offered as OER. Currently, two faculties offer their learning materials through OpenU (Master of Learning Design and Computer Science)


Concerning the quality of the learning materials, the Open Universiteit has a rigid quality framework integrated in the process of creating learning materials. Quality stanhdards are formulated in a handbook and peer assessment of early versions of materials take place. There are no differences between the quality measurements for closed and open learning materials.


The most important innovative elements of the initiatives at the Open Universiteit are:

  • Extending OER to more than learning materials sec. Masterclasses, weblectures, blogs and special topics (short articles about a actual topics, written by experts at the Open Universiteit) are also part of the open offerings
  • Making OER part of the whole business strategy of the Open Universiteit
  • Didactics of networked learning are used in some OER


OER are published under a CC BY-NC-SA license


Not applicable


Not applicable

Open Educational Practices

Not applicable

Tools and Repositories

The first OER project at the Open Universiteit used the open source platform eduCommons. The current OpenU initiative uses the Liferay platform


Not applicable

Current barriers and enablers

Current barriers are financial pressures on the whole of the OU, caused by budget cuts from the government.

Costs of the initiative

The OpenER project received grants from the Directorate Learning and Working from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Affairs of €500,000 and from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation of $200,000 (€160,000). The OpenU initiative is funded by the Open Universiteit as an investment in growing to a new businessmodel. Information about the current investment is not publicly available.

Benefits and sustainability of the initiative

Benefits of the OpenER project included:

  • A lot of free media attention, contributing to a reputation of the OU in the field of OER
  • About 1,000,000 unique visitors during the project period.
  • Measurements indicated that about 10% of the visitors were influenced by OpenER in deciding to buy a regular course

Current benefits of the OpenU project:

  • Gaining experience in offering different types of OER
  • Increase in sales of regular courses in the field of Computer Science, most likely caused by the 10% “snapshots” of the courses, offered as OER

Sustainability of the current OpenU initiative should be realized by an increase in sales of courses and payed services around the free offerings.

> Netherlands
> National OER Initiatives

> OER initiatives