Assistant Secretary of State remarks on the importance of OER

Governments are increasingly paying attention to the potential of OER to leverage improvements in reach, effectiveness and equaltiy of educaiton. Evan Ryan, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Edcaitonal and Cultural Affairs, recently posted this on the Department of State’s blog:

Two weeks ago, outside the United Nations in midtown Manhattan, there were lights, cameras, and a lot of action buzzing around the UN General Assembly (UNGA) as government officials from the 193 UN member nations made their way in and out of the doors to attend UNGA sessions.

I was there to meet with South African government leaders about a way to open another kind of door — access to education.  Open educational resources (OER) are openly licensed learning materials that are free for anyone to use and adapt.  They create a platform for students and teachers to connect and to share their best innovations with the world.

OER are a powerful educational tool for teachers and students alike.  That’s why President Obama added new commitments to open education in the second U.S. Open Government National Action Plan, as part of the United States membership in the Open Government Partnership (OGP).  OER bring high-quality education to everyone, particularly those who live in underserved and disadvantaged communities.  We know that increased education strongly relates to economic growth, more cohesive societies, and broader social equality.  For these reasons, we seek new partnerships to foster the use of OER globally.

As the commitments cite, the U.S. government will host a workshop on the challenges and opportunities in open education around the globe, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in the coming year.  We’ll foster collaboration and cross-sector brainstorming with stakeholders from academia, industry, and government — including the 65 countries that are OGP members and other interested governments.  We will also launch a series of pilot programs that use open educational resources to support learning in formal and informal learning contexts.  The pilots’ results, including best practices, will be made publicly available for educators.  Stay tuned for the results.

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