Understanding the Impact of OER: Achievements and Challenges

Type: Reports/Research Reports
Author: Sarah Hoosen and Neil Butcher
Year of Publishing: 2019

UNESCO IITE and OER Africa partnered to prepare a publication that critically reviews the growth of OER and its potential impact on education systems around the world. The publication is based on desktop research and country case studies, which were prepared with input from OER experts from 15 countries in five UNESCO regions. The findings indicate that many efforts have been made to promote OER and its use, with funding and support by several donors and intergovernmental organizations, governments, and education institutions. There are some remarkable achievements and strides over the past 20 years as awareness grows and initiatives develop. Whilst these are positive achievements, OER still appears to remain largely on the margins in education systems and its impact is influenced by political and governmental changes, as well as lack of systematic and integrated funding to ensure sustainability of the OER initiatives that are implemented. There is confusion in terminology around openness, pointing to a need to clarify understandings of OER and related concepts. Additionally, a context supportive of OER (for example, through funding and creating collaborations) appears to yield more significant benefits than just the presence of policies, and there is limited evidence of OER policies driving pedagogical innovation. Commercial interests, lack of awareness, and absence of strong leadership may limit the development and implementation of supportive OER policies. Even less consideration has been given regarding issues of diversity and inclusion.