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From Open Educational Resources to Open Educational Practices

For resilient sustainable education
Des ressources éducatives libres aux pratiques éducatives libres : pour une éducation durable et résiliente
De recursos educativos abiertos a prácticas educativas abiertas: para una educación sostenible y resiliente
Ebba Ossiannilsson, Xiangyang Zhang, Jennryn Wetzler, Cristine Gusmão, Cengiz Hakan Aydin, Rajiv Jhangiani, James Glapa-Grossklag, Mpine Makoe et Dhaneswar Harichandan


Au cours des dernières années, les ressources éducatives libres (REL) et les pratiques éducatives libres (PEL) ont accru l'accès à l'éducation et l’ont rendue plus abordable dans le monde entier. La synergie REL-PEL reflète donc une stratégie prometteuse pour l'accès à l'éducation. Malgré des progrès, les recherches suggèrent la nécessité de mettre un accent concerté sur le passage de la sensibilisation à la mise en œuvre effective. Cet article analyse le statut actuel des REL-PEL conjointement avec la réponse éducative au COVID-19, avec des études cas en Afrique, au Brésil, au Canada, en Chine, Suède et Turquie. Les ambassadeurs de l'ICDE pour la promotion mondiale des REL et les membres du comité de promotion des REL de l'ICDE (auteurs) soutiennent que, dans les pays étudiés, il existe un besoin important et une plus grande réceptivité pour élargir l'accès à l'éducation par le biais des REL et des PEL. Pour répondre aux besoins de la crise de l'éducation liée au COVID-19, et pour apporter des améliorations éducatives sur le long terme, les pays devraient mieux utiliser la recommandation de l'UNESCO sur les REL de novembre 2019. Ils y perçoivent une opportunité de déplacer les REL-PEL pour une éducation durable et résiliente et de faire évoluer le cadre politique pour soutenir un tel mouvement. L'article se termine par quelques observations sur la voie à suivre pour cela.

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Entrées d’index

Mots-clés :

COVID-19, REL, PEL, éducation libre, ODD

Palabras claves:

COVID-19, REA, PEA, Educación abierta, ODS
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Notes de l’auteur

All authors are affiliated with the ICDE OER Advocacy Committee

Texte intégral


1The UNESCO’s General Conference in November 2019 (UNESCO, 2020a) adopted a Recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER), marking important progress toward the goal of quality education and access to information for all. The Recommendation on OER will contribute to building open and inclusive knowledge societies and to achieving the objectives of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG4 on education. The Recommendation represents a milestone, moving our collective focus from awareness-raising of OER to broader implementation and actions, including Open Educational Practices (OEP). 

2Despite the important and consensus-building momentum of the UNESCO Recommendation, a recent publication by UNESCO accurately pointed out that the progress since 2012 in all areas of OER and OEP development, adoption, distribution and use has usually been characterised by more rhetoric than action (Hoosen & Butcher, 2019). The challenges still remain in terms of awareness of OER, lower rate of adoption and the digital divide due to socio-economic disparities. Thus, equity, and equality issues remain barriers to open participation.  The researchers suggested very few national governments had truly focused major efforts on OER policy and centralised funding was virtually non-existent.  Most funding was at the institutional level and the amount and sustainability of these funding streams varied considerably.  Unsurprisingly, with low adoption rates, there has been uneven policy development and a lack of sustainable business models. 

3In spring 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic was at the height of its global outbreak (to date), and a pivotal moment in the history of education occurred. Education systems around the world faced a paradigm shift regarding how learners of all ages could access learning. It is therefore more than ever essential that the global community comes together now to foster universal access to information and knowledge through OER and OEP (Bozkurt, et al., 2020; Huang et al, 2020; Ossiannilsson, 2020: UNESCO, 2020c, 2020d).

4This conceptual article provides a descriptive and contextual overview of the UNESCO Recommendation on OER, highlighting OER and OEP efforts in six country or regional case studies: Africa, Brazil, Canada, China, Sweden, and Turkey. The paper also attempts to draw some lessons learned from institutional responses and the scale-up of online education during the COVID-19 pandemic. We certainly see complimentary links between increased access to online education inspired by COVID-19, and OER and OEP. 


5This conceptual article is based on multiple case studies of the current state of the art of OER and OEP. All authors of this article are ICDE Ambassador for the global advocacy of OER, and members of ICDE OER Advocacy Committee. Authors have highlighted case studies from seven countries, based on their own perspectives. However, these case studies do not represent official national perspectives. And this article does not reflect a comprehensive review of the developments in the field, and what is happening globally. 


Open Educational Resources and Open Educational Practices

6UNESCO’s most up-to-date definition of OER, featured in the UNESCO OER Recommendation, reads: “OER are learning, teaching and research materials in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open license, which permit no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation and redistribution by others.” This paper uses the OER Recommendation definition of OER but recognizes the broader scope of actions recommended by UNESCO. 

7So far, OER 's research in the field of open and distance learning has mainly focused on the evaluation of OER projects on resource creation, reuse and sharing (Butcher, 2015). More recently, however, a growing body of critical literature has emerged that reflects and signals a shift in emphasis from the creation of and access to resources to open practices and open pedagogy for assessing the impact on teaching and learning practices (Ehlers, 2011; Cox and Trotter, 2017; DeRosa and Robison, 2017; Schuwer and Janssen, 2018). Although use and reuse are common in open and distance learning institutions, sharing and redistribution of newly created resources is still very limited, so that reuse and its effects remain hidden. It therefore seems necessary to reexamine the apparent lack of re-use among educators (Kellner, Massou, Morelli, 2010), as the adaptation and reallocation of resources is not visible in public repositories or outside local institutional contexts. The lack of visibility of the reuse of OER does not necessarily mean that OER does not exist or has no impact on practice or on education in general (Weller, 2014b; Weller et al., 2015).

8Open educational practices (OEP) are more complex, and one must consider the ecosystem in which they occur (Cape Town Open Education Declaration, 2007, 2017). It is not just about the transformation towards specific OEP, but also the changed mindsets, attitudes, and values towards a culture of openness, to cultivate a culture of openness, as it is built in people's minds and actions (Ossiannilsson, 2018, 2019, in press). Putting the culture of openness into practice can be hard to define. Below are two examples of frames for understanding open educational practices: 

  • Inamourato dos Santos, Punie and Castano Munos (2016) proposed a framework for making education available with fewer restrictions, which goes beyond OER, MOOCs and open access. The framework can be used as a tool to think through strategic decisions: pedagogical approaches, cooperation between individuals and institutions, recognition of non-formal learning and different ways of delivering content. 

  • Huang, Tlili, et al., (2020) conducted a comprehensive review of OEP definitions in the literature. The authors argued that based on these definitions, the five following conditions, OER, Open teaching, Open collaboration, Open assessment and Enabling technology were identified that should be present during the applications of OEP in education. Huang et al., (2020) emphasized that in OEP, students are encouraged to carry on flexible learning. In concrete terms, four relationships can be formed under the five conditions mentioned above and shown in Figure 1.

Fig.1. OEP framework for open education (Huang, et al, 2020, p. 10)

Fig.1. OEP framework for open education (Huang, et al, 2020, p. 10)

9All these relationships are mediated by a technology that is intended as a prerequisite for the development of OEP, not as a central aspect of practice. It should be noted that numbers are used as indices of relationships and do not reflect the degree of importance of these relationships (Huang et al., 2020, p. 10-11).

UN Frameworks: UNESCO SDGs and futures of education

10Transnational policy structures, such as those led by UNESCO, offer a crucial element in ecosystems opening up education. 

11The UNESCO OER Recommendation, in particular, targets five areas for action: 

12(i) Build the capacity of stakeholders to find, re-use, create and share OER, (ii) Develop supportive policy, (iii) Ensure inclusive and equitable access to quality OER, (iv) Nurture the creation of sustainability business models for OER, and (v) Facilitate international cooperation. 

13In addition, monitoring and evaluation were emphasized as to: 

14(a) deploying appropriate research mechanisms to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of OER policies and incentives against defined objectives; (b) collecting and disseminating progress, good practices, innovations and research reports on OER and its implications with the support of UNESCO and international open education communities; and c) developing strategies to monitor the educational effectiveness and long-term financial efficiency of OER, which include participation of all relevant stakeholders. 

15To further buttress implementation efforts, UNESCO launched a Dynamic Coalition (UNESCO, 2020b), which includes special working groups to share expertise and synergies supporting work in the five areas of the OER Recommendation.   

16The OER Recommendation will contribute to building open and inclusive knowledge societies and to achieving United Nation Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG4 which aims for inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all. The OER Recommendation addresses other SDGs as well, including SDG 5 (gender equality), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG 10 (reducing inequalities within and between countries), SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and SDG 17 (partnerships for the objectives).

17The OER Recommendation supports the goals of UNESCO’s “Future of Education: Learning to become” initiative, which aims to rethink education and shape the future. The initiative catalyzes a global debate on how knowledge, education and learning need to be rethought in a world of increasing complexity, uncertainty and precariousness (UNESCO, 2019).

18These interconnected UNESCO frameworks arguably provide the policy support for governments and educational institutions to make educational changes.  While they offer no guarantee that open education efforts will move from “rhetoric to action,” they do offer the needed policy foundation for meaningful change. And, now selected countries have begun translating the Recommendation into local languages where official language translations have not been offered, which may suggest greater engagement. 

Initiatives due to COVID-19

19In response to COVID-19’s massive disruption to education, affecting 1.57 billion learners in 191 countries, UNESCO (2020c) issued a Call to support learning and knowledge sharing through Open Educational Resources (OER) worldwide. The Call encouraged implementation of the OER Recommendation,with actions in the identified  five main areas.

20This Call highlights the important role of the recently launched COVID-19 Global Education Coalition and the Dynamic OER Coalition, a multi-stakeholder group dedicated to sharing expertise, to facilitate and support joint actions. According to UNESCO (2020)

The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in a paradigm shift on how learners of all ages, worldwide, can access learning. It is therefore more than ever essential that the global community comes together now to foster universal access to information and knowledge through OER,” reads the call, co-signed by Moez Chakchouk and Stefania Giannini, respectively Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, and for Education at UNESCO. “Our joint action aims at managing the challenges of this and future pandemic crisis’ for learners, as well as to laying the foundation for integrating systematically best practices to increase the sharing of knowledge for the post-COVID-19 future of learning.

21In early 2020, researchers from over 30 countries conducted historic global research to assess the COVID-19 education crisis (Bozkurt et al., 2020). While there were differences in country responses to COVID-19, researchers found that countries similarly engaged in emergency remote education.  Remote education is a branch of distance education as in the case of online learning, e-learning, m-learning, or home-schooling. The countries that contributed case reports to the study represented 62.7% of the total world population with approximately 4,888,000,000 citizens.

22The following case studies are provided from the authors’ regions or countries and are meant to build on the unique global research. These case studies are presented in alphabetical order:  Africa, Brazil, Canada, China, Sweden, and Turkey.

Case studies


23Africa comprises 54 countries and four dependencies or territories, with a total population of over 1.3 billion, according to United Nations estimates. Populations in Africa have a lower median age than most regions (19.7 years) and represent 16.72% of the total world population (according to Worldometers). There are an estimated 1,500-2,000 languages spoken on the continent. 

24There are two important Open Education declarations, which originated in Africa: the 2007 Cape Town Declaration on Open Education and the 2009 La declaration de Dakar sur les RE. These declarations target the need to accelerate efforts to promote open resources, technology and teaching practices in education. 

25Since these declarations, there have been growing numbers of activities in Africa, including the OER Regional Policy Forum for Africa. Held at Africa’s leading open distance learning institution, the University of South Africa (UNISA), the forum: (1) highlighted the role of OER in expanding access to education and ensuring its quality; (2) recommended African universities institutionalize OER through policies; (3) provide ICT infrastructure, connectivity and facilities; (4) improve digital literacy and skills; and (5) encourage research on OER to support public investment and social mandates. Following the 2012 World OER Congress, countries such as South Africa developed an Open Learning Policy Framework to guide the implementation of open learning practices. Nigeria developed a national OER policy. In addition, there have been a number of African-based initiatives including the development and sharing of hundreds of resources by OER Africa, the Commonwealth of Learning, Hewlett Foundation and TESSA (Mtebe & Raisamo, 2014; OER Africa, 2014). Some of the initiatives were institutionally driven by open and distance education universities.

26Africa has six publicly funded open universities and only three of those have been involved in OER initiatives. The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) converted more than 30 of their 2,000 course materials into OER (Agbu et al., 2016). NOUN has also established a dedicated OER unit charged with training academic staff in OER creation, use and reuse (Agbu et al., 2016).  The Open University of Tanzania developed an OER policy and an OER course on Digital Literacy. In trying to institutionalize OER, UNISA developed “In-house” strategies meant to guide the step-by-step approach to managing intellectual property (study materials); harnessing OER for teaching and learning, reviewing institutional policies to incorporate OER values; and contributing towards global knowledge in open education.

27These open universities understood that OER may give people an opportunity not only to have access to copy and reuse study material but also to repurpose the study material to suit the African context (Baijnath, 2018; OER Africa, 2014). Most of these projects have been successful in raising awareness about the use and building communities of OER users.  However, there has been less movement towards open educational practices. 

Initiatives due to COVID-19

28Due to the current crisis created by COVID-19, many governments in Africa seek to ensure education takes place even when students are at home.  Almost overnight, teachers were expected to take courses that were developed for classroom provision to an online environment. To enable this transition from the traditional teaching mode to online delivery, educators require significant training and assistance. 

29To address this need, UNISA harnessed free open educational resources courses to assist in training in-service teachers with skills and knowledge needed for teaching online. This free emergency community project shows the benefits of using openly licensed study materials. However, COVID-19 has not quickened many open universities in Africa in response to embracing open educational practices.


30The largest country in South America, Brazil faces disparities between regions and consequent social inequalities. Education has always been one of the areas of greatest attention, especially for children and adolescents, in order to minimize illiteracy and favor social inclusion.

31According to the 2019 School Census, Brazil has 47.8 million students, 81% of whom are in the public system (INEP, 2020). The country has seen a drop in primary and secondary student retention in the past decade, related to decreased financial investment. In early childhood education, there are 693 thousand more children in classrooms in four years. Youth and Adult Education (EJA) fell by 7.7%, reaching 3.2 million last year (INEP, 2020).

32Yet, education is a social right for all, guaranteed by the Federal Constitution of Brazil (Brasil, 1988) and a common competence of the Union, the States, the Federal District and the Municipalities. The Law of Guidelines and Bases of National Education (LDB) is fundamental legislation for Brazilian Education. The LDB determines that the National Education Plan (PNE) must be organized by the Union in collaboration with States, the Federal District and Municipalities. The PNE presents 20 goals, which are worked as drivers for the advancement of the education system in Brazil. Santos (2011) analyzed seven of the 20 PNE goals and argued that selected goals and strategies fit well in the OER context - thus, the proposed OER initiatives could contribute to the achievement of these national targets.

33The main initiatives related to: a) enabling OER use in classrooms and experimenting with new teaching practices; b) enabling support for students with low performance through a variety of learning objects; c) training teachers and enabling the development of pedagogical resources; d) representing resource savings and avoiding duplicate efforts to create teaching materials; e) encouraging the availability of scientific and academic works; f) promoting a culture of adaptation and reuse of education content; and g) providing textbooks such as OER and investing in the sustainable development of OER repositories to produce and share educational resources.  While these initiatives were proposed for OER, they affected select OEP. 

34There are many initiatives in Brazil related to public and private higher education institutions, basic and fundamental education, training of professionals, mainly health professionals. Some are accessible for free, but not all are open.

35Online education is vital to ensuring teaching and learning opportunities. However, digital access is a problem because of the existing physical and technological infrastructure, and teachers’ lack of sufficient digital technology training.

Initiatives due to COVID-19

36The lack of digital access became quite evident with the Coronavirus pandemic. During the pandemic, remote education was offered as an alternative option to maintain schools’ and universities’ functioning, at least in part. Online education and OEP presented a great opportunity for the growth of academic communities, and the development and maintenance of OER especially.

37Brazil's institutional support for OER has had a positive impact, especially during COVID-19. Because of Brazil's OER initiatives, people had access to highly visible scientific and academic information about COVID-19. The Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE) has focused attention on the quality of the content production. A group of teachers are coordinating an ongoing research project to support the development of Open Educational Resource developed for Academic Improvement – REAdME. The Open Access Policy will be based on Brazilian copyright law, to guarantee that the educational resources can be disseminated and reused freely, by anyone, whether in educational activities for self-learning or in the daily practice of professionals in the areas provided. Brazil’s institutional support seems to tangentially enable some OEP, though the focus has been on OER. 


38Canada is the second largest country in the world but has a population of only around 38 million people. A multicultural society in which more than a fifth of the population was born outside of the country, Canada enjoys relatively high rates of educational attainment, with 62% of 25-34-year old’s having completed tertiary education.

39In Canada the constitutional responsibility for education rests with its provinces and territories instead of a central national body. Consequently, open education initiatives tend to be focused on or at least based within specific provinces. This is exemplified by the work of BCcampus (in British Columbia) and eCampus Ontario, organizations that are funded by their respective Ministries responsible for higher education and focus on building institutional capacity, fostering cross-institutional collaborations, and developing open education infrastructure, resources, and training. For example, since 2012 BCcampus has managed the BC Open Textbook Project. From an initial focus on developing open textbooks for 40 subject areas in 2012, the collection has grown to now include over 300 open textbooks which have thus far been adopted by 549 faculty across 39 institutions, saving nearly 160,000 students approximately $19 million in textbook costs.

40Beyond these thriving provincial open education initiatives, post-secondary institutions across the country run their own open education initiatives, sharing their strategies and practices through an informal Canada OER network. The best example of this is Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) in British Columbia, which is home to Canada’s first zero textbook cost (ZTC) programs, offers its faculty grants to create, adapt, and adopt OER, and provides support to faculty authors through an Open Publishing Suite (KPU, 2020). KPU also provides an open pedagogy fellowship program that focuses on the United Nations SDGs, along with support and training for open education research. These initiatives reflect the growing interests within Canada on leveraging OEP to transform education to be student-driven and to more explicitly address social justice (Bali, Cronin, & Jhangiani, 2020) as well as on conducting high quality empirical research into the pedagogical affordances of OEP (Hendricks, Reinsberg, & Rieger, 2017).

41KPU and other Canadian institutions such as Thompson Rivers University and Ryerson University are also partners within the international OER universitas (OERu) network, which seeks to build open online courses that provide an affordable pathway to university credentials for learners worldwide (OERu, 2020).

42Finally, it is also worth mentioning that several Canadian institutions offer MOOCs on platforms such as EdX (e.g., University of British Columbia) and Coursera (e.g., McMaster University).

Initiatives due to COVID-19

43Anecdotally, post-secondary institutions across Canada are reporting higher adoption rates of OER that have been precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, this has been the result of the move to online course delivery and the desire to offer free online readings and other dynamic course content to learners. However, in other cases this has been driven by supply chain and distribution problems with commercial textbooks.

44Beyond this increase in grassroots adoptions of OER, there are three organized efforts that are worth highlighting: First, several Canadian institutions are working to curate, develop, and share digital learning materials that may be used to support common first-year undergraduate courses across the country. Second, British Columbia is funding a collaborative effort across institutions in the province to build OER and open online courses that may be reused by institutions anywhere. And third, the Canadian partners of the OERu network have joined the international #OER4COVID (2020) support group for educators making the transition to using OER during the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada’s already thriving work in OER and OEP has been further strengthened by COVID-19 response efforts. 


45China is a country with a large population of around 1.4 billion people (World Population Review, 2020) with territory of 9.7 million square kilometers. The education system in this country consists mainly of the government funded educational institutions. 

46In 2003, the Ministry of Education (MOE) initiated a plan for the development of online courses in the new century which resulted in two consortia for digital learning. Another ten MOOC platforms were online for schools and universities and the public. In 2010 and 2016, the MOE put forward a Ten-year Development Plan for Information and Communication Technology in Education and the 13th Five Year Plan for Information Communication Technology in Education. The MOE proposes to start 10,000 MOOC prestigious courses and appeal to the provincial level educational authorities to offer a similar number of online courses in 2020 which are designed for full time students and lifelong learners. In practice, the MOE and local governments financially support the digital and online courses and the relative platforms together with funding from the institutions, or occasionally specific projects.

47China’s difference from other countries regarding OER and OEP stems from the fact that the course-formatted OER are government-initiated and supported. All the online courses on MOOC platforms are evaluated internally and externally to ensure quality. The research mechanism is a bit behind the creation and dissemination of OER and OEP. 

48The two national OER repositories are connected with the MOE, and others (around 20) were established and supported by some elite universities or college/university alliances or some Information Technology companies.  Both platforms have joined as partners the Global Alliance by UNESCO to provide distance education solutions for learners worldwide. 

Initiatives due to COVID-19

49On January 29, following its announcement postponing the start of the spring semester to prevent further spread of the COVID-19, the MOE launched an initiative “Ensuring learning undisrupted when classes are disrupted.”  Collaborating with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the MOE mobilised the three biggest telecom operators together with the major tech companies to boost the internet connectivity service and upgrade the bandwidth of major online education platforms to ensure the accessibility and quality connectivity for the emergency online learning and teaching. 

50As early as February, more than 24,000 online courses have been open to university students, providing 12 undergraduate disciplines and 18 vocational college majors. In addition, 22 online learning platforms have been open to free access for nearly 200 million primary and secondary school students.

51Two new national online learning platforms for the emergency teaching have been created due to the emergency: 

  • National Online Cloud Classroom, an online learning platform offering a variety of courses based on commonly used textbooks in China, 

  • The Open Platform for the National Project of Virtual Simulation Experiment has been open to the public, providing over 2,000 simulated experimental courses. 

52In addition, one national TV channel for schools in rural and western regions became in use: Channel 4 of the CETV televised the live courses via the satellite to the students in less prosperous or poorer rural regions in which the cable TV or the internet network did not work stably.

53On 18th June, the MOE (2020) of China issued a directive initiating further opening up its educational cooperation with foreign counterparts in terms of reciprocal recognition of credits, awarding degrees, encouraging universities in the western regions to widen the input of educational resources from foreign countries, and proposing to realise the educational goals set by UN SDGs 2030. Beyond that, creating OER in MOOCs format in English for the international learners.

54Where China’s Ministry of Education work promotes OER primarily, work toward educational collaboration, with the two national OER repositories’ work, and COVID-19 response efforts demonstrate support for some facets of OEP. 


55Sweden has a population of approximately 10M people (World Population Review, 2020) of whom about 2 million are under the age of 18. Sweden is a multicultural country, with five official minority languages. Sweden prioritizes SDG goals of education for all, democracy, social justice and human rights, and is working at high levels with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Sweden aims to be at the highest level in the world when it comes to digitalization, focusing on five areas: digital competence, digital safety, digital innovation, digital infrastructure and digital leadership and management. OEP, and Open Access are mainstreamed, though OER use is less so.

56Some national initiatives on OER and OEP include:

  • OER - a resource for learning 2010-2011 (Creelman & Ossiannilsson, 2011) 

  • OER - open possibilities for learning 2013 (Schneider & Ossiannilsson, 2013). Lessons.SE is a database for OER in schools.

  • Wikimedia Sweden works to promote OER and has launched an official translation of the UNESCO OER Recommendation in 2020 (Wikimedia, 2020). 

57The Swedish Association for Distance Education co-ordinated several OER/OEP projects as: NordFlexOn (2020), aiming to facilitate and promote open, inclusive, flexible online learning, quality learning and teaching in the Nordic countries, with a global outreach. Boldic (2020) is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The purpose was co-operation on OER/OEP between Nordic and Baltic organizations.

58MOOCs have been in operation since 2014. In 2015 the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ, 2016) got a mandate from the government on how to relate to MOOCs. UKÄ concluded that open network-based courses should be included and that they are possible ways to meet major challenges, and a constitutional proposal for financing was provided.

59A study by the Expert group on public economy (Nyman, 2020), especially investigated MOOCs and OER. The recommendations to the government focused on adoption of the UNESCO OER Recommendation at macro, meso, micro and nano levels, as an ecosystem.

60The Swedish National Heritage Board (2020) conducts comprehensive work on cooperation between the school system and cultural heritage institutions with special focus on OER and OEP.

Initiatives due to COVID-19

61Upper secondary schools, adult education and university education moved online and with distance education 18 March 2020. Kindergarten and schools K-9 were still open. Learning platforms were already in use, and use of the video conference platform, Zoom, increased. In a culture of OER use, OEP went mainstream and with strong leadership. The Swedish government launched several initiatives and reforms supporting open online education in response to COVID-19 (Regeringskansliet, 2020). All authorities in the fields of education, and related to education, supported these initiatives and reforms, updating reforms, financing, infrastructures, social, ethical and pedagogical initiatives (Bozkurt et al., 2020). 

62Several initiatives began during the pandemic and will continue. There are strong commitments to move on, and it is obvious that the new normal will look different than the normal known before. Identified limitations especially for those who already were most vulnerable will be overcome. Government and education sector stakeholders are committed to initiate and fund what is needed to move forward (Bozkurt, et al., 2020; Ossiannilsson, 2020). UKÄ, as well as all educational sectors i.e., K-12 and adult education, received a government mandate to evaluate and monitor the consequences for the activities resulting from the COVID-19 education response.

63Skola Hemma, or School at Home, an online portal providing access to education online was created to support schools managing the consequences of the pandemic. The portal was maintained in collaboration with multiple governmental, and sector interdisciplinary stakeholders. It will be permanent and further developed.

64A new Nordic network for Adult Learning (NVL-Digital) funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers was launched in 2020, based on prior NVL work (Slåtto, 2020).

65Sweden’s already established culture of OER and OEP was further strengthened with the COVID-19 educational response. 


66Turkey is arguably in its infancy stage regarding awareness and engagement with OER and OEP. Studies (Aydin, 2019; Kursun, 2015) clearly showed the shortage of awareness. Also, while the UNESCO OER Recommendation has been translated into Turkish (in progress),no news or academic discussions were initiated as a result. Turkey has some OER and OEP experience but lacks the  policy papers or planned actions needed for greater engagement with  OER and OEP. 

67Although the term open education has been in use in Turkey for decades, the majority of the implementations are limited to the formal distance education programs rather than OER and OEP. Starting with Anadolu University’s first open and distance learning (ODL) programs launched in 1982, ODL has become an important alternative for higher education. Currently Anadolu University has around one million ODL students (Anadolu, 2020). Although ODL programs do not match most facets of OEP, these programs do offer more flexible education opportunities to those who cannot join the traditional face-to-face programs.  

68On the other hand, developments in the last decade regarding OpenCourseWare, Open Educational Resources, and MOOCs raised awareness of at least some OER. After having received funding from the government, the Turkish Science Foundation (TUBA) created as well as translated materials belonging to 81 different courses in various fields ( Meanwhile, starting with Anadolu University’s MOOCs platform, AKADEMA, several institutions have launched their MOOCs, such as Erzurum Ataturk University’s Atademix, Middle East Technical University’s BilgeIs.

69Although its openness can be criticized, the Educational Informatics Network (EBA) of the Ministry of National Education (MoNE) offers a strong example of OEP in Turkey. The EBA project intends to provide quality learning resources for all levels of K12 Education system ( Created by teachers, students, companies, and so forth, the resources were aggregated and offered for all students’ and teachers’ use. Currently there are thousands of resources in various formats (text, video, audio, interactive e-books, e-learning materials, simulations, animations, still pictures, graphs, drawings, etc.) as well as a learning management system ready to be used by any teacher or school.

70Increasing the digital skills of faculty members of the newly established universities via MOOC-based courses as a part of the Digitization of Higher Education Project, opening all the dissertations and theses to anyone, and providing a journal management system (dergipark) for open access journals of the universities are among some of the other major OEP initiatives of the Higher Education Council (HEC).

Initiatives due to COVID-19

71The Coronavirus definitely accelerated the OER and OEP initiatives as well as open and distance learning. The MoNE realized during the early stages of the pandemic that access to educational resources is as important as offering them. So, the MoNE offered TV programs through several state TV channels. Broadcasting the educational resources despite its one-way communication structure supported millions of K12 students’ access to formal education. Meanwhile, HEC brought all the course resources created by the distance teaching universities under a portal called YOK Dersleri. Furthermore, Anadolu University collaborated with the government agency responsible for the informatics infrastructure of the country to offer an integrated cloud based LMS and Web Conferencing solution as well as support for the student information system integration. 

72Turkey strengthened technology focused national OER and OEP initiatives because of the pandemic. 

Discussion, conclusions and further research

73The case studies demonstrate that despite the diverse national contexts for education, COVID-19 incentivized greater online and distance education efforts across all contexts. In many cases, online education seemed to be the precursor to increasing OER and at times, OEP.  The case studies also indicated that there are still gaps in the effort to move from awareness raising about OER to full-fledged OEP (including open education and open educational culture efforts more widely). Furthermore, engaging with OER beyond preliminary awareness raising and use--to include the five Rs, or six if we include an R for recognition (S. Knyazeva, personal communication June 7, 2019) still remains a challenge. 

74Yet, we are at a crucial moment for change; and we may have an opportunity to move OEP from the margins of education to the mainstream in select countries. Currently, there is unprecedented support at the international policy-level for meaningful engagement with OER and OEP. The UNESCO OER Recommendation offers unusual policy guidance for expanding access to education echoed in other UN frameworks; it also offers support for implementation actions in the form of the Dynamic Coalition. Building on this momentum, countries are translating the Recommendation into local languages where official language translations have not been offered.

75Based on the country contexts and the current educational crisis from COVID-19, we anticipate the way forward post COVID-19 should arguably include adopting OER and engaging with OEP on a larger scale. The ‘normal’ we were used to just some months ago, is now the normal of the past. Given COVID-19, the global educational sector is learning and changing. We witness greater receptivity to opening access to education across all countries reviewed. This includes adapting traditional educational approaches at a faster rate than previously thought possible. Now, we may be more poised and receptive for improved learning opportunities through meaningful actions in OER and OEP. 

76As the OER Recommendation states, it is time to move from awareness raising to implementation. All stakeholders need to be involved at all levels: macro, meso, micro and nano level. The Recommendation is being translated into the official UN languages and some countries are currently translating it in additional languages, which is encouraging.

77As a next step: The ICDE OER Advocacy Committee is conducting a global survey related to the implementation of the UNESCO OER Recommendation and Monitoring. After data analysis in 2020, results will be shared with ICDE in December 2020, and through global open education networks and stakeholders at all levels. The results will also be shared with the UNESCO Dynamic Coalition. The survey results may map some state-of-the-art projects expanding access to education and give directions for further activities. 

78Future steps implementing OER and OEP might consider the crucial contextual dimensions such as language, culture, and history. As with the motto “think global, act local,” globalisation, as social justice and human rights, must be of highest priority, if we are to reach our collective goal of education for all.


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Titre Fig.1. OEP framework for open education (Huang, et al, 2020, p. 10)
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Ebba Ossiannilsson, Xiangyang Zhang, Jennryn Wetzler, Cristine Gusmão, Cengiz Hakan Aydin, Rajiv Jhangiani, James Glapa-Grossklag, Mpine Makoe et Dhaneswar Harichandan, « From Open Educational Resources to Open Educational Practices »Distances et médiations des savoirs [En ligne], 31 | 2020, mis en ligne le 16 octobre 2020, consulté le 25 février 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Ebba Ossiannilsson

Swedish Association of Distance Education

Xiangyang Zhang

Open University of Jiangsu

Jennryn Wetzler

Creative Commons

Cristine Gusmão

Federal University of Pernambuco

Cengiz Hakan Aydin

Anadolu University

Rajiv Jhangiani

Kwantlen Polytechnic University

James Glapa-Grossklag

College of the Canyons and Open Education Consortium

Mpine Makoe

University of South Africa

Dhaneswar Harichandan

University of Mumbai

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Le texte seul est utilisable sous licence CC BY-SA 4.0. Les autres éléments (illustrations, fichiers annexes importés) sont « Tous droits réservés », sauf mention contraire.

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