"OER Policy Works" – after the workshop

In March, we hosted a group of over 30 experts and activists for the „OER Policy Works” workshop. Participants came from the Czech Republic, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Poland, Romania and Turkey – and represented both non-governmental organizations and public institutions active in the educational field.
The goal of the workshop was to exchange knowledge and experiences about OER policy developments around the world, and to practice advocacy planning during an intensive one-day training course provided by Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education at SPARC. Listening to the presentations given by participants from different countries, it became clear that developments of some sort, related to open education, are happening in every represented country. At the same time, there are common challenges faced – with lack of necessary knowledge and awareness being the main one. Similarly, „open education” is often understood in a vague sense, and standards of openness are not met. Finally, it is rare to find some form of open educational policy present – and Poland, with its strong governmental open textbooks program, remains an outlier.
The workshop has proven at the same time that in most represented countries there is sufficient capacity to begin OER activism. The OER coalition approach, which has been actively developed in Poland since over five years, has been crucial in securing grassroots support for open policies in education. This model is currently being applied in other countries, with „OER alliances” being developed in Macedonia, Germany, Romania. The takeaway of the workshop was therefore clear – even if there is currently a lack of political support for OER policies, grassroots capacity can be built immediately.
Presentations from the workshop: „OER: Overview & History” by Melissa Hagemann, „State of OER. Brazil and South Africa” by Melissa Hagemann, „U.S. OER Policy” by Nicole Allen, „OER Advocacy Workshop” by Nicole Allen.
The workshop took place on 18-19 March and was organised by Centrum Cyfrowe in cooperation with Creative Commons and SPARC, with the support of Open Society Foundations. The event was part of Open Education Week.