Alberta poised to become an international leader in open education

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Launch of the Open Education Resource Foundation

A new international organization designed to assist education institutions in reducing costs through open education materials has been officially launched. Athabasca University is a founding member of the international Open Education Resource (OER) Foundation. Professor Rory McGreal of Athabasca University is the Canadian OER representative. He signed the Cape Town Open Education Declaration today.

The foundation will promote the use of OER materials worldwide. These are cost-free lessons and other learning materials, which educators are free to reuse, adapt and modify without restriction.

“In education, we must go forward”, said Dr. McGreal, “restrictive copyright laws can best be addressed by supporting collaborative approaches to the creation of learning content.”

About the OER Foundation

The OER Foundation is as an open collaborative organization that invites all education institutions throughout the world to join, especially during the global celebrations of software freedom day on 19 September where the world reflects on the benefits of sharing technology freely.

Athabasca University is the host of WikiEducator, WikiEducator is an evolving online community supporting the collaborative development of education projects linked with the development of free content for e-learning. WikiEducator supports the freedom of all learners to access learning with the technologies and content of their choice through the use of Open Source technology tools and open access content.

Alberta is well positioned to play an international leadership role in the evolution of OERs. AU is taking the lead in providing support for the OER Foundation to support the development of an international OER commons.

U.S. President Barak Obama recently launched a similar open source clearinghouse for courses under the American Graduation Initiative. He said, “We do not know where this kind of experiment will lead; but that is exactly why we ought to try it.”

Alberta’s lead may provide President Obama with valuable insights for realizing the vision of the US Graduation initiative.

Athabasca University is Canada’s Open University, based in Athabasca Alberta. It is committed to opening up learning and making it accessible to all.

The Open Education Resource (OER) Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that provides leadership, networking and support for educators and educational institutions to achieve their objectives through Open Education. The OER Foundation is headquartered at Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin New Zealand.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Rory McGreal
Associate Vice-president, Research
Athabasca University