Open Educational Resources (OERs) are becoming increasingly popular in Germany as well as other countries. The Paris Declaration issued by UNESCO in 2012 defines these resources as freely accessible material that may be altered and adapted as needed. As a result, OERs open the way for children in the world's more destitute regions to have access to educational resources. Special potential is offered by the cooperative development and enhancement of these resources as well as in the simple modification and distribution thereof.
The subject of OERs creates new questions for teachers regarding copyrights, quality and practical application. Therefore, in many cases, the didactic-methodological opportunities created by OERs are only partially tapped. Open Educational Resources can be modified and customized in a legally compliant manner, thereby fulfilling important requirements for locally differentiated, but inclusive instruction in increasingly heterogeneous school classes. For students, the active use of educational resources promotes self-determined learning, in addition to an understanding of the Internet and media. In broad terms, OERs support a creative working relationship between teachers and students, and facilitate new collaborative forms of teaching and learning.
The Siemens Stiftung strives to systematically promote the overall potential of OERs and introduce them into education systems. It carries out this mission in many different ways: Operationally, it provides high-quality OERs that focus on science and technology subjects in the Siemens Stiftung media portal. Internationally, it supplies free materials in a number of different languages, thus ensuring they can be used throughout the world. Collaboratively, the Siemens Stiftung forms networks with other media providers. And, strategically, it promotes the subject of OERs together with experts and decision makers from the fields of politics and education.
The Siemens Stiftung believes the future of modern knowledge transfer in our digital world lies in a form of education that is available to everyone, can be modified to meet individual learning needs and arises through social creativity.
News from the world of OER
OE Global 2017 – shaping the global future of open education
Ten years ago, a milestone of today's open education movement was laid: the Open Education Declaration in Cape Town. Five years later, UNESCO issued the first OER guidelines as part of the Paris OER Declaration. OER pioneers and activists will meet once again in Cape Town this year: at the Open Education Global Conference 2017 that will be held from March 8 – 10, 2017. The conference's program includes not only the progress achieved in recent years, but also discussions about the latest developments. The international event is being organized by the University of Cape Town and the global network Open Education Consortium.
Siemens Stiftung will also be represented at the conference and will present its commitment to and achievements in the field of OER. The foundation's media portal currently contains more than 2,200 high-quality open education resources that focus on science and technology. Siemens Stiftung's international educational program Experimento provides the basis of this work and was introduced to Africa in 2012. In special advanced-training courses, teachers learn how to nurture the scientific and technical knowledge of children and young people by conducting experiments related to energy, the environment and health. The instructions needed to conduct the experiments are available for the most part as Open Educational Resources. In South Africa, Experimento is promoted in partnerships with the University of Cape Town and other universities.
New information center for Open Educational Resources
On November 2, an information center for Open Educational Resources funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research was launched in Germany. The aim is create a permanent home for OER in the educational landscape – by offering a combination of information and consulting assistance.
The information center is called OERinfo. A redesigned website containing a comprehensive range of information about open educational resources is scheduled to go online in February 2017.
The OER World Map is an interactive, digital map that helps to visualize the growing global movement of the OER community. Users can learn more about individuals, organizations, projects, and events relating to OER with a few clicks of the mouse. The Siemens Stiftung media portal is also on the map with its own profile. The main purpose of the OER World Map is to inspire dialog, networking, and new partnerships. The project was developed with open data technology from the Hochschulbibliothekszentrum des Landes Nordrhein Westfalen (University Library Center of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia) (hbz) and graphthinking GmbH in collaboration with Open University (UK), and is supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
temoa, a project of the Center for Innovation in Technology and Education at Tecnológico de Monterrey University in Mexico, offers OER in English and Spanish. The portal, designed primarily for teachers, features a broad spectrum of content, including various scientific media. Users can also set up their own profile and rate the resources.
Berlin, first of march at the OER-Festival 2016 #OERde16: Outstanding ideas for free teaching and learning materials were honored in nine different categories. The Siemens Stiftung, one of the partners of the festival, sponsored category 7: OER for STEM – materials for teaching STEM subjects in schools.
One submission that really got the attention of the Siemens Stiftung was “Unterrichten mit dem Raspberry Pi” (“Teaching with the Raspberry Pi”) from Tobias Hübner, who is devoted to generating enthusiasm for programming among his students and also shares his project experience with teachers from other schools. Hübner seeks to spark an interdisciplinary dialog in schools about the digitization of society, developing specialized OER packets under an open license that can then be used, modified, and shared by all interested parties.
OECD study puts OER quality assurance on the agenda
The OECD study “Open Educational Resources – A Catalyst for Innovation, Educational Research and Innovation”, published in December 2015, offers an overview of the latest developments in OER and highlights how they are already being used today. The study finds, for example, that most industrialized nations already have a clear political strategy for promoting the use of OER in their educational system. The study focuses on the tremendous potential of OER, including the wealth of opportunities offered by digital media, greater interaction between teachers and students, and broader access to high-quality education. The authors also focus on the challenges that arise from granting permission to modify open media. In this context, they examine methods for quality assurance and outline processes for capturing the development phases of open media at a certain time and assessing the quality based on standardized criteria.