Why the Siemens Stiftung promotes OER

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 2018 – How changeable is education?

The motto of this year’s OE Global Conference taking place in the university city of Delft, the Netherlands, is “Transforming Education through Open Approaches.” Key players and supporters of the OER movement will meet for the 11th time from April 24 to 26. You can look forward to lectures, discussion panels, and, of course, a lively exchange with the community. The OE Global Conference is hosted by the University of Technology in Delft and the Open Education Consortium.

Siemens Stiftung will also be involved again: We are looking forward to giving the introductory speech for the Educator Award for Excellence as part of the many awards at the OE Global. This award honors educators who actively promote the development or use of open educational resources by creating innovative, effective solutions.

All persons interested in attending the conference still have until April 16 to register. Additional information about the conference is available here.

More information about the conference


OERcamps to celebrate their 10th anniversary

The “Meetings on digital teaching and learning materials” in German-speaking countries will take place again starting in May. This year, in addition to attending discussions, the participants will also be celebrating – 2018 marks the tenth round for the OERcamps. Congratulations! Anyone who is interested in open educational resources may participate. Registration is open until April 8. The camps for OER practitioners will take place at four different locations. The kickoff is in Bad Wildbad (Black Forest) on May 11, followed by the camps in Leipzig on May 25 and 26, in Hattingen (Ruhr district) on June 8 and 9, and in Hamburg on June 15 and 16, 2018. 

The OERCamps consist of an official workshop program and contributions in the BarCamp format. This gives you the opportunity to spontaneously offer your own session at the venue. The event is organized by the ZLL 21 e.V. nonprofit association. Participation is free. You can also follow the hashtag #OERcamp18 on Twitter!

More information about the OERcamps (German)


UNESCO Second World OER Congress adopts Action Plan

Around 500 participants from more than 100 countries took part in the second UNESCO World Congress. From 18 to 20 September 2017, they discussed in Ljubljana, Slovenia, ways of mainstreaming open educational resources (OER) more firmly into education policy and practice. The result: The OER Action Plan 2017, which has now been released.

The focus is on five recommended actions to support UNESCO's global sustainability goal of an "inclusive and equitable quality education for all".

Of primary importance is the building of capacities of teachers, learners, policy makers and other multipliers in order to promote the handling and, above all, the benefit of OER. Other central issues are the demand that OER should take into account linguistic and cultural issues, as well as the recommendation to design materials in an inclusive manner - for an education irrespective of age, gender, special learning needs and socio-economic status. The Action Plan also formulates concrete measures to improve the locatability and retrievability of OER, such as the sharing of meta-data. In addition, supportive policy environments for educational institutions and other stakeholders are to be further developed and updated in order to ensure the use and creation of OER.

Ljubljana OER Action Plan


UNESCO Second World OER Congress

UNESCO will open its eagerly anticipated World Open Educational Resources (OER) Congress in Ljubljana, Slovenia, from September 18 to 20, 2017. Five years after the groundbreaking decisions were made at the first summit in Paris, it is now imperative to take stock and define the next milestones: Have the member states successfully promoted awareness, understanding, and use of OER? Have they formed strategic alliances that improve framework conditions and bridge digital gaps? The motto of this year’s congress is “Inclusive and equitable access to quality education for all: from promise to implementation.” Decision-makers from educational policy, science, and economics as well as civic actors must now develop scenarios for integrating OER into our educational systems and derive concrete recommendations for action.

The reference framework of the congress is the Education 2030 agenda adopted by the United Nations in September 2015. The educational goal anchored therein is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030.

More information about the Second World OER Congress


Collaborative project Jointly provides valuable support in the area of OER

In order to support the distribution of OER, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is sponsoring numerous projects that promote the acceptance of open educational resources. One of these initiatives is the collaborative project Jointly launched in November 2016, which supports OER stakeholders in the development and dissemination of open educational materials: The aim is to provide parties interested in OER with the appropriate assistance through various cooperation and support activities. Jointly not only brings together people active in the field of OER for the exchange of knowledge, but also works for cross-sectoral cooperation between OER stakeholders on the one hand and experts from law, production, didactics, and IT on the other. The aim of the activities is to expand the OER know-how of those involved as well as to make OER platforms more user-friendly and improve infrastructures. The transfer of knowledge takes place in various formats such as webinars, training days, and workshops. In addition to imparting and exchanging expertise, the presentation and discussion of concepts and alternative solutions are the focus of the events.

Siemens Stiftung is also actively involved in the collaborative project to support the dissemination and acceptance of open educational materials.

More information about Jointly (German)


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.

More information about the conference


Photo under CC BY 4.0

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.

More information about the setup of OERinfo


The digital OER World Map

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.

OER World Map


temoa – OER from Latin America

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.

Platform temoa


First German-language OER Award

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.

More information about the OER Award


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.

OECD Study