Things I Know 280 of 365: UNESCO has built us an online community

November 1, UNESCO launched its new Open Educational Resources Platform. According to the blog of one UNESCO Programme Assistant, “It will offer selected UNESCO publications as Open Educational Resources in order to support adapted and improved quality teaching.”

If you already know about the platform and have been interacting in the community, this isn’t news to you.

I’m thinking this is likely news to many, in North America at least.

We’re great at discussing the global community and encouraging the teaching of global citizenship, but much of what I read on the subject points to teachers connecting their students and not the building of a global teaching community.

The new platform allows teacher to be global colleagues and citizens at the same time. UNESCO puts it better than I could:

For UNESCO, OER can significantly improve the quality of education by facilitating policy dialogue, knowledge sharing and capacity building. It is a very simple and low cost concept whose impact is far from being modest: it offers vast new opportunities for learning. Until recently, most learning materials were either only accessible through teachers, or locked up behind passwords. Furthermore, learning resources have always been considered as key intellectual property in an increasingly competitive higher education environment. As such it is a revolution.

By proposing a radical new approach to the sharing of knowledge, they also raise basic philosophical issues including the nature of ownership, of collective goods and even altruism. In a world where learning resources and knowledge are key to economic success, this is a very paradoxical situation.

Take 30 minutes and work your way around the WSIS Knowledge Community (formerly the UNESCO OER wiki). Some great starting points include these forum discussions on OER usage, this page with the current WSIS-KC site communities, and this listing of the site blogs.

One of the most useful and thought-provoking pieces for me has been this United Nations University guide to “The Why and How of Open Education.” It provides a strong foundation in the history of OER as well as a description of some of the newest frontiers of their usage.


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