From 1 to 5 March 2021, libraries take part in Open Education Week alongside educational stakeholders.
In November 2019, UNESCO adopted a recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER). This recommendation, a result of a consensus among 193 Member States, recognises the importance of supporting the development, sharing and use of openly licenced educational materials to improve access to education for all.
Libraries, as a driving force in educational issues through their missions of access to information and education, have a role to play in fostering the development of OER and thus in advancing this work.
The UNESCO recommendation is divided into five areas of action:
Building the capacity of stakeholders to create, access, re-use, adapt and redistribute OER;
Developing supportive policy for OER;
Encouraging inclusive and equitable quality OER;
Nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER; and
Promoting and reinforcing international cooperation in OER.
These 5 areas of action make it possible to identify areas for action by all educational actors, including libraries. They include two levels of action, at the structural level and at the practical level. Libraries can engage in both.
At the structural, or policy level, libraries can work to influence the development of favourable open educational resource policies (many of which will be supportive of wider library missions). Crucially, the Recommendation represents an acknowledgement from countries that education is key and should be open to everyone without regard to their wealth, where they are born, the colour of their skins, their gender, their religion, age or abilities. Knowledge must be open and freely accessible. This is a powerful message.
At the practical level, libraries can also contribute to building a stronger Open Educational Resource chain. This chain involves the creation, access, re-use, adaptation and distribution of OERs, but also the development of institutional policies needed to structure these resources, including national and international platforms.
Here are some suggestions:
- Identify the different actors that can play a role in the development of open educational resources, including the library team, the educational team, teachers, researchers.
- Mobilise these actors through different actions: presentation of the objectives of the development of open educational resources, why it is important to tackle these issues of openness and the benefits this can bring to the library, the university and users in general.
- Create opportunities to raise awareness of these issues or develop resources: webinars, meetings, design workshops,
- Create opportunities to start creating OERs together: design templates, provide workshops to take the time to focus on the creation of OER but also how to re-use and distribute them.
- Identify resources or professionals working on the same topic and contact them to exchange practices. Become part of a network or set up a discussion group to exchange good practices or existing structural elements that will enable you to move forward.
- Identify internal or external platforms that could bring together your institution’s resources in order to facilitate their discovery by users.
- Draw on the potential of open educational resources to fulfil the primary mission of libraries and knowledge dissemination centres: to build a sustainable means of providing quality open educational resources.
- Bear in mind the reputational dividends: the constitution of quality open educational resources (materials or courses) by recognised organisations can give considerable visibility to the institution, especially if we consider the impact on the visibility of open access items.
- Invite external professionals to raise awareness on this issue within your institution: working with an external contact person allows you to combine neutrality but also a national or international perspective.
Discover the document of SPARC Europe on Open Education in European Libraries of High Education.