The Open Education Resource (OER) Foundation was officially launched on 17 September 2009 by Dr Robin Day, Chair of the board of Directors of the OER Foundation.

The OER Foundation is a new not-for-profit organisation that will assist education institutions in New Zealand and around the world to reduce costs through open education resources. These are materials which educators are free to reuse, adapt and modify without restriction.

Yesterday, Dr Robin Day, Chair of the Board of Directors and Deputy Chief Executive of Otago Polytechnic, signed the Cape Town Open Education Declaration on behalf of the OER Foundation marking the official launch of this new entity headquartered in Dunedin, Otago. “In education, we shouldn’t lead from behind”, said Dr Day.

Dr Robin Day

Dr Robin Day, Chair of the OERF Board of Directors

“We invite all education institutions to join us in this exciting endeavour which will produce tangible returns for all involved” said Dr Day at the signing of the Cape Town Open Education Declaration to mark the launch of the OER Foundation.“

The OER Foundation is an open collaboration and we invite all education institutions to join us in this exciting endeavour which will produce tangible returns for all involved.” It is appropriate that the official launch of the OER Foundation coincides with global celebrations of Software Freedom Day on 19 September where the world reflects on the benefits of sharing technology freely.

“OER is a sustainable and renewable resource” said Phil Ker, Chief Executive of Otago Polytechnic, “our strategic commitment to sustainable education was a natural fit for our decision to establish and host the OER Foundation. This decision is already delivering returns, judging by the interest and confirmed investment from international donors and national agencies.” New Zealand can stand proud in hosting the first international non-profit committed to fostering the development of sustainable OER ecosystems giving credence to Kiwi ingenuity.

Phil Ker, Chief Executive, Otago Polytechnic

Athabasca University is a founding member of the Open Education Resource (OER) Foundation. Professor Rory McGreal of Athabasca University is the international representative on the Board of Directors of the OER Foundation.

Rory McGreal

Prof, Rory McGreal, Athabasca University

Today, Dr McGreal also signed the Cape Town Open Education Declaration. “In education, we must go forward”, said Rory McGreal. “restrictive copyright laws can best be addressed by supporting open and collaborative approaches to the creation of learning content.”

The OER Foundation is the major funder of the WikiEducator initiative. Athabasca University will be the host of the WikiEducator website ( which is powered by open source software. WikiEducator is an evolving online community supporting the collaborative development of education projects linked with the development of free content. This international OER collaboration 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.

The founder of WikiEducator, Dr Wayne Mackintosh, celebrated the launch of the OER Foundation in the local community by signing the Open Education Declaration at Warrington School. Warrington School was the first school in New Zealand to embrace the free hosting and training services provided by WikiEducator. Dr Mackintosh says that: “My faith in education is restored observing schools like Warrington here in Otago, who are committed to the core values of education, namely to share knowledge freely”.

Dr Wayne Mackintosh with children at Warrington School on signing the Cape Town Open Education Declaration

Dr Wayne Mackintosh signing the Declaration with children at Warrington School

The OER Foundation is well positioned as a non-profit to play a leadership role in OER facilitating collaboration across international boundaries. For example, the Ministry of Education in New Zealand is advancing open content by providing funding support to establish a national OER commons for New Zealand schools to be hosted on WikiEducator. Athabasca University, based in Alberta Canada, is taking a lead in providing hosting services for the OER Foundation and is home to AU Press, the first university press dedicated to open access publishing. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation have confirmed generous funding support to continue free training under the Learning4Content project, the world’s largest attempt to develop wiki skills for education. Around the world there are other initiatives to correspond. For instance, President Obama has launched an open source clearinghouse for courses under the recently announced American Graduation Initiative. He says that “We do not know where this kind of experiment will lead; but that is exactly why we ought to try it.” This provides fertile ground for the OER Foundation to nurture and foster the development of sustainable open content ecosystems.

The OER Foundation subscribes to open philanthropy which means that all our planning documents are drafted openly and transparently in WikiEducator. We believe that working together we can achieve far more than working alone. We extend an open invitation to all educators and education institutions around the world to provide feedback and suggestions for improving our strategy and operational plans currently under development. Please post your comments on the corresponding discussion pages in the wiki. Consider becoming a founding member of the OER Foundation and help us make the future happen.

Image credit

Hot air balloon launch by thfr published under Pixabay license.


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