Open Educational Resources

Jueves, 28 enero 2016

Open is not always Universal. Universal is not always Free. The OUF coding system for Educational Resources

Before all that, this is a recurrent topic between the UNESCO working groups (like the International Jury of the UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa Prize for the Use of ICTs in Education), the UNESCO Chairs on eLearning and in Higher Education, the ICDE Chairs in Open Educational Resources, and a large amount of experts, practitioners and end-users, Worldwide.

“Open and Universal might not be the same thing, no matter how much some social sectors push for the misconception”

Daniel Burgos, as deputy chair and European representative of the International Jury of the UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa Prize for the Use of ICTs in Education. November, 2015. Paris, France.

The statement looks simple: Open and Universal might not be the same thing, no matter how much some social sectors push for the misconception. Likewise, Universal might or might not be Free, the same as Open might or might not be Free. These concepts are usually overlapped and they answer the same question with a common approach. However, semantics are of crucial significance here.

Five case studies


Hassan El Ouizgani, our colleague from Ibn Zohr-Morocco in the OpenMed Project, supported that his university provides open access for every single student and teacher/professor, but not for someone for outside. Definitively, this is an open approach, but not universal and no doubt that equally valid.

TV UNIR provides video educational resources in three layers: 1) universal for everyone, 2) free for registered users no matter if they are or aren´t part of the UNIR community, and 3) registered for those enrolled students and hired people at UNIR; all the three, with a distribution of 60%-20%-20%, respectively.

Athabasca University, reports Rory McGreal, UNESCO/ICDE/COL Chair in OER, and member of the eMundus Project, proceeds for the accreditation and credit recognition processes for first-year students of the Bachelor in Computer Science, who can achieve their competences wherever they want, and mainly pointed out to open educational resources outside that very university.

And yet, Internet Archive provides millions of cultural resources to everyone, everywhere, anytime, free of royalties of fees. And last, all of the freeware software applications and apps that are free to use by everyone, but not open source, necessarily.

OUF Educational Resources


These are five example case studies of how to combine the three concepts: Open, Universal and Free. All of them possible, all of them viable, all of them valid. When we talk about open licensing, copy-right versus copy-left, creative commons, legal intellectual rights versus exploitation rights, and many other concepts, we should not miss the sight of the variety of ways to share, distribute, use, re-use, advice, commercialize and enjoy the resources.

Education is a Universal right subscribed by almost every nation across the World. However, Educational Resources come with a complex definition that requires as many adaptations as users and providers, so that it can be properly used and personalized based on the good understanding between the parts.

Sometimes, in some places, some people try to hijack and merchandise the “true meaning” of this educational context; theirs, of course. However, nobody owns the concept, and yet all we might be committed to make it possible based on our understanding, goals, capacity, network, and so many shades of the same gradient.

Mental note: we might use a 3-letter coding system, OUF Educational Resources, that stands for O=Open, U=Universal, F=Free, in combination with Educational Resources. For example, OUF Educational Resources, O Educational Recourses, OF Educational Resources, and so on.

Daniel Burgos. December 27th, 2015