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Open Courseware, Open Content, Open Practices, Open Learning: Where are the Limits?

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The first part of the paper reports on the outcomes of a joint UNESCO-COL project Taking OERs beyond the OER Community: Policy and Capacity. Its purpose was to expand understanding of the potential of OERs among university leaders and quality assurance officials in Africa and Asia, who have low awareness of this phenomenon. The project concluded with an intergovernmental policy forum where participants enjoined UNESCO to lead a global campaign to encourage governments and institutions to foster the development and use of OER and, more widely, to make documents of educational value created with public funds available under open licenses. The second part of the paper draws on the experience of creating and using OERs to explore how far open educational practices can take us towards more cost-effective higher education systems. The authors argue that openness has to be balanced against the requirements of certification, accreditation and quality assurance. An important function of OER is to provide a route for potential students and teachers to move from the informal cloud of learning to a more formal engagement with education and training.

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