The term Open Educational Resources (OER) coined by UNESCO in 2002 embraces concepts such as "open courses" and "open teaching-learning resources". A broad definition of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, one of the main sponsors of OER movement states, OER are teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under a proprietary license intellectual that allows free use or reuse.
OER have different levels of granularity, scope, and complexity; for example, can be full courses of academic programs including curriculum, lessons, textbooks, assessment material; or individual elements with simple educational content, as a concept map, a questionnaire, a lecture. Similarly, resources can have multiple formats: text, HTML, videos, images, audio, software, or a combination thereof.
In the last decade, the use of OER has become a growing trend in support of education. Further, it has been backed by international institutions in education fields and some government initiatives. The declaration of UNESCO OER Congress in 2012 recommended to States, "to promote and use OER for expanding access to education at all levels, both formal and informal, in a lifelong learning perspective, contributing to social inclusion, gender equality and special education.
OER movement grants an opportunity for access to quality educational content for both self-taught and faculty. Moreover, in developing countries, given the financial constraints, many students have restrictions on free access to quality higher education; in such scenario, through OER websites of leading universities worldwide, people can access to complete courses of degree programs, textbooks and materials updated learning for free. This adds to the advantage that teachers can reuse the resources for different instructional learning outcomes and proposals.
Also, the use of OER may support the concept of lifelong learning, conceived as a response to globalization, new technologies, and demographic change, providing continuing education opportunities for economic improvement of the adult population.
Some of our publications about OER:
This work has been partially supported by the Prometeo Project by SENESCYT, Ecuadorian government.