Although there are many policies for OER in individual HE institutions, both across Europe and worldwide, there are relatively few national or international policies related to open education which specifically identify OER. Many of the policies listed in the Creative Commons registry are either merely declarations of intent, or policy statements that lack clear strategies for implementation: several of the policies listed there are either gathering dust or propositions for action at some future unspecified date. Furthermore, where national policies do exist (there are many examples from the US) their scope is largely limited to open access to publicly funded HE research. There is a general dearth of policies related to either the schools or VET (college) sectors.
Whilst OER policies may be in relatively short supply, open education initiatives – often referring specifically to OER – are not. The POERUP (Policies for OER Uptake) research has identified, catalogued and mapped over 500 OER initiatives, almost all of them active. A prime example is the EU’s flagship initiative Opening Up Education which identifies OER as a driver of open education and lists a broad range of Key Transformative Actions for delivering this.
In the years following the 2002 UNESCO Forum on Open Courseware, a small number of European national governments funded initiatives to promote the uptake of OER – notably the Netherlands with Wikiwijs, the UK with the Jisc OER programme and Poland with the Digital book programme for schools. However, when the economic recession began to affect Europe in 2008 state funding started to dry up and, with the exception of the Polish programme, has not started to flow again. The UNESCO policy guidelines for the development of open access have yet to bear much fruit in Europe. Even so, the POERUP research indicates that although state funding is limited or non-existent, many regional and institutional OER initiatives have continued to develop ‘under the radar’.
This presentation draws on this POERUP research and the POERUP overview of OER policies and discusses the relative effectiveness of policies, strategies and initiatives in facilitating the mainstreaming of OER in the current political, social and economic climate in Europe.