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UNESCO/COL Chair Rory McGreal

UNESCO/COL Chair in Open Educational Resources

The creation of the UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning (COL) Chair in OER brings together the significant commitment and action of Athabasca University in support of open education, and the large international community of interest, the OER Community supported from 2005-2009 at UNESCO by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Athabasca University’s strengths as Canada’s leader in the OER movement particularly suit it to hosting a UNESCO/COL Chair in OER. Based on the belief that post-secondary education should be accessible to students anywhere and at any time, the official mandate of the university is “to the removal of barriers that restrict access to and success in university-level studies and to increasing equality of educational opportunity for adult learners worldwide.”

AU is committed to excellence in teaching, research and scholarship, and to being of service to the general public. As a leading open university and an institution that is both Canadian and international in scope, AU recognizes the importance of collaboration with other post-secondary institutions, with vital industrial sectors and with government and with community partners.

In the long term, the principal objective of this Chair is to contribute to international development by promoting the development and use of OER through the adaptation/localization of materials for use in both formal and informal learning contexts. This objective supports the Millennial Development Goals.

The Chair in OER will focus on three specific areas: networking, capacity building and research. A UNESCO Chair functions as a network. The Chair in OER will benefit from an important group of partner institutions and organizations. Capacity building action will be undertaken on three levels: institutional, national and international. And research action will contribute to the growing investigation of this phenomenon and its potential and impact on education and learning.

Objectives of the Chair

In addition, the Chair will support the OER Community and link with other OER initiatives to create an informal international OER Network.

Specific action foreseen includes:

  • collaboratively developing a map of the landscape of OER initiatives worldwide;
  • promoting an international OER Network;
  • developing and supporting a network of OER researchers;
  • training at least 50 OER cadres in developing countries in the first year (using OER), who will become empowered and capable of instructing others online;
  • producing and disseminating research on OER;
  • establishing an open access journal on research about OER;
  • providing consultancy and advisory services.