“Because we know that education is a cornerstone for progress…we’re going to do more to help citizens in other countries, especially students, access the incredible online educational tools and resources we have in the States.”
– President Obama, September 24, 2014
During his remarks last week at a meeting of the Open Government Partnership at the United Nations, President Barack Obama reaffirmed the U.S. Government’s commitment to open education. Several new initiatives were detailed in a blog post by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy:
The United States is committed to:
Raise open education awareness and identify new partnerships. The U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy will jointly host a workshop on challenges and opportunities in open education internationally with stakeholders from academia, industry, and government.
Pilot new models for using open educational resources to support learning. The State Department will conduct three pilots overseas by December 2015 that use open educational resources (OER) to support learning in formal and informal learning contexts. The pilots’ results, including best practices, will be made publicly available for interested educators.
Launch an online skills academy. The Department of Labor (DOL), with cooperation from the Department of Education, will award $25 million through competitive grants to launch an online skills academy in 2015 that will offer open online courses of study, using technology to create high-quality, free, or low-cost pathways to degrees, certificates, and other employer-recognized credentials.
The posting concludes with a ringing affirmation of the benefits of OERs:
OER can be a powerful tool for the State Department because it advances several of its core objectives. Because OER is free and openly accessible, it plays an important role in increasing access to high-quality educational content around the world, particularly for underserved and disadvantaged communities. It also helps ensure that women and girls have access to educational resources. More education correlates to greater social equality.
Open education resources can also improve the quality of teaching and learning here in the United States by fostering experimentation that can accelerate student comprehension and support more affordable educational experiences. A study of the Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative statistics course demonstrated accelerated learning, with participating students mastering required course material in half the time of a traditional course. Likewise, a recent study by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition calculates that open educational resources have already saved post-secondary students $100 million in out of pocket costs over the last few years.
We join the President and leaders, learners, and teachers around the world in celebrating these efforts.
Read the complete Whitehouse.gov blog post here.