Exciting Updates on Open Government and Open Education

There have been several exciting updates recently around the intersection of open education and open government.

First, yesterday U.S. President Barack Obama announced a new initiative to promote open education as part of an update to the Open Government National Action Plan. The plan is part of the U.S. commitment to the Open Government Partnership (OGP). While the goals of the new initiative are relatively small in scale, a national commitment is an important milestone and provides a significant avenue for future advocacy efforts.

The new open education initiative includes three action items:

  • Organize a workshop with stakeholders from academia, industry and government to foster international collaboration and produce best practices on open education policy
  • Conduct three pilot programs overseas that use OER to support learning
  • Launch an online skills academy through $25 million in competitive grants that will offer open online courses and create high-quality free or low-cost pathways to degrees and other credentials

Second, this week members of the Open Policy Network submitted a letter of support for OER and Open Access commitments included in public draft of the Slovak Republic’s 2015 OGP action plan. The plan seeks to adopt open licensing policies for both publicly funded research and educational materials, and also promotes collaboration among stakeholders and the international community (unofficial English translation here). The letter was addressed to the Slovak Minister of Education, Science and Sport, who also serves as the country’s Digital Champion. While the plan will almost certainly be scaled back before it is finalized, advocates inside Slovakia say that the open education section will remain part of the plan.

Similar conversations about open education and open government are happening in other countries, including Moldova, Tunisia, Sierra Leone, and South Africa. We expect this list of countries to expand as programs such as Europe’s Opening Up Education initiative roll out, and as the body of evidence demonstrating the positive impacts of OER on teaching and learning continues to grow. Obama put it perfectly, “Education is a cornerstone of progress — if we want good governance we need an educated and informed citizenry.”