The Council of the European Union, comprised of Ministers of member states, debated last week on the topic „Open Educational Resources and digital learning.” The debate was held during the meeting of the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council on the 25-26th of November.
The meeting was related to the Commission’s „Opening Up Education” initiative, which was launched at the end of September and in which the development of OER policies plays a key role. Yet the scope of debate at the Council meeting was broader, and didn’t seem to be well connected to the “Opening Up Education” project. The Council did not provide a written conclusion on the matter. Based on limited available information (see the minutes of the meeting, p. 10), it seems that the Council focused primarily on broad issues related to digital learning and MOOCs (which are drawing significant attention from the public as well as policy makers).
Similarly, the brief position paper prepared by the Lithuanian Presidency, titled „Presidency Discussion Paper: Open Educational resources and digital learning”, does not provide a substantial viewpoint on OER. It lists advantages and challenges, and suggests that „time is ripe for a debate at European level on the opportunities and challenges which Open Educational Resources will undoubtedly bring”.
The „Opening Up Education” communication provides a much stronger view of OER as advantageous for education in Europe. It’s good news that representatives of the Ministries of Education are discussing OERs. But if the Council meeting is treated as a sample, there is still much work needed at the national level, so that policymakers are provided with a clear sense of the benefits of open education and the role of OERs within digital learning frameworks.
(Short report from the meeting is available on the Open Education Europa portal).