This website provides a background to the Knowledge 4 All Foundation role in the Congress and articulates the context of its organizing the Open Seminar and Accompanying Events and provides information on the Regional Consultations which will act as key inputs to the 2nd World OER Congress.

K4A will organise a scientific event aligning Artificial Intelligence and Education with the Sustainable Development Goals.

The theme of the Congress is OER for Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education: From Commitment to Action  with the result in a commitment to adopt OER policy and to identify concrete actions for Governments that would be implemented within a specific time framework.

Since the 1st World OER Congress 2012, two significant developments were had taken place:

  • The world had moved from the Millennium Development Goals to the  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a standalone goal on education (Goal 4) which aims to ensure “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” As Member States review their education policies and strategies, this would be an appropriate time to integrate the role of OER in achieving the targets by 2030.
  • The second development was that Member States had committed to adopting OER in the Paris Declaration in 2012. However, this commitment hasn't fully translated into action.

These two key issues determine the overall theme of the World OER Congress and the six Regional Consultations.

While the 1st World OER Congress focused on advocacy and awareness generation,  the 2nd World OER Congress will  emphasise the  transition from commitment to action. Member States must make a commitment to adopt OER at the policy level and to identify concrete actions which could be implemented within a specific time frame.


Cankar Centre, or Cankar Hall, located at the southern edge of Republic Square in Ljubljana, is the largest Slovenian convention, congress and culture center. The address is Prešernova cesta 10, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Public Transit

You can take any bus towards city centre and get off at either Pošta / Konzorcija or Bavarski Dvor station. From there is a few minute walk to The Cankar Hall.


If traveling by car parking will be arranged in the Cankar Hall garage. For the conference delegates, the parking rate is 8,5 eur/day. The parking spaces will be rented on the first come-first serve basis. You can rent the parking space at the hotel reception, where you should also pay. The hotel does not accept the reservations.

About Ljubljana

Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, is a small, friendly city steeped in history.  Considered one of the undiscovered gems of Europe, Ljubljana combines vibrant arts and culture with striking architecture, abundant green spaces, world-class restaurants and a relaxed atmosphere.  This city of about 280,000 people sits on the Ljubljanica River, midway between Venice and Vienna, making it an ideal place to explore all of central Europe.  Sites not-to-miss include Ljubljana Castle, Tivoli Park, the Dragon Bridge, the architecture of Jože Plečnik, the open air Central Market and the charming Old Town.

To learn more about this welcoming city, see

About Slovenia

Though relatively small in size, Slovenia is an ecologically diverse country.  The Alps dominate the landscape in the north, the central areas are characterised by rolling hills and basins, and the east is home to vast plains.  Slovenia also boasts a small coastline on the Adriatic Sea, and miles of underground caves and rivers. More than 30% of the land is protected.

Open and friendly, Slovenians are happy to welcome visitors to their country.  Many activities are geared towards outdoor pursuits, but there are plenty of museums, musical performances, castles and ruins to explore.  Ljubljana is ideally situated as a base to explore the rest of Slovenia.

Find out about Slovenia’s people, places and history here:


In order to mark the 5th anniversary of the World OER Congress, which resulted in the Paris OER Declaration, the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), in partnership with UNESCO and the Government of Slovenia are undertaking a survey of world governments and key stakeholders focused on OER for Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education: From Commitment to Action.


This survey is being conducted in advance of the 2nd World Open Educational Resources (OER) Congress which will be held in Ljubljana on 18–20 September 2017. A series of regional consultations will also be held around the world from December 2017 until May 2017.

Questionnaires have been sent to sent to key stakeholders and government ministers, including the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Education Mr John Swinney.

Other interested parties  are encouraged to contribute to the consultation by completing the non-governmental stakeholders’ questionnaire which is available here.

Date and Location

  • Asia, Dec 1-2, 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Hosted by Asia e University and facilitated by Dr. Sanjaya Mishra
  • Europe, Feb 23-24, 2016 in Malta, Hosted by Malta Ministry for Education and Employment and facilitated by Dr. Venkataraman Balaji
  • Middle East /North Africa, Feb 26-27, 2016 in Doha, Qatar and facilitated by Mr. John Lesperance
  • Africa, 2-3 March, 2017 in Port Louis, Mauritious and facilitated by Dr. Sanjaya Mishra
  • Americas, April 3-4, 2017 in Brasilia, Brazil, hosted by University of Campinas and facilitated by Dr. Ishan Abeywardena
  • Pacific, 29-30 May, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealan and facilitated by Dr. K Balasubramanian

Aim of Consultations

  • Raise regional awareness about the importance of OER and its relationship to SDG4;
  • Provide a hands-on experience for all participants to establish personal OER knowledge
  • Explore mechanisms to facilitate the mainstreaming of OER
  • Identify strategies and solutions to overcome the challenges or barriers to mainstreaming OER
  • Agree on inputs that factor into the planning of the 2nd World OER Congress


In order to seize the moment and maximize impact it is of interest to create a set of thematically connected and focused events to the main sessions of the Congress. These will be mainly industry, research and capacity building events. The first set of identified events are the following:

Research track

Open Science for Open Learning and 3rd Internet of Education Conference: This event will highlight that the OER challenge extends even further via open education into emerging approaches and real-life industrial/societal challenges including smart living environments, intelligent municipalities, cognitive cities, industry 4.0, combined with the needs of the digital learning ecosystem in making better use of educational cloud solutions, mobile technology, learning analytics and big data, and to facilitate the use, re-use and creation of OER and new ways to educate and learn online. It will be organised by the UNESCO Chairs in OER and trustees of the Knowledge 4 All Foundation.

Open Education European Commission funded projects 1st Conference: This event will present H2020 Innovation and Research projects for ICT in Education. This follows the Digital Agenda for Europe stating "Member States to mainstream eLearning in national policies for the modernisation of education and training, including in curricula, assessment of learning outcomes and the professional development of teachers and trainers." The event will allow actors (teams, projects, and companies) currently involved in open education projects in Europe to present the results of their work.

Industry track

OER and businesses 1st Global Forum: Increased cross-border availability and wider adoption of education technology products/services is generating new business opportunities for European and global providers and because the nature of OER is digital and falls into the broader area of open education, in terms of business it is becoming and interesting venue of exploration for IT and data companies. We want to showcase this new business arena, which is not directly connected to the publishing industry, and invite all Telecoms, broadband providers and other open software based companies to join us at the congress and present their collaborative ideas.

Governmental track

Open Government Partnership 1st Regional Conference: With all current efforts to include OER in the National OGP Action Plans in an increasing number of countries we see a promising powerful additional road forward to mainstreaming OER. This event would explore the opportunity of a synergetic process between UNESCO and OGP (as with other partners that are already involved like COL, OEC, and CC) towards the same goal that is mainstreaming OER in all Education. The instruments will differ, and the routes and timelines will not be the same, but a synergetic friendship might be beneficial on both sides in terms of achieving the common goal.

Capacity Building and Awareness track

Open Educational Resources and Teachers (on all levels): As end users and also creators of OER are teachers, and digital technologies make creation and digestion easy, the advocacy and presentation of OER to all levels of teachers (kindergarten, primary, secondary) beyond HEI in important. What we would like to address here is the availability of new, open cloud-based components, tools and services for use in digital learning scenarios; present more efficient and effective learning, through mainstreaming new ways of learning with digital technologies and more efficient ways of assessing learning outcomes; and scalable solutions, capable of reaching very large numbers of schools and students, and deliver social innovation in education.

OpeningupBalkans 1st Regional Conference: This goal of this event is to bring together practitioners, researchers and policy makers from the South-East Europe, to present methods for improving the effectiveness of online and open education but also promote discussion of the implications of OER and new EduTech trends for classical university education. The event will aim on presenting and directly influencing a new OpeningupMemberState initiative which is one of the goals of OpeningupSlovenia.

Exhibition track

MyMachine Global 1st Global Conference and Exhibition: This event would feature the 1st MyMachine Global Conference and Exhibition uniting the products of the MM methodology and making the case for an open pedagogy in STEM in practice. The event will be organised by MM Global presenting the products of children in elementary schools/kindergartens with students in higher education and pupils in technical middle- and high schools to collaborate as peers, in a unique ecology of talent, to materialize their own unexplored dream machine ideas.

The World OER Congress 2012, organized by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and UNESCO with the generous support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (UNESCO Communication and Information, 2012), highlighted ways in which OER are serving as tools for collaboration and the creation of learning resources. The Congress resulted in the adoption of the Paris OER Declaration (Appendix A), which notably  encourages governments to openly license educational materials that are publicly funded.

As part of their joint project Fostering Governmental Support for Open Educational Resources Internationally, UNESCO and COL invited governments to provide information about their policies in relation to OER. Questionnaires were developed by UNESCO and COL, based on a simplified version of the OECD questionnaires, and was sent out to Commonwealth Governments, OECD Commonwealth countries and the governments of the provinces, states and territories of Australia and Canada in October 2011. The findings from this study (Hoosen, 2012) acted as a key input to the World OER Congress and ultimately the formulation of the Paris OER Declaration.

In the months leading up to the June 2012 Congress, COL and UNESCO organized 6 policy fora in the major regions of the world to continue to inform governments and educational leaders about the potential of OER and to invite them to participate in the drafting of the Paris Declaration. These Regional Policy Fora were organized in 2012, thanks to the support of the national authorities in the host countries. They were held in: Bridgetown, Barbados (Caribbean Regional Forum), 24-26 January 2012; Johannesburg, South Africa (Africa Regional Forum), 21-23 February; Sao Paolo, Brazil (Latin America Regional Forum), 28-29 March 2012; Cambridge, UK, (Europe Regional Forum), 17 April 2012; Bangkok, Thailand (Asia and the Pacific Regional Forum), 23 -24 April 2012; Muscat, Oman (Arab States Regional Forum), 7-8 May 2012. The recent William and Flora Hewlett Foundation evaluation of UNESCO and COL OER initiatives in 2015 recognized that these regional workshops served to lift up new voices, provide examples, and generate new champions. They also served as the basis for the establishment of advocacy, capacity building and policy work undertaken by UNESCO in the implementation of the Paris OER Declaration 2012 (UNESCO, 2016).

Following a proposal by the Government of Slovenia to the 199th Executive Board of UNESCO, World OER Congress 2 is scheduled to be held in Ljubljana on September 18-20, 2017 hosted by the Government of Slovenia. In the year leading up to this event, COL, in partnership with UNESCO and the Government of Slovenia, aims to conduct follow up surveys of world governments/key stakeholders and Regional Consolations with the objectives:

  • Identify the current status vis-à-vis the recommendations made at the 1st World OER
    Congress among key stakeholders namely governments, policy makers, the OER
    community and the wider education community;
  • Initiate discussions among the key stakeholders regarding the identified challenges to
    mainstreaming OER as highlighted in the outcome report of the OER Road Map meeting;
  • Build awareness among key stakeholders about the objectives of the World OER
    Congress 2 and make recommendations for consideration;
  • Encourage more governments to commit to the adoption of open licensing policies for
    teaching and learning materials developed with public funds.

In 2002, the term ‘Open Educational Resources’ (OER) was adopted at UNESCO’s Forum on Open Courseware to describe the phenomenon of openly sharing educational resources. In general, OER can include lecture notes, slides, lesson plans, textbooks, handouts given to
students, videos, online tutorials, podcasts, diagrams, entire courses, and any other material designed for use in teaching and learning. In 2012, The World OER Congress brought  together governments as well as educational and OER experts and emphasized using OER as a means of providing equal access to knowledge. It showcased innovative policies and initiatives that demonstrate the potential of OER to broaden access to inclusive and equitable quality education.

OER has the potential to make a significant contribution to SDG 4 ‘Quality Education’ which calls for ‘ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all’ with its key pillars of access, equity and inclusion. Several definitions of OER exists such as the first adopted in 2002 (UNESCO, 2002) and the one adopted during the World OER Congress 2012 (UNESCO, 2012). For the purposes of this document, the term OER is defined as:

Open Educational Resources (OER) are any educational resource that may be freely accessed, copied, re-used, adapted and shared and which are available under an open license or are in the public domain for use without paying royalties / license fees

OER work from 2012 has focused on implementing the Paris OER Declaration 2012 with a view to making OER more widely used by educational stakeholders worldwide. The Education 2030 Agenda - SDG 4 (2015) reaffirms a political commitment, facilitating policy dialogue, knowledge sharing and standard setting. In this regard, as stated in the Qingdao Declaration (2015), OER provide educational stakeholders with opportunities to improve the quality and expand access to textbooks and other forms of learning content to catalyze the innovative use of content, and to foster knowledge creation. The Qingdao Declaration also calls for sector-wide strategies and capacity building programmes to fully realize the potential of OER to expand access to lifelong learning opportunities, achieve quality education and establish legal and political frameworks that promote, inter alia, coordinated partnerships.

Mainstreaming OER practices

Key Issues

The mainstreaming of OER by educational stakeholders worldwide entails key factors related to the recognition of the benefits of OER, the mobilization of educational stakeholders as well as issues related to financing and clarity on the issue of ‘open’ as it refers to OER.


OER offers the potential to provide more equal access to knowledge and educational opportunities by making quality and affordable educational resources widely available at a time when education systems worldwide are facing growing challenges. Rapid growth in education enrollment, limited or no growth in financial resources available for education, and the ongoing rollout of enabling ICT infrastructure have made it increasingly important for educational systems to support - in a planned and deliberate manner - the development and improvement of quality teaching and learning materials, curricula, programmes and course design, the planning of effective contact with students, the design of effective assessment, and meeting the needs of a greater diversity of learners. These activities aim to  improve the teaching and learning environment while managing cost through increased use of resource-based learning. OER helps to manage this investment and the resulting copyright issues in a way that supports ongoing, cost effective improvements in the teaching and learning process.

Role of Educational Stakeholders

Governments have an interest in ensuring that public investments in education make a meaningful, cost-effective contribution to socio-economic development. The Paris OER Declaration calls for Governments to openly licensed resources funded by public funding. Sharing educational materials produced using public funding has significant potential to improve the quality and accessibility of educational delivery across national education systems by making OER more readily available for use by all education providers, not just the recipients of public funds (UNESCO and Commonwelath of Learning, 2011). As governments often play a key role in policy development and funding of educational institutions and as policies on education funding also indicate key priorities, they are ideally positioned to encourage or mandate institutions to release materials as OER and to license materials developed with public funding under an open license. Government can also use open licensing regimes to increase the leverage of public investments, by facilitating widespread re-use of those investments with minimal additional spending.

Governments, institutions, educators, and students need to make continuous investments in developing educational resources to improve the quality of teaching and learning. The most cost effective way to invest in materials design and development is to incorporate effective adaptation and use of OER, because this eliminates unnecessary duplication of effort by building on what already exists elsewhere, takes advantage of pooled alternative resources to meet accessibility obligations, removes costs of copyright negotiation and clearance, and can engage open communities of practice in ongoing quality improvement, quality assurance, and translation.

Financing: How ‘free’ are OER?

One of the key benefits of open content is that it is ‘free’ for the end user (i.e. it does not cost anything to download, leaving aside costs of bandwidth). However, OER does incur costs related to developing, adapting and/or remixing material. Historically, much of this has been supported by funding from donors. Whilst donor funding has been an essential component of initiating OER practices, in order for them to become sustainable and effectively used, governments and educational institutions need to invest systematically in programme, course, and materials development and acquisition. Costs include wages for the time of people in developing curricula and materials, adapting existing OER, dealing with copyright licensing (where materials are not openly licensed), and so on. They also include associated expenses such as ICT infrastructure (for authoring and content-sharing purposes), bandwidth, costs of running workshops and meetings when content development teams meet, and so on.

‘Open’ in OER

‘Open’ is a term which is loosely applied, and, having gained currency is now being appropriated in many different sectors, such as open government, open architecture, open society, open access to education materials, and open source software (Weller, 2011). In many cases, current discussions on educational reform, particularly in higher education, have moved from OER to MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). Both are related to general policies of open education and reform, but there are differences. In particular, most MOOCs allow users only fair-use rights or rights stated in specific licenses. Most cannot be legally copied, and users cannot update them or use them to create their own courses. They are therefore not OER.

OER, as stated above, must be available on an open license which allows users to legally use/reuse and modify them.

Challenges to mainstreaming OER practices

It has been observed that awareness of OER has spread faster than its implementation. There remain obstacles that hinder the mainstreaming of OER by the global educational community. The Paris OER Declaration 2012 highlighted these obstacles and had flagged them for  international cooperation. While advances have been made in each area, increased efforts by  the international community are still necessary. These obstacles are: 1) the capacity of users to access, re-use and share OER; 2) issues related to language and culture; 3) ensuring inclusive and equitable access to quality OER; 4) changing business models; 5) the development of supportive policy environments.

Capacity of users to access, re-use and share OER

Capacity building for all education stakeholders

Harnessing OER requires leaders who are flexible, open to new ideas, and willing to make decisions. Thus there is a need to build capacity in leaders to ensure that leveraging OER is both a top-down and bottom-up process. This includes capacity building of educational stakeholders (policy makers, educators, students) to support capacity building to share materials created under an open license and the need to facilitate finding, retrieving and sharing of OER through the development of user-friendly tools to locate and retrieve OER that are specific and relevant to particular needs.

Skills development for OER use, re-use and sharing

In addition, building capacity requires relevant ongoing professional development activities to be made available to educators to enable them to acquire the skills and competencies necessary to use OER. There is also a need for necessary digital and media literacy skills to find, share, create, and re-mix OER effectively. As available OER may not always match methods or subject matter as taught locally, there is a need to train staff to source and adapt OER. Further skills required are the ability to 'see value' in someone else's work that could be used in a new context, technical skills to effect changes to the OER, translation skills, and the ability to distribute and share the new version of the OER to students and the open community.

There is also a need for capacity to focus on intellectual property rights issues, and developing a good understanding of open licenses, its implications, and understanding how these work in practice. Mechanisms to recognize the time, effort and skills required to develop and adapt OER by educational staff needs to be developed.

Simplifying and popularizing OER storage and retrieval systems (UNESCO, 2016) to have the necessary tools and information to develop OER is needed. Currently there are no standards for accessibility when accessing, using and re-using OER. Furthermore, the available tools to share resources are limited and there are a few options available, with current platforms often being difficult to use.

Language and Culture

This issue is related to the need to promote multilingual in cyberspace. The Internet which is the main medium through which OER are shared, provides opportunities to improve the free flow of ideas by word and image, it also presents challenges to ensuring the participation of all as the majority of the content is in English. Producing OER in local languages allows for increased diversity, quality, and relevance of the content.

Furthermore, there is a need to address cultural issues around attitudes to sharing. It is important to provide incentives to encourage or, where appropriate, require the use of OER in education institutions. As part of capacity building efforts, there is value in creating and sustaining effective communities of practice to foster sharing of information and collaboration. Such collaboration has additional potential side benefits of improving quality (through reviewing and vetting others’ materials), increasing access and reducing costs through sharing.

Ensuring inclusive and equitable access to quality OER

This point relates to 2 concepts: accessibility of OER for persons with disabilities; supporting the use of OER in all ICT environments.

Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities

While OER includes an open licenses, it is not inherently technically accessible, and there is a need to ensure that accessibility issues are mainstreamed into all use of OER whether it be creating, sharing and / or re-mixing.  Approximately 15% of the population, representing some 1 billion people in the world, have a disability2. This figure is accelerating in line with the population increases, growing poverty, natural disasters, ongoing conflicts and an ageing populations. With such a large number of people living with a disability, it is vital that access to educational opportunities is made widely available.


Despite the great potential of OER, there are challenges in accessing OER, particularly in developing countries related to access to the Internet. Being able to access OER requires adequate ICT infrastructure. A robust and fast connection to the Internet, which is still lacking in many institutions, is also very useful. Furthermore, the high cost of bandwidth, coupled with students’ poor socio-economic situations in some contexts, means that many students are unable to access ICT the Internet and OER. In addition with the increased use of mobile technologies and networks to access the Internet in all parts of the world, particularly in developing countries, it is important that OER is mobile friendly both to share, create, and/ or re-mix, and easily downloadable so that it can be shared on networks ‘off line’ if necessary.

Quality Concerns

A common debate in OER focuses on concerns about the quality of OER. Proponents of OER point out that the transparency provided by OER (where resources produced by staff are shared openly) usually places social pressure on institutions and teaching staff to increase quality. Some institution-based providers use the brand or reputation of an institution to persuade the user that available materials on a website are high quality. If they are not, then the prestige of the institution is at risk. Another approach is to use peer review, one of the most commonly used quality assurance processes in academia. As more institutions around the world are, at different levels, requiring their educators to share more materials under open licenses, experiences clearly demonstrate that this opening of intellectual property to peer scrutiny is having the effect of improving quality of teaching and learning materials. This happens both because educators tend to invest time in improving their materials before sharing them openly and because the feedback they receive from peer and student scrutiny helps them to make further improvements. In the development of materials for K-12 education, and for teacher training , ensuring that mechanisms for the quality assurance mechanisms of content for non-OER materials is applied where possible has proven useful and should be further explored.

Changing business models

Globally, the traditional publishing business model has come under growing pressure as a consequence of technological development and the digitization of content. The changes experienced by the publishing industry are affecting its market paradigms and business models. Basic principles, such as economies of scale, which used to be a mantra for this sector, have become less significant. Digital books are usually sold at a lower price compared to physical books, and, as free public domain books increasingly becoming available, this availability may further threaten the traditional business model of the publishing industry.

The increasing demand for access to quality education, combined with rising education
enrolments, calls for more educational resources, particularly affordable textbooks.  However, textbook prices are soaring along with the rising cost of education resulting in the overall price of education to increase significantly. As textbook costs rise, there is a simultaneous move toward digital textbooks, due to the increasing availability of ICT. The potential of affordable electronic textbooks, combined with the potential of OER, is regarded as an option to mitigate the rising cost of textbooks, with several organizations and institutions making electronic textbooks available for free.

Such developments are forcing publishing industry actors to reassess their business models and redefine their products and services, in order to align them with changing conditions, needs, and requirements. A growing number of governments and institutions – from national to regional to local levels – require that all educational resources funded by taxpayers or public resources must be licensed as OER. At the same time, educational and academic publishers in these countries are undergoing a period of evolution and reflection regarding the future dynamic between traditional copyrighted publishers and publicly funded OER.

There is a need to identify innovative solutions to develop new business models, so that the interests of the OER community and educational publishers are addressed. Several  possibilities include: publishers providing customized education services, publishers concentrating on new subjects where OER do not yet exist; providing joint products (for example producing conventional textbooks while releasing other products such as educational games with an open license), publishers assembling OER, and developing hybrid models which allows for both OER and traditional copyrighted publications to co-exist, each meeting different audience needs (UNESCO, 2016).

Development of supportive policy environments

The Paris OER Declaration 2012 states that publicly funded educational resources should be
made available under an open license to the public. This creates a need to foster the creation, adoption, and implementation of policies supportive of effective OER practices. Governmental and institutional policy makers play a crucial role in setting policies that help to shape the direction of education systems, and these policies can accelerate or impede the adoption and creation of OER. Several countries have already adopted OER policies3, and the presence of country policies that are supportive of OER can be used as a gauge to determine levels of commitment to OER. The lack of such frameworks can limit and delay the process of adoption or may even discourage institutions from pursuing OER undertakings. Furthermore, commercial interests, lack of awareness, and absence of strong leadership may limit the development and implementation of supportive OER policies. Once governments and institutions have decided to adopt an open license policy (requiring the outputs of grants or contracts be openly licensed), it is also important to provide implementation guides and professional development for how to implement the open policy.