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The guidelines describe the whole process for designing and implementing OER policy in seven chapters, each representing a clear phase in the whole process. The chapters introduce the purpose of the phase and provide background information and references with practical examples for illustration. At the end of each chapter, specific tasks are set for the policy-maker, which will help with formulating of the final OER policy. The guidelines start with an introduction to the potential of OER and then ask the policy-maker to determine the vision of the OER policy she or he has in mind. This policy needs a framework, which determines on what level of the education system the policy will be set (scale) and which sector of the education system the policy will cover (focus). This sets out the first part of the theory of change – i.e., it determines what change is envisaged through the policy.

A gap analysis is then necessary to provide a realistic picture of the challenges and the opportunities that the current educational system, its infrastructure, its key members and the overall policy context present for the new OER policy. This can be used as a backdrop for designing the masterplan, which takes the building blocks present in a standard OER policy and specifies them for the specific policy context. These building blocks indicate what is going to be changed. An implementation plan adopts a strategy for how to realise the masterplan effectively and to ensure that all key stakeholders are involved. This phase includes setting up an evidence base and monitoring framework so that the policy can be adjusted during the implementation phase. Finally, the policy developed needs to be launched, so streamlining and checks against the reality of the context should be carried out. This is where the policy-makers have to focus on the outreach of the policy. In this phase, a policy needs to be officially endorsed by someone in an authoritative position – for example, the cabinet, education minister or president of a country – and by educational leaders, to ensure that it can have an impact on the education system. Moreover, it is important to ensure that the policy has been understood by those it is hoping to influence – i.e., the actors and institutions using OER to make teaching and learning better. Finally, a policy should be ambitious and aim to reach the mainstream in the future. Therefore, a review of implementation and its impacts should lead to a discussion of what shape the next-generation policy should take and how the scope and scale of this policy can be extended.

The key readers of this publication are those directly involved in policy design. The aims of these guidelines are to help these people to:

  • Understand essential subject-matter knowledge on OER through a learning-by-doing process
  • Develop a set of procedural knowledge on OER policy planning, working through key steps necessary for designing a comprehensive OER policy
  • Reinforce the contextual knowledge needed to leverage OER in achieving SDG 4 through assessing the policy context and needs for OER, planning institutionalised programmes and drawing up a contextualised masterplan
  • Ensure the commitment to policy adoption and implementation through integrating stakeholder engagement into the policy-planning process and determining adequate policy endorsement and implementation strategies
  • Enhance the quality of policy implementation by planning a mechanism for monitoring and evaluation, and working towards an evidence based policy-planning and updating cycle.


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