A Brief History of Open Educational Resources

  • Bliss T
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The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement is fifteen years old. This essay reviews OER’s history, extraordinary growth, and place in education from the perspective of one current and one former employee of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.1,2 Since 2001, the Hewlett Foundation has provided just over US$170 million to develop and extend the reach and effectiveness of OER. We tell the story of OER’s development, provide examples and discuss uses of OER, and sketch its potential as a powerful tool for reducing inequalities of educational opportunity and promoting innovative strategies to improve educational problems. We realize that our viewpoint shapes our discussion and our examples, thus we have deliberately referenced a large number of OER publications from a wide range of authors so the reader may explore materials that may have different perspectives.




Bliss, T. J., & Smith, M. (2017). A Brief History of Open Educational Resources. In Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science (pp. 9–27). Ubiquity Press. https://doi.org/10.5334/bbc.b

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