Global Sharing of Digital Learning Resources: A Paradigm Shift in the Making

The rise of open educational resources(OER) and Massiv Open Online Courses like MIT OpenCourseWare, Coursera, Khan Academy, CK-12 and edX represent a distinct change in how people all over the world can learn new skills and get educated. Many of these project allow free access witch means that you can take the courses for free and access all the resources.

So this idea is something «everyone» tries to replicate, a result of this is that everyone is making their own content, but very few are reusing what others have developed when making something for themselves.  For the future we have to re-think OERs and MOOCs and start building our content on what others already have made, if at all possible.

One reason for this might be that the current situation does not provide tools for users to mashup, and re-create and translate. In practice it should be possible for a teacher to search for high quality learning resources(this is already solved by Google) and then in an easy way make their own learning resources based on their needs.

How can we go about changing this?

Lets learn from the success of Wikipedia and crowdsourcing

The freedom to share, re-use, change, translate and mash up new versions are some of the reasons for Wikipedia becoming the most important source of knowledge on the internett.

At the hart of  Wikipedias growth is the «magic» that emerges around crowdsourcing – a method where a large number of people work together on solving a problem or creating a knowledge univers like Wikipedia. More than 10 million people have written something on Wikipedia.

At the «foundation» for crowdsourcing lies the freedom to share, re-use, change, translate and mash up new versions and this will also be important when we are talking about high quality digital learning resources.   

Did you know that you can translate Khan Academy into your own language?

Khan Academy is one of the most famous open educational resources giving their users access to thousands of lectures in subject like math, history and science. One thing about Khan that is not that well known is that you can translate Khan Academy into your own language. You can do this legaly because:

  • Khan Academy publishes all there resources under a Creative Commons license
  • Khan Academy offers a tool for anyone that wishes to translate into another language


When we talk about Open educational resources(OER) that are released under a free license like creative commons it is crucial to distinguish these from those online giving free access. The factor of free access is important, but this alone limits the possibilities to make changes, create new content and translate into new languages.

Some basic principals must be at the core of a global community sharing OER:
  • All content must be available for free, free access
  • All the resources must be under what is called a free license, for example Creative Commons
  • All the resources must be available plattform independent, this will make it possible for local startups and businesses to make new edTech based on this content
  • There must be a mechanism for micropayment for those that contribute in to the community

After attending and speaking at this weeks eLearning Africa conference in Addis Abeba I am convinced that our global community of educators will succeed best if we go for the model of Wikipedia with sharing trough a crowdsourcing community.

Tanx to Nuug Foundation as sponsor for my trip to eLearning Africa.