The motivation to form a Network of Open Organizations emerged in response to UNESCO member states agreeing to adopt a UNESCO Open Educational Resources Recommendation at the 40th UNESCO General Conference in November 2019. The adoption of this recommendation was a culmination of years of work by open education practitioners and the organizations that support them. It was also a unique and important milestone offering a major opportunity to advance open education around the world. 

In anticipation of the adoption of the UNESCO OER Recommendation, Open Education Global began formulating a strategy and action plan to support its implementation. In communication with others, it quickly became clear that many other open organizations were also working on plans and activities to support implementation. Believing the best way forward was to join forces in a coalition, Open Education Global reached out to other open organizations seeking interest in joining forces. Outreach communication said in part:

“The best way forward to ensure successful global implementation of this Recommendation is to join forces in a coalition. We see the benefits of a coalition as:

  • Showing through action how organizations supporting open education around the world can work together
  • Ensuring that each of our organizations do not duplicate efforts or offer separate, competing, redundant support
  • Distributing the effort to develop and deliver robust, comprehensive support across a coalition in such a way that we leverage our respective strengths and expertise
  • Ensuring that resources and services in support of the recommendation are high quality, comprehensive, and consistent across our organizations
  • Making it easier for our members and constituent stakeholders to clearly know who to get what support from by not offering separate and conflicting support
  • Signalling to governments, funders, and the global open education community that our organizations are working in a coordinated way to support the recommendation
  • Making it easier for funders to provide targeted funding by reducing the number of duplicate proposals they might get from each of us to do similar things

We can achieve more together than we can separately.”

Open Education Global Conference 2019
Open Education Global Conference, 2019. (Photo by Matteo Bergamini, CC-BY 2.0)

An announcement of intention to form a network was made at the Open Education Global 2019 conference in Milan, Italy. 

Open Education Global organized an initial meeting March 3, 2020 in-person in Paris and online. Participants included representatives from:

  • Open Education Global
  • Creative Commons
  • OER Africa
  • SPARC Europe
  • SPARC North America
  • Hewlett Foundation
  • Learning Equality
  • International Council on Open and Distance Education (ICDE)
  • Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME)

At this initial meeting, participating organizations mapped support activities they were currently engaged in to each of the five action areas of the UNESCO OER Recommendation. Ideas for new collaborative projects, activities, events, and resources we could collectively undertake to support the implementation of the Recommendation were brought forward. Discussion around the governance of the network took place, leading to a decision to be an informal network, invite other organizations to join, and hold regular monthly meetups and convenings via video conference to work on sharing information, developing shared perspectives and generating collaboration.

Examples of collaborative projects the Network has undertaken can be found in the Resources section of this website.

Over time, the Network of Open Orgs has become not just a means of supporting the implementation of the UNESCO OER Recommendation but a learning network. A place for sharing and learning from each other about what is happening around open education in different parts of the world. An intersection where the paths of different organizations cross, where collective efforts and activities can be coordinated, and where organizations tackle and work together on big-picture issues and specific initiatives that further global progress on open education.

In June of 2023, the Network of Open Organizations decided to formalize and increase the visibility of its presence through the creation of this website. To express interest in joining, send an email to info@networkofopenorgs.org.