Key Events in the History of Open Education Resources (OER)

In exploring the array of influential contributions to the field of educational technology, I chose to focus on key events in the history of Open Education Resources (OER).

David Wiley (2009), who is one of the many key contributors to the OER movement, commented that writing about history is no easy task because there is no clear starting point when telling the story of ideas, people and events. There is also the issue of bias and how one chooses to tell the story from a specific perspective (Wiley, 2009) which may differ from how others remember. In light of these biases, key events, ideas and people may be overlooked or completely hidden from sight, presenting variations in historical timelines (Watters, 2014). It is therefore not the intention to omit important benchmarks in this timeline, however, for the purposes of this effort, only a very brief snapshot is presented.

A Brief History of Open Education Resources


Bliss, T. J., & Smith, M. (2017). A brief history of open educational resources. In R.S. Jhangiani & R. Biswas-Diener (Eds.), Open: the philosophy and practices that are revolutionizing education and science (pp. 9–27). London: Ubiquity Press. Licensed under the Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0

GNU Operating System

Open Education Timeline 

Understanding Open Educational Resources

The History of Open Educational Resources Infographic

Watters, A. (2014). Un-fathomable: The Hidden History of Ed-Tech, Chapter 2. In The monsters of education technology. Licensed under the Creative Commons CC BY-SA.

Wiley, D. & Gurrell, S. (2009) A decade of development…, Open Learning:
The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 24(1), 11-21, DOI: 10.1080/02680510802627746


3 thoughts on “Key Events in the History of Open Education Resources (OER)”

  1. Thank you for this timeline, Mel, and importantly for the preamble to it as well! I am curious: Why did you end your timeline at 2012? This is not a critique by any means, but I am interested in why you made that choice. Was the last event you recorded the most significant in your estimation? Are events past 2012 too “new” to include in a historical timeline? Something else?

    1. Hi George – Thank you for your comment and question! In truth, the sources I referenced branched off into different perspectives, with contrasting events, and I no longer had the brainpower to jump down more rabbit holes! Part of what was so challenging, yet thought-provoking about this activity is that I had to individually research each event and weigh (according to my own bias and familiarity with the event) how significant it was to the timeline to determine whether or not to include it. Working through this process was time-consuming, but it made me appreciate even more so now how challenging it is to create a history (albeit brief as this one)!

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