The Meedan Blog Archive

Open Book: OER initiative for Arab Region

This past Monday January 28th, in the Franklin Room at the US Dept of State, Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton and Arab League Ambassador to the United States Dr. Mohammed Alhussaini Alsharif, convened a group of open education leaders to announce the launch of the Open Book Project.  This project is an "initiative of the U.S. Department of State, the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization and leading education innovators to expand access to free, high-quality open educational resources in Arabic, with a focus on science and technology and online learning."

I was honored to represent Meedan and join leaders from Creative Commons, MIT OCW and Blossoms, Rice University Connexions, ISKME, Hewlett Found, and others in the Open Education movement at this event. As described in the press release, Open Book aims to:

Support the creation of Arabic-language Open Educational Resources (OERs) and the translation of existing OERs into Arabic.

Disseminate the resources free of charge through our partners and their platforms.

Offer support to governments, educators, and students to put existing resources to use and develop their own.

Raise awareness of the potential of open educational resources and promote uptake of online learning materials.

Secretary Clinton noted that the project represents a return to "a very old tradition, because at a time when Europe was still in the dark ages, Arab scholars preserved seminal writings from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome that would have otherwise have been lost. Today, we are honored to welcome representatives of the Arab League, of ALECSO and the Arab diaspora working to bring scientific knowledge and innovation to the people of today."

Of course it is a worthy goal to begin the work of globalizing the significant and growing amount of open licensed educational materials created every year - but, as representatives from ALESCO were clear to point out, the goal of Open Book is equally to connect learners to each other; to bring the students of the world a bit closer together.