Open Education Handbook/Open Policy

Open policies require access to, and open licensing of, resources financed through public funding. For the purposes of open policies that contribute to the public good, we define policy broadly as legislation, institutional policies, and/or funder mandates.

A government open policy requires publicly funded educational resources be either openly licensed (CC BY preferred) or put directly into the public domain. Governments may also require government created and/or grant funded data be put directly into the public domain (e.g., using CC0) and publicly funded software to be openly licensed with an OSI certified open source software license.

Foundations are also adopting open policies on some of their grants. For example, the Hewlett Foundation's Education division requires (with some exceptions) its grantees to CC BY license resources produced with Hewlett funds.

Education systems are also adopting open policies. The Chancellor's Office of the US California Community Colleges recently adopted a CC BY requirement on all resources produced with its public funded grants and contracts.

It is relatively rare for K-12 educational institutions to adopt open institutional policies. Such policies are more common among academic institutions - although these often limit their open mandates to academic publications and research articles, and not educational resources.

There are several types of policies that concern open education.

  • International policies: These are adopted by intergovernmental organizations and are usually not binding for its members. The most important such policy now in force is the UNESCO OER Declaration, formally adopted at the 2012 World Open Educational Resources (OER) Congress held at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris from 20 – 22 June 2012.
  • National policies: Many governments have required open licensing for the educational outputs of certain programs, e.g. the U.S. Department of Labor's $2 billion TAACCCT program requires CC BY on all educational outputs (more information: Some countries have had national declarations in this space e.g. Scottish Open Education declaration, Welsh Open Education declaration of Intent.
  • Regional policies (for example, state-level policies): In several countries, policies have been introduced by state governments. Examples of such policies is the Bill HB 2337 “Regarding open educational resources in K-12 education”, passed by the Senate of the State of Washington (more information:
  • Institutional policies set out a commitment to supporting open education through, for example, mandating or authorising OER production as a valid activity for staff; aligning curriculum with materials or textbooks that are openly available; or encouraging use of open resources in teaching and learning.

Funders mandates can be seen as specific types of policies that apply to funding programs of charitable organizations. They are important in themselves, but also set standards for other, public policies.

See the OER Policy Registry or OER Policy Map for examples of OER policies. The POERUP project has also collected a lot of data on OER policy.