(This guest post is written by Lisette Kalshoven from Kennisland)
The Netherlands has been a strong OER (Open Educational Resources) country since 2008 when the report on Education and Open Educational Resources was released by the Education Council. Because of the advice given in the report, the OER platform Wikiwijs was created to help teachers navigate through OER content and create their own. This was an enormous step forward in the world of OER. However, it has not proven to be the revolution in educational resources that some had hoped.
Although the platform Wikiwijs (now: www.wikiwijsleermiddelenplein.nl) gave teachers the opportunity to use, share and create (Open) Educational Resources, this is not enough to change the way we in The Netherlands produce and use educational resources. This is due to the bigger issues surrounding OER in The Netherlands:1. Strong regulations on educational material
In the Netherlands there are strong governmental regulations on what is high enough quality material to be taught in our schools. There are standardised tests in the final years of high school and learning materials developed especially to train students for the test. It is therefore very difficult for a teacher to develop OER material that completely fits the government profile.2. Who is paying for it?
The teachers are worried about the OER approach because they are afraid that content creation is going to be piled up on top of their regular workload. Who is going to pay for the time they spend on developing their own teaching materials? Are some much-needed hours for grading being allocated for work on OER platforms, or should teachers consider it a hobby and work on this in their free time?3. Teachers do not understand copyright
Ignorance about copyright is abundant in society, teachers not excluded. Even if teachers create new materials they often do not have the know-how to license it so that their fellow teachers can use it legally. And if they are aware that they have copyright on the materials they create (or use), there is an Education exception in the Dutch copyright law which adds up to the confusion.4. Wrong financial incentive
The Dutch government gives schools earmarked money to use for schoolbooks. That is why schools can’t use this money for anything else but books. Parents do not care about the pricing of schoolbooks because they do not feel like they are paying for the books themselves. Cost-saving discussions therefore will only be fruitful at a national level.What do we have to do?
We can do a lot to entice people to make more use of OER. There is much to be gained with an awareness programme for schools throughout the country. A lot of teachers already have the intention to create OER but are not aware of the possibilities and restrictions caused by not licensing them appropriately. We need to make OER more bottom-up than top-down.
Also, a lot of ground can be gained by taking the discussion back to the national level. Though OER was a priority for the Dutch Government in the late noughties, it seems to have withered substantially with the new minister(s) of education. If we can take some of the enthusiasm for OER present at the EU level (propagated by my fellow Dutchperson Neelie Kroes) back to the national debate, maybe we can solve bigger issues such as the earmarked schoolbook money and the time allocation for teachers.