Tagline

Strategy

Open Government Partnership as a platform for advancing open education policy

Nicole Allen and Jan Gondol

SPARC, Ministry of Interior Slovak Republic

A recent report by Creative Commons found that 14 countries have made national-level commitments to Open Education of some kind.[1] Support from national governments can help accelerate the open education movement both directly through supportive policies and projects, and indirectly by promoting awareness and support within civil society.

An exciting new avenue for establishing and expanding such commitments has emerged through the Open Government Partnership (OGP). OGP is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure commitments from governments to make their governance more open, accountable and responsive to citizens.[2] It formally launched in 2011 with 8 founding nations, and since then has grown to 65 nations. Each participating country develops and publicly submits a 2-year national action plan that contains concrete, actionable reform goals, and submits periodic reports on its progress toward implementing these goals.

OGP national action plans address a wide variety of areas related to open government, including transparency, anti-corruption, citizen engagement, and harnessing new technologies. One area that many countries have prioritized is opening up government data for use and reuse by the public.[3] Open data can support transparency by providing access to government information, and also support citizen engagement by enabling social and commercial innovation. This same logic has naturally begun to extend to other forms of government-owned and government-funded information, including educational resources.

Over the last year, open education has surfaced as a topic in the latest OGP plan development cycle. In September 2014, the United States became the first country to formally adopt open education as part of its existing OGP plan, adding a new section with a strong statement of support and three specific action goals.[4] Concurrently, the Slovak Republic took a significant step in this direction in a public draft of its 2016-2017 plan, which contained a section on open education addressing both open educational resources and open access to research publications.[5] Anecdotal reports suggest that similar conversations are happening in other countries, and may soon be visible as action plans are finalized.

The purpose of this paper is to explore OGP as a strategy for securing national commitments to open education, and how this can ultimately have an impact on open teaching and learning. The paper begins by reviewing OGP as a platform for advancing policy, including its advantages, disadvantages, and applications in different political environments. The paper then discusses how to make the case for open education in an open government context, using the United States and the Slovak Republic as examples. Finally, the paper provides recommendations for open education goals and commitments to consider including in OGP plans, including possible synergies with other areas of openness such as open data, open access to scholarly publications, and free and open source software. It concludes that OGP is an unprecedented opportunity to secure national commitments to open education and establish footholds toward strong open education policy in participating countries.

References

[1] Creative Commons (2014). State of the Commons. https://stateof.creativecommons.org/report/

[2] Open Government Partnership. http://www.opengovpartnership.org/

[3] Open Government Partnership (2014). What’s in the New
OGP National Action Plans? http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/US%20National%20Action%20Plan.pdf

[4] United States (2014). New U.S. National Action Plan Initiatives. http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/new_nap_commitments_report_092314.pdf

[5] Slovak Republic (2014). Action Plan Initiatives for Open Governance 2014-2015. https://lt.justice.gov.sk/Attachment/vlastnymat_rtf.pdf?attEID=70102&docEID=388481&matEID=7645