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Guest Blog: Sign the Cape Town Open Education Declaration and Unlock the Promise of Open Educational Resources

PLoS invited David Wiley of the USU Center for Open and Sustainable Learning to report on the Cape Town Open Education Declaration.

The Cape Town Declaration on Open Education, which advocates the adoption of open access and open source principles in education, launched on January 22, 2008. The declaration enlarges the idea of open access to scholarly works familiar to PLoS readers in two important ways. First, it increases the scope of material covered to include educational materials like textbooks, lesson plans, lecture notes, and simulations. Second, "open educational resources," as they are called, are licensed so as to permit adaptation, translation, and other changes necessary to support learning in the local context.

According to the declaration, "This emerging open education movement combines the established tradition of sharing good ideas with fellow educators and the collaborative, interactive culture of the Internet. It is built on the belief that everyone should have the freedom to use, customize, improve and redistribute educational resources without constraint. Educators, learners and others who share this belief are gathering together as part of a worldwide effort to make education both more accessible and more effective."

The declaration includes a number of specific recommendations, including one that states, "taxpayer-funded educational resources should be open." This type of language should be familiar to PLoS readers in the context of recent open access mandates from the NIH and European Research Council. We're working hard to see our recommendations succeed on the same scale and would appreciate your support.

The declaration calls on educators, learners, and policy makers to increase participation in the open sharing of educational materials, and has already been signed by over 500 people, including Sir John Daniel, President of the Commonwealth of Learning; Thomas Alexander, former Director for Education at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; Peter Gabriel, musician and founder of Real World Studios; Lawrence Lessig, founder and CEO of Creative Commons; and Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia and Wikia.

Please sign the declaration and support our efforts to extend access to educational opportunity to everyone.

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