Open educational resources, factors of educational innovation

In the field of educational sciences, innovation is reflected either in new production or in the improvement of certain teaching methods. More than ever before, open educational resources are contributing to educational innovation.

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By Khadija Alaoui, research student in Training Engineering, Educational Technologies and Communications (Mohammed I University, Morocco)

"A person who has never made a mistake has never tried to innovate" - Albert Einstein

Indeed, error feeds the innovation process which is both complex and dynamic. Its complexity lies in the creation of the disorder undergone by the innovated context, because what can be innovative in one environment may not be in another. Its dynamics are conceived in the desire for improvement and progress of a given situation in order to make old practices more effective. Identifying the concept of innovation is not an easy matter. But at least we must know that it is linked to the action, it is a process much more than a product (Cros, 1996).

First, innovation affects all areas. For example, in the economic field, the cyclical nature of the economy stems from innovation. Joseph A. Schumpeter defines the latter as "new objects of consumption, new methods of production and transport, new markets, new types of industrial organization". According to the same economist, "the new does not come out of the old, but appears alongside the old, competes with it to the point of ruining it". We then see that innovation is all that is new, in other words it is a new perception of the world! And if we go back to the etymology of the word "Innovation" in Latin “Innovare” we notice that “Novare” means to make new, renew, remake, transform and change.

In the field of educational sciences, innovation is reflected either in new production or in the improvement of certain teaching methods. It is formalized in the introduction of new uses in the teaching practices of teachers. To innovate is to make yesterday's impossible possible today.

What innovation are we talking about in the field of educational sciences?

The world is constantly changing and innovation has become a necessity. First, the digital technology revolution is bringing its share of profound changes in all fields, namely the field of educational sciences in question here. In addition, the exponential growth of digital technologies invites us to revisit educational practices and explore its promising potential in terms of skills, resources and devices. The question that arises is whether innovation is at the service of changing teaching practices?

In the field of educational sciences, innovation is mainly of an educational nature, so what do we mean here by educational innovation?

For Émile Durkheim, pedagogy cannot be reduced to a practice, it is an unscientific theory which aims to improve educational action through criticism and innovation. We consider under the term “educational innovation” any action modifying the uses and the usual practices of teachers and learners.

Then, innovation in the middle of the educational context is above all a change of perception, and not an upheaval in the logic of the work of the education system. Rather, it is an adjustment in the latter. This adjustment can affect, for example, the way of organizing the content taught, the pedagogical approach adopted, etc.

Innovate by relying on the use of open educational resources

More than ever before open educational resources (OER), in English Open Education Resources, contribute to educational innovation. They were born in the context of the democratization of knowledge, in order to improve the effectiveness of teaching. OER primarily seeks to help the various educational players, specifically teachers and students, to innovate during their teaching-learning process and to make their relationship with information more effective and sustainable.

First, REL is a concept that captures the imagination of faculty around the world, both those looking to find free and open resources to use with their students, and those looking to make their own resources available. others. Thus ensuring students free access to quality content.

But beyond the general feeling of wanting to give students free access to high-quality courses, what does OER mean? And what are the benefits of using them?

In 2002, the term "open educational resources" emerged during the forum on the impact of open courseware on higher education in developing countries, organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Culture (UNESCO). This event saw the coming together of an eclectic body of academic researchers and education experts who ascribed the following definition to REL: "teaching, learning or research materials in the public domain or published with an intellectual property license allowing their use, adaptation and distribution free of charge ”.

According to the second world forum organized by UNESCO in 2004 on international quality assurance, accreditation and recognition of qualifications, the concept of OER refers to “expanding access to quality higher education”. Thus the scientific committee of this forum resulted in a breakdown into three complementary sections: 

  • Learning resources: course software, content modules, study objects, student support and assessment tools, online study communities.
  • Support Resources for Teachers: Tools for teachers and support materials to enable them to create, adapt, and use OER.
  • Resources to ensure the quality of education and educational practices.

In addition, OER refers to any educational resource which can be viewed, copied, reused, adapted or shared freely and which is made available to everyone under a free license, so that its use does not imply the payment of license fees. (World Congress of OER, UNESCO 2012). Licensing is organized under Creative Commons - a set of licenses governing the terms of reuse and distribution of works that ensure the copyright in the tools. Finally, according to the Qingdao Declaration (2015), OER allows education actors to improve the quality and expand access to textbooks and other learning content to stimulate innovative use and promote knowledge creation.

Using OER for what benefits?

On the one hand, the increasing cost of school fees in many establishments and the social situation of a large number of students make it impossible to buy textbooks. While OERs ensure access to course materials for each student without taking costs into account. On the other hand, the use of OER contributes to the democratization of knowledge, in other words to “an economic gain”. 

Second, OER gives teachers the opportunity to create personalized materials for their lessons. Where most textbooks will have their strengths and weaknesses, incorporating OER allows a faculty member to draw only solid material into their classroom. They offer teachers a wide variety of materials on which their lessons will be based. 

Finally, we can consider OER to be important since it provides affordable support to students. The frequency of their use promotes the empowerment of individuals. In addition, OER gives teachers the opportunity to improve the materials used in their own course as they provide them with rich and diverse content.


  • PERAYA, Daniel. Analyze, support and steer innovation: an “ASPI" (2004).
  • METZGER, Jean-Luc. & Delalonde, Charles. Educational and collective innovation in online training in France and the United States. 
  • MARSOLLIER, Christophe. Educational innovation: its figures, its meaning and its challenges. 
  • MIDDLEHURST, Robin. And CAMPBELL, Carolyn. Quality Assurance and Cross-border Provision: Issues and challenges. June 2004. Paris, France. 


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