Free to Learn Guide/Conclusion
The OER movement has come a long way in a very short time. Rather quickly, it has developed an impressive and useful collection of free high-quality educational content and supporting open source tools that are beginning to break down longstanding barriers to the access of knowledge around the world. All this has been accomplished in less than a decade with a relatively small amount of financial support, far less than the average large city in the United States spends on education in a single year. Nonetheless, the success and sustainability of the OER movement is by no means assured. Fundamental challenges remain.
The long-term prospect of viability for the OER movement remains where it has always been: firmly in the hands of the education community itself. If OER are integrated into the mainstream of the global education system through the application of supportive higher education governance policies, the movement will continue to grow in ways that create an ever-improving set of high-quality learning resources freely available to all.
On the other hand, this promising young movement could die on the vine if it fails to meet the needs of its intended users in a practical manner. Either way, the outcome will have a profound impact on education, opportunity and the global economy for decades to come. It is difficult to think of any other field that would benefit more in the years ahead from the concerted efforts of enlightened and altruistic educators and governance officials who want to give the next generation the best possible chance to achieve its full potential.
A few short years ago, when Nelson Mandela observed that "education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world," he could not possibly have imagined that humanity would soon be in the position to create and build an entirely new, free set of high-quality educational resources that could rapidly be brought within reach of most of the planet. The only remaining question is which institutions will step forward to drive delivery of this promise and, in so doing, distinguish themselves by taking the door that limits access to educational opportunity off its hinges once and for all. Expanding the freedom to learn is the best possible protection of freedom itself.