History of Open Education Global

As you go through Education For All, you’ll see that Open Education Global has evolved and changed names several times since its original inception. However, for historical accuracy, we’ve chosen to retain the name the organization used in the year when specific awards were given.

To aid your understanding of the origins of Open Education Global and how the organization has evolved, here is a short history guide.


Open Education Global’s origins trace back to the MIT OpenCourseWare. On April 4, 2001, MIT President Charles Vest announced the establishment of MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW), a web-based program to provide free access to MIT course content, including lecture notes, problem sets, exams, and videos. He noted that OpenCourseWare might seem a bit counterintuitive in a market-driven world. Still, it is innovative, expresses belief in the way that education can be advanced by constantly widening access to knowledge and information and by inspiring others.

It certainly did inspire others and the interest from institutions around the world to follow suit was so great that In February 2005, MIT formed the OpenCourseWare Consortium http://www.ocwconsortium.org. Less than a year later, the consortium had more than 100 member organizations committed to publishing their course materials openly. At that time, the OpenCourseWare initiative symbolized the movement for “Open Educational Resources”, a term first adopted at the UNESCO 2002 Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries, as an expression of the wish to develop together a universal educational resource available for the whole of humanity.

In July 2008, the OpenCourseWare Consortium officially became a 501(c)(3) non-profit in the state of Massachusetts, USA. The incorporation documents describe the purpose of the organization as being, “To provide free and open digital publication of high-quality educational materials, organized as courses, through a collaboration of higher education institutions and affiliated organizations from around the world, creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model, and to advance education and empower people worldwide through its OpenCourseWare programs.”

In 2014 the name of the organization was changed to Open Education Consortium http://www.oeconsortium.org. The purpose remained largely the same, although the organization became independent of MIT and broadened its role to go beyond OpenCourseWare to include other diverse and emerging forms of open education. The Open Education Consortium became a worldwide community of hundreds of higher education institutions and associated organizations committed to advancing open education and its impact on global education. The consortium envisioned a world where everyone, everywhere has access to the education they need to build their futures. It sought to instill openness as a feature of education around the world, allowing greatly expanded access to education while providing a shared body of knowledge upon which innovative and effective approaches to today’s social problems can be built.

Logo Open Education Global

In 2019 the Open Education Consortium became Open Education Global https://www.oeglobal.org/ to more clearly emphasize the growing global nature of its members and the adoption of open education around the world. The role of Open Education Global continued to be that of a member-based, global, non-profit supporting the development and use of open education around the world. However, the breadth of what open education entails became larger. New forms of open education enabled by digital technology, the Internet, and cultures of sharing have emerged and OEGlobal members are involved with all of them, including:

  • Open Educational Resources (OER)
  • Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
  • Open Access (OA)
  • Open Data
  • Open Science
  • Open Education Technology
  • Open Practices

Open education has evolved incredibly from the early days of MIT OpenCourseWare. Open Education Global is proud of the role it has played and continues to play in supporting open education around the world.

For a fun and illuminating historical look at the evolution of Open Education Global try entering the url’s provided above into the Internet Archives Wayback Machine https://web.archive.org/web/.

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