The Hewlett Foundation commissioned ORS Impact to develop this evaluation, which provides an independent analysis of the progress, impact, and coherence of the strategies utilized by two highly regarded intergovernmental organizations—the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)—to advance Open Educational Resources (OER) both independently and jointly. The purpose of the evaluation is to inform the Hewlett Foundation’s international OER strategy of making readily available, quality educational materials for students and teachers everywhere and the strategies undertaken by the two organizations while positioning these efforts within the broader OER landscape.

In 2012, with two-year funding from the Hewlett Foundation, COL and UNESCO undertook a series of activities designed to integrate OER into teaching and learning, primarily in Kenya, Indonesia, Oman, and Trinidad and Tobago, and to advocate for OER policy inclusion in regional policy developments in East and West Africa. ORS Impact’s evaluation focused on three levels of inquiry: 1) country, 2) intergovernmental organization, and 3) the Hewlett Foundation’s grantmaking approach, utilizing document review and in-depth interviews.

The interviews revealed several engagement activities that proved effective regardless of geographic context: stakeholder engagement, consultative workshops, engaging local staff and consultants, regional networks, and tangible examples. Taking two distinct approaches to the work, COL and UNESCO have succeeded in building awareness, capacity, and policies to support OER, both at national and institutional levels, in the countries and regions where they focused their efforts. There is no one strategy or point of entry that fits all cases, but the experiences in these countries suggest the importance of building on relationships, providing consultation that spans multiple levels within ministries or institutions, and building local champions who can sustain the work.