Open Education

Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for EDUimages


We invest in approaches that challenge existing structures to build systems of learning that center student success and collective experiences. When we center student identity and shared achievements, all of society benefits from the outcomes. Open Education goes a long way to creating a community of participation and sharing inside and across classrooms. Our grantmaking strategy aims to combine access to open educational resources (OER) — which are free for educators and students to use, adapt, and share — with professional development to ensure that such materials are used to provide more effective teaching and learning.

The foundation’s support for OER began in 2002, with the goal of making high-quality educational materials and knowledge accessible to everyone. Nearly two decades later, OER continues to play a key role in democratizing and personalizing learning, strengthening pedagogy, and giving educators the tools to energize their classrooms. Today, our Open Education portfolio has several grantmaking strategies to support this interconnected and innovative field.

Open Education Defined

At Hewlett, we use the term “open education” to encompass the myriad of learning resources, teaching practices and education policies that use the flexibility of OER to provide learners with high quality educational experiences. Creative Commons defines OER as teaching, learning, and research materials that are either (a) in the public domain or (b) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities– retaining, remixing, revising, reusing and redistributing the resources.

Learn More About OER 

Strategy Components

1. Content, Tools, and Services

High-quality open educational materials support educators with meeting students where they are, acknowledging their lived experiences, and encouraging critical thinking and collaboration. It gives each person a stake in the shared outcome. This is deeper learning at its best. We support organizations developing OER and related professional development that both emphasize deeper learning and enable students to connect what they are learning to their own lives, experiences, and identities.

2. Sustainable Systems

Most students will benefit from OER only if and when systems commit to providing educators with support to learn about, adopt, and implement effective instructional practices with OER. This can take the form of institutional policies committing to open materials, support for professional learning about how to curate and create OER, support for incorporating themes around racial and social injustices, and/or research documenting how and when using OER contributes to better and more equitable learning outcomes for students. Our grants focus on building capacity among K-12 districts and postsecondary institutions to implement and sustain open educational resources, practices, and policies.

3. Field-Building

Since our first OER grant was made in 2002, we have been committed to supporting a diverse and inclusive global field that shares open content, practices, and research. More than twenty years in, the field of open education has made enormous progress. There is a strong infrastructure with well-regarded civil society groups, growing awareness, and increased research capacity to support OER in the U.S. and abroad. Our field-building grants are aimed at sustaining the connections needed for organizations in the field to thrive and ensuring a diversity of perspectives continue to shape the global open education field.

We need to make sure materials are designed to support every learner, that teachers understand how to take advantage of the flexibility of openly licensed resources, and that they are equipped with the knowledge and tools to customize materials for different learners.

Angela DeBarger, Program Officer Read Story 

Our Team

Kent McGuire 
Program Director
Dara Bevington
Dara Bevington 
Program Associate
Neha Singh Gohil
Neha Singh Gohil 
Communications Officer
Melissa Lee
Melissa Lee 
Linda Meyerson
Linda Meyerson 
Program Associate
Nathan Warner 
Program Officer

Our Grantmaking

Learning Equality
for general operating support
The Practice Space
for student voice strategic planning and wellness
Open Education Global
for supporting culturally responsive instructional reform in California Community Colleges
for general operating support

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