Cathy Casserly to head new OER program at Carnegie Foundation

January 20, 2009, [MD]

I first met Cathy Casserly at the Open Ed conference in Dalian in 2008, where she immediately welcomed me and began thinking of projects I could get involved with and ways she and Hewlett could support me. At that time, I was still an undergraduate, and barely knew anyone in the field – and her reception was a wonderful and inspiring welcome.

From I first began to understand the development of the OER and OCW movements through David Wiley's Open Ed course, I was struck by the incedible deftness through which the Hewlett Foundation had basically "constructed a brand new field". I don't want to say that there were not many other organizations and institutions contributing, nor that the idea of open education was brand new (go back and read Illich), but there seems to be no doubt that Hewlett has played a huge role. By strategic investments in a number of projects, and by pushing these to collaborate and create synergies, first in the US, and rapidly also internationally, they achieved what I believe is every charitable funding organizations wet dream: To put a limited amount of resources in just the right place, at just the right time, and create something that is valuable, sustainable, and growing.

Now, Cathy is moving to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, to head Carnegie's new strategic work in open education. From the press release:

As the first full-time Senior Partner appointed by Carnegie President Anthony S. Bryk, Casserly will be responsible for new program initiatives and will manage the strategic direction of Carnegie’s work in Open Educational Resources. In leading efforts to build a new field of Design, Educational Engineering and Development (D-EE-D), Carnegie provides an ideal combination of timing and place to extend the knowledge and evidence base regarding the effectiveness of innovation and Open Educational Resources for learning.

I am very excited that Carnegie has decided to focus strategically on open educational resources. I have long respected their work on teaching and learning in higher education, and read several of their publications, for example on rethinking assessment of scholarly work. From what I can gather from their webpage, they already have a program called the Knowledge Media Library, where they seem to have been playing with ideas similar to OER, and they also helped publish Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge with MIT Press.

It will be very interesting to follow as Carnegie develops it's program in OER, and also to see who will replace Cathy at Hewlett Foundation, and whether their focus will shift.


Stian Håklev January 20, 2009 Toronto, Canada
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