Hewlett: The route forward

March 12, 2008

Paul Brest, President of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Paul was introduced as the person who supported the OER initiatives from the top of the Foundation. He described any foundation as being a “three trick pony” – knowledge generation and dissemination, [something else], and advocacy. The relevant action for us is on knowledge generation. Working in two parts: education and informing citizens about policy. Paul then focused in on data. Data is what drives the knowledge and indeed information is power – which can mean that there is a flow from the developing world to being published by the developed. Actions by the Hewlett Foundation include developing demographic skills in Africa and in playing a role in a major data collection activity in the US. HF will also attempt to be more open with its own information – for reasons related to transactional, practical, issues rather than protecting their own data.

Cathy Casserly

Cathy explained a position that we should we now be trying to scale up the way we were addressing issues. She showed a slide from 2004 that considered whether the way forward was through  research or content based projects. At that time the research strand seemed too early – but perhaps can now be revisited in Phase II: with Teaching and Learning Exemplars under pinned by Infrastructure. Cathy referred to the infrastructure elements as hubs of activity: CORE & OER Africa as regional examples.

Cluster of work on Open Gaming, Open Textbooks, Participatory Learning. All of these built on a model of very quick feedback loops. Open Game Based Environments – Open Language Learning Initiative. Open textbooks are looking at ways to generate physical books from OERs. OPLE example is very much based on gathering real data – though I think that might well not cover everything. Transform teaching and learning teacher training – will cut in 2009. Focus for new projects:


  •        Partnering institutions – self-organised rather than brought togther by Hewlett
  •        Multi-funder projects – challenge funding and exit strategies
  •        CC by licence – move towards least restrictive licence.
  •        Demand driven – what is return on investment and end-user structure
  •        Stimulate innovation through competitive process – may try in game-based releasing criteria and carry out a RFP (cf MacArthur digital learning programme)

We need to remember how powerful the open paradigm is for learning as:


  • Extending institutions
  • Giving individual control
  • Allow user and expert feedback
  • Adaptation as an instructive learning process 

Ending with a quote from Gandhi “If we are to attain real peace in this world,…, we will have to begin with the children.”


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