Mr. Stephen Downes

Digital Technologies Research Centre,

National Research Council of Canada

Stephen Downes works with the Digital Technologies Research Centre at the National Research Council of Canada specializing in new instructional media and personal learning technology. His degrees are in Philosophy, specializing in epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science. He has taught for the University of Alberta, Athabasca University, Grand Prairie Regional College and Assiniboine Community College. His background includes expertise in journalism and media, both as a prominent blogger and as founder of the Moncton Free Press online news cooperative.  He is one of the originators of the first Massive Open Online Course, has published frequently about online and networked learning, has authored learning management and content syndication software, and is the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily. Through a thirty-five year career Downes has contributed pioneering work in the fields of online learning games, learning objects and metadata, podcasting, and open educational resources. Recent projects include:gRSShopper, a personal learning environment; E-Learning 3.0, a course on new e-learning technologies; research and development in the use of distributed ledger technology in learning applications; and research on ethics, analytics and the duty of care. Downes is a member of NRC's Research Ethics Board. He is a popular keynote speaker and has spoken in three dozen countries on six continents.

Supporting Open Educational Resources


Through more than 20 years of development and deployment, open educational resources (OER) have had a mixed impact on the educational system. While they have become increasingly available, they have not replaced subscription-based and fee-based resources, and so barriers to access to education remain. Through those years developers and practitioners have come to realize that OER require support and an infrastructure, and this has been realized through such mechanisms as open online courses and open practices. In this plenary Stephen Downes describes these developments both from a historical context and also to develop a broader framework of support. Drawing from examples in other fields, including social media, streaming video, and open source software, he identifies key elements of a broad-based open educational platform (OEP) and offers suggestions on how librarians and information scientists can support this approach.