Open For All: The OERu’s Next Generation Digital Learning Ecosystem


  • David C. Lane OER Foundation
  • Claire Goode Otago Polytechnic; OER Foundation



open source, learning environment, ecosystem, OER, equity, ICT


This paper describes the functionality, scalability, and cost of implementing and maintaining a suite of open source technologies, which have supported hundreds of thousands of learners in the past year, on an information technology infrastructure budget of less than US$10,000 per year. In addition, it reviews pedagogical opportunities offered by a fully open digital learning ecosystem, as well as benefits for learners and educators alike.

The Open Education Resource universitas (OERu) is an international consortium made up of 36 publicly funded institutions and the OER Foundation. The OERu currently offers first-year postsecondary courses through OER-based micro-courses with pathways to gain stackable micro-credentials, convertible to academic credit toward recognised university qualifications. The OERu, adhering to open principles (Wiley, 2014b), has created an open source Next Generation Digital Learning Ecosystem (NGDLE) to meet the needs of learners, consortium partners, and OERu collaborators. The NGDLE—a distributed, loosely coupled component model, consisting entirely of free and open source software (FOSS)—is a global computing infrastructure created to reach learners wherever they are. All OERu services are hosted on commodity FOSS infrastructure, conferring significant advantages and creating opportunities for institutions adopting any of these services to enhance education opportunities at minimal cost. The NGDLE can also increase technological autonomy and resilience while providing exceptional learning opportunities and agency for learners and educators alike.

Author Biographies

David C. Lane, OER Foundation

Dave Lane is the OER Foundation’s Open Source Technologist, responsible for the computing systems that power the OERu. He is a career IT specialist - software developer, system administrator, and operations security (op-sec) coordinator, with a long time interest in education. Dave is committed to using and contributing to Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), because he thinks it’s better both technically and ethically. He believes that the best way for educators to create OERs is to use FOSS tools. Similarly, the best way to achieve equity in access to education globally is to use FOSS to deliver OER-based courses and support learner collaboration.

Claire Goode, Otago Polytechnic; OER Foundation

Claire Goode is a Principal Lecturer in the Learning and Teaching Development team at Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand. She works alongside academic staff across the Polytechnic to build their capabilities in multiple aspects of pedagogical practice. This includes programme and course design, assessment strategies, technology-enhanced learning, blended delivery, resource development, and continuing professional development. As part of her role, Claire is seconded to work on projects with the OERu, and has been enjoying developing OERu micro-courses, learning more about open principles, and being part of the wider OERu network. Claire is also one of the elected staff representatives on the Polytechnic’s Leadership Council. She is particularly interested in teacher development, and enjoys seeing how educational technology can enhance learning and teaching opportunities. She thoroughly embraces opportunities to share resources and expertise openly, and is passionate about adult education.


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How to Cite

Lane, D. C., & Goode, C. (2021). Open For All: The OERu’s Next Generation Digital Learning Ecosystem. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 22(4), 146–163.



Technical Notes