Digital Literacies Competencies and Skills to Support UNESCO OER Goal

What digital literacy skills do educators[a][b][c][d][e][f][g][h][i][j][k][l][m][n][o][p][q] need to adopt, adapt and create OER and create meaningful learning experiences? Identify means of acquiring those skills.

Specifically, this document is meant to support the following UNESCO OER recommendation Article III-11(F)

“Member States are recommended to strategically plan and support OER capacity building, awareness raising, use, creation and sharing at the institutional and national levels, targeting all education sectors and levels. Member States are encouraged to consider the following:

(f) promoting digital literacy skills in order to master technical use of software, codes and open licenses with a view to encouraging the development and use of OER.”


While it may be unrealistic to expect individuals to have each of these skills and competencies, it is recommended that these skills and competencies be represented among teams who work with OER. These skills and competencies may be available within your institution.

Your context for approaching this may be as an individual, an OER team member or project manager, an educational department, or institution. Your roles, goals, and context will inform which of these skills are relevant.


The goal of this document is to organize the competencies needed for various levels and roles of individuals. The next step in the process will be to determine how to present this information in a more user-friendly format.

Matrix levels

Each of the competencies should help to support these three activities common to working with OERs[r][s][t][u][v].

  1. Use / Adopt (includes discover, evaluate, including pedagogical evaluation)
  2. Adapt / Curate
  3. Create (includes share & disseminate)

Possible Roles (tasks rather than people)

Who may have the skills and competencies listed below.

  1. Instructional Design
  2. Content Creation
  3. Design/Development
  4. Librarianship
  5. Administration
  6. Accessibility Evaluation
  7. Student Instruction
  8. Instructional Technology


Open Technology

(tbd) as we try to source a good working definition of what we mean by open technology. This should include the ability to view & contribute to the code (aka open source), the ability to import and export standards based content (open standards, like open API’s), the ability to output open content formats, the ability to host the technology locally on device or locally hosted server, the ability to use for free)

Open Pedagogy[w][x]

“Open Pedagogy is an access-oriented commitment to learner-driven education AND as a process of designing architectures and using tools for learning that enable students to shape the public knowledge commons of which they are a part.” (DeRosa & Jhiangiani) See Open Pedagogy Notebook specifically What Is Open Pedagogy? for more info.


  1. Technical (i.e., Computers, mobile devices and internet technologies)
  1. Operate a computer and commonly used operating systems such as Windows, MacOS, or Linux [A, B, C]
  2. Operate a mobile device and common mobile device operating systems [A, B, C]
  3. Be able to connect a computer and/or mobile device to the Internet using wired or wireless connections.
  4. Identify and use help menus, tutorials and support communities to acquire        necessary skills [A, B, C]
  5. Troubleshoot basic technology problems (e.g., no connectivity, printer jam, 404 error) [A,B]
  6. Explain technical problems or issues to a support person [A, B, C]
  7. Navigate websites using common web browsers [A, B, C]
  8. Explain how cloud storage works and be able to use cloud storage services [A, B, C]
  9. Explain basic security protocols of the web including how to create strong passwords for websites, what a phishing attack is, and how to differentiate between safe and potentially malicious websites. [A, B, C]
  10. Use digital devices, communication tools and social networks to access, evaluate and create information [A, B, C].
  11. Create, modify and save files in open formats that facilitate adaptation with open tools and do not require proprietary software [B,C]
  12. Use tools to adapt the format and language of existing resources.
  13. Explain the differences between an open and a closed technology and outline the implications of each. [B, C]
  14. Use creation & hosting platforms to create new OER [C]
  15. Create and edit open resources using open platforms [B, C]
  16. Select and evaluate appropriate open platforms and tools to create, share and disseminate ideas, products, and knowledge ensuring platforms are compatible with institutional/local policies and infrastructure. [B, C]
  17. Identify and use tools that promote accessible content design and creation. [B,C]
  18. Create accessible documents [C]
  19. Identify different assistive technologies and test how content interacts with those technologies (A)
  20. Add required metadata to OER to ensure findability & correct attribution (eg Creative Common licenses, author, etc)

  1. Information Literacies
  1. Effectively use common search engines to find OER, including using specialized features and functions of search engines to filter search results by language and open license. [A, B, C]
  2. Know of, and effectively use, specialized search tools, directories, and repositories specific to OER and how to use those search tools, directories and repositories to find OER relevant to their own course and discipline. (A)
  3. Curate and sequence OER to create an effective learning experience[y]
  4. Detect bias and disinformation
  5. Detect and track the the modification of content using tools such as track changes, wiki histories, reverse image search engines, and archival sites such as the Internet Archive (A (evaluate), B)
  6. Use research tools and indicators of authority to critically make judgments and determine if the information on digital sources is credible and understand the elements that might temper this credibility (A)
  7. Find [z]scholarly & other educational works from traditionally underrepresented communities' to ensure a diversity [aa]of perspectives recognizing that a given scholarly work may not represent the only or even the majority perspective on the issue. (A)
  8. Recognize the implications of information formats including how the same information may be perceived differently in different formats (i.e., text vs video), and how information can be static or dynamic information (A)
  9. Optimize the discoverability of newly-created OER (C)
  10. Evaluate OER using appropriate standards and criteria (A)
  11. Identify interested parties, such as scholars, organizations, governments, and industries, who might produce information about a topic and then determine how to access that information (A, C)
  12. Explain how information systems (i.e., collections of recorded information) are organized in order to access relevant information (A, C)
  13. Understand that first attempts at searching do not always produce adequate results (A)
  14. Evaluate resources for accessibility (A)
  15. Use rubrics and quality standards to evaluate OER

  1.  Legal and Ethical
  1. Identify resources that are openly licensed (including Creative Commons) or in the public domain. (A, B, C)
  2. Properly attribute a work used under a Creative Commons license and other copyright law (A,B,C)
  3. Distinguish between the different types of Creative Commons licenses (A,B,C)
  4. Apply an appropriate open license to a newly-adapted or newly-created resources (B,C)
  5. Differentiate the concepts of open licensing, public domain, and all rights reserved copyrights (A,B,C)
  6. Basic knowledge of local copyright law and its applications to educational materials. (A)
  7. Understand best practices and legal requirements around attribution. (A,B,C)
  8. Make informed choices regarding online actions in full awareness of issues related to privacy and the commodification of personal information. (A, B, C)
  9. Follow ethical and legal guidelines in gathering and using information. For example: plagiarism, citation, and attribution (A,B,C)
  10. Adhere to local community standards and protocols in regards to the use and sharing of local Indigenous knowledge; and know that not all knowledge is appropriate for public sharing. (A,B,C)
  11. Recognize issues of access or lack of access to information sources can be a barrier to some learners (A)
  12. Know your local & regional legal accessibility requirements related to digital content (A maybe - evaluate?)
  13. Question traditional notions of granting authority and recognize the value of diverse ideas and worldviews[ab][ac] (A, B, C)
  14. Understand how and why some individuals or groups of individuals may be underrepresented or systematically marginalized within the systems that produce and disseminate information (B, C)

  1. Digital Citizenship
  1. Use technology responsibly to share information, communicate and collaborate with others (A,B,C)
  2. Building Identity: developing the different aspects of identity and safeguarding them. (?)
  3. Seek guidance from experts (such as librarians, researchers, and professionals) and Open Education communities (A,B,C)
  4. Acknowledge contribution of others and participate appropriately in digital spaces.(?)
  5. Develop your own authoritative voice in a particular area and recognize the responsibilities this entails (B,C)
  6. Understand the increasingly social nature of the information ecosystem where authorities actively connect with one another and sources develop over time. (?)
  7. See themselves as contributors to the information marketplace rather than only consumers of it (?)
  8. Seek multiple perspectives during information gathering and assessment (A,C)
  9. Know where to find and how to connect with existing open education communities and networks for support. (?)

  1. Advocacy 
  1. Understand & communicate the benefits of using OER to different audiences (A, B, C)
  2. Find & reference appropriate resources and research related to OER (A, B, C)
  3. Know how and where to connect and network with other OER advocates including working groups, webinars, conferences, mailing lists, forums, etc to meet, connect and discuss with other open education advocates (A, B, C)
  4. Create OER that champions the problems facing marginalized communities and/or advocates for diversity, equity, inclusion, and issues of justice.[ad]

  1. Teaching & Learning practices[ae][af]
  1. Use OER to design effective learning experiences[ag] (C)
  2. Curriculum and course mapping:[ah] identify gaps in instructional materials so that OER align with course objectives and outcomes. (?)
  3. Adapt learning materials and instructional methods to meet course objectives and outcomes (B)
  4. Understanding new pedagogical methods (e.g., open pedagogy) and instructional/learning design techniques grounded in research of learning (e.g. Mayer’s theory of multimedia learning) that are afforded by using OER (?)
  5. Apply accessibility and UDL concepts when developing open resources (C)
  6. Use digital tools to expand learning experiences,
  7. Access and engage in OER networks to stay informed of new technologies, OER development, and gain new perspectives (A, B, C))
  8. Integrate OER into assessment and evaluation practices (A, B, C)

References and Resources

  1. RLOE Framework
  2. British Columbia Advanced Education, Skills & Training
  3. UNESCO ICT Competency Framework
  4. Digital Learn
  5. Competency Index for the Library Field (linked from Digital Literacy Instruction Playbook)
  6. From our original list
  7. Maryland State Digital Literacy Framework
  8. ACRL framework for information literacy
  9. eCampus Ontario Open Competency Toolkit (new)
  10. PMOER (slide 11)(new)
  11. LIBER Digital Literacy Skills for Open Science
  1. Specifically highlighting this visualization and how it was developed
  1. JISC Digital Capability
  2. LIBER Digital Literacy Skills for Open Science
  1. Specifically highlighting this visualization and how it was developed
  1. JISC Digital Capability
  2. Swiss Digital Academy
  3. Government of Canada Digital Standards -
  4. Digital Competency Framework | Ministère de l'Éducation et Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur (
  5. Mayer’s theory of multimedia learning - open text chapter
  6. DigCompEdu - European digital competency framework for educators
  7. Martínez-Bravo, M. C., Sádaba Chalezquer, C., & Serrano-Puche, J. (2022). Dimensions of digital literacy in the 21st century competency frameworks. Sustainability, 14(3), 1867.
  8. Gutiérrez-Martín, A., Pinedo-González, R., & Gil-Puente, C. (2022). ICT and media competencies of teachers. Convergence towards an integrated MIL-ICT model. Comunicar, 30(70), 21–33.
  9. Practical Guidelines on Open Education for Academics: Modernising Higher Education via Open Educational Practices ( European Commission, JRC, 2019)
  10. The Digital Competence of Academics in Spain: a study based on the European Frameworks DigCompEdu and OpenEdu ( European Commission and CRUE - JRC, 2022)


People who have contributed to this work.

Amanda Coolidge, BCcampus

Suzanne Wakim, California Community Colleges OER Initiative

Neil Butcher, OER Africa

Jennifer Miller, Independent Scholar and Civic Technologist

Cynthia Mari Orozco, East Los Angeles College

Christina Riehman-Murphy, Penn State University

Jonathan Poritz

John Okewole Yaba College of Technology & TeachAThon Edtech

Carolyn Stevenson, Purdue University Global

Clint Lalonde, BCcampus

Geoff Cain, Clover Park Technical College

Jennryn Wetzler, Creative Commons

Elaine Farrally-Plourde, CUNY OER Program Manager, freelance ID

Indira Koneru, Founder, KBR & HL Human Development Foundation

Paola Corti, Politecnico di Milano (Italy) and SPARC Europe

Dan McGuire, Founder and Executive Director of SABIER

Helen DeWaard, Lakehead University, Orillia, Ontario.

Nate Angell

Alan Levine

Alexandre Enkerli

Heather Ross

Keiko Tenaka

Delmar Larsen

Jeff Goumas

Joshua Halpern

Amy Minervini

Jessica Egan

Brianna Buljung

Stephen Downes

Jakub Spilka

Andreia Inamorato

Paul Stacey

Centrum Cyfrowe Projekt:Polska

Lesley Farmer

Doug Belshaw

Peter Leth

Shanna Hollich

[a]Given the advantages of bringing students into OER discovery, evaluation, stewardship and creation, would it make sense to not limit this work to educators? Would additional competencies/skills be needed to add students?

[b]slightly related, the Liberated Learners project

[c]And slightly related to that, Learning to be Human Together:

The point remains that learner-driven work is core to the Open Education movement as a whole and can have a significant impact in support of UNESCO's OER goals.

In fact, there are multiple stakeholders who can hardly be described as "educators" who need to develop their digital literacy to meaningfully contribute to the OER scene.

[d]I agree. Either this document must include what competencies learners need to engage in open educational practices, or there needs to be a companion document for learners. Actually, the student one should come first because some of the competencies that all of the other groups listed here need we'll be based on what support students will need to meet their competencies.,

[e]Excellent way to put it! Thank you so much for that.

Learners first and foremost. Student-centric is fine. Learner-driven is an improvement.

(And some learners in our scene contribute a lot to this. Including in drafting a national framework for Canada.)


[g]The UNESCO Recommendation on OER says nothing about open educational practices, open education, or open pedagogy.

[h]Precisely. We hear that UNESCO won't write a recommendation on Open Ped.

[i]To be fair, at the time of writing "Open pedagogy" was an emerging topic (well Ngram viewer stops at 2019). There are mentions in the opening of "using learner-centred, active and collaborative pedagogical approaches" and under Aims and Objectives "a broader range of innovative pedagogical options to engage both educators and learners to become more active participants in educational processes and creators of content"


[k]Interesting take, Alan. To push this further, it might be useful to distinguish between learner-driven collaborative practices in general and the way our "pedagogical ancestors" used to describe «Pédagogie ouverte». 

The key difference I find goes well with my refrain on Epistemic Justice: 

Who decides what counts as knowledge worthy of being learnt?

The answer, then, was that this decision could be made, carefully, in the classroom, as opposed to a free-for-all (Pédagogie libre) or a top-down approach (associated with institutional programs).

So, if UNESCO were to have a recommendation on Open Education in general (which includes diverse models of Open Pedagogy from OER-based programs and Open Educational Practices, all the way to different forms of community learning), it'd have to include suggestions on the decision-making process. Which might be fraught, in an age of technosolutionist EdTech.

[l](Paquette and others published a number of books before the trend shifted to "direct instruction". Some of the people involved were in Switzerland, Canada, and the US. It can be hard to trace their work because of a form of "collective amnesia". With people like bell hooks, Ivan Illich, and Paulo Freire, we at least benefit from their name recognition. With people like Michael Huberman in Geneva, not that easy.)

[m]Oh, and as @Dan probably knows, a lot of the Open Pedagogy work done over decades was from pre-elementary to secondary education (called "K-12" in the US).

[n]Actually, trying to find the proper link to Paquette 2005 (cited by Tannis), I end up on this page, which makes the point:

In this public elementary+secondary alternative school, decisions are made through a democratic structure involving learners and their parents. I don't know this specific school and I have no idea if it works well in their case. What's clear is that the "Open" in OE does include such cases, especially when it has to do with pedagogy.

Barbara Class has shared some of her own experiences in involving university learners in decisions about their learning experiences.

[o]Yes, Alex, I do know. I wrote a blog post about it, Open Education is a Problem for OER in K-12 too.

[p]I'm reasonable certain that if you asked the founders of the Open School where I taught from 1996-2011 (it was founded in the early 1970s) if they had considered using the term Open Pedagogy they would say that Open Pedagogy was too narrow of a concept. They were well versed in many types of pedagogy. I think they also may have thought that pedagogy was too pretentious. It didn't look good with tie-dye T-shirts and bell bottom jeans. 

I'm now motivated to get the paper copy of a very good book about the founding of Marcy Open School and have it digitized. There are only one or two copies in existence.  It's very well written and an important document not only for this discussion, but for discussions of the history of education in Minneapolis, in the U.S., and in the world.

[q]Thanks for sharing, Dan! (No, I'm not surprised you would. Just grateful.)

Excellent idea on digitizing that book. Had the same thought about one of Paquette's books which laid things down in a very useful way. Basically, Open Pedagogy was one of four modes. He did use the term because «pédagogie» sounded pretty good for our own bell-bottom-wearing teachers. (My father was one of those, having studied with Piaget in Geneva and coming to Quebec during the "Quiet Revolution".)

Similar things have happened in different parts of the world. Some are happening now. Including with Indigenous Learning.

In the end, part of this is about recognition of where we all come from.

[r]Why is curation missing? It generally is in the lists, which is unfortunate.


[t]And speaking of curation...


[v]Perhaps we need to add disseminate/distribute

[w]Are OER necessary components of open pedagogy? If so, say how. If not, delete Open Pedagogy

[x]I'm having a hard time finding an UNESCO document that says anything about open pedagogy

[y]Is this a good place for curation?

[z]This comment pertains to expanding ideas in (f) and (j), perhaps considering 3 additional competencies that underscore DEI: 1) Interview folks from underrepresented communities (if those works are not in open or yet unpublished or only exist in the oral tradition/via storytelling) to ensure diversity of perspectives . . . 2) (diverging from 'interested parties' because a party may be interested only because they know about or have access to produce information so....) Seek out sources of information for whom --when accessibility for them is realized-- may share or produce information about a topic. 3) Identify where there are gaps in information that may need to be filled. Also question why those gaps are there. Can those gaps be filled with information from sources that were not seen as mainstream or the majority perspective (by highlighting underrepresented voices/folks living on the margins)?

[aa]Diversity is only mentioned once in this document; that's concerning

[ab]With what has been presented about indigenous, traditional knowledge, and OER, wouldn't we want to have "care" that is more than just ethical and legal?

[ac]maybe add something to digital citizenship and advocacy (added, but do we need more)


[ae]Cultural Relevance needs to be in this section

[af]Lead or facilitate one-on-one or group workshops on OER creation as a colleague, as part of an institution, or as part of an organization.

[ag]The term 'effective' can be problematic as it may be tied to quality assurance measures which are not written for OER or quasi-emotional biases not grounded in the learning sciences.

Suggest rewording to a do or don't e.g. Integrate OER into the design of learning experiences (A, B)

Followed by - Apply OER to the co-design of learning experiences with students (A, B, C)

[ah]this one needs some wordsmithing. Are we mapping to see where the gaps are in content? In my view there are two parts, map out all the outcomes, map content to outcomes, identify gaps, fill gaps.