Open Educational Resources for secondary education
The Norwegian Digital Learning Arena (Nasjonal digital læringsarena) is a joint enterprise operating on behalf of the county councils in Norway. Its aim is to develop and publish high quality, internet-based open educational resources (OER) in subjects taught at upper secondary school level and make these freely available. The joint production and purchase enterprise was initiated by 18 counties in 2007 when the responsibility for the acquisition of learning content was delegated from the state to the county level. All counties except Oslo are owners of NDLA, with Hordaland county as formal judicial unit.
NDLA’s vision is to offer open educational learning resources in all subjects in upper secondary education in Norway and to support students and teachers in their active and collaborative learning.
Learning resources and other services
In addition to offering digital learning resources, NDLA offers digital tools for students, teachers and others to assist the learning process. The aim is to contribute in developing a culture of sharing within upper secondary education in Norway. NDLA’s ambition is that the resources should be under continuous development.
NDLA’s long term goal is to inspire to an increase in the use of digital learning material within all subjects in upper secondary school. This will be a gradual process paced by the various counties of Norway, in their capacity of being school owner, and through their joint decisions.
NDLA invites public tenders for digital learning resources which cover part or all of the learning targets in the relevant subjects. Publishing companies can submit tenders on an equal basis with other participants. Contributors are, for example, pedagogical personnel from schools, colleges and universities, plus suppliers of technical solutions. The editorial work in each subject is carried out by an editorial staff with solid professional and pedagogical competence. The members are mostly recruited from upper secondary schools in the counties. All the central resources are presented simultaneously in both Norwegian languages. NDLA uses the publishing system Drupal version 6, an open source content management system. The free software is available to anyone who wishes to develop digital learning resources. Most of NDLA’s content is offered under a Creative Commons license.
NDLA can receive public funding from county authorities
The Norwegian Publishers’ Association filed a complaint with the European Free Trade Association Surveillance that the government’s subsidy of 150 million NOK was in violation of the rules for government subsidies and detrimental to the establishment of a market for digital learning resources. The complaint was rejected by the EFTA Surveillance Authority on 12 October 2011. The support did not constitute State aid within the definition of the EEA Agreement since NDLA is not an undertaking engaged in an economic activity. In the decision, the Authority argued that the development of digital learning material fall within the scope of public education. Furthermore, NDLA was found to be an integrated part of the public administration, which provides its services to the Norwegian public free of charge. The complainant appealed the decision of the court and in March 2013, the Authority opened a formal investigation into the funding of NDLA. The conclusion from the investigation was that the financing of NDLA does not involve state aid.