Saylor Foundation

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The Saylor Foundation
The Saylor Foundation logo
Founded 1999
Founder Michael J. Saylor
Type Operating private foundation
(IRS exemption status): 501(c)(3)
Focus Free education

The Saylor Foundation (under its legal name, The Constitution Foundation) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, DC. It was established in 1999 by its sole trustee, Michael J. Saylor, who is Chairman, CEO, and President of the business intelligence company MicroStrategy.[1] Since 2008, the focus of the foundation has been its Free Education Initiative which has led to the creation of 241 courses representing 10 of the highest enrollment majors in the US.[2] Saylor is the author of the 2012 book, The Mobile Wave: How Mobile Intelligence Will Change Everything, which extols the open education movement.[3]

The Saylor Foundation is known for its emphasis on finding, vetting, and assembling openly available texts and resources into courses resembling those of a traditional brick and mortar institution which are then peer-reviewed before being published.[4] The foundation also funds the creation of new materials when needed, as well as through initiatives such as their Open Textbook Challenge. This content is always openly licensed for use by other organizations and individuals. The foundation is currently under the direction of Amanda Antico-Majkowski.[5]


The mission of the foundation is to make education freely available to all. Guided by the belief that technology has the potential to circumvent barriers that prevent many individuals from participating in traditional schooling models, the foundation is committed to developing and advancing inventive and effective ways of harnessing technology in order to drive the cost of education down to zero.[6]


On its website, the foundation offers 317 free, college-level courses, which are selected as typical courses in high enrollment majors at traditional U.S. colleges.[7] The foundation's course catalog is designed to be as open as possible, with all content accessible without needing to register or log into the website. Their system has been described as "easy to use and straightforward" making use of a simple interface, clear directions and a visual representation of how complete course materials are.[2]

The foundation works with consultants to design the courses. These consultants are typically university and college faculty members or subject experts. The course design process begins with a college faculty member developing a blueprint for the course. The consultant then researches open educational resources (OER) to supply the course with lectures, texts, and other resources. If suitable texts and documents are not found, the foundation works with faculty to compile new materials which it in turn releases to the OER community under a Creative Commons license.[8] Each course is also accompanied by an assessment that learners can use both to test their knowledge and to officially demonstrate the knowledge they have gained.[2] In the future, the foundation will begin issuing badges as a form of alternate credentialing.[9]

After OER materials are assembled into the course format, the material is peer-reviewed to ensure accuracy, quality, and that each course contains a level of knowledge that is equivalent or greater than a similar course at a U.S. college.[4] Each peer-review is completed by a group of consultants, usually consisting of two professors and a graduate student.[6]

Open Textbook Challenge[edit]

The Saylor Foundation has been known for organizing comprehensive curriculum for popular subject areas, and licensing the resources under the Creative Commons Attribution license whenever possible.[4] Now with the launch of its "Open Textbook Challenge", the foundation aims to expand the amount of openly licensed course materials by offering a $20,000 award for open textbooks.[10] The Open Textbook Challenge announced in January 2012 the first round of winning authors: Kenneth Kuttler and Olivier Bonaventure.[11][12]

Accreditation and credentialing[edit]

While the Saylor Foundation is not accredited within any traditional system, they have been featured as a prime candidate for launching a system of alternative accreditation through the use of badges.[7] The Foundation has stated its intentions to tap into the soon to be released Open Badge Infrastructure from the Mozilla Foundation. This project by the Mozilla Foundation, in tandem with the HASTAC organization, will allow website operators to issue and display badges within a single inter-operable and open source system.[13] The Foundation has said that their hope is that badges will give rise to an alternative source of credentialing for skills and knowledge separate from that used by traditional colleges and universities.


The foundation was a local sponsor of Wikimania 2012 in Washington DC.[14]


  1. ^ Our Mission, Our Vision, Our Strategy
  2. ^ a b c Thibault, Joseph. "241 OER Courses with Assessments in Moodle: How has created one of the largest Free and Open Course Initiatives on the web". Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  3. ^ Saylor, Michael (2012). The Mobile Wave: How Mobile Intelligence Will Change Everything. Perseus Books/Vanguard Press. p. 63. 
  4. ^ a b c CCAP (2011-09-14). "Saylor as Savior?". Forbes. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  5. ^ "Our Trustee & Team". Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  6. ^ a b "PR information" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  7. ^ a b "Online course start-ups offer virtually free college". The Washington Post. 2012-12-21. Retrieved 2012-12-25. 
  8. ^ "Saylor Foundation to Launch Multi-Million Dollar Open Textbook Challenge! | College Open Textbooks Blog". 2011-08-09. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  9. ^ Vedder, Richard. "Beware: Alternative Certification Is Coming". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  10. ^ Park, Jane. "$20,000 Open Textbook Challenge from the Saylor Foundation". CreativeCommons. Retrieved 28 November 2011. 
  11. ^ "Open Textbook Challenge Wave I Winners Announced!!". January 31, 2012. 
  12. ^ Sohn, Tim (2012-02-02). "Saylor Foundation Names Open Textbook Challenge Winners". 
  13. ^ Mozilla Open Badges Project
  14. ^ Wikimania comes to Washington DC

External links[edit]