Figure 1: Representatives from OER Africa and UnISCED

As part of Saide’s OER Africa initiative, Ashton Maherry (Saide) and Neil Butcher (Neil Butcher & Associates) recently visited UnISCED to establish a partnership to promote the use of Open Education Resources (OER) at UnISCED. UnISCED (translated as Open University Institute of Sciences and Distance Education) is a Mozambican private higher education institution dedicated exclusively to open and distance education and was established in 2014. 

The current William and Flora Hewlett Foundation grant in support of OER Africa, continues its focus of supporting  effective development and use of OER in higher education systems in African universities. The project has four outcomes:
1. Development of comprehensive Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Frameworks for academics, senior management and academic librarians.
2. Development of an online collection of Continuous Professional Development Open Education Resources in higher education
3. Collaboration with at least four African universities
4. Establishment of a Continuous Professional Development network

The visit to UnISCED forms part of a planned collaboration with at least four Universities including, Botswana Open University, the University of Namibia and UnISCED and hopefully one other, still to be determined.

Several areas of the strategic partnership were identified during the UnISCED visit, these include the development, implementation and evaluation of policies that support the use of OERs, capacity building of senior management, academics and academic librarians to use OERs to strengthen teaching and learning, the identification of possible free or commercial online resources that can help academics with their teaching and learning materials, such as simulators and virtual labs, and the exciting challenge of translating predominantly English resources to Portuguese. In addition, the possibility of UnISCED becoming a member of the African Association of Librarians (AfLIA) was explored and will be taken forward in the next three months.

UnISCED and Saide are in the process of finalising the Memorandum of Understanding. OER Africa and UnISCED are planning a survey for UnISCED staff to identify focus areas for professional development in relation to OER. A second visit to UnISCED is planned in the next few months to finalise the CPD framework, conduct an awareness-raising session on open licensing to Senior Management and facilitate a training session on how to find, use and adapt OER for academics.

A note on OER Africa's CPD frameworks

This work builds on a series of CPD frameworks we are developing at OER Africa in collaboration with our partners. A CPD framework is a planning guide that supports the career development of higher education professionals. In the case of academics, a framework aims to empower and encourage staff, enhance and develop their pedagogical skills, assist them to reflect, and contribute to quality assurance of the student learning experience (adapted from National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education [2016]). 

We have used a wheel structure (Figure 1), with wedges showing the professional development domains and levels of progress (foundation, established, and advanced) aligned with Bloom’s Taxonomy (Armstrong, 2020). Each domain is being elaborated with indicators of attainment to align with levels of progress, as well as available openly-licensed materials that can support individual higher education professionals and institutional structures with the CPD. When they are completed, we hope that institutions will (with the support of OER Africa) customise the domains for themselves, develop CPD policies, assess their staff competencies, and provide training to capacitate their staff.

Figure 2: Framework for academics showing possible domains to be supported.


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