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AfLIA has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with OER Africa of Saide to build a sturdy CPD framework that will project African librarians into a new era as change agents and leaders in driving open education, open access and open licensing as critical components for driving quality education and creativity in the continent.

In conjunction with OER Africa, AfLIA is hosting a panel discussion on the role of Artificial Intelligence and African libraries. This webinar is the second in a series of activities that will help build understanding, adaptable knowledge and skills. The first 100 participants can register and join the panel discussion on Zoom. Additional participants will be able to follow it live on YouTube.

Date: Monday, 24th April, 2023
Time: 9.30am UTC | 10.30am WAT | 11.30am CAT | 12.30pm EAT

Registration

This is a free webinar. After completing the registration form, you will receive notification via email with details of how to join the webinar.

Carefully read the section on Technical Requirements to help you prepare adequately for this webinar.

Resource persons

Stanley Boakye-Achampong is the AfLIA Research Coordinator

Just as the introduction of personal computers revolutionized access to computing power for everyone, AI technology such as ChatGPT, has made advanced language models widely accessible to a broader audience. The conversation about the implications of such AI has been re-ignited since the launch of ChatGPT. Indeed, AI powered technologies, when embraced, can play a vital role by improving access to information and refining the quality of services provided to patrons. As with every other technology, AI may have some undesirable implications on library education, research and service delivery. The global conversation is an interesting mix of divergent views on AI but not so much has been discussed in the area of its impact on Librarianship, especially within the African context. Stanley will briefly highlight general issues of awareness, perception, adoption and the implications of AI on African library education, research and service delivery.

Stanley Boakye-Achampong is the AfLIA Research Coordinator

 

English is the dominant language in most OER repositories. The same is true for open access journal literature; many more scientific journals are published in English rather than in other languages.  The two noteworthy exceptions are African Storybook (ASb) and StoryWeaver that focus on African languages and Southern Asian respectively.

It has been demonstrated that if children are to be successful in learning to read with comprehension, they should start out in their mother tongue.  Adults, too, would benefit by reading content in their own languages.  This is particularly true of scientific terms and concepts.  The use of language, therefore, has great significance when considering how to make education truly inclusive and equitable—one of the goals of the UNESCO OER Recommendation.

AI can assist authors and readers to read research in their own languages.  Liz will discuss efforts to make science inclusive and equitable in African languages, with a focus on research literature and the role of AI in translation.

Liz Levey is an independent consultant and expert in the field of openness and languages

Drs. Nkem Osuigwe and Tony Lelliott will facilitate the discussion.


Technical Requirements

Upon registration, reminders will be sent to all registrants periodically. This webinar will be hosted on the Zoom Conferencing Platform. Participants, who do not have Zoom on their mobile devices and or computers, need to download, install and create an account on Zoom ahead of time. Webinar attendees are encouraged to join early, preferably 15 minutes before the start of the webinar, as one may need time launch the application. The speaker will use a webcam to connect with attendees. Audio and video for the session will be streamed over computer speakers. Attendees are therefore encouraged to connect with a headset or earpiece for maximum utility. Please note that this webinar does not involve a certificate of participation.

The webinar will also be live-streamed on YouTube.

What's New

From 4 to 7 September 2023, we celebrate the inaugural Digital Learning Week – a reframing of what was previously known as Mobile Learning Week. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) will convene in-person events for policymakers, practitioners, educators, private sector partners, researchers, and development agencies.

Image courtesy of Siphosihle Mkhwanazi, Wikimedia (CC BY-SA)

This week, we celebrate the inaugural Digital Learning Week – a reframing of what was previously known as Mobile Learning Week. From 4 to 7 September 2023, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) will convene in-person events for policymakers, practitioners, educators, private sector partners, researchers, and development agencies.

Under the theme ‘Steering technology for education’, the event will explore public digital learning platforms and generative AI, examining how both can be steered to reinforce and enrich humanistic education.

Plenary sessions, panel discussions and public lectures will be livestreamed. The full programme, including links to each session, is available here.

Some highlights to look forward to include:

For more information, visit the Digital Learning Week page.


Related articles

In August 2023, the African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA) and Neil Butcher & Associates (NBA) co-published an Overview for African Librarians on the UNESCO OER Recommendation and Open Knowledge.

A William and Flora Hewlett Foundation grant to NBA funded the research and writing entailed in producing the Overview.

Figure 1: AfLIA poster on the UNESCO OER Recommendation

The UNESCO Recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER) is significant to all those who are interested in and committed to ensuring that all learners have access to appropriate high-quality educational content, including librarians. It was approved unanimously by UNESCO member states in November 2019.

In August 2023, the African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA) and Neil Butcher & Associates (NBA) co-published an Overview for African Librarians on the UNESCO OER Recommendation and Open Knowledge.[1] A William and Flora Hewlett Foundation grant to NBA funded the research and writing entailed in producing the Overview.

The Overview explores how the OER Recommendation’s five action areas are relevant to librarians and what librarians can do to support their implementation. It examines how the OER Recommendation relates to the different library types in Africa and the user communities the libraries represent.

It further aims to help African librarians develop a deeper understanding of OER, including the kinds of open content that will resonate with library users. OER is consonant with other equally important principles for librarians—access to equitable, suitable, and relevant content for easy sharing and interoperability of knowledge within Africa.  All these facets are included in the Overview.

The Overview is filled with insights and stories from librarians on open knowledge and open licensing, including how traditional knowledge, culture, and languages can be used in creating and adapting openly licensed content.

AfLIA also produced a comic strip to explain to librarians why OER and UNESCO’s OER Recommendation are so important.  Comic strips on teaching are becoming increasingly popular;  Google has a full page of images, as does OER Commons. But we could not find a comic strip to explain open licensing or OER…until AfLIA came along and created one.

If you would like more information on the Overview or would be interested in joining related discussions, please write to Nkem Osuigwe, AfLIA’s Director of Human Capacity Development and Training.  Her email address is neosuigwe@aflia.net.
 

Figure 2: AfLIA poster on collecting and opening up Africa's heritage


 

 

Over the past year, news about Artificial Intelligence (AI) has abounded. Information about breakthroughs and new applications have become commonplace, and we have been thrust into a world where AI-enabled technologies are starting to change how we work and live.

In this article, we consider three ways that AI might change how we use OER.

Introduction

Over the past year, news about Artificial Intelligence (AI) has abounded. Information about breakthroughs and new applications have become commonplace, and we have been thrust into a world where AI-enabled technologies are starting to change how we work and live. For better or for worse, we have ushered in the era of AI.

Many are asking what the implications of this might be for the education sector. Will it affect teaching and learning positively or negatively? How can AI-enabled technologies personalize education – and will this be educationally beneficial? What organizations are already working on AI in education and how, if at all, is this work regulated? An air of uncertainty pervades the sector in terms of the benefits and risks of harnessing AI in education.

At OER Africa, we have written extensively on how Open Educational Resources (OER) might improve aspects of education, including access, relevance, and quality. Likewise, the intersection of OER and AI necessitates greater exploration, particularly given the opportunities that it offers to scale access to high quality education.

In this article, we consider three ways that AI might change how we use OER.

How AI could change our engagement with OER

1. OER Content Development

AI tools can be used to develop new OER using natural language processing and machine learning capabilities. They might be able to help educators create interactive learning materials, assessments, and learning simulations, expanding the range of available OER and enabling novel teaching practices.

One of the most popular platforms that demonstrates such capabilities is ChatGPT (or Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer), an AI chatbot developed by OpenAI. Since its release in November 2022, is has amassed over 100 million users.

There is no doubt that generative tools like ChatGPT hold great potential to save time and effort for OER creators. With a few well-crafted prompts, ChatGPT can: generate thousands of words on a subject; create dozens of sample questions that could be included in an open textbook for learners to be able to self-evaluate their own learning; create lesson plans and assignments; and develop question prompts that can be used as asynchronous discussion prompts in discussion forums.[1]  However, it is crucial that OER creators use their own expertise to check that what is generated by ChatGPT is indeed correct.

For educators working with OER, copyright ownership of AI-generated works is important to determine as, by definition, OER are materials unencumbered by legal restrictions that may prevent the reuse, sharing, redistribution, and adaptation of copyrightable works. While some are using the rise of generative AI to question the validity of copyright itself, the question of who owns the copyright when a work is created by AI is a very murky area, both legally and ethically.[2,3]  When we asked ChatGPT whether the content it produces is openly licensed, it had the following to say:

As of my last update in September 2021, the content generated by ChatGPT and similar AI language models is not openly licensed. AI language models, including ChatGPT based on the GPT-3.5 architecture, are proprietary technologies developed by organizations like OpenAI.

…Therefore, when using content generated by ChatGPT or any other AI language model, it is essential to review the terms of service, usage policies, and any specific guidelines provided by the organization that owns the AI model to ensure compliance with their requirements.

It's worth noting that the field of AI and its legal and ethical implications are continually evolving, and there might be changes or developments in the licensing and usage of AI-generated content beyond my last update. I recommend checking with the organization that provides the AI service for the most current and accurate information regarding the licensing and usage of their AI-generated content.[4]

We recommend that users of these technologies stay abreast of these kinds of debates, read terms of service of the organizations that create these technologies, pay close attention to licensing conditions, and state clearly when they have used AI tools to generate intellectual property.

2. Personalized Learning

Some AI algorithms can develop tailored recommendations for OER based on a learner's performance, learning preferences, and development areas. This implies that learners can use OER that meet their requirements, making the learning pathway more engaging and effective.

For example, Siyavula is a South African organization that provides personalized and adaptive learning platforms. Siyavula has produced book titles from Grades 4-12. These are high quality OER that are aligned with the South African curriculum for mathematics, physics and chemistry. Learners can now also access Siyavula’s adaptive learning software, which adjusts the difficulty levels of exercises through machine learning to cater to each learner’s individual needs.[5]

3. Translation and Localization

AI can enable translation and localization of openly licensed content. Software with machine translation capabilities, such as Google Translate, can translate OER into different languages, facilitating knowledge sharing. It is always recommended that users state when they have used these kinds of tools for translation purposes.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been exploring the use of AI for the translation and localization of educational content. It has collaborated with partners to develop machine translation systems and tools that bridge language gaps in accessing OER. For example, the Global Digital Library (GDL) collects existing high-quality openly licensed reading resources and makes them available on the web, mobile and for print. The platform also supports translation and localization of GDL-resources to more than 300 languages. UNESCO partnered with the GDL team under the auspices of the Norwegian Programme for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research for Development (known as NORAD) and the Global Book Alliance to launch the GDL in Asia. Reading materials in 41 Asian languages, including seven Nepali languages were launched.[6]

Despite the benefits of integrating AI into OER, there are several potential challenges and concerns. For example, the issue of data privacy has received a lot of attention recently, as the use of AI algorithms often entails the collection and analysis of user data. Ensuring that such data is stored securely and used responsibly is critical to maintaining the trust and privacy of both learners and educators.[7]

A second challenge is the potential for AI to exacerbate existing inequalities in education. As AI-powered OER become more widespread, there is a risk that those who cannot access such resources or platforms may be left behind due to unstable internet connections for example. There may also be inherent biases in the data that is used to train AI models, such as a lack of data from Sub-Saharan African countries. Thus, introducing measures to ensure that AI-driven educational tools are accessible to learners regardless of their geography or socioeconomic contexts is key to promoting educational equity.[8]

Conclusion

Regardless of one’s outlook on the impact that AI could have on society over time, its integration into most spheres of our lives in some shape or form is progressing fast. With regard to OER, AI offers exciting opportunities to augment the production, dissemination, and access to quality educational resources. However, rolling out such capabilities means that we need to consider potential shortfalls, including that we might inadvertently inhibit access to such platforms for those who face educational barriers.

Some further reading on this topic:


Related articles in OER Africa’s archive


[1] Lalonde, C. (2023). ChatGPT and Open Education. BC Campus. Retrieved from: https://bccampus.ca/2023/03/06/chatgpt-and-open-education/

[2] Lalonde, C. (2023). ChatGPT and Open Education. BC Campus. Retrieved from: https://bccampus.ca/2023/03/06/chatgpt-and-open-education/

[3] See article here

[4] Conversation with ChatGPT on 24 July, 2023. OpenAI's ChatGPT, based on the GPT-3.5 architecture.

[5] See article here

[6] See article here

[7] Frackiewicz, M. (2023). AI in Robotic Open Educational Resources. Retrieved from https://ts2.space/en/ai-in-robotic-open-educational-resources/#:~:text=AI%2Dpowered%20chatbots%2C%20for%20instance,thinking%20and%20problem%2Dsolving%20skills.

[8] Frackiewicz, M. (2023). AI in Robotic Open Educational Resources. Retrieved from https://ts2.space/en/ai-in-robotic-open-educational-resources/#:~:text=AI%2Dpowered%20chatbots%2C%20for%20instance,thinking%20and%20problem%2Dsolving%20skills