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The UNESCO Chair on Open and Distance Learning (ODL) at UNISA organised a seminar on Open Education Resources for staff in the university, held on 12th June, 2019. The seminar took place at the Muckleneuk Campus in Pretoria. Known for its seminal work on OER Africa, an initiative that supports using and creating OER in Africa, Saide was invited to facilitate this workshop. Ephraim Mhlanga and Kirsty von Gogh from Saide and Neil Butcher & Associates respectively facilitated the workshop, which was attended by about 25 participants.
The workshop started with a joint presentation from the two facilitators, which focused on familiarising participants with OER and their potential value in expanding access by reducing the cost of learning materials. In the presentation, workshop facilitators brought home the point that OER are different from commercial products in that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt, and re-share them without any need to pay royalties or licence fees, or request permission. They also informed participants that OER are a whole range of educational materials that include textbooks, curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video, and animation. By way of illustration, the presentation also gave specific examples of OER that were developed by some African universities with the support of OER Africa. These examples were mainly in Health Sciences, Agriculture, and use of ICTs in education.
In addition to discussing the concept of OER and their potential value in education, the facilitators also highlighted major international developments and events associated with OER. These were:
  • The World Open Educational Resources Congress (2012), organised by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and UNESCO with the generous support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation which attracted over 400 participants from 70 countries. The purpose of this Congress was explained to participants, which was to support government support for OER. The Congress adopted the Paris OER Declaration which encouraged governments to openly license educational materials developed with public funds.
  • The second World OER Congress that was hosted by the Government of Slovenia in Ljubjana,  Slovenia on 18–20 Sept 2017, which aimed at making the transition from commitment to action. Participants were informed that at this conference, the global community identified strategies to harness the potential of OER for achieving inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all by 2030.
  • 2019 UNESCO OER recommendations, which provide an opportunity for the open education community to work with national governments to help them understand and implement open education recommendations in their countries.
It was also important to inform participants of how COL and UNESCO are collaborating in the field of OER for advocacy, capacity building, and policy development in order to put into effect the Paris OER Declaration.
Finally, workshop facilitators highlighted how Saide’s African Storybook initiative is making a difference in terms of promoting literacy. Participants were interested to hear about the initiative. Almost all storybooks are written by the African communities that use the storybooks. The storybooks reflect contexts and interests of the people who use them. Saide is responsible for the quality assurance process, and digital publishing makes it possible to have continuous improvement.
The session closed with an informative discussion on OER matters concerning participants, and discussion around Unisa’s OER policy and its implementation.  

What's New

This paper demonstrates how the features and affordances of open learning have been developed in new and productive ways to provide school-based continuing professional development for teachers in Zambia.

This paper demonstrates how the features and affordances of open learning have been developed in new and productive ways to provide school-based continuing professional development for teachers in Zambia. It presents and critically reviews data from 200 teachers who have taken part in phase 1 of the Zambian Education School-based Training (ZEST) – a project which, over the next three years, will be scaled-up across Zambia. The project is underpinned by the belief that knowledge about teaching is co-constructed through participation in, and reflection on, practice. Thus, the emphasis is on empowering teachers to work together to develop practices appropriate to their context – open practices. In the study, we describe an on-going process of realist evaluation which enables us to establish at an early stage what works in which contexts and informs on-going project planning. It concludes that this approach to evaluation has the potential to be helpful in understanding open practices and how they can be developed.

A big barrier to lifelong learning can be the cost of resources. There are worldwide initiatives to change this, though, and it’s helpful to know how to use these resources legally.
One such arrangement is Creative Commons, considered to be the global standard for open licences.

A big barrier to lifelong learning can be the cost of resources. There are worldwide initiatives to change this, though, and it’s helpful to know how to use these resources legally.

One such arrangement is Creative Commons, considered to be the global standard for open licences. These were written by legal experts around the world and dedicated to the public domain. They enable teaching and learning resources to be made available in the public domain. This is usually in their digital form under an open licence and without cost other than the cost of access to the internet. Users of the resources may use, adapt and redistribute them with no or few restrictions.

This article looks at how Creative Commons works, and why it enables access to knowledge.

The guidelines describe the whole process for designing and implementing OER policy in seven chapters, each representing a clear phase in the whole process. The chapters introduce the purpose of the phase and provide background information and references with practical examples for illustration.

The guidelines describe the whole process for designing and implementing OER policy in seven chapters, each representing a clear phase in the whole process. The chapters introduce the purpose of the phase and provide background information and references with practical examples for illustration. At the end of each chapter, specific tasks are set for the policy-maker, which will help with formulating of the final OER policy. The guidelines start with an introduction to the potential of OER and then ask the policy-maker to determine the vision of the OER policy she or he has in mind. This policy needs a framework, which determines on what level of the education system the policy will be set (scale) and which sector of the education system the policy will cover (focus). This sets out the first part of the theory of change – i.e., it determines what change is envisaged through the policy.


A gap analysis is then necessary to provide a realistic picture of the challenges and the opportunities that the current educational system, its infrastructure, its key members and the overall policy context present for the new OER policy. This can be used as a backdrop for designing the masterplan, which takes the building blocks present in a standard OER policy and specifies them for the specific policy context. These building blocks indicate what is going to be changed. An implementation plan adopts a strategy for how to realise the masterplan effectively and to ensure that all key stakeholders are involved. This phase includes setting up an evidence base and monitoring framework so that the policy can be adjusted during the implementation phase. Finally, the policy developed needs to be launched, so streamlining and checks against the reality of the context should be carried out. This is where the policy-makers have to focus on the outreach of the policy. In this phase, a policy needs to be officially endorsed by someone in an authoritative position – for example, the cabinet, education minister or president of a country – and by educational leaders, to ensure that it can have an impact on the education system. Moreover, it is important to ensure that the policy has been understood by those it is hoping to influence – i.e., the actors and institutions using OER to make teaching and learning better. Finally, a policy should be ambitious and aim to reach the mainstream in the future. Therefore, a review of implementation and its impacts should lead to a discussion of what shape the next-generation policy should take and how the scope and scale of this policy can be extended.


The key readers of this publication are those directly involved in policy design. The aims of these guidelines are to help these people to:

  1. Understand essential subject-matter knowledge on OER through a learning-by-doing process
  2. Develop a set of procedural knowledge on OER policy planning, working through key steps necessary for designing a comprehensive OER policy
  3. Reinforce the contextual knowledge needed to leverage OER in achieving SDG 4 through assessing the policy context and needs for OER, planning institutionalised programmes and drawing up a contextualised masterplan
  4. Ensure the commitment to policy adoption and implementation through integrating stakeholder engagement into the policy-planning process and determining adequate policy endorsement and implementation strategies
  5. Enhance the quality of policy implementation by planning a mechanism for monitoring and evaluation, and working towards an evidencebased policy-planning and updating cycle