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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

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected 363 million learners worldwide (UNESCO, 2020). The Commonwealth of Learning's (COL’s) experience shows that open, distance and online learning, if done well, can have the same outcomes as campus education without requiring teachers and learners to be in the same place at the same time. COL has compiled a selection of resources and tools as a first response to this crisis.

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL), an inter-governmental organisation headquartered in Burnaby, Canada, is committed to promoting learning for sustainable development. It does this through the use of distance learning and online learning technologies. For more than 30 years, COL has used innovative approaches to open the doors of learning not just for formal education but non-formal and informal learning that is accessible, affordable and available to the last person in the queue.

With an increasing number of states, provinces and even whole countries closing institutions of learning as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 363 million learners worldwide are being impacted (UNESCO, 2020). How can we ensure that valuable time is not lost and our learners at all levels continue to learn wherever they are?

Many countries are planning to offer online learning as an alternative. COL’s experience shows that open, distance and online learning, if done well, can have the same outcomes as campus education without requiring teachers and learners to be in the same place at the same time. However, we recognise that not all schools, colleges and universities are currently well-prepared to fully utilise these approaches, and COL stands ready to share its expertise and resources to enable stakeholders to keep the doors of learning open for all.

In this time of crisis, a suitable response requires a renewed commitment to sharing and re-using open educational resources (OER); exploring novel ways to enable interaction between learners and other learners, learners and teachers, learners and content using online platforms; and to use appropriate technologies so that no one is left behind.

Some guidelines to consider include:

  1. Institutions should take emergency policy decisions to adopt alternative ways of teaching, including online learning.
  2. Ensure that learning is delivered using ICT tools such as radio, TV, mobile devices so that no learner is disadvantaged.
  3. Identify and use existing OER to provide quality learning.
  4. Develop and implement strategies for synchronous/asynchronous approaches.
  5. Encourage teachers to use free resources such as MoodleCloud to conduct online classes.

COL has compiled a selection of resources and tools as a first response to this crisis. The resources can be accessed below.

The eLearning Africa Report 2019 is a leading source of news, information, and analysis about ICT, EdTech, digital technology, learning and development.

The Report looks at the state of education, training, development and technology at this moment of unparalleled change.

The eLearning Africa Report 2019 is a leading source of news, information, and analysis about ICT, EdTech, digital technology, learning and development.

As African leaders seek to make a reality of the African Union's vision of a ‘transformed continent’ by 2063, setting their sights on the creation of the largest single market in the world and, as businesses assess the implications of a ‘fourth industrial revolution,’ the eLearning Africa Report looks at the state of education, training, development and technology at this moment of unparalleled change.

Founded in 2013 by the Open Education Global (previously Open Education Consortium), the goal of Open Education Week is to raise awareness and showcase impact of open education on teaching and learning worldwide. Open Education Week has become one of the most foremost global events recognizing high achievement and excellence in open education.

What is Open Education Week?

Founded in 2013 by the Open Education Global (previously Open Education Consortium), the goal of Open Education Week is to raise awareness and showcase impact of open education on teaching and learning worldwide. Open Education Week has become one of the most foremost global events recognizing high achievement and excellence in open education.

The week-long event spotlights amazing work from over a dozen categories including live, face-to-face events, webinars, projects, and resources.

For more information, visit the Open Education week website: https://www.openeducationweek.org/

For resources and projects, see: https://www.openeducationweek.org/resources

For Open Education Week 2020 online and offline events, check out: https://www.openeducationweek.org/events

Is your organization hosting any events for OE Week? Let us know in the comments below or let us know on Twitter: https://twitter.com/oerafrica