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As the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) 14-strong portfolio of open online courses continues impacting internationally, six have been singled out as world class by global MOOC monitoring website Class Central, based on participants’ reviews.

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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. Ephraim Mhlanga and Kirsty von Gogh from Saide and Neil Butcher & Associates respectively facilitated the workshop, which was attended by about 25 participants.

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.  
 

This study by John Hilton III synthesizes results from sixteen efficacy and twenty perceptions studies involving 121,168 students or faculty that examine either (1) OER and student efficacy in higher education settings or (2) the perceptions of college students and/or instructors who have used OER.

Although textbooks are a traditional component in many higher education contexts, their increasing price have led many students to forgo purchasing them and some faculty to seek substitutes. One such alternative is open educational resources (OER). This study by John Hilton III synthesizes results from sixteen efficacy and twenty perceptions studies involving 121,168 students or faculty that examine either (1) OER and student efficacy in higher education settings or (2) the perceptions of college students and/or instructors who have used OER.

COL President and CEO Professor Asha Kanwar delivered a keynote at the eighth Distance Education and Teachers’ Training in Africa (DETA) Conference at the University of Lagos, Nigeria on 24 July 2019. 

COL President and CEO Professor Asha Kanwar delivered a keynote address at the eighth Distance Education and Teachers’ Training in Africa (DETA) Conference at the University of Lagos, Nigeria on 24 July 2019. 

In her address, ‘Educating the African Learner in an Era of Crises: What are the options?’ Professor Kanwar explored five crises that impact education: climate change, migration and displacement, out-of-school youth, the ‘learning crises’ and the challenge of pedagogy.