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The open knowledge ecosystem has seen significant growth in the last few years. UNESCO’s November 2019 Open Educational Resource (OER) Recommendation is rightly considered a groundbreaking development in support of open education practices; OER Africa has already explored the significance of the Recommendation in July 2020August 2020, and November 2020

What may be less widely known is UNESCO’s role in open knowledge more broadly – Open Access, Open Data, and Open Science. UNESCO also works to link these three ‘opens’ with OER. In UNESCO’s post on its work in support of an Open Science Recommendation, UNESCO writes about these linkages:

[The] UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science will complement the 2017 Recommendation on Science and Scientific Research. It will also build upon the UNESCO Strategy on Open Access to Scientific Information and Research and the new UNESCO Recommendation on Open Educational Resources.

OER Africa discussed Open Access publishing and Open Data in previous posts. This communication is about Open Science from an African perspective. Below you will find examples showing how Open Science platforms are being constructed, together with linkages among the different forms of openness.

Member states tasked UNESCO to develop an Open Science Recommendation at its 40th General Conference, the same one in which the OER Recommendation was approved. UNESCO began multi stakeholder consultations shortly thereafter, which will continue until September 2021.

This is UNESCO’s cogent explanation of Open Science:

The idea behind Open Science is to allow scientific information, data and outputs to be more widely accessible (Open Access) and more reliably harnessed (Open Data) with the active engagement of all the stakeholders (Open to Society).

Figure 1: Concepts linked to Open Science, UNESCO

Image adapted from Robbie Ian Morrisson, Wikimedia (CC BY)

The concept of open or openness ties together all these elements. Open Access, Open Data, OER, and open-source hardware all carry licences that permit sharing and reproduction. Open Access and OER content typically use Creative Commons licences, while Open Data licences are largely based on those written by Creative Commons. 

Indigenous Knowledge Systems are a part of the Open Science concept, but they are not always easily available to researchers, development experts, or policy makers because they have not been considered part of the development of Western empirical science. In its article on Indigenous Knowledge Systems, SciDevNet explains why Indigenous knowledge is a form of scienceand should not be ignored. UNESCO’s programme on Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems is trying to bring indigenous knowledge into the open. It is important to bear in mind, however, that some communities are wary of theft of intellectual property by for-profit companies, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is taking a leading role in helping them articulate these fears.[1]

In 2016, a preparatory pilot for the African Open Science Platform (AOSP) began. Its priorities were to:

  1. Map the current landscape of data/science initiatives in Africa. 
  2. Build a Pan-African open science community and encourage the formation of national open science fora. A notable and crucial success of the pilot in this regard was development of an African community of practice and support, which included relevant government ministries, universities, and pan-African and regional organizations. African networks, such as the African Academy of Sciences, the Network of African Science Academies, the Association of African Universities, the West and Central African Research Network (WACREN), and the UbuntuNet Alliance (the research and education network for Eastern and Southern Africa).
  3. Develop frameworks for policy, incentives, training, and technical requirements that would inform the operational platform.[2]

 

The final report was published in 2018. On 29 April 2020, the NRF announced that it would be responsible for hosting the African Open Science Platform project for the next three to five years.

The WACREN is responsible for coordinating African national and regional efforts to build the technical components of the Platform through its LIBSENSE initiative. LIBSENSE was established in 2016 to bring together African research and education networks and academic library communities to advance Open Science in Africa and foster the continent’s participation in Open Access globally.

WACREN and others draw a clear link between Open Science and Open Access, for instance using a national Open Science platform to host Open Access repositories. In a panel session at the 2021 WACREN annual conference, held virtually this year, Owen Iyoha, Managing Director of Nigeria’s Eko-Konnect made the following points about Open Science and infrastructure considerations in the figure below:

Figure 2: Open Science infrastructure for Nigeria

Eko-Konnect plans to include Moodle, the open-source learning platform on its Open Science cloud, which will allow the seamless integration of OERs created at multiple institutions.

OER and Open Science are based on a shared belief that access to knowledge should be freely, openly, and publicly available. In its draft Institutional Open Access Policy Template, LIBSENSE ties together open principles in its section on reward mechanisms by:

Setting up reward mechanisms for researchers using open science practices (e.g. sharing provisional results through open platforms, using open source software and other tools, participation in open collaborative projects, open access to publications and data, using open educational resources etc.).

However, specificity about where OER fits into Open Science is lacking. Where exactly might Open Science take advantage of OER principles and vice-versa? As a start, capacity building and training are integral to efforts to drive Open Science planning and implementation in Africa. If all training materials were openly licensed and made widely available, they would be relevant to a much broader audience and might be adapted to fit different needs. In addition, many African countries and institutions are planning Open Science clouds, including Eko-Konnect in Nigeria. All content related to platform-building could also be openly licensed. Finally, should Open Science clouds host or link to OER, at the very least the OER created for Open Science cloud training and capacity building? The bottom line is for WACREN and others working on Open Science to ensure that OER play an integral role in building OS communities and platforms.

Policy is another issue that would benefit from more sustained attention. There are proposed or actualized polices for Open Access, OER, Open Data, and now Open Science. Some African universities, particularly those in South Africa and East Africa, have their own Open Access policies. A few of these include the University of Cape Town in South Africa; Kenyatta University in Kenya; and Ethiopia, which has a national Open Access policy. LIBSENSE is also working on an Open Access template. Somewhat fewer African universities have distinct OER policies or broader policies that support OER; OER Africa tracks these examples. In addition, research networks such as the African Academy of Sciences have both Open Access and Open Data guidelines. Until now, however, most policy setting has been tackled in silos, with little sustained effort to build knowledge on what options work best. Are individual standalone policies desirable? Should they be integrated into other, existing tools rather than being developed independently? In addition, do university intellectual property policies require revision (where they exist)? 

Open Knowledge (OER, Open Access, Open Data, and Open Science) can greatly benefit African knowledge production, access, and utilisation by improving its discoverability and visibility. Open UCT at the University of Cape Town, for example, has usage statistics for each of the resources included in its repository. The National Academic Digital Repository of Ethiopia does the same.

OER Africa will continue to monitor developments, such as the ones we write about above, which impact on higher education on the continent. Please contact us here if there are additional issues you would like us to discuss.

 

 


For more articles in this series, click on the links below.

 

What's New

Assessment always has a purpose. We need to be clear on that purpose in our learning design work. But that purpose can vary. In this article aimed at educators, we explore assessment of, for, and as learning to think about the purpose of assessment and to help us think about integrated summative assessment.

 

Image courtesy of  Lagos Techie. Unsplash

Assessment always has a purpose. We need to be clear on that purpose in our learning design work. But that purpose can vary. In this article aimed at educators, we explore assessment of, for, and as learning to think about the purpose of assessment and to help us think about integrated summative assessment.

In a previous article about online assessment, we asked ‘How do we know if students are learning?’ We spoke about the value of formative assessment as part of activity-based teaching and learning. We suggested that formative assessment activities form an important part of an integrated summative assessment strategy.

But what do we mean? Traditionally,

"Formative assessment occurs before or during teaching. It is a way of assessing students’ progress, providing feedback and making decisions about further instructional activities. It is assessment for learning purposes. Summative assessment is conducted after instruction primarily as a way to document what students know, understand and can do. It is an assessment of learning and its aim is to ‘sum up’ the learning that has taken place." (Waspe, 2020)

But Waspe goes on to say:

"There isn’t always a clear split between formative and summative assessment: some activities may fall somewhere in the middle. For example, a test at the end of a section of material may be used for marks (summative) but the lecturer may also analyse it to identify which competences need strengthening going forward (formative)." (Waspe, 2020)

Assessment and learning

We know there is an integral relationship between assessment and learning. We can see this when we unpack three important forms of assessment:

Assessment of learning

Assessment of learning measures the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values students have demonstrated at the end of a learning cycle.

Assessment for learning

Assessment for learning checks what students understand and can do as part of the learning process. It helps to identify any misunderstandings, difficulties, or gaps in knowledge so educators can adjust teaching to address these.

Assessment as learning

Assessment as learning involves the student ‘thinking about how they are thinking’ and using what they discover to make adjustments to how they approach learning. Assessment as learning helps students notice their own thoughts and processes, called metacognition, and make changes to those thoughts and processes, called self-regulation.

Let’s think about these three forms of assessment in relation to formative and summative assessment.

In his article about assessment for learning, Wiliam (2011) agrees with Bennett (2009) that it is unhelpful, and simplistic, to equate assessment for learning with formative assessment and assessment of learning with summative assessment. Bennett suggests that assessments designed primarily to serve a summative function may also function formatively, while those designed primarily to serve a formative function may also function summatively.

Let’s look at an example:

This is an example of an activity in which students are learning about the impact of globalisation in an economics course. Let’s analyse the activity for opportunities for assessment of learning, assessment for learning, and assessment as learning.

 Activity: The impact of globalisation 

 Purpose

Create a diagram which reflects the impact of globalisation on an industry of your choice

 Resources

Reading A

Reading B

 Task

 [60 minutes]

  1. In small groups, recall what you already know about globalisation, and share your thoughts.
  2. Individually research and read theories of globalisation, summarising the key ideas.
  3. Again in small groups, share your research findings. Use the theories to agree on a definition of globalisation and unpack different aspects of globalisation.
  4. Individually analyse each aspect of globalisation in relation to your chosen industry. Create a diagram which shows what you have learned.
  5. Write a short narrative summary to accompany the diagram, which shows your understanding of the impact of globalisation in your selected industry.

 Reflect, share and respond

  • Share your final diagram and narrative with your group peers.

 Feedback

  • Give and receive feedback from each other.
  • Refine your work if necessary.
  • Receive and read feedback from your educator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Example adapted from OER Africa: https://www.oerafrica.org/supporting-distance- learners/case-studies-using-asynchronous-communication

In this example, we believe we can identify all three forms of assessment:

Assessment of learning

Assessment for learning

Assessment as learning

  • What students already know
  • Agreeing on a definition and aspects of globalisation
  • Creating a diagram
  • Writing a narrative summary
  • Discussing with peers and critiquing final diagrams and narratives, students will identify what they don’t know and adapt their work accordingly.
  • The educator could ask students to submit both their first revised diagrams and narratives, for comparison purposes.
  • From the diagrams and narratives the educator will identify gaps and misconceptions to integrate into future teaching.

As part of the discussions, reflections, responses and feedback with each other and from their educator, students will be able to think about how they learned, what helped them to learn and how they can improve their learning strategies in future.One way of enhancing this aspect of assessment and learning would be to ask students explicit reflection questions about their learning.

 

Integrated activity-based summative assessment

What does this mean for how we think about integrated summative assessment?

Most definitions of integrated assessment include ideas about gathering and presenting evidence for judgement against standards, outcomes and criteria, using a combination of assessment methods and instruments, in different contexts, supporting learners to demonstrate understanding of theory in practice.

When we integrate assessment of, for, and as learning into activity-based teaching and learning, we design integrated (summative) assessment that supports integrated learning. In certain cases, it might be useful to think about summative (and formative) assessment as gathering evidence for the purposes of marking, recording, and promotion. But when we want to ‘stop worrying about testing and start thinking about learning’ and we are challenged to think about assessment differently for whatever reason, we can use activity-based teaching that integrates assessment for, of, and as learning to support and guide students’ learning towards success.

In the ‘Impact of globalisation’ example above, we saw the integration of assessment of, for, and as learning in a single activity. But integrated summative assessment could also be the integration of formative and summative assessment over a series of activities for a whole unit or module of study, or even a whole course.

The same basic rules of assessment will apply, so that activities are fair, reliable, and valid. Let’s consider what criteria and elements activity-based design would need to incorporate in order to constitute valid, fair, reliable, and integrated assessment of, for, and as learning:

  • Do the activities have a clear purpose that is clear to students?
  • Are the activities aligned to one or more outcomes?
  • Are the activities logically sequenced along a learning pathway?
  • Are the activities and tasks fit for purpose for different students in different contexts?
  • Is there a range of activities or tasks that give students the opportunity to engage and learn in different ways?
  • Are there clear guidelines that help students understand what they are expected to do individually or collaboratively?
  • Are all the activities accessible to all students, whether they have an Internet connection or not, whether they are on campus or not, whether they have access to devices or not?
  • Do all students have access to the resources necessary to do the activities?
  • Do the activities provide sufficient opportunities for students to collaborate?
  • Do the activities provide sufficient opportunities for students to reflect on their own and each other’s learning (self and peer reflection)?
  • Do the activities encourage students to give and receive feedback in meaningful ways?

Consider an assessment activity or task you have recently given to students. To what extent does the activity promote assessment of, for, and as learning? Which of the above criteria and elements does the activity address? What tasks can you add to the activity to ensure students have opportunities for assessment of learning, for learning, and as learning? What activities could you add, before or after this activity, to create a more integrated activity-based learning and assessment pathway as part of your materials design?

References

Bennett, R. E. (2009). A critical look at the meaning and basis of formative assessment (ETS RM-09-06). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.

Waspe, T and Louton, B. (2020). Rethinking TVET Assessment, Advanced Diploma Technical and Vocational Training, DHET. (See also https://nols.gov.za/dhetnols/)

Wiliam, Dylan. (2011). ‘What is assessment for learning?’ Studies in Educational Evaluation. 37. 3-14. 10.1016/j.stueduc.2011.03.001.

Related articles

Access the OER Africa Communications Archive here

You may have seen ArXiv pop up in your science-related or open access repository searches. ArXiv is an open access repository for pre-prints and post-prints that have been moderated but not peer reviewed.

Image courtesy of National Cancer Institute, Unsplash

What is ArXiv?

You may have seen ArXiv pop up in your science-related or open access repository searches. For those of us who are still wondering how to say it, it is pronounced ’archive’. The X represents the Greek letter, c, which is pronounced ‘ch’ and thus spells out archive.  

ArXiv is an open access repository for pre-prints[1] and post-prints[2] that have been moderated but not peer reviewed. It was the first freely available, open access repository, established years before Creative Commons or other mechanisms were available or the Internet became ubiquitous. ArXiv was established in 1991 as a way for physicists and mathematicians to circulate their research for comment before peer review and publication in a journal. It was developed with distribution formats few people use today — File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Gopher, and Mosaic (the world’s first Internet browser). According to Wikipedia:[3]

In many fields of mathematics and physics, almost all scientific papers are self-archived on the arXiv repository before publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Some publishers also grant permission for authors to archive the peer-reviewed postprint.

ArXiv has become tremendously important for scientists worldwide. On this, its 30th birthday, there are almost 2 million articles posted on the site in physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance, statistics, electrical engineering, systems science, and economics. 

In the 30 years since ArXiv’s  founding, many additional servers for different disciplines and regions have been established, all on the Xiv model.  AfricArXiv, for Africa, is discussed in detail below. Two preprint servers in the biomedical sciences have received considerable attention because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the publication of several highly quoted articles in the mass media and research publications.[4]  But how much relevance do ArXiv and the other servers have for Africa?

How relevant are preprint servers to Africa?

ArXiv and the disciplinary servers that followed aim to help scientists worldwide share results and get feedback quickly without waiting for publication in journals.  Although bibliometric surveys have not been done for all of the servers, two in the biomedical sciences point to the paucity of African research appearing in them.  A 2020 survey of in eLife, of over 67,000 articles posted on bioRxiv found that international authorship and collaboration of African researchers was scant and most were not principal author.  Table 1 shows which were the 11 most published African countries in bioRxiv.[5]

Table 1: Which African countries publish the most in bioRxiv?

Figure 1: The good news[6]

When the researchers dug deeper into subject matter and where the research was carried out, they found:

Figure 2: Digging deeper[7]

This is important research for those of us who care about the contribution of African scientists to the global knowledge pool.  The role of scientists has evolved over the course of the pandemic – they are becoming more public-facing, which can significantly improve dissemination of accurate information in any given country.  Examples include Dr. Anthony Fauci[8] and Dr. John Nkengasong.[9] It is also important to encourage representation so that we can learn from other approaches and develop solutions that cater for diverse populations. 

 

AfricArXiv

In 2018, African scientists established an open access African preprint server, called AfricArXivto promote better visibility for African research and enhanced collaboration throughout the continent. AfricArXiv’s African focus has a special set of objectives, among them:

  • It is an African-owned open scholarly repository, a knowledge commons of African scholarly works to catalyze the African Renaissance.
  • Submissions must be relevant to Africa, with at least one African author.
  • Language is important in Africa, where AfricArXiv estimates that over 2,000 are spoken, a number which has been confirmed elsewhere.[10] All submissions must be accompanied by a summary in English and French to ease language gaps. Automated translation is allowed and must be acknowledged because these translations are not always accurate.  AfricArXiv also uses volunteer translators. In addition, AfricArXiv encourages postings in African languages and is partnering with Masakhane to undertake human translation of articles into African languages. AfricaArXiv writes about the significance of translation as follows:[11]

We encourage submissions in languages that are commonly used by the scientific community in the respective country, such as English, French, Swahili, Zulu, Afrikaans, Igbo, Akan, or other native African languages. Manuscripts submitted in non-English languages will be held in the moderation queue until we can get them verified. We herewith encourage you to suggest people who could assist in moderating in your language.

For those who want to know more about the significance of preprint servers, we encourage you to read Ten simple rules to consider regarding preprint submission, which was published in May 2017 in PLOS Computational Biology, an open access and highly prestigious journal. The article has been viewed over 44,000 times and cited 61 times.[12]

For those who would like more information on the lack of representation of African science in the journal literature, please see Where there is no local author: a network bibliometric analysis of authorship parasitism among research conducted in sub-Saharan Africa, published on 27 October 2021 in BMJ Global Health.[13]  It demonstrates how few African biomedical researchers receive recognition for research results from their own countries.  See also the journal’s editorial on ‘parachute’ research: Using scientific authorship criteria as a tool for equitable inclusion in global health research.[14]

 

This has been one of OER Africa’s communications on open knowledge, which we will continue to explore in future communications.


Related articles

Access the OER Africa Communications Archive here

 


[1] Wikipedia contributors. (2021b, October 8). Preprint. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 25, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preprint (CC BY-SA)

[2] Wikipedia contributors. (2021b, October 1). Postprint. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 25, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postprint (CC BY-SA)

[3] Wikipedia contributors. (2021, September 7). ArXiv. Wikipedia. Retrieved 13 October 2021 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ArXiv#Moderation_process_and_endorsement (CC BY)

[4] Ginsparg, P. Lessons from arXiv’s 30 years of information sharing. Nat Rev Phys 3, 602–603 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s42254-021-00360-z (Freely available but copyright protected.  Springer Nature has a content-sharing initiative, which does not permit printing; the link for this article is https://rdcu.be/czHnW.

[5] Abdill RJ, Adamowicz EM, Blekhman R. International authorship and collaboration across bioRxiv preprints. Elife. 2020 Jul 27;9:e58496. doi: 10.7554/eLife.58496. PMID: 32716295; PMCID: PMC7384855. (CC BY)

[6] Guleid, F. H., Oyando, R., Kabia, E., Mumbi, A., Akech, S., & Barasa, E. (2021, March 17). A bibliometric analysis of COVID-19 research in Africa. MedRxiv. Retrieved 19 October 2021 from https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.03.15.21253589v1(CC BY)

[7] Guleid FH, Oyando R, Kabia E, et al, A bibliometric analysis of COVID-19 research in Africa, BMJ Global Health 2021; https://gh.bmj.com/content/6/5/e005690. (CC BY)

[10] Wikipedia contributors. (2021d, October 23). Languages of Africa. Wikipedia. Retrieved November 3, 2021, from Wikipedia contributors. (2021d, October 23). Languages of Africa. Wikipedia. Retrieved November3, 2021 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Africa (CC BY)

[11] Languages – AfricArXiv. (n.d.). AfricArXiv. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://info.africarxiv.org/languages/ (CC BY)

[12] Bourne PE, Polka JK, Vale RD, Kiley R (2017) Ten simple rules to consider regarding preprint submission. PLoS Comput Biol 13(5): e1005473. Retrieved 20 October 2021 from https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005473 (CC0)

[13] Rees CA, Ali M, Kisenge R, et al Where there is no local author: a network bibliometric analysis of authorship parasitism among research conducted in sub-Saharan Africa BMJ Global Health 2021. https://gh.bmj.com/content/6/10/e006982. (CC BY-NC)

[14] Sam-Agudu NA, Abimbola S. Using scientific authorship criteria as a tool for equitable inclusion in global health research. BMJ Global Health 2021. https://gh.bmj.com/content/6/10/e007632 (CC BY-NC)

 

Are academics at your institution struggling to find the time and space to invest in their own continuing professional development (CPD)? With so many competing priorities, many academics find it difficult squeeze CPD in among their other daily responsibilities.

Are academics at your institution struggling to find the time and space to invest in their own continuing professional development (CPD)? With so many competing priorities, many academics find it difficult squeeze CPD in among their other daily responsibilities. CPD is often the first thing to be jettisoned in busy schedules. Gone is the time when five days of training could be allocated to improving the skills and knowledge of academics. So how might we rethink academics’ CPD to make it more accessible and relevant? 

OER Africa is conducting research on different CPD methods that might resonate with busy academics. We are advocating repackaging training to be appealing, engaging and relevant to today’s academic. Below is an interactive report developed to showcase some of the initial findings of this research. Initially presented as part of the OE Global’s 2021 CONNECT conference, it is now made available for your attention, right here.

Please click the link below to access the interactive presentation, but be warned, your active participation will be required! Please complete the interactive components of the presentation honestly and fully as we would like to use your data as part of the research process.

                              

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