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Open Education has the potential to make education more accessible, enable the creation of relevant teaching and learning materials, improve the quality of content, and empower learners to be critical thinkers and knowledge creators. Open Education Week (OE Week), held annually, is an opportunity for actively sharing and learning about the latest achievements in Open Education worldwide. OE Week provides practitioners, educators, and students with an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of open educational practices and be inspired by the OE community. OE Week will be held from 1-5 March 2021.

The term ‘Open Education’ is often used when discussing open educational resources (OER). However the term more broadly refers to a commitment to remove unnecessary barriers to access learning while seeking to ensure high quality educational experiences that will enable success both during and after studies. This commitment includes developing policies and practices of openness in entry requirements (with minimal or no restriction on qualifications), choice of courses, place of study and time, and so on. An open education approach can inform practice in face-to-face education, distance education, and online and blended learning.[1]

Open Education incorporates the key principle of learner-centredness. The learner should be the focus of the educational process and should be regarded as an active participant in an interactive engagement. Cognisance needs to be taken of the learner context, building on their experience wherever possible. Open Education should encourage independent and critical thinking. This is facilitated by regarding the learner as an active participant in the educational process and can be further enhanced by offering learners choices, possibilities, and contesting viewpoints within that process. Teaching independent and critical thinking empowers learners to be able to interact confidently and effectively within society.

Click here to learn more about Open practices, trends and opportunities in higher education in Africa.

 

Lifelong learning is central to openness. Learning should continue throughout life, rather than being limited to childhood and teenage years, and should be of direct relevance to the needs and life experience of learners. The concept of lifelong learning implies an acknowledgement of the reality that learning is a process in which all people are inevitably involved from birth until death and a consequent attempt to make structured educational opportunities available to people throughout their lives.

Education has become far more accessible to more people through the innovations introduced by Information and Communication Technology (ICT). While ICT has created many new possibilities for reaching learners, it also creates new barriers to access for many. Although online learning can accommodate different ways and styles of learning (making for greater accessibility) and enable the construction of a richer learning environment, all learners potentially face barriers to learning. These barriers may include the high cost of Internet access and technology, technical constraints in the use of technology, a shortage of appropriate resources (in the local language or context), or content that is not designed to be accessible to learners with disabilities.

Harnessing technology and online learning methods can provide access to education for those in remote areas, for the socially disadvantaged, and for the marginalised. If carefully implemented, Open Education can play a potentially important role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and enabling lifelong learning. Of course, effective learning design is critical and recognises that people learn differently and require learning resources that are related to their needs and circumstances.

The FLOE Handbook can guide teachers and content creators to develop more inclusive and accessible educational resources.

 

An important element of openness is licensing. Legal frameworks such as Creative Commons help to govern how open a resource is. These licences provide mechanisms to ensure that authors of materials can retain acknowledgement for their work while allowing it to be shared, can restrict commercial activity, and can aim to prevent people from adapting it if they so wish. Open licensing creates possibilities for teachers and learners to access teaching and learning materials that they may not otherwise have been able to access. While e-books for the academic market are becoming more widely available, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, unaffordable prices, an inability to buy e-books due to a refusal to sell or bundling of titles in packages, and restrictions on research copying are affecting coursework and research in universities. In the UK, libraries say they have struggled with high e-book prices and lack of availability for years, but this situation is now critical because students urgently need digital resources during the pandemic. Follow the hashtag #eBookSOS for more.

Using and creating OER encourages collaboration, so educators are able to share teaching practices and benefit from the ideas of others. Effective OER practices have the potential to improve the quality and reduce the costs of educational materials. This opens the possibility of making previously expensive materials affordably accessible to many. This is one potential solution to the challenges facing learners and teachers in Africa and across the world.

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) has created guidelines and a resource list for institutions to keep the doors of learning open during the COIVID-19 pandemic.

 

The fundamental principles underlying OER are the freedom to share knowledge and that the knowledge should be legally, socially, and technologically open. OER promote the creation and adaptation of content for different contexts. This is particularly important in Africa as it is the least visible continent online, despite accommodating a population of over a billion people. Content used in Africa is not always created by Africans. By using OER, learners and teachers in Africa are able to findadapt, and create open content that is tailored to their needs, inclusive, and reflects the local context.

OER Africa has developed a series of learning pathways for university academic staff that will enable them to improve their teaching and learning capacity using OER.

 

If you are interested in engaging in Open Education practices and networking with colleagues, there are a few ways to participate in OE Week. You can host an event, share OER, or attend activities hosted by others. For more information click here

Remember all the resources on the OER Africa website are free to use and share. Let us know what you are doing to celebrate OE Week. Tag @OERAfrica in your social media posts and use #OEWeek. 


[1] Commonwealth of Learning. (2020). Open and Distance Learning – Key Terms & Definitions [online]. Available from: http://oasis.col.org/bitstream/handle/11599/3558/2020_COL_ODL_KeyTerms_Definitions.pdf [accessed 22 October 2020].


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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