What is OER?
As I mentioned in previous posts, OER is defined as digitized educational materials offered freely and openly for use and re-use in teaching, learning and research.
Using OER in education presents some important challenges:
- Globalization of the knowledge societies, related to the rise of knowledge-intensive societies and the demand for skilled population.
- Challenges to education systems: extend reach of education, improve quality and flexibility.
Could the technology help?
The developments of new technical solutions, the increasing connectivity, the growing numbers of low-cost devices and the rising of open digital content create the infrastructure to facilitate knowledge sharing in a global context with social, economic and cultural differences.
OER: an academic and cultural challenge
The explosive increase of OER reinforces the tradition of the altruist academic sharing. Initiatives like MIT OpenCourseWare, the UNESCO actions, the OpenCourseWare Consortium movement, and others initiatives opened a wide debate about OER implications, about their advantages and disadvantages in educational systems in different parts of the world.
OER and the cultural context
OER content that is useful in a cultural, academic and economic development is not always applicable in a different context.
When a university is considering the use of open content in the development of their subjects, must carefully consider the relevance and implications of implementing OER and imagine the prospects for participation in the OER movement as institution.
The participation of the universities in this movement implies to go beyond its role like users of open contents to an active role to share the didactic materials developed by its teachers. This step raises important challenges; to develop pedagogical and technical skills between the teachers to develop to interactive contents and methods of quality control.
Catherine Ngugi’s interview, project director of OER Africa, offers interesting views:
- Some resources created elsewhere, might not be culturally appropriate, or relevant to the other place.
- Connectivity is one of the practical challenges.
- An important point is availability of free licences, with permission for free use.
- The support from university management is crucial.
- The notion of open learning is an incentive for academics, but they need to know how to do it.
- The partnership with other universities is a key issue.
For more detail, read the Catherine Ngugi’s interview (http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=2010121021305756)