The University of the Free State (UFS) is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in South Africa. It opened its doors in 1904 on the Bloemfontein Campus with a mere six students in the Humanities. Since then, UFS has grown to more than 31 000 students, spread across seven faculties over three campuses.
OER Africa began working with the University of the Free State (UFS) in the second half of 2015. This is because the University has identified the deployment of OER as of strategic importance to its overall approach to teaching and learning, and more specifically blended learning. Central to this approach is a deeper understanding of how students learn with technology and how the potential of OER can be scaled to alleviate the financial pressure on students due to the prohibitively high costs of textbooks. It is hoped that this collaboration with OER Africa will also lead to the development of UFS academics contributing to OER development especially in the areas of zoology, language development and numeracy.
As part of this work, the collaboration will focus on the following specific activities to strengthen UFS capacity to harness OER effectively:
- Establishment of an open licensing framework, as part of a wider review of the institution’s Intellectual Property Policy, which enables academics to incorporate openly licensed materials in their courses as appropriate and allows academics to follow a defined process to apply open licences to their course materials and research products where there are valid reasons for doing this.
- Systematic integration of high quality, available OER as appropriate into courses and their subsequent release for use by others, through a process of developing the capacity of both academics and staff of the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) to make effective use of OER.
- Exploration of the role that OER might play in helping to advance the objectives of the Unit for Language Development (ULD) within CTL.