African Health OER Network


Latest OER

Completion and Achievements of 2010-2012 African Health OER Network Grant

Health OER Recently Released and In-progress from the University of Cape Town

Open Access Journals and Publishing Options in Health Sciences

Scaling OER Production with Student Volunteers at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

Raising Awareness of OER of Educators and Technologists Across Ghana: An OER Workshop hosted by the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT
  Are you interested in being a guest author for our newsletter? Do you have articles, news, events, or learning modules that we should highlight? Let us know at

4 - 5 November 2012: BioMed Central and University of Cape Town hosted the third annual Open Access Africa conference.

5 December 2012: The Health OER Tech group convened its regular community conference call. 

Upcoming: Open Education Week 2013 will be 11 - 15 March. Visit the website for related events around the world and ideas for how to organize your own event to mark the occasion.

Upcoming: The Consortium for Universities in Global Health will be holding its annual meeting in Washington, DC on 14 - 16 March 2013.


The Health IT Workforce Curriculum was developed for U.S. community colleges to enhance workforce training programmes in health information technology. The 20-course, 60-credit curriculum includes course topics such as Terminology in Health Care and Public Health Settings, Networking and Health Information Exchange, Professionalism and Customer Service in the Health Environment, Planning, Management and Leadership for Health IT, and Training and Instructional Design. Each course includes instructor manuals, learning objectives, syllabi, video lectures with accompanying transcripts and slides, exercises, and assessments.

The materials were authored by Columbia University, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, Oregon Health & Science University, and University of Alabama at Birmingham. The project was funded by the U.S. Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. All of the course materials are available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Create a free account to access the resources.




Facilitators Logos

New Resources for Pharmacology, Medicine, Public Health, Dentistry; Captions for 31 videos All of the OER above are also hosted on the African Health OER Network websites in South Africa and in Michigan.

Completion and Achievements of 2010-2012 African Health OER Network Grant
Author: Kathleen Ludewig Omollo, International Program Manager, Office of Enabling Technologies, University of Michigan Medical School

In December 2012, the six founding partners for the African Health OER Network - the South African Institute for Distance Education (Saide) and its OER Africa initiative, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), University of Ghana (UG), University of Cape Town (UCT), University of the Western Cape (UWC), and the University of Michigan (U-M) - completed the 2010-2012 African Health OER Network grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Our many collective achievements during the grant include:

  • Through over 30 workshops, we have trained over 200 African academics and students in open licenses and methods for creating electronic learning materials using free or low-cost technologies. Several of those workshops brought together multiple institutions to enable multi-directional knowledge exchange and capacity building between as well as within institutions.
  • African authors have created approximately 150 new openly licensed learning modules for diverse health sciences topics. The collection includes 24 open textbooks, over 175 videos, 3 multilingual resources (one in Spanish, one in Portuguese, and another in both Xhosa and Afrikaans), and many self-assessments.
  • The Network’s collection of learning materials is distributed widely, highly visible, and has been accessed in over 190 countries. We receive an average of 8,500 visits/month across our two main websites (one in South Africa and the other hosted in Michigan), have distributed 530 copies of our sampler DVD of OER, and have over 2.5 million total views on YouTube. A recent analysis of the over 1,720 ratings and over 360 comments on YouTube reveals that viewers are finding the videos helpful, with an average rating of 4.38 out of 5 and “thank you” among the most frequent comments. Our quarterly newsletter has over 1000 subscribers.
  • We have already seen numerous examples of OER developed that has been used, translated, or otherwise adapted by students and instructors at institutions in other countries. Through the Health OER Request and Search service we have matched 16 requests for learning materials with existing OER.
  • We have shared our lessons learned through guides, evaluations, case studies, journal and book publications, conferences, and blog entries.

Though the grant has ended, the Network progresses. The founding members now have in place processes, personnel, and, in some cases, official policies to continue to support the creation, usage, distribution, and research related to health open educational resources. In order to maintain avenues to share lessons, models, learning materials, and outcomes related to health OER in Africa, Saide and U-M will continue to support the two African Health OER Network websites, the newsletter, the health OER interest groups, and the Health OER request and search service.

For more details on the background and outcomes from the 2010-2012 African Health OER Network grant, read the overview on the Open.Michigan blog.


Health OER Recently Released and In-progress from the University of Cape Town
Author: Nicole Southgate, Technical Support Assistant, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town

The last half of 2012 was a busy time for the Education Development Unit in the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) at the University of Cape Town (UCT), with numerous OER released and others with development already underway.

Among the recently released OER is the Division of Occupational Therapy self-review entitled “Health Professional Council Authority (HPCA): 2012 evaluation,” which highlights critical issues facing the division and will hopefully provide guidance to other addressing similar challenges. Ms. Allison Stevens, a Communications Officer for Health Economics Unit, who considers herself an OER novice shared several materials. Her presentation titled Open Access and Communication Practices, introduces the various Creative Commons licences and illustrates how OER is used within the health economics unit. This informative piece has been well received by members in the Health Economics Unit. Other highlights from 2012 include a collection of 12 posters from the Disability Studies Division from our institution’s annual Africa Day.

We also have some exciting OER under development that we aim to release in early 2013. Dr. Feroza Amien, a lecturer at the School of Public Health and Family Medicine, has created an interesting video series titled “International trends in problem-based learning facilitator development,” which examines how various universities around the world train instructors in problem-based learning. Ms. Veronica Mitchell, a lecturer for medical education, has authored a resource “Probing Professional Practice,” which addresses the impact - both positive and negative - that interactions with health professionals can have on patients. Additionally, we have an extensive video series on topics in general surgery, led by Dr. Juan Klopper, a specialist surgeon based at Grootte Schuur Hospital. These three resources are currently in the final stages of OER review and will be published soon on the UCT Open Content site.

Open Access Journals and Publishing Options in Health Sciences
Author: Lisbeth Levey, OER Advisor, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

The term “open access” refers to resources (often scholarly journal articles) that are freely and publicly accessible to anyone worldwide. Depending the particular terms of use of a given open access journal, the journal may also allow people to copy, modify, or distribute the content of the articles under one of the Creative Commons licenses.

Research (from University of California at Berkeley, University of Toronto, Research Libraries UK, and others) has demonstrated that publishing in open access journals brings increased visibility, usage, and impact to the work of academics, researchers, and students. Open access publishing is compatible with copyright law and with scholarly traditions of peer review, and indexing of articles and citations as indicators of impact and prestige. For example, if an individual uses ideas or words from an open access article, he or she must include the article as a source. Likewise, if using excerpts or direct quotes from an open access article, he or she must designate them with quotation marks and attribution to the original author. There is even an Open Access Search Project in order to detect plagiarism.

Open access is particularly important within the African context. Journal subscriptions are expensive. Even though most African universities and research institutions can read journals in the biomedical sciences online at no charge through the World Health Organization’s HINARI Access to Research in Health Programme, these services are conditional, temporary, and the collection may be incomplete for an institution's research and curricular needs. Moreover, if Africa’s research output is to reach the scientific community worldwide, it must be widely accessible. Governmental and other organizations in several countries have therefore adopted open access policies for the research they fund and publish in order to promote the widest dissemination as possible.  Some examples of particular relevance to the biomedical sciences:

  • In the United States, the National Institutes of Health requires that the published results of the research it funds is made publicly available through its digital archive PubMed Central (PMC).
  • Europe has established its own PubMed Central Europe PMC. Although the US and the European collections feed into each other and overlap significantly, the article collections are not identical and each offers different navigation and search options. Many important donors, such as the Wellcome Trust and the World Bank require open access deposit of the research they support. Some but not all of this research is deposited in PubMed Central US or Europe.

Due to accessibility and visibility considerations, many universities, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, and the University of California at Berkeley to name a few, encourage their academics to publish in open access journals and provide funds to cover author publishing fees required by some open access journals.  Open access journals, in general, cover their costs not through subscription fees but rather through charging the author. The South African Department of Higher Education and Training has published a list of open access journals that qualify for a subsidy to cover the publishing fee.  

Members of the African Health OER Network might want to explore open access journals for their own publishing efforts. There are a number of African open access journals in the health sciences. For example, African Journals Online (AJOL) includes 133 in the broad based medical sciences. (Note: The publication frequency of journals within AJOL differs significantly by title.)

For a list of example open access African health science journals and considerations for authors, download the full article.


Scaling OER Production with Student Volunteers at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
Author: Benjamin Prempeh, OER Media Specialist, College of Health Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

At Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), the introduction of Open Educational Resources (OER) has resulted in collaborative effort among stakeholders in creating quality educational resources for teaching, learning and research. Among the challenges confronting the creation of electronic learning materials such as OER is the heavy demand on faculty time. In order to address this, KNUST has embraced the idea of student teams working with faculty to co-develop resources with the collaborative aim of supporting OER production. In particular, we have included students from the Department of Communication Design (DeCoDe) within the College of Art & Social Sciences in our OER production. The DeCoDe programme, which includes courses such as Multimedia Management, Multimedia Graphics, and Interaction Design teaches students design and technical skills in software programmes that are complementary to creating interactive, media-rich resources.

Over the past two years, our aim has been to increase health OER production by supporting College of Health Sciences (CHS) faculty who wish to develop the educational content. We have accomplished this by matching a health instructor with an OER media specialist (a KNUST non-teaching staff member who is a recent DeCoDe alumnus or alumna) and a team of DeCoDe students to assist with putting the content into an electronic learning resource.

The collaborative efforts of faculty, students and media specialists in OER production follow a simple process. Content providers from CHS propose the topics and begin to author the required content. DeCoDe students are then matched with the content providers and collect the materials from the providers. The DeCoDe student volunteers work with a media specialist to capture and edit images, audio, and video for the module. Some even develop animations. The DeCoDe students and media specialists also assist in clearing the content for any copyright or privacy concerns through the dScribe process. Next, the material is reviewed by the content providers, DeCoDe students, the students’ instructors, and the media specialists to ensure that the content is accurate and that it adheres to standards for multimedia design, instructional design, and open publishing. Once the reviews are completed, a media specialist publishes the materials online and monitors their usage through Google and YouTube analytics.

For CHS faculty, this interdisciplinary collaboration is one of the ways that we have been able to meet targets and produce more resources for their students. For example, in 2011, KNUST, with production support from a DeCoDe student, published 7 OER on Pharmacological Laboratory Procedures by Dr. George Koffuor from the Department of Pharmacology within the Faculty of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences. The video resources have over time received a favourable response globally with over 27,000 views collectively from KNUST OER YouTube Channel. This high visibility has encouraged students in the department to be involved with OER production. Students are inspired to see that their contribution to education are being shared and used by fellow students and by other educators and learners around the world.

Creating OER, or any teaching and learning material for that matter, requires considerable time commitment. KNUST’s experience has shown that with the help of students, that amount of time can be minimized and help attract more content providers to share their work as OER.


Raising Awareness of OER of Educators and Technologists Across Ghana: An OER Workshop hosted by the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT
Author: Prince Kpsara, Programmes Coordinator, Ghana India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE),

The Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE), a Ghanaian government agency specializing in advanced information technology innovation and training, was first introduced to the African Health OER Network in 2011 through a multi-institutional OER production and support workshop. A long-time advocate for open source software, OER seemed a natural fit for AITI-KACE’s activities. In October 2012, two representatives from AITI-KACE participated in the Network’s Africa Regional Workshop for Health OER Technologists.

Inspired by the health OER activities underway in Ghana, in January 2013 AITI-KACE organized its own OER seminar to promote the creation, use and sharing of OER across the country. With a theme of “Creating and Using Open Educational Resources: Challenges and Opportunities,” the half-day seminar focused on the relation of OER to teaching, learning and research as well as the creation, use and distribution of educational content. The seminar attracted close to forty participants from educational and research institutions, local press agencies, government ministries, departments, and agencies, and civil society organizations. The seminar coordinating team included AITI-KACE staff members Prince A. Kpasra, Rosemond Aryeetey, Nana Fosu Nyante, and Sarata Omane.

The seminar featured five speakers - two from AITI-KACE and three from other institutions who had participated in the October 2012 regional workshop. Dorothy K. Gordon (Director-General, AITI-KACE) and Fred Yeboah (Head of Open Source Software, AITI-KACE) led an open forum at the seminar. Mr. Chris Yebuah (Media Specialist, College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana) gave a presentation titled “Open Educational Resources; Creating, Using and Sharing” about University of Ghana’s health OER programme. Next, Ms. Kathleen Omollo (University of Michigan), who joined via video conference on Skype, spoke about “Sharing Knowledge Beyond Borders using Open Educational Resources: Lessons from University of Michigan's experience.” Mr. Adam Rahman (lecturer, Department of Communication Design, KNUST), spoke about the instructional design framework used to incorporate quality assurance into KNUST’s OER production process.

At the seminar conclusion, participants reported that they appreciated the experiences that were shared by the representatives from the various institutions and that they were now more knowledgeable about the OER movement. It was evident from this programme that there remains a knowledge gap about OER within the education sector in Ghana that needs to be bridged with additional OER awareness activities. In response, AITI-KACE plans to organize more of these sensitization programmes in the near future to continue to make efforts to bring more institutions and government aboard the OER movement. We would also seek to build partnerships with other regional and international OER networks in order to learn and share best practices about content creation, adaptation, and distribution, as well as funding and sustainability models.

Newsletter Footer