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The ROER4D project being managed through the University of Cape Town is releasing chapters from their forthcoming online publication. In this chapter the authors report on an investigation into the production and rollout of four MOOCs at UCT in South Africa, and on the experiences of the educators involved in their production.

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Funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Saide OER Africa embarks on an impactful project to support the effective development and use of Open Education Resources in higher education systems in selected sub-Saharan African countries. Ashton Maherry, reports on recent travels to Beira, Mozambique, to establish a strategic partnership with UnISCED.

Figure 1: Representatives from OER Africa and UnISCED

As part of Saide’s OER Africa initiative, Ashton Maherry (Saide) and Neil Butcher (Neil Butcher & Associates) recently visited UnISCED to establish a partnership to promote the use of Open Education Resources (OER) at UnISCED. UnISCED (translated as Open University Institute of Sciences and Distance Education) is a Mozambican private higher education institution dedicated exclusively to open and distance education and was established in 2014. 

The current William and Flora Hewlett Foundation grant in support of OER Africa, continues its focus of supporting  effective development and use of OER in higher education systems in African universities. The project has four outcomes:
1. Development of comprehensive Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Frameworks for academics, senior management and academic librarians.
2. Development of an online collection of Continuous Professional Development Open Education Resources in higher education
3. Collaboration with at least four African universities
4. Establishment of a Continuous Professional Development network

The visit to UnISCED forms part of a planned collaboration with at least four Universities including, Botswana Open University, the University of Namibia and UnISCED and hopefully one other, still to be determined.

Several areas of the strategic partnership were identified during the UnISCED visit, these include the development, implementation and evaluation of policies that support the use of OERs, capacity building of senior management, academics and academic librarians to use OERs to strengthen teaching and learning, the identification of possible free or commercial online resources that can help academics with their teaching and learning materials, such as simulators and virtual labs, and the exciting challenge of translating predominantly English resources to Portuguese. In addition, the possibility of UnISCED becoming a member of the African Association of Librarians (AfLIA) was explored and will be taken forward in the next three months.

UnISCED and Saide are in the process of finalising the Memorandum of Understanding. OER Africa and UnISCED are planning a survey for UnISCED staff to identify focus areas for professional development in relation to OER. A second visit to UnISCED is planned in the next few months to finalise the CPD framework, conduct an awareness-raising session on open licensing to Senior Management and facilitate a training session on how to find, use and adapt OER for academics.

A note on OER Africa's CPD frameworks

This work builds on a series of CPD frameworks we are developing at OER Africa in collaboration with our partners. A CPD framework is a planning guide that supports the career development of higher education professionals. In the case of academics, a framework aims to empower and encourage staff, enhance and develop their pedagogical skills, assist them to reflect, and contribute to quality assurance of the student learning experience (adapted from National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education [2016]). 

We have used a wheel structure (Figure 1), with wedges showing the professional development domains and levels of progress (foundation, established, and advanced) aligned with Bloom’s Taxonomy (Armstrong, 2020). Each domain is being elaborated with indicators of attainment to align with levels of progress, as well as available openly-licensed materials that can support individual higher education professionals and institutional structures with the CPD. When they are completed, we hope that institutions will (with the support of OER Africa) customise the domains for themselves, develop CPD policies, assess their staff competencies, and provide training to capacitate their staff.

Figure 2: Framework for academics showing possible domains to be supported.

 


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In conjunction with OER Africa, AfLIA is hosting a panel discussion on the role of Artificial Intelligence and African libraries on 24 April 2023. This webinar is the second in a series of activities that will help build understanding, adaptable knowledge and skills.

Register now

AfLIA has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with OER Africa of Saide to build a sturdy CPD framework that will project African librarians into a new era as change agents and leaders in driving open education, open access and open licensing as critical components for driving quality education and creativity in the continent.

In conjunction with OER Africa, AfLIA is hosting a panel discussion on the role of Artificial Intelligence and African libraries. This webinar is the second in a series of activities that will help build understanding, adaptable knowledge and skills. The first 100 participants can register and join the panel discussion on Zoom. Additional participants will be able to follow it live on YouTube.

Date: Monday, 24th April, 2023
Time: 9.30am UTC | 10.30am WAT | 11.30am CAT | 12.30pm EAT

Registration

This is a free webinar. After completing the registration form, you will receive notification via email with details of how to join the webinar.

Carefully read the section on Technical Requirements to help you prepare adequately for this webinar.

Resource persons

Stanley Boakye-Achampong is the AfLIA Research Coordinator

Just as the introduction of personal computers revolutionized access to computing power for everyone, AI technology such as ChatGPT, has made advanced language models widely accessible to a broader audience. The conversation about the implications of such AI has been re-ignited since the launch of ChatGPT. Indeed, AI powered technologies, when embraced, can play a vital role by improving access to information and refining the quality of services provided to patrons. As with every other technology, AI may have some undesirable implications on library education, research and service delivery. The global conversation is an interesting mix of divergent views on AI but not so much has been discussed in the area of its impact on Librarianship, especially within the African context. Stanley will briefly highlight general issues of awareness, perception, adoption and the implications of AI on African library education, research and service delivery.

Stanley Boakye-Achampong is the AfLIA Research Coordinator

 

English is the dominant language in most OER repositories. The same is true for open access journal literature; many more scientific journals are published in English rather than in other languages.  The two noteworthy exceptions are African Storybook (ASb) and StoryWeaver that focus on African languages and Southern Asian respectively.

It has been demonstrated that if children are to be successful in learning to read with comprehension, they should start out in their mother tongue.  Adults, too, would benefit by reading content in their own languages.  This is particularly true of scientific terms and concepts.  The use of language, therefore, has great significance when considering how to make education truly inclusive and equitable—one of the goals of the UNESCO OER Recommendation.

AI can assist authors and readers to read research in their own languages.  Liz will discuss efforts to make science inclusive and equitable in African languages, with a focus on research literature and the role of AI in translation.

Liz Levey is an independent consultant and expert in the field of openness and languages

Drs. Nkem Osuigwe and Tony Lelliott will facilitate the discussion.


Technical Requirements

Upon registration, reminders will be sent to all registrants periodically. This webinar will be hosted on the Zoom Conferencing Platform. Participants, who do not have Zoom on their mobile devices and or computers, need to download, install and create an account on Zoom ahead of time. Webinar attendees are encouraged to join early, preferably 15 minutes before the start of the webinar, as one may need time launch the application. The speaker will use a webcam to connect with attendees. Audio and video for the session will be streamed over computer speakers. Attendees are therefore encouraged to connect with a headset or earpiece for maximum utility. Please note that this webinar does not involve a certificate of participation.

The webinar will also be live-streamed on YouTube.

There have been several recent calls for Continuous Professional Development (CPD) to take a more prominent role at the higher education level. OER Africa is in the process of developing three CPD frameworks to structure capacity building for academics, academic librarians, and senior management in higher education institutions.

Image source: UNU-WIDER, Flickr (CC BY-NC)

Continuous professional development (CPD) frameworks for professionals in Higher Education

The need for CPD in higher education

CPD is ‘professional learning that results in changes to [academics’] knowledge and practices, and improvements in student learning outcomes’ (after Darling-Hammond et al. 2017). There have been several recent calls for CPD to take a more prominent role at higher education (HE) level (e.g. Mihai, 2021; Bruzga, 2022), that highlight the following: 

  • Professional development planning should be strategic: it should become a fundamental part of the academics’ annual activities, and not a mere “extracurricular” undertaking for a few interested staff.
  • Institutions should consider developing a system of incentives and rewards that encourages staff to focus on their teaching.
  • Institutions that already offer CPD should evaluate their offerings to determine whether they are the right fit for the current needs of the institution.
  • Where feasible, faculties and schools should encourage communities of practice so that professionals can share their experiences, and support and empower each other

Barriers to participation in CPD

Despite the needs, there is evidence that higher education professionals rarely participate in CPD due to barriers such as: 

  • A reluctance to renounce teaching practices with which they are familiar. Similarly, innovative teaching practices are not normally a requirement for appointment, or for career progression.
  • The absence of inducements for self-development in higher education institutions (HEIs).
  • A lack of time.
  • HEIs’ lack of pedagogical expertise and institutional capacity to develop effective CPD schemes. 

Since the need for CPD is great, and many institutions either lack the capacity to provide it or carry it out in an ad hoc manner, OER Africa is in the process of developing three CPD frameworks to structure capacity building for academics, academic librarians, and senior management in HEIs.

CPD frameworks

A CPD framework is a planning guide that supports the career development of higher education professionals. In the case of academics, a framework aims to empower and encourage staff, enhance and develop their pedagogical skills, assist them to reflect, and contribute to quality assurance of the student learning experience (adapted from National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education [2016]). 

The CPD frameworks we are developing at OER Africa, in collaboration with our partners such as the African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA), are adapted from the British Council’s CPD framework for teacher educators. We have used a wheel structure (Figure 1), with wedges showing the professional development domains and levels of progress (foundation, established, and advanced) aligned with Bloom’s Taxonomy (Armstrong, 2020). Each domain is being elaborated with indicators of attainment to align with levels of progress, as well as available openly-licensed materials that can support individual HE professionals and institutional structures with the CPD. When they are completed, we hope that institutions will (with the support of OER Africa) customise the domains for themselves, develop CPD policies, assess their staff competencies, and provide training to capacitate their staff.

Figure 1: Framework for academics showing possible domains to be supported.

The initiative is in its early stages. OER Africa is currently collaborating with a few African universities to tailor the framework to their own needs, and discuss policy development and implementation. Concurrently, we are identifying and evaluating relevant CPD OER available worldwide, with a view to making them available in a repository to support institutions that would like to develop their staff. Once completed, a full set of frameworks will be made available on the OER Africa website, together with associated OER to allow institutions to modify them to suit their own contexts. We welcome comment on the initiative as it develops; you can email us on the form available at https://www.oerafrica.org/contact.

Related research report: Continuous Professional Development strategies in Higher Education Institutions


The following publications were drawn on to create this blog post:

British Council. (nd). Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Framework for teacher educators https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/sites/teacheng/files/4204_BritishCouncil_CPD_Teacher_Educators_FINAL_040222.pdf.

Bruzga, L. (2022). Why Professional Development in Higher Ed Requires Regular Revisions. EdTech Focus on Higher Education. https://edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2022/03/why-professional-development-higher-ed-requires-regular-revisions

Darling-Hammond, L., Hyler, M. E., Gardner, M. (2017). Effective Teacher Professional Development. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute.

Inamorato dos Santos, A., Gaušas, S., Mackevičiūtė, R., Jotautytė, A., Martinaitis, Ž. (2019). Innovating Professional Development in Higher Education: An analysis of practices, EUR 29676 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, ISBN 978-92- 76-00580-3, doi:10.2760/26224, JRC115622.

Mihai, A. (2021). This pandemic must bring faculty development to the fore. Times Higher Education. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/opinion/pandemic-must-bring-faculty-development-fore

National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (2016). National Professional Development Framework for all staff who teach in Higher Education. Dublin. https://hub.teachingandlearning.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/NF-2016-National-Professional-Development-Framework-for-all-Staff-Who-Teach-in-Higher-Education.pdf.


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