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The UNESCO Chair on Open and Distance Learning (ODL) at UNISA organised a seminar on Open Education Resources for staff in the university, held on 12th June, 2019. The seminar took place at the Muckleneuk Campus in Pretoria. Known for its seminal work on OER Africa, an initiative that supports using and creating OER in Africa, Saide was invited to facilitate this workshop. Ephraim Mhlanga and Kirsty von Gogh from Saide and Neil Butcher & Associates respectively facilitated the workshop, which was attended by about 25 participants.
 
The workshop started with a joint presentation from the two facilitators, which focused on familiarising participants with OER and their potential value in expanding access by reducing the cost of learning materials. In the presentation, workshop facilitators brought home the point that OER are different from commercial products in that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt, and re-share them without any need to pay royalties or licence fees, or request permission. They also informed participants that OER are a whole range of educational materials that include textbooks, curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video, and animation. By way of illustration, the presentation also gave specific examples of OER that were developed by some African universities with the support of OER Africa. These examples were mainly in Health Sciences, Agriculture, and use of ICTs in education.
 
In addition to discussing the concept of OER and their potential value in education, the facilitators also highlighted major international developments and events associated with OER. These were:
  • The World Open Educational Resources Congress (2012), organised by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and UNESCO with the generous support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation which attracted over 400 participants from 70 countries. The purpose of this Congress was explained to participants, which was to support government support for OER. The Congress adopted the Paris OER Declaration which encouraged governments to openly license educational materials developed with public funds.
  • The second World OER Congress that was hosted by the Government of Slovenia in Ljubjana,  Slovenia on 18–20 Sept 2017, which aimed at making the transition from commitment to action. Participants were informed that at this conference, the global community identified strategies to harness the potential of OER for achieving inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all by 2030.
  • 2019 UNESCO OER recommendations, which provide an opportunity for the open education community to work with national governments to help them understand and implement open education recommendations in their countries.
 
It was also important to inform participants of how COL and UNESCO are collaborating in the field of OER for advocacy, capacity building, and policy development in order to put into effect the Paris OER Declaration.
 
Finally, workshop facilitators highlighted how Saide’s African Storybook initiative is making a difference in terms of promoting literacy. Participants were interested to hear about the initiative. Almost all storybooks are written by the African communities that use the storybooks. The storybooks reflect contexts and interests of the people who use them. Saide is responsible for the quality assurance process, and digital publishing makes it possible to have continuous improvement.
 
The session closed with an informative discussion on OER matters concerning participants, and discussion around Unisa’s OER policy and its implementation.  
 

What's New

As the spread of COVID-19 continues around the world, face-to-face lectures have ceased in many countries and academics are trying to find practical ways of delivering curricula remotely. In response to this, the Association of African Universities (AAU) and OER Africa presented a series of four webinars on Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT) strategies.

As the spread of COVID-19 continues around the world, face-to-face lectures have ceased in many countries and academics are trying to find practical ways of delivering curricula remotely. In response to this, the Association of African Universities (AAU) and OER Africa presented a series of four webinars on Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT) strategies. In contrast to online learning, which is an experience that is planned from the beginning to be delivered online, ERT refers to ‘a temporary shift of instructional delivery to an alternate delivery mode due to crisis circumstances.’[1]

The webinars were intended to assist academics to implement ERT effectively. They covered a broad range of topics, including how to teach remotely; what content to cover; how to ensure that students are learning effectively; and how to communicate with students. We targeted academics with limited knowledge of online learning, aiming to provide a simple and practical guide to help them implement effective ERT for their students.

Recordings of all four webinars, along with their downloadable resources, are accessible here. To access information for individual webinars, click on the links below.

Webinar 1: Teaching effectively during the campus closure – Tips and tricks
Webinar 2: What to teach during campus closure
Webinar 3: How to know if learning is happening during campus closure
Webinar 4: Communicate effectively during campus closure

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To further support educators and students, OER Africa is also publishing regular communications on Open Educational Resources (OER) and their relevance within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Click on the links below to access articles in this series.
OER Africa COVID-19 Statement (3 April, 2020)
Understanding OER in a Context that Necessitates Remote Learning (9 April 2020)
Showcasing OER Platforms: OER Africa (15 April, 2020)
Online (and offline) reading resources for children (23 April, 2020)
How to Find Open Content (30 April, 2020)
OER Repositories in Africa (8 May, 2020)

For more, sign up to the newsletter here.

OER courseware is also available on the website. Follow us on social media for links to our news and events.
       

 

[1] Hodges, C., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T. and Bond, A. (2020). The Difference Between Emergency Remote Teaching and Online Learning. Educause Review. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/3/the-difference-between-emergency-remote-teaching-and-online-learning

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, most African higher education institutions have halted face-to-face classes. But learning can continue, so OER Africa would like to share resources to help you to keep the doors of learning open.

 

Photo courtesy of Trust Katsande, Unsplash

 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, most African higher education institutions have halted face-to-face classes. But learning can continue, so OER Africa would like to share resources to help you to keep the doors of learning open. In contexts with limited educational means, Open Educational Resources (OER) can contribute to the accessibility of education and can encourage a culture of flexible and collaborative learning, particularly if the learning materials are reused, customized, and shared. 

A useful way of accessing such resources is via online knowledge repositories. A knowledge repository is an online database that systematically captures, organizes, and categorizes knowledge-based information. A few examples of OER repositories for the African context are:

 

 

 

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) OER – KNUST OER seeks to promote open learning through an open exploration that enables faculty, students, and the global academic community to access open licensed educational resources to maximize the impact and reach of their scholarly work through open sharing.

FundaOER, an initiative of VVOB, provides a repository of OERs to advance teaching and learning in Initial Teacher Education and Continuing Professional Development in South Africa. Articles, factsheets, videos, and other types of materials, covering different themes and phases, are freely and openly available on the platform.

The African Veterinary Information Portal (AfriVIP) contains materials pertaining to veterinary science. All its course materials, videos, animations, and images carry an open licence.

OpenUCT is the open access institutional repository of the University of Cape Town (UCT). It makes available and digitally preserves the scholarly outputs produced at UCT, including theses and dissertations, journal articles, book chapters, technical and research reports, and OER. These resources are organized into collections that are mapped against the university's organizational structure.

University World News recently published a list of South African OER, available here

For higher education courseware, the following resources are useful:

 

Following adoption of the UNESCO Open Educational Resources (OER) Recommmendation, UNESCO launched the Dynamic Coalition for the OER Recommendation on 2 March 2020

Following adoption of the UNESCO Open Educational Resources (OER) Recommmendation, UNESCO launched the Dynamic Coalition for the OER Recommendation on 2 March 2020.

The multi-stakeholder coalition aims to expand and consolidate commitments to actions and strategies, as well as reinforce international cooperation among all stakeholders in the four areas of the Recommendation:

1.     Building capacity of stakeholders to create, access, re-use, adapt and redistribute OER;

2.     Developing supportive policy;

3.     Encouraging inclusive and equitable quality OER; and

4.     Nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER.

The work of the Dynamic Coalition has become more pertinent amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, as countless educational institutions have closed in response to various lockdown requirements. Millions of students and educators are required to study and work from home, thus necessitating greater use of freely available open and online learning resources.

In support of this, UNESCO has issued a call to support learning and knowledge sharing through OER amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Details about the call are available here.

In recognition of the importance of digital technologies, UNESCO has also launched a page featuring initiatives that it and its partners are involved in to harness the potential of digital technologies against COVID-19. You can access the page here.