The role of OER in building collaborative curricula and expanding access to education in Africa


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**Click the tab "Notes on Slide" below for presenter's notes that accompany and explain the slides.**

The African Virtual University is coordinating Phase II of the Multinational Project on Policy and Curriculum Conceptualization. The OCW Consortium was invited to participate as a strategic partner and to provide perspectives on OER globally to consider in the development of this project. This presentation discusses some examples of relevant OER projects in Indonesia and Brazil, and explores questions of extending access to higher education in African countries.

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  • Introduction to the OpenCourseWare Consortium(OCW Consortium) and some perspectives on open educational resources in the context of collaborative curriculum building for 27 African countries facilitated by the African Virtual University (AVU).We are honored to be a strategic partners of AVU for this project, and thank all participants for your kind invitation to join with you for this exciting project.
  • A brief introduction to the OCW Consortium.
  • In short, we support the Open Education movement in higher education worldwide. This map shows geographic locations of OCW Consortium members.
  • Collectively, members of the OCW Consortium have produced over 17,000 open courses that are available now for your use. Learners and educators are welcome to access this resources freely, to modify them, add local context and information, mix them together, and use them to build new courses and other educational activities.
  • We see Open Educational Resources (OER) as building blocks. They can be used to build activities that support your educational goals. Indeed, many projects are using OER to create opportunities for leaners and for educators that are quite different from one another.
  • I was asked to speak about some of these OER projects around the world, particularly those that might contribute examples or issues for consideration in this project of collaborative curriculum development. I’ll highlight a couple of these projects, starting with Indonesia, which has two example that I think are relevant to the goals of this workshop.
  • As you know, Indonesia is comprised of over 1000 islands. With such as distributed population, creating educational opportunities for its citizens can be quite challenging. One of the challenges is finding effective local instructors that have competency in all of the academic areas that institutions would like to offer.The Indonesian government, with the support of APTIKOM, a national association of computer science instructors, have decided to support the creation of high quality courses, developed by effective and expert faculty, that are produced as OER. These OER are available to instructors at other institutions to supplement their presentation of topics, and to learners who can follow the courses in their entirety on their own. Students at different universities can complete a percentage of their degree requirements through these OER for courses that are not offered at their home institution. In this way, Indonesia is able to capitalize on the expertise of their own faculty, while filling in gaps in curriculum through open sharing of high quality educational resources.Also worth noting, Indonesia faces a challenge that is likely familiar to many African institutions. Faculty at Indonesian universities struggle to gain recognition for their expertise outside of their local areas. Through the open sharing of OER, these faculty have found that they have gained this recognition, both within Indonesia, and outside Indonesia, since OER are available to be accessed by anyone, anywhere in the world.
  • Another interesting activity being undertaken in Indonesia is the use of OER in formal educational program. The University of Bandun wanted to develop programs in water management. As you know, developing new courses and programs requires a significant financial and time commitment. Rather than investing in faculty developing theoretical lectures, they decided to use these lectures freely and openly offered by Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and focus their development efforts on contextualizing theoretical and practical approaches in Indonesian environments and society.
  • Students benefit from this approach by having more hands on opportunities to explore the application of theory and approach in their local situations. Faculty become engaged in producing locally relevant activities and content, which is then put back as OER so that the rest of the world can benefit from their experience and begin to understand how theoretical concepts can be interpreted and operationalized in different contexts around the world.
  • Moving to the other side of the world, I would like to make a few comments on an OER activity in Brazil that speaks to the question of increasing access to higher education that was highlighted by many of the Ministers this morning.
  • Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) is Brazil’s largest non-governmental provider of distance education, serving approximately 90,000 online students. They offer a number of their courses as open educational resources. Students can complete these courses with no registration or fees, and, if they achieve passing marks on the embedded test, they are able to print a self declaration of learning. This certificate carries no credit and does not complete any degree requirements, but nonetheless, they have had over 1.5 million of these certificates printed. There are no fees for the certificate, rather, they require these learners to fill out a survey before printing the self declaration. This has given them considerable data.
  • The data collected has shown that they are reaching learners that they do not reach with their for credit, paid course offerings. In particular, 40% nave no post-secondary training or education, nearly 55% of leaners are women, and the vast majority are low income learners.
  • In short, FGV has found that their open courses has resulted in increased access.Also of note, FGV has been able to directly attribute more than 8500 enrollments in formal courses to learners following open courses, so there has been financial benefit to the institution in addition to mission benefit.
  • I would like to use a personal example to illustrate the need to increased access and how OER could help meet learners’ needs.I had the great privilege to live in Madagascar for more than 5 years, working with students and colleagues at several universities. The example I would like to use, however, is actually that of my brother-in-law. He lived in Beloha, a town in the deep south of the country. It was without a secondary school, so with the encouragement and support of his family, he left the town to live with family elsewhere and attend secondary school there. He completed secondary school with good marks, and achieved good results on the university entrance exam. However, the universities were oversubscribed and could not meet the demand of the number of qualified students seeking placement. He waited a year and took the exam again, with good results, however, again the demand could not be met. This happened again and again, until he finally gained admission after 4 years.His ambition was to become a science teacher and to petition the government to open a secondary school in Beloha to provide educational opportunities to the children of his community. Waiting four years to gain university admission to become a science teacher required great motivation on his part.
  • If my brother in law had been a girl, he likely would not have been able to sustain this motivation for education for four years. Girls face increased familial and societal pressure to marry and have children in their 20s, so every year of postponement greatly decreases the likelihood that they will enroll and complete a degree.We are asking a lot of students to sustain motivation for higher education in the face of insufficient capacity. Imagine, however, if they have open and free access to high quality educational resources, such as those in the AVU OER repository. This enables motivated learners to continue learning even if not formally enrolled in higher education, which can help maintain motivation. This motivation could be further increased if students could complete a percentage of their degree requirements through OER, so they could make progress towards their goals while awaiting a place at university.
  • We have heard from many distinguished speakers today about the population curve across Africa, and the significant proportion of the population under 15 years of age. 20 years ago a qualified student had to wait 4 years for a place at university. Imagine the number of young people who are now in similar situations with a greatly increased population and no corresponding major increase in capacity of universities. To meet this demand would require a furious pace of building physical infrastructure, which carries a similarly burdensome financial investment. Alternatively, we can seek non traditional solutions, in which OER can play an important role.
  • One of the hesitations I hear concerns ICT infrastructure. Not all learners have access to digital resources via the internet, and investment in ICT infrastructure can be prohibitively expensive for segments of society.It’s important to bear in mind that the goal of OER is to improve access to high quality education and to facilitate improvements in teaching and learning. While digitization and internet distribution makes this easy, it does not prohibit printing these materials or finding other routes for distributing content. A recent study in the US showed that to print and distribute a 220 page open textbook cost approximately $5, which represents a cost effective option over publisher-produced textbooks if printed materials are needed.However…
  • It is important to remember that there have been astonishing transformations brought through technology in the past 5-10 years, and access to both technology and the internet is increasing daily.A couple examples:
  • M-pesa was introduced in Kenya in April 2007 as a way to pay bills and transfer money by mobile phone. In 5 years it has gone from nothing to becoming the biggest money transfer system in Kenya. Many people cannot now imagine conducting these transactions in any other way.
  • This has not effected just one segment of society, rather, it has had broad impact across socio-economic and geographic indicators. This represents a transformative change in a very short time frame based on technology use.
  • The other example I’d like to use is in Senegal. In 2003, I went to a village outside of Kedougou with a group of students. The students lived with families there for a week. At the end of the week, they reported that they felt a bit isolated, and the only regular connection with the outside world was the taxi brousse that came through a few times a week.
  • Two years later I went back to the village with another group of students. They were having a celebration, with dancing and discussions involving the whole village. In the middle of a discussion, a man reached into his pocket and answered his mobile phone. It was his son who was living outside of Paris. The man passed the phone around so his son could participate remotely in the naming ceremony.What does that mean? First, the world has shrunk. In two years, with the provision of mobile phone service, it became possible for families living in distant parts of the world to participate in real time in celebrations and important events. That enables communities to continue, or to develop, without being restricted to a common geographic location. This has important implications for education and for learning communities.Second, it’s a reminder of the importance of mobile across Africa.
  • Mobile phone penetration across the continent is relatively high, and represents the greatest example of the integration of technology in every day life. It’s important, therefore, to consider mobile devices in approaches to education and in the dissemination of open educational resources.
  • The OCW Consortium is a global organization, dedicated to advancing open education and its impact on global education. We help institutions and organizations realize their objectives in open education, and are eager to support your work in these endeavors.
  • We will promote your projects and activities to a global audience to increase the visibility of your universities and faculty, along with showcasing the diversity of educational and social contexts across the African continent.
  • However, you have undoubtedly noticed that on our map of members, Africa is under represented. We invite you to join the OCW Consortium and help us advance the impact of open education worldwide. You can join via our website at, or through the AVU.
  • We also invite you to join us at our annual conference, which will take place in Bali, Indonesia next May. This conference brings together academics, project managers, educational administrators and policy makers from around the world to exchange ideas and information on open educational efforts. Please come and meet your colleagues from around the world.
  • We hope youwill join us. Thank you.
  • The role of OER in building collaborative curricula and expanding access to education in Africa

    1. 1. Who we are
    2. 2. advancing formal and informal learning through the worldwide sharing and use of free, open, high-quality education materials organized as courses.The OCW Consortium is a worldwide community of hundreds of universities andassociated organizations committed to advancing Open Educational Resources andtheir impact on global education. We serve as a resource for starting and sustainingOCW projects, as a coordinating body for the movement on a global scale, and as aforum for exchange of ideas and future planning.Le Consortium OpenCourseWare est une communauté mondiale de plusieurscentaines duniversités et d’institutions engagées à promouvoir les ressourceséducatifs libres et faire progresser ses impacts sur léducation globale. Nous sommeslà pour aider au démarrage et au suivi des projets OCW en tant qu’organisme decoordination du mouvement à léchelle mondiale et en tant que creuset didées etd’orientations stratégiques.
    3. 3. 300+ institutions and organizations worldwideWe support the open education movement in higher education
    4. 4. OER and OCW as building blocksbdesham
    5. 5. 300+ institutions and organizations worldwide Indonesia
    6. 6. Source:• Distributed over 1000+ islands• Challenge of a shortage of local highly competent instructors• Support for creating high quality courses as OER• Raises the profile of these professors• Students can complete a percentage of degree requirements through these OER
    7. 7. CC-BY-NC-SA by USAID images
    8. 8. 300+ institutions and organizations worldwide Brazil
    9. 9. Successful achievement on test allows learners to print a self declaration of learning
    10. 10. >1.5 million printed self declarations of learning from successful completion of open courses Through open courses they are reaching a population they don’t normally serve >40% have no education or training beyond secondary school Income range % Gender %>8.500 enrollments in formal courses 77% up to US$ 1250,00
    11. 11. >1.5 million printed self declarations of learning from successful completion of open courses Through open courses they are reaching a population they don’t normally serve >40% have no education or training beyond secondary school Income range % Gender %>8.500 enrollments in formal courses 77% up to US$ 1250,00
    12. 12. Source:
    13. 13. What about girls?CC-BY Madagascar 2012 by Petros Persad
    14. 14. Percentage of population <15
    15. 15. Challenge of ICT infrastructureGoal of OER is to improve access to high quality educationand facilitate improvements in teaching and learningCan make OERs print and still be cost effective – US $5.23 for 220 page opentextbook printed By Opensourseway
    16. 16. However…Technology is rapidly changing andimpacting daily life across sectors andsocio-economic indicators
    17. 17. Source: nothing to biggest money transfer system in Kenya in 5 years
    18. 18. Source: technology.cgap.orgImpacting broad swath of societyTransformative change
    19. 19. Source:
    20. 20. CC-BY-NC-SA by Lisa Goldman
    21. 21. Importance of Mobile Devices CC-BY-NC-SA Jrhode
    22. 22. How can we support you?
    23. 23. create networks for support of projects, findinginternational collaborators
    24. 24. www.ocwconsortium.orgIncrease visibility of your universities, professors anddiversity of educational and social contexts
    25. 25. www.ocwconsortium.orgWe need your participationWe invite you to join us
    26. 26. Global Conference 2013Bali, Indonesia8 -10 May 2013
    27. 27. .Open Sharing, Global Benefits
    28. 28. Photo credits: Share IMG_4591 cc-by-sa La belle tzigane cc-by-saKaren and Sharon cc-by-nc-saDiscussion Asian Library Interior 5 cc-by-nc-sa Petru cc-by-nc-sa Opensourceways cc-by-sa
    29. 29.