OER ( the WIlliam and Flora Hewlett Foundation) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others. Or in the simplest form, OER is a concept that describes any educational resources that are free for use by teachers, students, without payment. OER movement make educational resources accessible to the public. They include: Learning content: full courses, course materials, content modules, learning objects, collections, and journals. Tools: Software to support the creation, delivery, use and improvement of open learning content including searching and organization of content, content and LMS, content development tools, and on-line learning communities. Implementation resources: Intellectual property licenses to promote open publishing of materials, design-principles, and localization of content.
Open and distance learning is of course, as we know it, is a system where students learn at a distance through an open system, which is usually associated with the openness in admission system and regulations such as no requirement for certain previous education, no age limit nor limit in study time. So ODL aims at increasing and equalizing access of the masses to quality education. It works on the spirit of openness. The separation between the teacher and the learners requires distance learning provider to set up a system and learning materials up in the front. Distance learning providers, especially those from open universities, would agree with me that preparing quality open and distance learning programs require a huge initial capital investment. Every time we want to offer a course, we will have to develop course materials in advance. So imagine if you have to develop 100 courses every year, as I do in my own university. And, every time there is a new technology, we also have to explore and see if we should or can use it to enhance the quality of our course offerings.
And when we talk about ODL, we are actually talking about the technology it is using. The one technology that has been being used since the beginning of DE in the 15 th century is print technology. Since the first generation of DE, which we know as correspondence education, print has been used for both delivering the materials as well as providing learners with supports. As technology advances, ODL also changes. And now, with all the communication and information technology, ODL has never been more enriched both in terms of content and interactions among learners and tutors. Content are digitized and communication is online, synchronous or asynchronous, learning has become interactive and ubiquitous. This development has raised new expectations, students want their learning materials to be more attractive, interactive, and rich. They also expect instant communication and feedback. So, this has put a lot of pressures on the tutors and instructors. They have to be creative and spend more time to develop digital materials for the students. As for the institution, it means cost.
ACCESS – both are committed to liberating access to education OPENNESS – both believe in open policy to promote equality and social justice.
As OER movement has produced millions of free quality learning content, and learning tools, it is no doubt that it has the opportunity to enhance the quality of ODL. ODL institutions can take advantage of the ample resources to enrich their learning materials, and can use free open source software to enhance its learning interactivity and management. This will in the long run hopefully decrease the cost for course production and will reduce initial capital cost needed if we want to use new learning tools. As asserted by some OER’s proponent (Wiley, Green and Soares): … that we are in the midst of a revolution……where for the first time in human history we have the tools to enable everyone to attain all the education they desire… at almost no cost…
A Survey to 420 academicians in 98 educational institutions in 9 Asian countries revealed that lecturers and administrators see any potential benefits of OER, such as: Gaining access to the best possible resources Promoting scientific research and education as publicly open activities Bringing down costs for students Bringing down costs for course development for institution Extending outreach to disadvantaged communities Assisting developing countries Becoming independent of publishers Creating more flexible materials Conducting research and development Building sustainable partnerships
65% of respondents of that survey also claimed that they have used OER in their instructions and when asked whether or not they will use in the future, 80% said yes. This shows that OERs have gained popularity and momentum. The fact that many OER repositories are being built and enriched every day also suggest that the enthusiasm around the promise of OER is being bought by many stakeholders.
There has been spotted that more than 400 OER initiatives in about 120 countries around the world have been and are being conducted to boost up the implementation of OER movement. One example is the OPAL Project that was collaboratively conducted by UNESCO, ICDE , European Foundation for Quality in E-learning (EFQUEL) , and several institutional partners. The OPAL Initiative moved beyond the issue of access to open educational resources (OER), and focused on innovation and quality through open educational practices (OEP) . OPAL aims at helping individuals and organizations to use OER in the best possible ways. It provides quality guideline and self-assessment tools to show how existing educational practices can be made increasingly open in order to better integrate OER and improve the quality of learning experiences.
However, regardless of the fast movement of the idea and development of OER, we still see lack of awareness among educators and students about the existence as well as benefit of OER. There are still hesitations and fear due to ignorance and uncertainty about the idea. Partly it’s because of the lack of clear understanding about their legality, and open licensing schemes that are available right now, such as the Creative Commons. And partly, it is also due to the lack of clear regulations or policy regarding OER in their environment. Another challenge is related to sustainability. OER, even though they are free for use, but certainly needs financing for producing and disseminating them. As Wiley asserted in one of his speech, producing and disseminating OER involve human resources and computers’ hardware and software, which means cost. So, we need a policy on how an OER project would be financed and by whom. But, sustainability also about maintaining the use and re-use of the OER themselves. How are we going to ensure that the OER will keep being used, revised, re-used so that they will continue to grow and beneficial. And since access to OER is enabled only through the use of ICT, ICT infrastructure is then the first element to be fulfilled. Lack of ICT infrastructure will decrease the benefit of OER in that particular environment. This is still a hindering factor in some countries. The other challenges for spreading the benefit of OER is language. Most OER that are available in the Internet are in foreign languages, mostly English, China, Spanish. Although there are OER in local languages, but quality OERs are mostly in foreign languages for some users. Related to language is also culture. It is no doubt that there are different cultural appropriateness among nations, and therefore there are challenges related to cultural adaptation for OER use and re-use.
Further barriers of taking advantage of OER were mentioned by the respondent of the survey I mentioned earlier.
The survey also reveals concerns among lecturers for publishing their materials as OERs. It is interesting to see that criticism from students and colleagues are among the concerns.
Tian Belawati, OER opportunities, UNESCO World OER Congress
• Welcome to ICDE’s panel discussion on The opportunities from OER and Open and Distance Education• ICDE is the leading global membership organization for the open and distance education community, and is open to institutions, educational authorities, commercial actors, and individuals.• ICDE has consultative partner status with UNESCO and shares UNESCO’s key value – the universal right to education for all. ICDE further derives its position from the unique knowledge and experience of its members throughout the world in the development and use of new methodologies and emerging technologies.• ICDE was founded in 1938 in Canada as the International Council for Correspondence Education and today has members from over 60 countries worldwide.• ICDEs Permanent Secretariat is in Oslo, Norway, and has been hosted by this country on a permanent basis since 1988. ICDE is supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and by membership fees.
• In this session, we will hear from five different panelists, including me.• My name is Tian Belawati, I am the Rector of Universitas Terbuka, the Indonesian Open University. And, since January this year, I am also the President of ICDE• The second panelist is Tony MAYS, Vice-President of the National Association for Distance Education and Open Learning in South Africa (Nadeosa)• The third panelist is Dr. Mona EL AYOUBI, irector of Learning & Innovations Strategies, Hamdan Bin Mohammed eUniversity, Dubai United Arab Emirates• Anthony CAMILLERI, Policy Consultant and Project Manager of European Foundation for Quality in E-Learning (EFQUEL), Belgium• And the last but certainly not the least, is Dr. Jim BARBER, Vice-Chancellor and CEO University of New England, Australia
OER and ODL: Opportunities and Challenges Tian Belawati, Rector of Universitas Terbuka, Indonesia & President of ICDE Open Seminar and ExhibitionUNESCO OER World Congress, Paris, 22 June 2012
BENEFITS of USING OERIDRC funded PANdora Project on Openness and Quality in Asia DE:Gaining access to the best possible resourcesPromoting scientific research and education as publicly open activitiesBringing down costs for studentsBringing down costs for course development for institutionExtending outreach to disadvantaged communitiesAssisting developing countriesBecoming independent of publishersCreating more flexible materialsConducting research and developmentBuilding sustainable partnerships among academic comunities
CHALLENGES• Awareness - Legal Issues – Regulatory Issues• Sustainability: Financing and Policy• ICT Infrastructures• Language - culture
BARRIERSLack of awarenessLack of skillsLack of timeLack of ability to locate specific and relevant OER for myteachingLack of ability to locate quality OER for my teachingNo reward system for staff members devoting time and energyLack of interest in pedagogical innovation among staffmembersLack of support from management level
CONCERNS FOR PUBLISHING OER A Fear over copyright infringement Ownership and legal barriers (other B than copyright) Awareness of the university OER C repository and other OER repositories D Lack of support E Lack of time F Relevancy of materials available G School/institution policy H Lack of reward and recognition I Lack of feedback from users J Skepticism over usefulness
CONCLUDING REMARK OER and ODL openness, access, quality Aim at eliminating access gap to high-quality education for all