The role of OER localisation in building a knowledge partnership for development: The TESSA and TESS-India teacher education projects
1. The role of OER localisation
in building a knowledge
development: The TESSA
and TESS-India teacher
(Open University, UK)
Photo: Alison Buckler CC-BY
2. ‘What is the future of open
education? Where is it
going? I think there is only
one answer: localisation’
‘Localization must involve locals; a
community of practice bolsters
localization; localization must be done in
appropriate formats; and effective
localization is directly proportional to
understanding local contexts’ (Tiffany Ivins)
9. Knowledge for
OER: A new paradigm of
● How have two Open
University (UK) based
projects designed and
facilitated the localisation of
● How can communities best
be supported to localise
● What challenges still need to
● How can we conceptualise a
new paradigm of open
education for development?
India: needs 1.33 million
Bihar: 75% of teacher ed.
colleges did no training
needs 5 million more
teachers by 2030 (UNESCO,
Photo: Leigh-Anne Perryman CC-BY
•India - Bihar: 45% of teachers don’t
have minimum qualification.
•India: some states, only 1% pass
Teacher Eligibility Test
•Sub-Saharan Africa: >50% of
primary school children “learning so
little that they had no value added
to their education” (Brookings, 2012).
•India – ASER: “A ritual exercise
bringing the same disturbing but
worsening news” (Deccan Herald,
Photo: Eric Parker CC-BY-NC
12. TESSA - Teacher Education in Sub Saharan Africa
Original member countries:
Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa,
Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda
Literacy, Numeracy, Science,
Social Science, Life skills/Arts
•Text based units structured around:
Photo: Alison Buckler CC-BY
– activities, case studies and resources
– ‘professional learning and strategy toolkit’
•Available online and in print
13. TESS-India - Teacher Education through
School based Support in India
Assam,Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh,
Odisha,Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal
English, Math Science, Leadership,
Language & Literacy
•Text (inc video) based units structured around:
– activities, case studies and resources
•Stand alone, self directed study units
•Available online in multiple formats, including for
Photo: TESS-India CC-BY-SA
•Participant observation at localisation
workshops in three states (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and
•Analysis of workshop reports
•Interviews with localisation stakeholders (two facilitators
and three practitioners)
•Retrospective analysis of adaptation documents
•Retrospective analysis of interview transcripts with
adaptation stakeholders (two facilitators and eight
participants from Ghana, Kenya and Sudan)
15. Localisation - TESSA
Taken from OER Adaptation and Reuse across cultural contexts in Sub Saharan Africa:
Lessons from TESSA (Teacher Education in Sub Saharan Africa)
17. Theme 1: Technology and Time
“I’d give people much more time to familiarise themselves with the underlying
philosophy of TESSA, all of it really, the teaching and learning, interaction, distance
learning, OERs…” (TESSA Curriculum Director, 2010)
The localisers “were
working with hard
copies, scribbling on
them. Printing and
typing took a lot of
difficult. This is a
Photo: Alison Buckler CC-BY
18. Theme 2: Cultural differences and the ‘right
kind’ of expert
“Most of the teachers
are clueless about how
to teach… Frankly
speaking…there are two
types of teachers. First
are the ones who have
got no interest in
teaching and just teach
for the sake of it. There
will be no impact on
those. The other type
are the willing types.
These teachers will use
the TDUs most and will
adapt them as well”
(TESS-India SLE, 2014)
Photo: Alison Buckler CC-BY
19. Theme 3: Quality, control and openness
“The issue of
of assuring quality
in a context where
all (in principle)
has not been
resolved, and the
from one context
to another is
(Falconer, et al, 2013: 4)
Photo: Alison Buckler CC-BY
20. Theme 3: Quality, control and openness (2)
“What TESSA was trying to do
was to have a template that
gave a structure and a form
so when people used it they
knew there was a case study,
they knew there was an
activity, but that activity is
related to them in their
context… But, underneath all
of that there was an approach
to teaching and learning that
is consistent.” (TESSA Curriculum
“The objectives have been decided beforehand. So I was trying always to keep
these objectives, not to distract from these objectives.” (TESSA Versioner, Sudan, 2010)
21. Theme 3: Quality, control and openness (3)
“I would like to see more
from the State people…
like if they want to see
more assessment done in
the classroom or if they
want more attention paid
to low achievers that sort
of thing… Really, I’d like
more radical localisation
rather than safe
localisation but there’s a
reluctance, a deference
that gets in the way.”
(TESS-India Academic Manager,
23. Conclusion: Creating a knowledge partnership
Openness & ‘embedded’ engagement with
ALISON (3 mins) [2.02] [3:06]
Localisation is one of the OER movement’s biggest challenges, but also one that is under-explored and under-critiqued.
Conference on OER for a multicultural world, very little attention on local relevance or cultural transfer.
Localisation central tenet of projects we represent - TESSA and TESS-India - both of which are creating OER for huge, gepgraphically and culturally diverse groups of teachers and teacher educators in SSA and India respectively.
The Pan-African and Pan-Indian materials were written collaboratively by academics from the OU and our partner institutions in India and SSA - so they are, to a degree - contextualised at a national and regional level. But it is difficult to underestimate the diversity of classrooms in these contexts.
How can the TESSA project, for example, ensure that the OER are relevant for teachers working in this school in northen Nigeria...
… where class sizes are into the 80s and 90s…
… and where there are quite literally no resources for teaching and learning.
But also written for teachers in this school in South Africa… school much better resourced but higher levels of personal poverty among the pupils with over half being brought up by grandparents and with 1 in 6 HIV positive.
Similarly in India… the TESS-India materials needed to be appropriate for schools like this one in urban Uttar Pradesh...
ALISON (...2 min ends)
And this one in rural Bihar.
Of course every classroom is different and every teacher has different needs, which is why the TESSA and TESS-India OER are also pedagogically and logistically designed to be easily adaptable by the end user.
But we argue that this is not enough and that to better support these end users - these teachers and teacher educators - to engage with these materials, to learn from them, and to engage with the possibility of adapting them further, supported localisation embedded within OER production is one way of better enabling this engagement and, therefore, improving the quality and relevance of the OER.
So it is the process of supported localisation that we are going to talk about today.
The research questions we began this study with are listed here. The first three are necessarily procedural - we wanted to know what was going on inside these localisation processes and what challenges were encountered.
But we also wanted to explore this issue of localisation on a more theoretical level. We are interested in how OER can improve the quality of education on a global level, not just education for all, but quality education for all. We wanted to explore the possibility of OER sitting within a new paradigm of international development that brings together two existing paradigms of knowledge for development and partnerships for development - we suggest that the collaborative creation and supported adaptation of OER could form a new paradigm of knowledge partnerships for development.
So today we’re going to present some of our findings as well as our emerging framework of OER and knowledge partnerships.
LEIGH-ANNE (1min 30) [1.12] [1:19]
I’m a researcher with the OER Research Hub and TESS-India is one of our collaborations. Now Alison has painted a broad contextual picture, I’m going to focus in on the education systems of the two geographical areas we cover in our research. While it’s certainly necessary to be sensitive to the varied contexts of schooling in sub-Saharan Africa and India, a common concern is the lack of teachers, the quality of teaching and, consequently, the standards of learning - issues that are addressed by both TESSA and TESS-India.
Both India and SSA feature enormous numbers of unqualified teachers and insufficient capacity to train new and existing teachers.
For example, India currently needs 1.33 million teachers, yet in the state of Bihar, 75 per cent of teacher education institutions did not conduct any training between 2007-2010 (UNICEF, 2010).
Moving to Sub-Saharan Africa, UNESCO estimates that the region will need an additional five million teachers by 2030 (UNESCO, 2013)..
LEIGH-ANNE (1min 30) [1.30] [1:41]
Moving from quantity to quality, there’s no escaping the fact that the low quality of teaching and learning is a great concern in both SSA and India. For example, in Bihar state in northern India, 45 % of school teachers don’t have the minimum qualification for teaching (MHRD, 2013).
Ranging more widely in India it’s also a great concern that in some states only 1% pass the Teacher Eligibility Test – passing which is mandatory to teach in government skills.
Returning to SSA, in 2012, the Brookings Institute established a baseline in education quality below which students ‘were learning so little that they had no value added to their education’. A subsequent report estimated that over half of the 111 million children attending primary school in Sub-Saharan Africa were below this baseline (Brookings, 2012).
Back in India again, since 2005 the NGO Pratham has been conducting the Annual Status of Education Report which year on year has revealed ever-falling standards of learning, resulting in the Deccan Herald deeming the 2013 report ‘a ritual exercise bringing the same disturbing but worsening news’
There’s a clear need for work to improve the quality of both teachers, and teaching in these two contexts. I’ll now hand over to Tim who will say something about the two projects that are the focus of our research.
TIM (2min 30) [2.35] [1:20]
match tess india format [1 minute]
Introduction to TESSA
TESSA is an OER project based at the Open University (UK)
Initial Hewlett funding 2005 -
It represents a consortium of teacher education institutions from nine original member countries in Sub-Saharan Africa shown here.
continuing to grow with new member countries
Between 2006 and 2009 TESSA academics created a bank of 75 Pan-African teacher development OER study units in the subjects here.
Materials were developed collaboratively through a series of workshops and followed up with virtual working. online / email / phone / conference calls
Resources are conceptualised as school-based ‘professional learning and strategy toolkit’ - supporting teachers to make changes in their practice -
Use was institution led - integration of the materials into existing programmes (OU of Sudan incorporated materials into 3rd -final-year of in-service BEd, -------or the creation of new programmes (OU of Tanzania - created a new qualification diploma in education course) depending on the needs of each institution-
Tim: introduce TESS-India (2 min 30) [1.40] [1:15]
TESS-India is an OER project based at the Open University (UK)
DfID funding received in November 2012 and current phase ends May 2015
The project works in 7 states in India outlined here
125 Pan-Indian teacher development OER study units are being created in the subjects at both primary and secondary level.
Again materials were developed collaboratively between OU and Indian academics
Teacher development units are stand alone and are self directed in the nature of study - again they look at supporting teachers to make changes in their practice -
Use of media within both projects were similar but there was significant use of video in TESS-India
TIM (1 minute) [0.18] included in the next 3:08]
Collected data through observation of the localisation workshops and interviews including the retrospective analysis of TESSA documents and interviews.
To understand the TESS-India localisation process (which is ongoing at the time of writing) participant observation at localisation workshops allowed for detailed examination of the ways in which those tasked with localising the resources worked together to identify aspects of the adaptation and the support required for this task.
Observation was carried out by the Hindi-speaking author in order to capture the details and nuances that were difficult for the other authors to interpret through a translator. Additional data collected = workshop reports and interviews with participants including two facilitators and three practitioners (conducted in early 2014). It was intended that analysis of change logs that localisers are keeping in order to document the changes they suggest as well as their rationale for suggesting those changes would be included, but these are only just emerging at the time of data-collection.
The findings of the TESS-India experience have been analysed alongside data from TESSA including a
retrospective analysis of TESSA adaptation documents and interviews conducted between 2009-2010 with two facilitators and eight participants (four Ghanaian, two Kenyan and two Sudanese) from three TESSA versioning workshops.
TIM (3 min) [3.35] [3:08]
TESSA, versioning took place through (2007 /2009)
A collective decision was made that 40 per cent of each Pan-African study unit would be open for adaptation in the supported process; it was intended that this would ensure the integrity and internal consistency of the OER’ .
Initial whole project workshop was held with TESSA institution coordinators from all institutions in order to ‘develop collective understandings of the factors to be considered when adapting OER
A versioning handbook was created from this workshop to be provided to all participants, and at some of the workshops trips to local schools were included to act as a basis for discussion and as case studies for testing out ideas regarding what changes would be appropriate.
Regional (West , East, Southern) workshops lasting two or three days, led by curriculum manager (OU person) and exec chair (African academic) - institution coordinators were there but also the people selected (by coordinators) to do the versioning (2 per subject per country 5 subjects).
At least one draft version would be complete per subject by the end of the workshop
followed up by almost a year of materials development with some collaborative support from the OU
All versioning was done in english, then translated.
All versioning was done electronically with the exception of Sudan where access to technology was limited therefore versioning was done in hard copy, and then transcribed into a digital format
TIM (3 min) [1:40] [1:53]
TESS-India process was very similar apart from
Versioning was done in local language, so materials were translated before the workshops
Localisers were selected by a third party(NGO) responsible for process
Localisers were directly paid. In TESSA it was part of their institutional workload
There was a technology barrier which was universal in terms of localisers being able type in Hindi, not physical access to technology which it was in Sudan
Allowed adaptation of all content but guided them through the workshops and handbook to keep the pedagogic approach the same
LEIGH-ANNE (3mins) [2:30] [2:33]
Three main themes emerged from our research findings and I’ll talk you through them now.
The first, we’ve identified as Technology and Time.
Starting with TIME localisation workshop participants for both TESS-India and TESSA said they felt the workshops too short.
One reason was that the localisers were unfamiliar with concept of OER and so they needed more time for induction. TESSA – particularly problematic. So, OER familiarity was pre-requisite for T-I localisers but didn’t amount to much real understanding.
This quote sums up some of the issues….QUOTE
Many localisers also said they felt that the deadlines for returning reversioned materials were too tight.
This, in turn was related to problems with technology
For example, sharing computers was common in both projects.
Internet unavailability was also an issue, especially for TESSA. For example, one Nigerian teacher training institute was disconnected for 5 weeks at a time.
Technological competence was also an issue in that, as Tim has mentioned, Indian localisers could not type in Hindi and instead annotated hard copies.
Managing this adds another level of quality assurance to the process.
LEIGH-ANNE (3mins) [3:45] [2:51]
The second theme relates to cultural differences and the notion of the right kind of expert
Starting with TESS-India – at both the resource-writing stage and the localisation stage subject experts from UK OU and from India were brought together.
Cultural differences emerged from this process regarding respect for expertise and localisers’ reluctance to change experts’ material
In addition, participants weren’t familiar with cross-cultural working and there was a reluctance to address consequent tensions
For example, some of the localisers seemed to feel affronted when changes to their work were suggested but there was no mechanism for dealing with this.
The localisers for the two projects typically came from different backgrounds.
TESSA - many localisers were materials authors already and understood the aims of the project, but in TESS-India many localisers were subject experts who’d written textbooks for Indian education system.
However, many of the TESS-India localisers were so senior they were out of touch with on the ground experiences of teachers in their state. Some had a deeply negative perception of teachers and questioned the value of OER. SEE QUOTE.
Challenge – navigating the ex-textbook writers’ emphasis on subject over pedagogy (the TESS-India resources emphasise methods over topic); and the textbook writers’ preference for a formal writing style (which contrasted with the more informal writing style of the TESS-India materials)..
There was also a need to provide training in active learning techniques during the workshops, as these techniques featured heavily in the TESS-India resources but were not commonly understood by the localisers..
LEIGH-ANNE (1min) this plus next slide is [3:20] [1:42]
Theme 3: Quality, control and openness
Quality is a big issue for OER movement but it’s also a challenge, especially in development-related projects (see QUOTE).
The two-tier TESSA and TESS-India localisation process both feature a quite directive initial phase of resource adaptation, intend to offer a way of ensuring that the changes that are needed to meet local needs actually do take place during the production process, while also allowing for further localisation by teachers and teacher-educators once they have bought in to the resources’ use within their own practice.
However, our research data highlights questions around how the issues of control, quality and openness interact.
Leigh-Anne (1 min 30) [00:53]
While in both projects localisation was intended from the start, TESSA managed this process quite tightly by determining sections of the materials that could be versioned, and sections that couldn’t. Localisers were then free to adapt to their own contexts within this framework.
These two quotes give a flavour of the process: QUOTES
Could be seen that the controlled nature of the process in TESSA prevented some versioners from fully engaging with the concept of being a ‘partner’ in the process. However, it actually led to more changes than with TESS-India.
We’ve represented the dynamic between institutional control, localiser freedom and the level of openness involved in the localisation progress diagrammatically. Note that this is not a quantitative representation and the numbers are just a rough guide showing direction for each element of the diagram.
In TESSA, the fairly high level of institutional control resulted in a moderate level of localiser freedom but ultimately a pretty high level of openness, evidenced in the extent to which the resources were adapted.
Leigh-Anne (1min 30) [1:10] [1:02]
TESS-India – lack of guidance and structured support about what to change led not to freedom but, instead, to minimal changes being made, informed by a deferential approach to other academics’ work and a hierarchical view of knowledge ownership. This, in turn, limited the level of openness.
So I’m going to conclude the presentation with three points.
The first is that our comparison of the TESSA and TESS-India projects’ attempts to increase the relevance and usability of their OER was in no way an attempt to suggest that one way was better than the other. We just believe that nowhere near enough attention is being given to the cultural transfer of OER, and that until more attention is given to the frameworks and processes of OER development, and not just distribution and accessibility, the potential of OER in improving education quality on a global level will not be realised.
Our second, and related, point relates to the moral and ethical imperatives of OER producucers to help enable this greater access on multicultural levels. Capacity building built into the TESSA and TESS-India OER development models. This capacity building was conceptualised around the workshops and through the training of academics to adapt the OER.
When you consider this capacity building alongside Joanna Wild’s stairway model of OER engagement, at best the academics were probably moved into the medium engagement category. No small achievement - and in many ways was the aim. The TESSA project is considered to be a big success and materials used in teacher development progs all over SSA. But we suggest that greater investment in capacity building, to move the academics into the high engagement category would have led to a richer set of OERs. So our second concluding point is actually a question that we are taking forward in our next research project around the responsibility and moral imperative of OER producers to enable people to benefit from OER.
Our research highlights an interesting dynamic between quality control on the behalf on institutional leaders of OER projects, the freedom of localisers and the ultimate openness of the OER.
This diagram shows some of the factors affecting the localisation process that could contribute to a knowledge partnership approach.
See that it includes an amount of institutional, top-down control.
This is an emerging model and we are aware that it might be considered to counter the spirit of open. But we think that these are important issues to debate if OER is to be both equitable and sustainable. We suggest that it is not only the end product of an OER that needs to be contextualised, but also the frameworks and processes that lead to and support its contextualisation.
This leads to our third and final concluding point which is related to this diagram which represents our emerging framework of OER development as a knowledge partnership.