#oerhf notes part 4 – afternoon panel on international OER

Another scrappy set of notes for me I’m afraid as I was on the panel at the time. This was an interesting and inspiring overview of global practice, with an emphasis on different structures, models and aims. It was much more practically based than the morning’s more advocacy centred panel. There were a very good range of engaging speakers and despite being an early afternoon/after lunch session a lot of audience interaction.

Panel: International OER Policy: Sharing Goals and Objectives Across
(Moderated by: Melissa Hagemann, Senior Program Manager, Information
Program, Open Society Institute)

* Abel Caine, Program Specialist, Section for ICT in Education, Science
and Culture, Information Society Division, UNESCO
Abel talked briefly about the original role of UNESCO in defining the term
OER at a famous conference nearly 10 years ago, and suggested a possible
anniversary conference to bring about the next phase of OER. UNESCO are
developing an OER platform for their materials, enabling them to be
adapted and reused – he gave the example of a model curriculum for
Journalism educations which has a backlog of 120 universities across the
world wanting to adapt the model. He didn’t mention it in the presentation
but he mentioned earlier to me that one of these will be a guide to OER

* David Kernohan, UKOER Programme Manager, Joint Information Systems
Committee (JISC)
David spoke eloquently and persuasively (yeah, right…) about UKOER,
emphasising the low levels of project funding, requirements of
sustainability for projects (including the model of match funding and
decentralisation) and enumerated the large number of things that are not
mandated by the programme but are left up to the 29 projects to make
decisions on (eg. metadata, file formats, release mechanism, promotion
mechanism, business model…). He noted the development of an OER infokit
to be launched in July, and a showcase conference on July 23rd
(http://www.jisc.ac.uk/oer10). He was heckled throughout by a squeaky door.

* Catherine Ngugi, Director, OER Africa
Catherine emphasised (as the OER Africa programme does) the practical
applications of using OER in a resource scarce environment – it is not and
cannot be a sideline activity. Recognition and reward for academics
releasing materials are important aspects of their work, and they ensure
that release projects are responding to a recognised need rather than just
releasing into nothingness.

Dr. Wayne Mackintosh, Director, OER Foundation
Wayne apologised profusely for being very jet-lagged. OER commons NZ is an environment for academics in New Zealand to release material into, which also provides free training in the creation and use of reusable and portable content. Wayne saw wider work as a parallel to the (FL)OSS movement, where both giving and receiving material is important – he noted that OER is very good at giving material, but less confident in receiving it.

Ben Janssen, Senior Policy Advisor, Open University of the Netherlands
Wikiwijs is a platform for Dutch academics to release material (under CC-BY) for reuse and repurposing. Born out of support from senior government ministers and a context where funding was available, wikiwijs exists to stimulate the use of open materials in teaching at all levels of granularity. A key concern is the professionalisation of teaching via the release of material and the skills developed therein. The platform already supports a peer review/rating system, and is being adapted for further use in other sectors.

Carolina Rossini, Coordinator, OER Brazil & Fellow, Berkman Center at Harvard University
The approach to OER in Brazil is both top-down and bottom-up, and an initial focus on online and distance learning has become a broader emphasis on OER, especially around awareness raising and community building. Despite tax exemption for academic publishers, the cost of textbooks is still prohibitively high and a recent government green paper has highlighted areas where OER release can be of great benefit to the country. An open publisher for educational materials (sealo?) is focusing on core books that are out-of-print and academic journals, releasing both under CC licenses. Carolina noted that the American Chamber of Commerce is currently providing teaching materials around copyright to 8-12 year-olds in Brazil which is seen as unhelpful to the growth of OER.

Questions – there were questions around economic arguments for OER, with Holland and the UK reporting research into business models but difficulties in identifying valid methodological models. The ongoing issue of content as it relates to pedagogy (and whether the two can be meaningfully separated was raised – it was noted that UNESCO are producing OERs on pedagogy, and there was a nod to the Learning Design community who specifically share pedagogic models.

(this text licensed under CC-BY 2.5 (UK) – these are my personal notes
from the sessions, and any errors or omissions are my fault)

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