SAT: Adoption Of OERs To Improve Teaching And Learning At The Centre For Open And Lifelong Learning (Brenda Kulobone)

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Brenda Kulobone
9 January 2019

Abstract

This presentation gives an overview of a project that deals with the adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). NUST is a dual mode university, offering full-time, part-time and distance modes of study. In the NUST context, innovation is not about inventing new technologies but adopting best practices or using existing products used elsewhere in the world that has proved to be effective in assisting students to perform better (Kulobone, 2018). Consequently, the Centre for Open and Distance Learning (COLL), house a section that is delegated with the design, development, and delivery of Open and Distance Learning instructional materials. At present, full-time and part-time students, use prescribed textbooks whereas Distance Education (DE) students use self-contained institutional study guides. Lecturers from the university and/or Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) from different industries develop these guides using content from the prescribed textbooks.

This presentation discusses COLL’s experiences in the development process of the study guides. It explains various challenges affecting the development process, which include among others, delays due to human resources, lack or minimal use of multimedia content, copyright issues, and cost. Occasionally, semesters commence while study guides are still under development, resulting in late deliveries that affect studies of the DE students. Additionally, many DE students do not afford to purchase textbooks on top of the high tuition fees, which is inclusive of the study guide they ought to receive from the Centre. Moreover, some course developers reproduce prescribed textbooks, which means that the quality of ODL is suppressed as the study guides lack distance education methodologies, as a result, do not necessarily help the DE student who studies in isolation to learn holistically. Often times, study guides are developed with minimal or no interactive features designed to enhance learning in the 21st century and thus lack relevance to current learning pedagogies. However, these guides are the only study resources that most DE students use in order to pass their courses.

Lastly, the presentation focuses on the importance of OER because OER has the potential to solve numerous challenges facing higher education (Boston Consulting Group, 2013; West & Victor, 2011 cited in Cox & Trotter, 2017). This discussion is extended to the appropriation of COLL to join in the OER movement by using OER in their course development process and by engaging course developers in producing open textbooks for institutional core courses.  It is assumed that by using OER and creating open textbooks, COLL could save time and money on the course content development. Moreover, OER could promote collaboration and networking on materials for core courses, which could provide DE students with holistic learning opportunities.

This presentation will demonstrate how course developers will be supported to create a pilot open textbook course on one of the core courses: Language in Practice. This core course is part of English, one of the curriculums identified as a major challenge to students at NUST (NUST Annual plan, 2017). With proper networking and collaboration through Google Docs, this course could be improved. 

References

Cox, G. & Trotter, H. (2017). Factors shaping lecturers’ adoption of OER at three South African universities. In C. Hodgkinson-Williams & P. B. Arinto (Eds.) Adoption and impact of OER in the Global South, (pp. 287–347). Retrieved from https: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.601935 

Kulobone, M. B. (2018). H817-TMA01 submitted to the Open University as part of the H818 course.

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