IITE: November 16 Session on OER

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Patrick McAndrew
28 November 2010

The session of the iiTE conference on OER chaired by Svetlana Kyneszava and Sergei Goncharov.

Rory McGreal: Is the new UNESCO Chair in OER at Athabasca University. The background he gave was that there are pressures on one side for the anti-copyright legislation to become very restrictive, and on the other to use Open Educational Resources that threaten those who believe protection is the way forward. However now need to rethink copyright and think in terms of openness. In Athabasca now using aupress as an open and free publishers – examples include mobile learning, theory of learning and learning design. Rory also pointed out that in video games “1 twitch” the movement of a joystick (200 ms) takes the time a signal goes 20,000km – i.e. around the world. The world was therefore made for playing video games J. OER offers a way that through openness it can address both sharing and cultural elements through editing. The web offers great connections plus also for development should value the needs of mobiles users – 3.4 billion mobile devices/1.3 internet mobile users in all countries. For example SMS took off first in Philipines rather than Canada. Designing for mobile requires balancing needs across conflicting requirements. Rory ended by pointing out the those such as the Royal Society and even the Pope are now in favour of open design.

Toshio Kobayashi, from Japan, described some of the background to OER before leading into the situation in Japan. There OER has not become established – while OCW has. However while the OCW model has taken hold in various places across the world. He has carried out a case study of Japan OCW (JOCW) – which often has not had as much impact as might be expected. He also found that the approach was too linked to existing material and culture while newer trends are to use more media, look for affordable approaches with value added services on top. His pointers to the future are the linking with global sharing of learning objects, and the increasing expectations of cultural transfer – exemplified by the UNESCO Russia initiative.

Alexei Sigalov, spoke about the survey work carried out for IITE UNESCO on Russian HE use of OER. There is actually an existing large investment >10m($? or roubles?) in free resources e.g.s include school-collection.edu.ru and fcior.edu.ru. But these are often restricted to Russia because of licencing. There are also social spaces such as openclass used by around 10% of all teachers. So a positive view is that much is happening. But there are challenges: motivation to use, competency in professional use, and sharing resources. There are well developed intra-resources in internal eLibraries. There are now some really open courses www.intuit.ru - which is actually commercial with a business model based on creating demand for associated books. The window.edu.ru initiative aims to provide a single point access to resources. They now have around 1m downloads per month. However downloading is not seen as a prestigious thing to do – but this is wrong there is scope for such material to inspire and should not be restricted. There is also “push from the top” in the form of Russian President addressing the concerns of getting value out of the libraries of universities.

Hmayek Danielyan, Armenia, listed factors such as the legal basis. Armenia has low Internet access (117th in the world/14%). OER can be traced back to 2001 with a further push in 2008. There have been successes in initiatives over recent years.

Airina Volungeviciene, Lithuania, was part of the team working with IITE UNESCO to assess OER readiness. Very open approach in university Universitas Vytauti Magni. At first there appears to be a lot of available material – but actually only a small proportion fits the UNESCO definition. There has been significant ICT investment in network infrastructure and academic libraries. The “open” digital libraries however are based on licensed materials, and they are not design for study. But there is also a Lithuanian Distance Education Network that has a well developed technology infrastructure including video conferencing – but then weaker on the “soft” elements of participation and involvement across all subjects. The Lithuanian Virtual University also shares a technology driven agenda. In particular from all these initiatives people are left with uncertainty – what can be used, and in which circumstances? There is a lack in culture of sharing and openness for OER/OEP. Institutions lack rules and hence encouragement – the exception is at the schools level – emokykia. Even there while provision is good, use is not. There are individual initiatives releasing courses and video lectures – these are small in number and still lack the clarity if they are to be used. Museums are setting up good access to their materials and are in general being more open. OpenScout (in which the OUUK is also involved through KMi) is helping develop international links.


  1. Establish OER development culture (international examples/partnerships
  2. Promote OER repositories
  3. Invite global experts to lead research
  4. E-Education program across Lithuania based on OER
  5. Review role of distance education centres
  6. Investigate action model
  7. Direct efforts to adapt existing OER repositories and tools
  8. Invite contributions at policy level

Education in the shift to OER is vital – guidelines are available and need to be directed within Lithuania. Language is a barrier. OER is part of the answer.

Ukraine. iPhone

Mongolia. One of the most sparsely populated coutries in the world (1.6m km^2/2.7m people). Young and rural population. Spends around 20% of national budget on education. Aim to choose convienient, efficient and lower cost ODL for Mongolia. Now have a plan for outsourcing in support of a national programme (e-Mongolia). But “computing cannot benefit where infrastructure is not in place”. Now have more than 2m users of mobile devices Internet from 30k users (2000) to 106k (2009) 10.7%. Worry about QA in switch to DE approaches.

Challenges across physiological (infrastructure?), culture, capacity. OER is not well developed in Mongolia – plan to enter the OCWC – but open source is taking hold in the IT world but not widespread in the general population. Distance education has been seen as way to address insufficient space and instructor overload and led to launch of e-Open University of MUST (Mongolian University of Science and Technology) but lack good models of use. Paper looking at challenge prepared for IITE.

Kazakhstan. iPhone

Svetlana. IITE UNESCO. Outlined the work that has been sponsored by UNESCO that led to the country reports. Ten reports (more than 700 pages) already received and hope to spread the coverage targeting non-English speaking countries. In the countries studies so far OER is not widely recognised. Using the UNESCO definition limited the resources that could count, the Hewlett Foundation definition is even more restrictive as it includes release of IPR under an appropriate licence. An expert consultation and wider questionnaire have been applied. Skipping over the advantages Svetlana focused on the barriers and problems. These include lack of awareness, language (non-English) though Russian has  potential to provide some commonality, lack of knowledge-sharing culture (as described in the briefing by Andy Lane), lack of skills, lack of infrastructure (in some countries).

To address these need both top down and bottom up approaches. Plans in IITE now include expanding the geographical scope, awareness raising, online training resources and inventorying the repositories

Mikhail Fedotov. Copyright in Russia. Only in 2002 did copyright get extended to Internet. The definitions that are used are not necessarily good. He has proposed to the Russian Supreme Court and had adopted that publishing on the Internet implies allowing use at any point on the network. This will remove anomalies of the law that did not mention the network. The civil code allows for: use plus fee; use without agreement and no fee; use without agreement and fee paid. There are also provisions allowing publications to be used for education. However OER allows change so stops being a “publication” and instead becomes “information” (or possibly mass media). This removes the exception rule. So in the example of the fcior.edu.ru it is hard to answer how copyright law applies. The rules adopted can be a bit strange. For example doctoral candidates need to publish to pass and those articles must be available publicly which enforces release of copyright. But this is a “right” and yet it has to done if you are to pass the defence. It is also easy to have good intent but cause more confusion. E.g. all authors have the right to protect their work, but also the right to free access to information. Need to compromise between these two rights.

Presumption that author owns everything v presumption of free use unless prohibited. The presumption of fair use is part of the Berne convention but not in relation to the Internet.  We have just had a wonderful presentation with options – CC can be seen as copyright lite. But in Russia the model is of hard copyright. There are alternatives that are also copyright lite but as with CC cannot do this as in civil code need to have a signed or verbal agreement between each side. The option remains for the author to declare how it will be used but then needs to avoid other agreements. Need to take an expanded collective management approach to copyright that involves individuals and organisations. The Internet remains a problem as it does not exist in any particular space or time. But e.g. could have individual, UNESCO publishing house, and a global publishing organisation that establishes the collective. This can also identify the way to reward authors and balance the system. 1. Need to recognise copyright lite and collective management. 2. Need to properly include Internet in legislation. Sea and space treaties give a model for the way that such laws might work. 3. The best approach is to avoid payment by end users – but to retain income collective billing may apply. 4. The law states use for education is allowed: but it is not possible to tell which use is which.

Q: Where is the contradiction – can pay for input and then be free.

A: If an author allows OER use or sells to portal that might be ok, but what about the publishing house giving permission based on older legislation.

Q: What about universities giving permission based on contract of work.

A: Yes – but issue is not resolved it would remain possible for individuals to claim their right. Further the coverage extends to projects, plans, charters and so there is potential for claims from many directions. The way to avoid the problem is to adopt the charter in advance of legislation. You should do your best to eradicate ambiguity.

Sergei Goncharov: we are only at the start line – dealing with legislation, technology and only a little bit about the change that everyone is and will experience. Do we know enough about the future needs?

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