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OER in Africa

Learn about and discuss projects, collaborations, wisdom and challenges of OER in Africa.

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13 February 2009

OER in Africa

Educators in the US and elsewhere in the world, including in Africa, recognize the potential of open educational resources (OER) to improve teaching and learning.  African institutions, however, are severely hampered by lack of funding; infrastructure and equipment constraints; and policies  and practices that militate against using OERs effectively.  Even so, planning for and implementation of OERs are beginning to take place in every region of the Continent.  The Hewlett Foundation is supporting three initiatives that are crucial to meeting the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals—teacher education, health, and the establishment of an African umbrella organization for OER development and implementation.  Through these projects, we are beginning to see learning materials developed by Africans for Africans as well as for others interested in African content.  Africa is now joining the global OER knowledge pool.


Panel Speakers

Lisbeth Levey, Moderator

Jophus Anamuah-Mensah, TESSA (

Ted Hans, OER health in Africa (

Neil Butcher, OER Africa (

Catherine Casserly, Discussant 



Extra content

Embedded Content


Patrick McAndrew
9:57pm 4 March 2009

Panel on OER Africa led by Liz Levey: Jophus (TESSA) , Ted Hans (OER Health in Africa), Neil Butcher (OER strategist for OER Africa),  Cathy Casserley (Hewlett Foundation).

Jophus: TESSA focus from college to school based approach to teacher training. TESSA resources as a means to an end to create new mind-set. TESSA  is multi-organisational, multi-country, multi-lingual, multi-cultural. Vital role for collaboration but also vice-chancellors and ministries. Three common issues: access to materials (low bandwidth), institutional capacity for change at different levels, need to ensure support for teachers as they develop more active learning styles (headteachers are vital).

Ted Hans: aim to “out collaborate” everyone else to build worthwhile collaboration with organisations in Africa. The medical OER reflect input from African Universities.

Neil Butcher: need to recognise that African Universities are fairly traditional in not valuing materials development as compared to research. So have multi-layered approach 1. To make changes at policy level. 2. Need to know what intellectual property and materials actually exist. OER gives an excuse for this audit but valuable in other ways. 3. Pilots that look for where needs are defined and develop OER to meet immediate and practical needs. Need to work now within constraints that exist. Plan to bring African content into the mainstream through existing repository. Avoid inventing new networks but offer value to existing networks. Ensure everything is demand driven. Keep things simple – avoid OER as a concept as being a solution to everything. The licence is the key to open content and  should be integrated into existing material production. Not about driving costs down but part of solution to building capacity.

Cathy: OER came about in 2002 at Hewlett/UNESCO in meeting of 25 people half from lower resource countries. Thirst for content but needs to be for local context and with participation from the start . Supply side has gained traction but now need demand side.  TESSA has shown that there can be shared sense of ownership.

Q: Dan Atkins: Expand on why it is wrong to overload OER aims. NB: makes for too many complexities, and ignores other ways to achieve broader aims.  DA: Still need to keep broader aims in mind though. NB: agree. But should target openness as a separate factor for many other innovations.

Q: Work at U Western Cape which ran into difficulties and switched to student project process that leaked out and led to additional impact.

1:17am 5 March 2009

I thought this presentation was extraordinary because it mirrors my experience (Teachers Without Borders) in Africa and around the world.  

1:20am 5 March 2009

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