SAT: Using OER to Address Education Inequality in Poorer South African Schools (Grant Penny)
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22 December 2014
The term OER was first coined in 2002 by UNESCO, following substantial development through institutions such as MIT's OpenCourseWare (Smith, 2009:90). The growth of MOOC's, OER repositories, and Creative Commons have spurred the OER movement, where in 2014 the quantity of Creative Commons licences work will near 900 million (Creative Commons, 2014). The benefits are plentiful, from OER's being fundamentally free, to the limitless sharing, remixing, and adapting, that Creative Commons licensors allow. Despite this, the development of new materials, and access to OERs has been considerably greater in the global north (Lane, 2010:02), having a minimum impact on the regions that could arguably benefit the most.
With approximately 45% of students failing to reach the grade 12 examination (BusinessTech, 2015), a host of “barriers” to education (Brook, 1996: 206), and severe wealth inequality, South Africa has the potential to reap maximum reward from embracing an OER led education initiative. The pace to provide OER in South Africa has increased with a host of local ventures. Most notably, the anticipated launch of the University of the Witwatersrand MOOC – the first South African created MOOC in partnership with EdX (University of the Witwatersrand, 2014). As well as the continual growth of the TESSA initiative and a host of smaller ventures, such as Siyavula and OpenUCT.
For these initiatives to reach their potential, there are obstacles to inclusion that need to be tackled. A mobile-focused OER learning environment is highly important as 71% of South Africans use their mobiles to access the internet (Lanerolle, 2012:11). Alongside this, is localization of content and translation, to meet the demands of South Africa's 11 official languages.
With the aim of collating the current and future selection of OER's that are created in, or can be applied to South Africa, the author is developing a website. The website is inherently inclusive focused, and seeks to spur growth in the OER movement in South Africa. The website will have the following features:
- A mobile-friendly interface requiring a minimal amount of data.
- A tally of how many resources are available for a given subject area, and which subjects need further development.
- A uniquely South African lexis, with relevant academic grades, and subject areas.
- Material and language availability in South Africa's main languages.
- Accessibility features, such as colour-scheme, and font size adjustments.
In the presentation, an expansion on the rationale behind a website as an artefact to achieve the above will be given. Further topics to be covered include:
- The ability for OER to be an inclusive tool.
- How the current education system is excluding South African's.
- How OER can be a solution to the given inclusion problems, and the additional benefits it could bring.
- A methodology for how the artefact will be initiated.
- The future of the artefact beyond the conference.
09:24 on 11 January 2015 (Edited 07:42 on 16 January 2015)