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MON: Can MOOCs propel the OER agenda for educators in South Africa? (John Kerr)
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6 January 2016
Can MOOCs propel the OER agenda for educators in South Africa?
This project focuses on the amalgamation of the two entities – MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) and OERs (Open Educational Resources) – to ascertain if a symbiotic relationship could organically occur between the two. The aim is the impact that the globalised distribution of free, high quality educational technology resources - blended into MOOC pedagogy - can have a direct impact on teachers of technology in South Africa to locate suitable OERs and understand how to adapt them to their cultural sensitivities; a common issue with global north materials (Waliji, 2014).
Wright (2014) identifies the top five barriers to education across the World as: Power, Internet connectivity, Training, Value teachers and Sustainability. Education in South Africa suffers these barriers which directly impact on learning and teaching; more specifically, how to locate and use OERs (de los Arcos et al, 2014). However, as Waliji (2014) identifies OER initiatives in the south are increasing as hardware, access to digital tool and connectivity grows.
Through the distribution of open material as MOOCs – adopting cMOOC pedagogy of connectivism – this project aims to break down some of these barriers and increase access to South African educationalists.
MOOCs have proven to be a truly disruptive innovation for Higher Education. They continue to increase exponentially in numbers year on year, with more than 400 institutions globally delivering free courses to a registered cohort of 18million students across all major MOOC providers (Class-Central, 2014). In contrast, OERs have been on institutional agendas for the last decade but haven’t yet made a comparable impact. However, things are changing. Weller (2013) notes the blurring of MOOCs and OERs and Abeywardena (2014) emphasises that OERs are not as of yet a significant part of the movement of open education. De los Arcos et al (2014) OER Research Hub Evidence Report on OER adoption highlights that 79.5% of educators use OERs to gain new ideas and that 27.5% agree that OER use results in better test scores. However, only 12.4% educators publish OERs under a Creative Commons license and that sourcing OERs is the biggest barriers to their use. This project aims to provide a solution to this problem with the outlined context.
Similarly to the OER movement in Scotland being guided by the Open Scotland Declaration, Africa has OER Africa; a movement which supports institutions locate and find OERs (OER Africa, 2013). Recently, the United States the Federal Government released support for OERs to provide equitable access to quality education, OER creation, adoption and sharing (openscot.net). All three movements follow on from the 2012 Paris OER Declaration which designated that –
“Teaching, learning and research materials in any medium…that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open licence that permits no-cost access, use, adoption and redistribution by others…”
This project will also consider key benefits and potential risks to institutions and their staff while outlining potential enhancements to the wider community, and the socioeconomical benefits this approach could bring.