For a long time I have believed that access to education is a basic human right.
I follow with great interest the Open Education Resource (OCR) and the Open Course Ware (OCW) movement, which has just over 13,000 OCW courses available in 20 languages (OpenCourseWare (OCW) Consortium Newsletter, June 2010 edition), and I admire MIT's, the UK's Open University's and others' leadership in this area.
I also have a strong belief that any educational resources development with government funding (ie our money) should be licenced as open resources, and so it is refreshing to see some countries are taking this lead, including:
- Brazil's OER movement aiming to transform a law to allow all publicly funded educational material to be made available as OER
- The Netherlands' Minitry of Education initiating 'Wikiwijs', a national repository of digital teaching and learning materials published under open licenses
- Korea's K-OCW website where all e-learning content produced by government grants are available as OER
- Indonesia's NEXUS national repository containing open content from around the world
- USA's ManorLab, which aims to strengthen continuing education of the 6,500 City of Manor, Texas citizens because the government 2.0 agenda "cannot succeed without catering to the educational needs of citizens"
The African Virtual University (AVU) states that sustaining an OER website is difficult but see their OER website as an opportunity to make their organisation 'more relevant' as it will attract more partners to work with them.
To support the growing open content movement, the OCW Consortium supports online 'Communities of Interest', covering such areas as:
- OCW in Developing Countries
- Primary and Secondary Education
- Policy and OCW/OER,
- OCW for Business
- Technology in OCW
- OCW in Community Colleges
- OER Health
The OCW Consortium also runs regular webinars on the first Thursday of each month.
As OER allow people to not only share their content but offer others the ability to adapt it, educators can contextualise and translate existing OER content for their own learners, making it possible to increase the diversity of educational content even for 'thin markets' like remote indigenous learners.
However, in order to make OER/OCW mainstream in education, we will need to see major changes in educational policy, as currently in Australia any content developed by government employees, including educators, becomes the 'property of the Minister of Education' and can not be licensed as 'open content'.
By making all Australian government funded educational content available as OER, we as a nation not only have the opportunity to showcase the breadth and quality of our work to the world but we will attract partnerships with other nations to work with us. We will also encourage a culture of openness and sharing in our own educational communities, something which is sadly lacking in education and training at the moment.
Similar blog posts:
Open Courseware (OCW) and Open Educational Resources (OER) – the pros & cons
The different dimensions of open content and resources