Image provided courtesy of Miran Rebrec under a CC-BY license.
Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams, Principal Investigator of the ROER4D Project has recently returned from the OpenCourseWare Consortium (OCWC) Conference held in Ljubljana, Slovenia during the 23-25 April 2014. In this blog she reviews the OCWC in the light of the ROER4D project, highlighting the activities and roles of the ROER4D members who attended or presented at the OCWC conference and sharing lessons learned that may be applicable to the ROER4D Project.
ROER4D at the conference
The theme of the conference was: “Open Education for a Multicultural World”, but the majority of the keynotes and presentations had a fairly “European flavour”; understandable given the location, but slightly disappointing in terms of the espoused global multicultural perspective. Nevertheless, Cheryl’s own presentation provided conference attendees with an overview of the ROER4D Project located in the Global South. Based on Twitter feedback and Slideshare interest, this was was favourably received and there is considerable interest in the Pre Announcement: Open Call for Expressions of Interest on OER Impact.
ROER4D members’ activities
Despite the rather Euro-centric focus of the majority of the keynotes and presentations, fortunately there were some presentations from South America including one from Amalia Toledo, Carolina Botero and Luisa Guzman on “Public Expenditure on Education in Latin America: Can it serve the Paris Declaration’s Purposes?”. This investigation analysed public policies governing and expenditure of the development and procurement processes of educational resources for K-12 in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Uruguay in the light of the principles of the Paris OER Declaration. The study revealed the need to “work to counteract the general lack of indicators that would facilitate measuring the impact of OER policies, and of the use of public funds to finance their production and use” (p 111). Carolina and Amalia are researchers in the ROER4D Sub-Project 12 project and are assisting us to understand what evidence needs to be provided to establish if OER can indeed reduce educational expenditure in the Global South as many OER pundits claim.
Victor Barragán from Chile presented his PhD proposal during the Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN) which met on the 22 and 22 April for a PhD seminar preceding the OCWC conference. Victor is also one of the researchers in the ROER4D Sub-Project 9 investigating the impact of OER on student performance.
A presentation by Judith Pete from the Tangaza College of Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Kenya provided some initial findings on her PhD study entitled: “The Role of OER in Increasing Access to University Education among the Marginalized Communities in Kenya”. Judith is also a ROER4D researcher in Sub-Project 2 that will be surveying OER adoption in the Global South under the leadership of Prof Jose Dutra and mentorship of Dr George Sciadas and Prof Stavros Xanthopoylos from Fundação Getulio Vargas FGV Online, Brazil. Judith is also a member of the GO-GN group, which now has 25 PhD students studying various topics within Open Education including OER and MOOCs.
GO-GN is the brainchild of Prof Fred Mulder, former Rector of the Open Universiteit in the Netherlands from 2000 to 2010, and currently UNESCO/ICDE Chair in OER at the Open Universiteit in the Netherlands. Prof Mulder was awarded a OCWC Leadership award for his work in promoting Open Educational Resources as an important instrument for Lifelong Open and Flexible (LOF) learning and for his leadership in establishing OER global networks. Prof Mulder is also a member of the ROER4D Advisory Group.
Another ROER4D Advisory Group member Prof Stavros Xanthopoylos also attended the OCWC Conference and received a Lifetime Achievement award from OCWC on behalf of Fred Litto, president of the Brazilian Association for Distance Education-ABED, for his lifelong contributions to digital and open education enhancing the capacity of Brazilian universities to produce, maintain and use OERs and OCWs.
Forthcoming conferences where ROER4D will be represented include eLearning Africa and the 2nd Regional Symposium on OER in Penang, Malaysia. As a project spanning three continents and 11 countries spanning 16 time zones, our interactions are, through necessity, predominantly virtual, but the conferences and events are vital for building our networks and connecting with the wider open education community. We look forward to meeting many more colleagues during the year to come.