SP5: Co-creation of OER: India

Collaborative co-creation of OER by teacher educators and teachers in India: A participatory action research study

Project overview
Project outputs

General objective: Whether and how a bottom-up approach in which participants collaboratively and actively co-create contextual resources (‘embedded’ within a ‘community of learning’), can support effective OER models.

Specific Objectives/Research questions:

• What kind of processes would support a community of teachers in actively engaging with the creation and adaptation of a contextual and collaborative OER model?
• What enabling conditions would encourage a wider adoption by peers of contextually created resources within the community?
• What new skills are needed to be built among teachers and teacher-educators to adopt a new learning culture?
• How would local needs and contexts (local language, local culture, social issues, geographies, ecologies, needs, aspirations, priorities etc.) impact upon the universal (mostly defined through normative systems of the global North) v/s local notions of ‘meaningfulness / quality’ of OER?
• How would institutional and systemic factors interact with and influence the building of such a ‘participatory’ OER model within the government / public system?


Open Educational Resources (OER) are perceived as an important response to enrolment and quality challenges for developing countries in higher education, though it is not clear how they actually would meet this challenge. Educational philosophy suggests that learners need to actively adapt curricular resources for local needs. However, the ‘global’ OER movement is located predominantly in the geo-political North, which can impose northern curricular resources on the learning systems in the South.

As a part of the ROER4D program, Sub-project 5 had the objective of studying “whether and how, a bottom-up approach, where participants (’embedded’ within a ‘community of learning’) collaboratively and actively co-create contextual resources, can support effective OER models.” The project is located in Karnataka state, India. (Note: India is a federal set-up, with the federal government – aka Central Government or Union Government – at the national level and provincial governments – aka state governments – for each of the 30 states in the country).

SP5 sought to understand and respond to this challenge, by studying if ‘professional learning communities’ of teachers forming part of an public education system can collaborate to access, create, curate and share OER. A participatory program of OER adoption was studied through action research with 67 mathematics, science and social science high school teachers and teacher educators in Karnataka state, India. This group was embedded within a larger professional learning community (PLC) of around 15,000 teachers across Karnataka, developed through the ‘Subject Teacher Forum’, an in-service teacher education program in the public system.

The research methods included periodic workshops with the 67 teachers, where they participated in collaborative OER adoption processes. The efficacy of this model of OER adoption was studied through structured questionnaires and focus group discussions, review of mails shared in the PLC’s mailing-lists and review of content created on the repository. Analyses of data from these suggests that teachers are able to use digital methods to adopt OER, and contextualize it to their needs. The OER processes have helped in teacher professional development, through increasing teacher agency for exploring and using resources, in active collaboration with peers. Based on interviews with key actors, the systemic factors that enabled and constrained the model have been analyzed.

The project has demonstrated that teachers’ virtual networks can offer opportunities for teachers to connect to one another for peer sharing and learning. A free and open digital environment can encourage teachers to freely explore and connect digital means (FOSS) and ends (OER). For a community, a larger purpose provides meaning, and in this project, the creation and sharing of educational resources has served as that important objective. Teachers have found meaning in reuse, creation, revision, remixing and redistribution of resources on the mailing-lists and on the KOER portal. This has also had a positive impact on their own digital habits and affected the techno-social structure of the school education system in Karnataka. It has supported their professional development and sense of agency, as evidenced by their reflections on their learning in their community interactions.

The size of the public education system in Karnataka (comprising 6000 government high schools and 40,000 teachers) has helped in creating sufficient volume of interactions to enable teachers to see value. This has also supported possibilities of sustainability. Secondly, as the program has been designed and conducted by the school education system, using departmental budgets for teacher education, the program can be upscaled, and implemented in other states as well. In fact, the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, has recommended the STF-KOER program as good practice and the project is following up with two state governments, Telangana and Assam, that have made requests for a similar program in their states.

Project Leader: Gurumurthy Kasinathan

Researcher: Ranjani Ranganathan

Recipient Institution: IT for Change

Estimated Duration: 2 years

Methodology: Participatory Action Research

Mentor: Dr Savithri Singh

Project outputs

Kasinathan, G. (2015). Collaborative co-creation of OER by teacher educators and teachers in India: a participatory action research study. Presentation at OEC Global Conference, Banff, Canada, April 2015.

Articles and blogs
Kasinathan, G. (2015). “The means are the ends’: The alignment between OER and FOSS“. ROER4D blog.

Kasinathan, G. (2015). “Domination and emancipation, a framework for assessing ICT and Education programs” presented at the sixth CESI International Conference on “Education: Domination, Emancipation and Dignity”.

Pioneering New Models of Teacher Education and Curriculum Development in Karnataka https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJYRS0X98M0

Subject Teacher Forum (STF) : Public software for Public education