SP10.1: Engaging with the ‘world beyond’: the impact of OER on practices in teacher education institutions in East Africa

Project overview
Project outputs

General Objective

Specific Objectives and Research Questions
The proposal specific objectives are thus:

  • To deepen our understanding of the factors which helped to influence teacher educators’ epistemological and pedagogic stance in positive ways when there is sustained OER engagement
  • To examine the nature of any shifts in their practice when there is sustained OER engagement;
  • To communicate research outputs appropriately in multiple spaces to inform future policy and practice on the use of OER to improve teacher education.

Working across several sites will enhance our understanding of the interrelationships of factors which act to creatively disrupt[8] and shape teacher educators’ pedagogical stance and epistemological perspectives with sustained OER engagement. The enquiry will use an innovative, qualitative methodology involving ‘impact maps’[9] with teacher educators. These impact maps aim to capture and illustrate the effects of engagement with OER. Analysis of the impact maps will help develop a framework for understanding OER impact in institutions of teacher education which takes into account different contexts with different cultural traditions, histories, conventions and structures.

The rapidly growing body of OER collections and repositories for teacher education in Sub-Saharan Africa[10] far exceed the number of studies that explore their use[11], which, in turn, potentially limits the usefulness and usability of these and new OER[12]. This study will question whether the notion of engaging with the ‘world beyond’ – so central to the OER movement – has had an impact on the learning and work of teacher educators themselves and provide insights into how OER can more effectively be used to meet the challenges of quality in teacher education post-2015.

Impact hypotheses:

  • Supported engagement with OER acts as a catalyst for further, independent engagement with OER.
  • Through use OER become epistemological and practice tools for teacher educators to apply to new learning situations; thus engagement with OER offers opportunities for new knowledge to be developed and appropriated and supports movement in pedagogic stance towards a position in which knowledge is understood as constructed and situated and learning is an active process of knowledge construction between people in interaction and is shaped by their prior knowledge and experience.

Research questions: What role does OER engagement play in enabling change to more effective pedagogic practices within teacher education?

  • What forms and level of OER engagement influence teacher educators’ epistemology, and in what ways? What kinds of intercultural interaction between teacher educators are supported by OER?
  • What changes in teacher educators’ choice and use of materials arise from OER engagement?
  • How do shifts in teacher educators’ world views (epistemology), practice and intercultural interaction inform wider education practices and policies in teacher education institutions in their respective contexts?

Across the world there is great concern about the quality of education with research studies in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa highlighting disturbingly low learning gains on basic skills per year of schooling for large numbers of pupils[1]. National policies have advocated a shift towards learner-centred education and the quality of teacher education is recognised as a critical but neglected factor in facilitating this shift[2] to improve classroom practices, in particular teacher educators’ own limited use of learner centred pedagogies in teacher education programmes. The potential benefits of OER for increasing access to quality teacher education in low-income countries have been well-articulated[3] but to date there has been little work on exploring the impact of OER availability on the impact of OER use on teacher educators’ practices; much work around OER in low-income countries has focussed on the ‘access’ dimension related to the technological, structural and cultural barriers that work against the locating and use of OER[4].

Project Leader: Freda Wolfenden, Open University, UK

Researcher: Alison Buckler, Open University, UK and Pritee Auckloo, Mauritius Institute of Education

Recipient Institution: Open University, UK

Estimated Duration: 18 months

Methodology: Questionnaire, concept mapping, interviews and document analysis

Mentor: Prof Patricia Arinto


[1] Beatty, A. and Pritchett, L. (2012) ‘From schooling goals to learning goals: how fast can student learning improve?’, Centre for Global Development, Policy Paper no.12, September 2012, http://www.cgdev.org/files/1426531_file_Beatty_Pritchett_Time_to_MLG_FINAL.pdf
[2] UNESCO (2014) Teaching and learning: achieving quality for all, Education for All Global Monitoring Report, UNESCO: Paris.
[3] Moon, B. (2013) Teacher Education and the Challenge of Development: a global analysis, Routledge, UK.
[4] Ngugi, C.N. (2011) ‘OER in Africa’s higher education institutions’, Distance Education, 32(2): 277-287.
[5] Harley, K. and Barasa, F. (2012) TESSA: Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa Formative Evaluation Report
[6] Bruner, J. (1996) The Culture of Education, Harvard University Press.
[7] UNESCO (2012) Communication and Information http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/access-to-knowledge/open-educational-resources/
[8] Smith, M. (2013) Ruminations on Research on Open Educational Resources, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching http://www.hewlett.org/sites/default/files/OER%20Research%20paper%20December%2015%202013%20Marshall%20Smith_1.pdf
[9] Fox, A., McCormick, R., Procter, R. and Carmichael, P. (2007) ‘The design and use of a mapping tool as a baseline means of identifying an organization’s active networks’, International Journal of Research and Method in Education, 30(2).
[10] For example, OER Africa Teacher Education materials, see http://www.oerafrica.org/african-teacher-education-oer-network-aten/find-oer
[11] Atkins, D.E., Brown, J.E. and Hammond, A.L. (2007) A review of the Open Educational Resources Movement: Achievement, Challenges and New Opportunities. Report to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; Smith, M. (2013) Ruminations on Research on Open Educational Resources, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching http://www.hewlett.org/sites/default/files/OER%20Research%20paper%20December%2015%202013%20Marshall%20Smith_1.pdf
[12] Mwanza-Simwami, D., McAndrew, P. and Madiba, M. (2008) ‘Fostering Open Educational Practices in Cross-Cultural Contexts’, IST-Africa Conference Proceedings.

Project outputs

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