Internationally, education institutions are under pressure to provide students with access to affordable, quality education in economically constrained environments, from primary, secondary and tertiary phases to what is termed lifelong learning. The need for equity of access to affordable, locally relevant educational materials is felt acutely in Global South countries facing growing student numbers, decreasing government funding, increasing textbooks costs, and educational materials which are not always suitable for the local context.
The innovation of free, openly licensed teaching and learning materials, referred to as Open Educational Resources (OER), is intended to be more inclusive of those who may not have access to or cannot afford traditional educational materials. Perhaps of more practical importance are the Open Educational Practices (OEP) required to produce, distribute, and use OER. Engagement in OEP and use of OER are touted as ways of reaching marginalised groups in the Global South, particularly in situations where OER needs to go beyond individual small-scale use to mainstream adoption.
Although much of the conceptualisation and research on OEP and OER has taken place in the Global North (Andrade et al., 2010; Ehlers, 2011; Porter, 2013), a growing number of studies in the Global South is surfacing the shift from OER to OEP (Czerniewicz, Glover, Deacon & Walji, 2016; Perryman & Seal, 2016). The Research on Open Educational Resources for Development (ROER4D) project includes a number of sub-projects that are researching and highlighting the importance of OEP as a precursor to OER adoption in the Global South. ROER4D’s research focuses on OER activities in South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia.
This paper highlights key findings from a selection of these sub-projects in response to the question: In what ways, for whom and under what circumstances is the primacy of OEP fundamental to the social change originally envisaged by OER advocates for the Global South? A deeper, more nuanced understanding of OEP in Global South contexts will be of assistance in making the case for OER as a viable solution to more inclusive and equitable educational provision.
Andrade, A., et al. (2010). Beyond OER: Shifting Focus to Open Educational Practices. OPAL Report 2011. Retrieved from: https://oerknowledgecloud.org/sites/oerknowledgecloud.org/files/OPAL2011.pdf
Beetham, H., I. Falconer, L. McGill, L. & Littlejohn, A. (2012). Open practices: briefing paper. Retrieved from: https://oersynth.pbworks.com/w/page/51668352/OpenPracticesBriefing
Czerniewicz, L., Glover, M., Deacon, A. & Walji, S. (2016). MOOCs, openness and changing educator practices: an Activity Theory case study. In Cranmer S., Dohn N.B., de Laat M., Ryberg T & Sime J.A. (Eds.). Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Networked Learning 2016. Retrieved from: http://18.104.22.168.94/bitstream/handle/11427/19714/NLC%20paper.pdf?sequence=1
Ehlers, U. D. (2011). From open educational resources to open educational practices. E-learning papers, 23, 1–8. Retrieved from: http://www.openeducationeuropa.eu/en/article/From-Open-Educational-Resources-to-Open-Educational-Practices
Perryman, L.-A. & Seal T. (2016). Open educational practices and attitudes to openness across India: Reporting the findings of the Open Education Research Hub Pan-India Survey. Journal of Interactive Media in Education. 2016(1), 1-17. Retrieved from: http://jime.open.ac.uk/articles/10.5334/jime.416/
Porter, D. (2013). Exploring the practices of educators using open educational resources (OER) in the British Columbia higher education system (D.Ed). Simon Fraser University.