OER1161 Oral Presentation ppt

Thursday 12 May 13.30 Cockcroft Theatre

Designing for collaboration: a sector specific OER network

Freda Wolfenden, The Open University
Tessa Welch, South African Institute for Distance Education

Conference Theme: Collaboration and communities

Abstract: Early OER projects opened up university collections of learning resources; ranging across levels and subjects these provide valuable materials but were not designed to support collaboration or communities of practice within particular disciplines. More recently audience specific OER projects have emerged; we suggest that these are a more effective strategy for moving OER beyond the OER Community and into the mainstream of academic practices. Our own project TESSA  (Wolfenden, 2008) is an example in the field of teacher education, there are numerous other projects in areas such as health and agriculture, for example the collaboration between OER Africa and the Med Ed Portal or the HIBBS project (www.oerafrica.org/hibbs). But harnessing the full potential of OER, to support institutions in reshaping their practices and improving access and standards, will demand wider project and institutional linkage in discipline specific OER networks.  
We offer a descriptive analysis of one such network with which we are closely involved – the relatively new African Teacher Education OER Network, lead by Saide through its OER Africa initiative. We outline the origins of this network (building on the work of projects such as  TESSA and  Saide's ACE Maths project ), its purpose,  activities to attract participants and grow the network, and how we are attempting to balance the long term goals of the network – framed by the challenges of the MDGs -  with responses to immediate and pressing problems in practice. 
Our model is an informal partnership network, drawing on a diverse range of local or multinational actions within and between existing institutions – a networked learning community (Jackson, 2003). The network agenda is evolving around the interests and needs of participants, providing opportunities for new creative associations to address current  challenges, for example in the demand for resources to support school-based  training for secondary teachers. Through the network institutions are offered an opportunity to focus on course design using materials that may challenge local assumptions about curriculum and pedagogy. We suggest  this expanding set of interlinked partnerships – the network –  will lead to greater traction for OER and is of relevance for OER mainstreaming  in other sectors.

Keywords: teacher education; sub saharan africa; oer network; community


Jackson, D., (2003) Networked Learning Communities: The Role of Collaborative Enquiry and Knowledge Networks in School and System,   International congress of School Effectiveness and Improvement

Wolfenden, F., (2008). The TESSA OER Experience:  Building sustainable models of production and user implementation. Journal of Interactive Media in Educationhttp://jime.open.ac.uk/2008/03/