Rapporteur Report: Webinar 01 (Building Capacity)

Language: English

Session: Webinar 01 (Building Capacity)


A course on OER and Creative Commons licensing for capacity building
Jacques Dang, Carole Schorle-Stefan, Torunn Gjelsvik, Wayne Mackintosh, Zeynep Varoglu

New systems for Open Access books: an innovative platform
Judith Fathallah

Innovating Open Education: Critical Pathways and Communities of Practice
Robert Farrow

The rise of Saudi Sun (SHMS): Leveraging Open Educational Resources and Capacity Building to Promote Access and Openness in Education 6
Tahani Aldosemani

Global Monitoring of the UNESCO OER Recommendation
Ebba Ossiannilsson, Jane-Frances Obiageli Agbu, Cengiz Hakan Aydin, Melinda de la Pena Bandalaria, Daniel Burgos, Xiangyang Zhang, Rosa Leonor Ulloa Cazarez, Mpine Makoe, Cristine Gusmão, Yi Yang, Constance Blomgren and Trish Chaplin-Cheyne

Number of participants: 47

Countries of the participants (non-exhaustive list):

France, Australia, Great Britain, Norway, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Ghana, China, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, United States, Sweden, and Mexico

The participants:

The participants, speakers and attendees, all seemed to be very familiar with OER and comfortable with associated terminology and concepts. Many were faculty, administrators and policy makers. Most of the speakers work with OER on a larger-scale. They are impacting policy, establishing platforms and partnerships at the institutional, national and international levels.

Observations of each talk:

In their presentation, Deng et al, described the ICDE Francophone OER project in which OER Foundation’s LIDA 103 course was translated into French for use in Francophone Africa. The course was adapted to serve the needs of Civil Law countries which have different cultural and legal needs than the Common Law countries the English version serves. Most significantly, their process can be used as a model for translation into other languages, especially cultural, language, technical and legal aspects to be considered.

Dr. Fathallah discussed the work being completed on COPIM work package #2 to build a collective and a platform for managing revenue and distribution of open access books. They are addressing two significant issues: 1) it can be difficult for small OA publishers to break into library funding schemes used by larger publishers, and 2) librarians lack systems for discovery of OA books and/or their metadata. A new organization, the Open Book Collective will seek to address these issues and utilize a platform to streamline distribution, make discovery easier and offer flexible subscription packages.

Dr. Farrow described how significant theories of innovation relate to our open educational practice and have contribute to the ENCORE+ project. ENCORE+ encourages more innovation in business by using OER, reducing barriers to education and bridging formal and non-formal learning. They face significant challenges in defragmenting the OER stakeholder community in Europe, strengthening interoperability across repositories and innovating business models based on OER.

Dr. Aldosemani discussed the creation of SHMS, the national Saudi OER Network. SHMS seeks to curate reliable resources for students and teachers while finding a sustainable path to provide more educational opportunities. The platform contains more than 50,000 uploaded resources from 50+ institutions. They have developed a model for national-level collaboration including capacity building, training, national policy and sustainable financial support.

In the final presentation, Ossiannilsson et al, reported on the work of the ICDE OER Advocacy Committee and ambassadors. Significant aspects of their work include advocacy to stakeholders across the OER ecosystem and conducting research on OER. The team described projects from various regions that at working to achieve the UNESCO recommendation, including the 2021 South African Research Colloquium, Formacion Integral in Mexico and the Motesplats OER platform in Sweden.

Key Findings:

This session approached capacity building from a large-scale, often multi-national perspective. Recurring themes included accounting for local needs, creating sustainable models (particularly for funding) and de-fragmenting existing initiatives and platforms. The OER movement is gaining traction worldwide but there is still a lot of potential to build capacity and connect smaller initiatives into a more cohesive whole. There are many projects and initiatives worldwide, but they are clustered and siloed in different countries and disciplines. There is a significant need to scale platforms, policy and initiatives to begin bringing these smaller efforts together. However, OE cannot be “one size fits all” because local needs, culture, laws and policy will all play a role in the efficacy of any open project. The first two of talks illustrated this need to account for local needs in translating a course to French specifically for Francophone Africa and creating an open books collective that would meet the needs of different types of stakeholders. Sustainability of efforts, funding and platforms will be key to capacity building. Fathallah, Farrow and Aldosemani’s talks all stressed the importance of implementing sustainable financial models to ensure long-term access to materials, platforms and initiatives.

Positive points regarding focal areas outlined in the Recommendation area:

The two focal areas of the Capacity Building action area most related to the discussion in this webinar were b) providing systematic and continuous capacity building and d) leveraging open tools, platforms and standards. Specifically:

  1. Coordination is key, regardless of the scope of the project – various stakeholders in the private sector, government and academia have specific needs, we can all learn from each other and successful projects.

  2. Creation of models that can be used and adapted – The process of the Francophone translation of the LIDA 103 course can be used when translating materials into other languages, the Saudi SHMS system can serve as a model for coordinated national action on OE, and the projects undertaken by the OERAC ambassadors can serve as models for advocacy efforts elsewhere.

Negative points regarding focal areas outlined in the Recommendation area:

None of the talks discussed the Recommendation or any aspects of the Building Capacity action area as particularly negative. However, there are challenges that will have to be overcome to successfully implement the recommendation.

  1. Fragmentation – it allows for diversity but can entrench inequalities, and there are degrees of openness so compromises will have to be made based on local needs

  2. Accounting for local context in a global movement – there is a need for a multi-language approach and something as simple as translating the Recommendation into the local language, as discussed in Ossiannilsson’s talk can make a big difference and start conversations.

To paraphrase one comment during the discussion – the Recommendation provides a framework to support us in the work we do, but we also need to map to specific needs and determine how to best support different partners and stakeholders.

Complex Issues:

The webinar presented a few issues that are complex and will need to be consider to realize the goals of the Recommendation.

  1. Global vs. local needs – as a participant commented in the chat, “Global response is important but mainstreaming of OER and Open Education at a local and/or regional level requires nuanced approaches taking specific challenges and opportunities into account.”

  2. Innovation and Models – two themes carried through the 5 presentations, the use of innovation to consider OE in new ways as well as the need to develop models that can be used or adapted. At times, these two concepts may need to be reconciled, especially when determining the best path to achieving the Recommendation. Specifically, when is it best to innovate and look for new methods? Dr. Farrow presented the SAMR model for technology integration which maps well to Darwish’s (2019) OER business model. These innovation theories can change the way we approach OER from a business perspective. However, when is it best to use an established model? The process developed by Deng’s team can serve as model for translating OER content to other languages and adapting it for cultural needs. Coordinating efforts and de-fragmenting the OER community can help stakeholders make informed choices about when to innovate and when to use a proven model.

Financial Considerations:

As mentioned above, a recurring theme in this webinar focused on creating sustainable funding sources. Two talks, Fathallah and Farrow’s discussed efforts to find innovative funding models. In Fathallah’s talk, she described the need for flexible subscription modeling to meet the needs of different sized publishers and library budgets. The new organization, the Open Book Collective anticipates registering as a charity in the UK and aims to be financially self-sustaining. Farrow’s talk discussed funding from the perspective of innovative approaches and business models based on OER. There are currently limited interactions between academia and the public and private sectors. Projects like ENOCORE+ seek to bridge formal and non-formal learning to modernize education and reduce barriers. Aldosemani’s talk also touched on the need to incorporate change management into their process to ensure the sustainability of SHMS and create an environment for creativity and innovation.

Technology Considerations:

As discussed in these 5 talks, technology is definitely an ally but it can also be an obstacle that needs careful consideration.

  1. Ally – in the case of the Open Book Collective, they will be able to use technology, particularly Thoth to ingest open book catalogs and create comprehensive metadata to meet library stakeholder needs. Their platform will also be able to streamline distribution and make discovery of open access books easier. Also, in the case of Saudi Arabia, SHMS creates a single platform on which to consolidate OER at the national level. The cloud portion of the platform contains indexed resources with keywords and descriptive data. It also enables the development of training courses and licensure, building capacity and developing the workforce.

  2. Obstacle – underlying all our OER work is cross-compatibility and interoperability of the created content. As multiple talks mentioned, it is important to de-fragment the community by creating a means to search across repositories and collections, within a country and at the regional and international levels.