Winners of the Open Assets Awards 2021 for Open Infrastructure

For announcement October 15, 2021 winners in one of the four categories of the Open Assets Award.

Open assets are what open education initiatives produce and use, tangible goods (usually digital) with educational purpose and value. Open assets are produced, curated, and distributed in ways that make them freely accessible, usable, and improvable by others.

The Open Infrastructure Category

Open Infrastructure is the set of technologies that enables openness. It encompasses open source tools which enable the creation of open educational resources, their use in educational context, their curation, improvement and remixing, as well as sharing. The “infrastructure” is wider than just open source software, though: it also includes open hardware used in education, open standards enabling interoperability, as well as other open technologies that are instrumental for open education.

The winners are…

OpenETC

BCcampus, Canada

https://opened.ca/

The OpenETC provides open educational technology infrastructure - Wordpress, Mattermost and Sandstorm apps - to the British Columbia post-secondary sector of 25 institutions. It operates on a community contribution model, much like a cooperative, whereby users, in exchange for the free access to the infrastructure, contribute back what they can. This might include helping out with supporting other uses, providing onboarding or documentation, or sharing best practices. The cooperative model has especially benefited smaller institutions who don’t have the resources to support ed tech tools beyond the LMS, and has been an important catalyst in fostering open practices. During COVID, the OpenETC helped several institutions pivot to emergency remote teaching by providing simple tools to faculty and supporting staff.

As a model, the OpenETC provides an alternative to a vendor or shared service model, and by providing open ed tech tools to the public higher education sector supports a shift to more critical reflection of proprietary software and data and privacy protection. Although OpenETC was established in 2017, BCcampus has more recently become an important financial supporter of OpenETC by providing funding for a 3 year pilot. This support also signals a recognition of the importance of open ed tech tools as part of the broader open education movement.

OpenETC now has over 2500 users of Wordpress (including SPLOTS) and 1500 users of Mattermost, including 74 Mattermost team sites. One of the key features of OpenETC Wordpress is the ability, via the “Clone Zone” to browse fully built sites and clone them with one click. This has an important benefit of reducing the time and expertise required to build a site, while also allowing the community to build on the open education practices of others. In this way, OpenETC fosters re-use in a way that requires little technical overhead or digital literacy, which is a recognized barrier in OER reuse.

WikiFundi

A wiki platform to bridge the digital divide and teach information literacy and writing skills

Wiki in Africa, South Africa / France

http://www.wikifundi.org/

WikiFundi is an open source software that provides an off-line editing environment that mimics the Wikipedia ‘on-line’ environment. It allows for teaching and content creation when technology fails, access does not exist or is too expensive, and electricity is unreliable. With WikiFundi, individuals, groups and communities can learn how to create and improve articles on a wiki, and can work collaboratively to build articles and other content. To work WikiFundi needs a small portable local server (such as a Raspberry PI) that provides a local wifi network, which editors can then connect to and work on their articles. Once the articles are finished, the end result can be transferred to an online wiki page on Wikipedia or Wikimedia project or Vikidia.

How WikiFundi can help:

WikiFundi has been designed to facilitate three distinct sectors:

Education : as an easy-to-use teaching tool for schools and education programmes to teach how to read and analyse Wikipedia or Vikidia articles, or to teach how to create and contribute, transferring digital and academic skills. There are resources in the pack to assist students and teachers.

Outreach: as a tool that facilitates user groups and volunteers when building the Wikimedia movement by providing a way to collectively edit in offline situations. There are resources included in the package to assist Wikimedia leads.

Entrepreneurship : as a simple wiki platform used by small groups of digitally skilled entrepreneurs in poorly connected areas to create CVs, business plans, take meeting notes, produce reports etc…

Use Case example

WikiFundi has been used since 2017 as an essential element of the WikiChallenge Ecoles d’Afrique, a writing competition for primary schools in the Orange Foundation’s Digital Schools Network. Over 4 years, 200 primary schools from disadvantaged and mostly non connected areas have been involved and over 300 articles written by the children published on Vikidia.

OERF’s digital learning ecosystem

Open infrastructure for sustainable OER

OER Foundation, New Zealand

Over the last ten years, adhering to their “open” principles, the OER Foundation has established a fully functioning digital learning ecosystem for collaborative development and delivery of OER enabled micro-courses based entirely on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). This is a loosely coupled, component-based system assembled from “best of breed” FOSS applications that can operate at internet scale, plus software code components developed by the Foundation to “glue” the system together and provide enhanced functionally. The OERF’s digital learning ecosystem is worthy of nomination because it is: 1) eminently scalable - during 2020 the OERu provided access to more than 200,000 learners using the platform; 2) cost effective - the entire server infrastructure is provided for less than USD8500 per annum in software and infrastructure costs; 3) innovative - learners learn to learn on the internet, rather than in a single application like a learning management system; 4) suitable for developing country contexts - institutions in the developing world with constrained budgets for technology can replicate the systems using technical recipes published by the Foundation or join the OERu Outreach Partnership Programme for free to build capacity to host these tools themselves; 5) designed for collaboration and OER remix as evidenced by reuse and remix scenarios around the world.

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WOW ! Thanks a lot for the recognition of our work ! We gratefully accept this award.

Feel free to visit WikiFundi/en - Meta for more information

As well, of course, my presentation of WikiFundi at OEG last year : :sync: WikiFundi, an Open Source Platform to Learn New Skills and Collaborate on Wikipedia-Like Articles

And my presentation about offline tools this year : Using offline tools to build open content and introduce to open knowledge movement :async:

Thank you again

Florence

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I’m super pleased to see these three fantastic open infrastructure initiatives being recognized with this inaugural Open Infrastructure Award for Excellence. At a time when the Internet and learning technology platforms are increasingly closed and commodified these three initiative show what can happen when the underlying infrastructure associated with open education is itself open.

I highly encourage you all to explore these three initiatives and consider how you can participate. As the OpenETC initiative so clearly states it’s about “Contributions, not contracts”. The best way to sustain and advance open infrastructure efforts is to become part of their community of users and contribute knowledge and ideas about how to enhance and utilize them. Congrats to OpenETC, WikiFundi, and the OER Foundation.

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