World Education Forum and ‘Open’

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This post originally appeared here on 20th May 2015 under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Is there anything OER or Open Education-related going on at the World Education Forum “Equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning”? It’s possible that I’ve missed it: please tell me if I have!

Also, the last two Global Monitoring Reports only mention OER in passing, with no mention of Open Education/Creative Commons, or, for example  TESSA / TESS-India.

Here’s how OER is mentioned:

“Of greater significance is identifying other settings and learning frameworks – for example, distance and open education, non-formal education, on-the job training and adult education – that may significantly augment skill acquisition among adults over the life course.” (2015 report)

“The use of ICT for distance education also requires investment in infrastructure, hardware and materials. South Africa is an example of a country that is addressing this need through innovation in Open Education Resources (South African Institute for Distance Education, 2010), which can dramatically reduce costs for participating institutions and learners.” (2013/14 report)

(My bold. Of course, even those brief mentions, if looked at in detail, are to some extent problematic.)

Given the global aspirations for Open Education, OER, and CC, is this ok? Should we do more? Is enough being done for primary and secondary education in developing countries regarding ‘open’?

Looking at the tweets for the World Education Forum, there is of course a big focus on equity, which is of course important, as that message hasn’t been fully heard yet by everybody. But we know from education that the ‘what’ is often easily agreed – the ‘how’ (i.e. the process) is more complex. Of course OER alone won’t solve any problems, but I think we are probably agreed that OER should be part of an equitable solution.

Another issue regarding ‘what’ vs. ‘how’ is the conspicuous absence of teachers mentioned in the discussion on twitter. There are some exceptions though, such as these tweets by UNICEF https://twitter.com/UNICEF/status/601051918924947457, UNICEF Education https://twitter.com/UNICEFEducation/status/601070345790038017, and UNESCO https://twitter.com/UNESCO/status/600933389953142785. Pushing for viable options as to ‘how’ (such as teacher education programmes) is important, and doesn’t detract from the ‘what’ (equitable access to quality education). So let’s push for discussing ‘what’ and ‘how’ together!

Any thoughts? Leave a comment below, or for those who prefer Twitter for discussion: https://twitter.com/bjoernhassler/status/601073454524321792

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Dr Björn Haßler is the founding director of Open Development & Education.
For more details see https://opendeved.net/team/bjoern-hassler/.

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