On June 22, 2012 the World OER Congress (held in Paris from June 20 to 22 , 2012) approved the ‘2012 OER Paris Declaration’. The declaration contains recommendations to:a. Foster awareness and use of OER.
b. Facilitate enabling environments for use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT)
c. Reinforce the development of strategies and policies on OER
d. Promote the understanding and use of open licensing frameworks
e. Support capacity building for the sustainable development of quality learning materials
f. Foster strategic alliances for OER
g. Encourage the development and adaptation of OER in a variety of languages and cultural contexts
h. Encourage research on OER.
i. Facilitate finding, retrieving and sharing of OER.
j. Encourage the open licensing of educational materials produced with public funds
All the ten aspects included in the declaration are vital, no doubt. These are crucial matters which either do not get attention or require more attention. For instance, the need for fostering awareness and use of OER. The congress has rightly put it in the first place. Awareness on the benefits of creating, sharing and using OERs is still very poor among majority. A lot has to be done in this matter. The peculiarity of OER is that, it gets richer when it is more used. Authenticity is also being enhanced in accordance with the increased use. Similar is the recommendation to promote the understanding and use of open licensing frameworks. Especially educators who develop OER, Institutions and Policy Makers should have a reasonable understanding on open licensing to carry forward all other recommendations in the declaration effectively.
In respect of the recommendation to Foster strategic alliances for OER, the stage is already set to establish a classic example through Open Educational Resource university (OERu). There was a very nice presentation on OERu at the ‘Open Seminar and Exhibition of the world’s best OER practices’ conducted as a parallel second stream to the Paris OER Congress.
The recommendation in the declaration to encourage the open licensing of educational materials produced with public funds is going to become a highlighted item. Already some governments have either brought out legislation in this respect or in the process for it. This move has to be spread across the globe to save tax payers from paying for same educational materials twice.
However, another pertinent point that could be considered for inclusion in the declaration was to promote the use of OER as an environment friendly educational strategy. Primarily because it reduces the need for printing by promoting networked development of learning materials and learning environments. It will reduce the use of office stationary, the need for extensive travels, construction of more brick and mortar educational complexes in future by enhancing the delivery capacity of existing institutions manyfold etc. Each one of this will add many more healthy years to our lovely planet, perhaps, the loveliest planet in the vicinity of science so far! I raised this point in the online open forum. Hope this will be a priority item in the next OER congress.
A very enthusiastic, forward looking and practicable declaration has been approved. Now it is time for action and it will succeed, because it is the need of the hour.
See the approved declaration at http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CI/CI/pdf/Events/Paris%20OER%20Declaration_01.pdf
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