Monday, December 7, 2015

OER for Inclusive Development; identifying Challenges, Addressing Opportunities – National Consultation

Inaugural session
CEMCA, UNESCO and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) jointly organized the national consultation on ‘OER for Inclusive Development; identifying Challenges, Addressing Opportunities’ at the JNU Convention Centre on 1st and 2nd December 2015.

The discussions were based on the following themes:

  1. Examining the benefits and implications of the National Mission on Education Through ICT – NMEICT’s open licensing policy guidelines
  2. Examining good practices and case studies on OER-based learning
  3. Exploring the role of digital libraries vis-à-vis OER initiatives
  4. Adapting existing institutional OER policies
  5. Developing and applying frameworks to assess the quality of OER
  6. OER for persons with disabilities
  7. OER for skill development

JNU Convention Centre, New Delhi
The overall feel I got was that the OER movement has to enter into a concerted, targeted and action oriented second phase of its implementation. Now, the OER ecosystem, in general, has good policies, models, content repositories and technology that can be repurposed and used. It also has passionate volunteers and enjoys popular support. Therefore, in the second phase, targeted interventions are necessary in the local/institutional level to:

  1. To create awareness among the top management individual institutions on the need for OER production, adoption and reuse
  2. To provide expert support to trigger the development of policy, strategy and standards through adoption and repurposing.
  3. To provide expert support for implementation
  4. To build local/institutional communities of OER practitioners
  5. Identify new opportunities

In the part of opportunities, one area where the OER interventions are highly required is in the skill development ecosystem. It becomes more important in the context of emerging knowledge economies. For instance, In the Indian context of skill development, the Sector Skill Councils notify National Occupational Standards (NOS) and Qualification Packs (QP). The QPs are directly related to specific job roles. NOSs are basically a listing of competencies that are required for carrying out specific functions of a job role. As we know, each Job has multiple functions and hence multiple NOSs as well. When all the NOSs related to a specific job role are wrapped together, then it is called the QP for that job role. These NOSs and QPs are developed through industry consultations. Once QPs are notified, the next level requirements are the development of a transaction design based on the competences that are to be developed in the trainees based on the QPs, detailed syllabus and the training content based on it. Now, almost all the implementers and training service providers in the skill development ecosystem face severe scarcity of these very crucial transaction elements of training. Therefore, it is the right time for the OER fraternity to intervene to plug this gap. The merit of it would be, regularly updated open content for skill training that can ensure effectiveness, accessibility and reach of the skill training programmes. This in turn would ensure inclusive economic development.

Yet another sector that has high demand in developing OER systems is OER for persons with disabilities. Developing standards for OER production for persons with disabilities using the existing technologies could be one item that can be taken up immediately. Technological innovations can be an item for future.

As the organizers wished, all the discussions at the national consultation provided recommendation oriented and action oriented outputs, starting from the inaugural session, because the participants were passionate OER practitioners who have either successfully faced various kinds of challenges in OER implementation and related areas or who are closely monitoring and studying such challenges.

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