With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of higher education institutions (HEIs) in Ghana are making an emergency shift to online teaching and learning; thereby unintentionally embracing an Open University model.
Current happenings can be analysed from the macro, meso and micro perspective. At the macro level, government, through the Ministry of Education is touting the affordances of web technologies and urging HEIs to be innovative in ensuring the continuance of learning at a distance, thus avoiding a complete shutdown of HEIs in the country.
At the meso level, a number of institutions are making frantic efforts by enhancing their existing online provisions or even designing entirely new online learning environments in order to shift studies online at a larger scale.
Moving down to the micro-level, we are witnessing a lot more faculty members than usual – experienced or otherwise in online teaching – developing digital resources for their online engagement. Students, on the other hand, are expected to get to the full grips of learning online fulltime very quickly.
The good news for lecturers, particularly those new to digital teaching & learning formats and OERs, in particular, is that they do not need to develop their materials from scratch. A lot of foundational material already exist for adoption. As subject matter experts, however, they are cautioned to evaluate the quality of the OER they adopt and adapt.
Below is a list of ten (10) recommended OER sites, across disciplines, which can serve as a good reference point for teaching resources.
- Lumen (https://lumenlearning.com/courses/ )
- MERLOT Courses (http://www.merlot.org/merlot/index.htm )
- MIT OpenCourseware (https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/online-textbooks/ )
- OER Commons (https://www.oercommons.org/ )
- Open Course Library (http://opencourselibrary.org/course/ )
- Open Learning Initiative (https://oli.cmu.edu/courses/ )
- OpenStax Textbooks (https://cnx.org/ )
- Open Michigan (https://open.umich.edu/find/find-open-educational-resources )
- Saylor (https://www.saylor.org/books/ )
- BC Campus (https://open.bccampus.ca/browse-our-collection/find-open-textbooks/ )
This list is by no means exhaustive. Educators are at liberty to explore other OER sites, including reputable Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) sites such as Coursera (https://www.coursera.org/ ), FutureLearn (https://www.futurelearn.com/ ) and Khan Academy (https://www.khanacademy.org/ ).
In the utilization of OERs, knowledge in the application of the 5Rs permissions is essential. The 5Rs include:
(See https://canvas.instructure.com/courses/1123092/pages/the-5-rs-of-open for more details)
Arguably, a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic in the higher education sector is the fact that discussions regarding the mainstreaming of open education formats have gained much attention. Additionally, a number of these quality OERs, which have long been in existence but received little or no attention will come to the fore in the coming days and will be heavily utilized by faculty members to create their content. Many of these resources have been developed using established instructional design methods.
In essence, “open” means freedom! However, lecturers are reminded to apply the appropriate open license (eg creative common) in whatever they choose to do with the resource. Similarly, they are encouraged to share their revised and remixed contents in order to extend and democratize knowledge.
Finally, those who wish to know more about OERs may refer to an exploratory study conducted in 2019 regarding the awareness and engagement of OER by faculty, using a mid-sized Ghanaian university as a case study.
Link to research: https://www.zfhe.at/index.php/zfhe/article/view/1216
By Frank Senyo Loglo ([email protected])
The author is a Senior Administrator at Ghana Technology University College.