Open Education Conference Delft 2018: OER &developing countries

I attended the very interesting Open Education Global Conference in Delft this year also as presenter. For me the third time , but the last time long was quite a while  ago (in Monterrey, Mexico in 2009).

Considering my background in development cooperation, I was of course also  very interested to see how OER for third world countries emerge and what the obstacles are (technical, culturally, relevance, institutional, acceptance, etc.).

Below a few  observations from a couple of  presentations (case studies) I attended (but there was much more during the conference!

  1. Key note (higher education for refugees)Kiron aims to give refugees around the world access to a university education and additional related options. In this way, Kiron supports refugees in facing the challenges of fleeing from their home countries and starting over elsewhere. In his keynote (see this video) Vincent Zimmer gave an overview of developments in Germany and the expanding network of universities which joined the initiative despite the bureaucratic difficulties (i.e.  proctored exams in Germany are subject to stringent regulations). In practice most refugees come from Arab countries. The inspiring presentation left you with the question why we don’t have this for the whole EU?At the same time, the presentation left me with a lot of questions. 52  institutes  involved  for a few thousand students? I had very  mixed feelings about the very  low success rates. Those who managed seem to  be the brilliant ones.  What does this mean?  One reason is obviously the appalling quality of secondary education in Arab world (unless you have the money of course).  But how do take this into consideration? More focus on bridging courses?
  2. Ethics and Open education: perspective from the South I was (as course manager of the MOOC responsible  Innovation and coordinator of the Human Research Ethics committee ) of course  in a section about ethics and open education. The nice thing that this session was introduced by speakers (video-connection) from all over the work with some questions for pondering.  Key remarks by these speakers   a)  lack of trust) b) lack of non-English resources, c lack of contextualization, d)  fear of loss of jobs,  e) new form Colonialism f) very little re-use of ‘Southern’ resources in the West and g) focus on high quality video, etc. by leading open education institutions means a big threshold  (standards too high) for developing countries. Little conclusions afterwards but  still nice for further debate.I personally strongly disagree with the concern for unemployment by teachers  considering the lack of qualified teachers and the fact that you simply need  high quality education for future employment.
  1. (OER India for secondary schools)This is a very interesting, comprehensive and thus  very( too?)  ambitious project.  It is all about  development of OER for all secondary school s in India and includes manty activities at the same time: develop OER,  change curricula, reform teacher training programs,  create awareness at all levels, etc.  Target group is around 250 million children.
    This project initiated from a discussion between Tata (biggest company in India as far as I know)  and MIT (not surprised but I never heard of Apple doing such type of responsible innovation).   Current phase is a kick-off in 4 states and the focus is on some key resources.  It is great to see such a major project but at the same think my conclusion is that you will need a generation or  to make a real impact.  In retrospect: maybe should they have started at teacher training colleges?
  1. (local MOOCs in South-East)This project  is about  different MOOCs (or better LOOCs: Local…) for local communities in South-East Asia.  Nice thing: open course for a very well defined target group, developed in consultation with this group (like fishermen in Philippines).  The presentation included very y nice examples of ways how this could work. Note that  education was provided in a very blended mode (communities coming together, sitting before a screen and then discuss). The project also  includes capacity building at different levels. Have a look!

    Joost Groot Kormelink

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