Open Educational Resources (OER) ARE currently being published and used at the University of Cape Town.  As no formal OER directory has been established as of yet, the resources are found scattered throughout departmental websites or on academic’s personal websites.  The question is, can the resources be found by the world at large or university members not explicitly notified.

A few weeks back I published our first resource.  I had to locate it on the UCT website and had the following to say about it:

In my hand I hold a copy of a tutoring manual published by the Centre for Higher Education Development.  The material was prepared by Kevin Williams and is presumably made available in print to new tutors in the Humanities and Social Science faculties.  

Searching the UCT website for the title of the resource produces no results.  Searching for the resources author, Kevin Williams, produces a number of results but none linking to the resource he has published.  Searching for “The Humanities Faculty Tutor Working Group”, a task team which I presume this resource was a result of, also produces no relevant results.  

Browsing the UCT site for the resource is incredibly frustrating!  I have checked the Centre for Higher Education Development’s website thoroughly.  I am starting to believe that the resource is not actually online!  

Only with a little help from CHW did I eventually find the resource.  Meaning the resource is so well hidden that only people with the knowledge of its whereabouts or a direct link could possibly find it.  

My journey of links to the resource was as follows: UCT Homepage – CHED – Other Entities in CHED – Higher & Adult Education Studies & Dev. Unit – HAESDU Homepage – Tutor Development – Tutor Development Project Page   Eureka!  We have finally found the resource after 6 clicks from the homepage – only if you know where to look!

Resources such as this should be made available in a more free and transparent manner.  Open resources of high calibre can only improve UCT’s global image and reach.  The goal of the OER project at UCT is to bring these resources out from hiding and to encourage new resources for presentation to the world at large.

Yesterday we met with a colleague in the Health Sciences department who had knowledge of our project and was interested in sharing some of the material he had generated for a course.  The materials were originally designed as take aways for a post graduate diploma course.

I was pleasantly surprised to see such rich open/distance materials at a residential university!  For the first time in this project we saw learning material which was orderly presented in modules, including media, and supporting hyperlinks.  The material resembled some of the modules I had seen on large scale OER projects from distance institutions such as Openlearn at the Open University (UK).

We talked at length about the media being used in the course.  Most of the images were taken or generated by our academic, yet some of them were taken from other sources.  We will have to sort out the third party copyright issues on these images.  Perhaps we can apply “Fair Use” to some of the images?  

We were all surprised to see such rich academic resources available to our project.
Certainly, before now, the only people who would have known about them were the academics involved in the course, or the students in the course.  All we had to do was send out “feelers” to the UCT community.  Luckily our colleague was very interested and saw a genuine need for the material to be freely available.

Now unlike the first example, I was unable to actually get the resources online.  All I had to do is get in my car, drive to the Medical School, locate the health sciences building, (past the morgue), climb three floors, locate the office and pick up the CD containing the files which could help so many developing institutions improve on their quality of education.

Uncovering the Riches of Buried Academic Resources

CC BY 4.0 Uncovering the Riches of Buried Academic Resources by Michael Paskevicius is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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