On Sunday I attended a workshop which previewed the forthcoming UNESCO Open Educational Resources (OER) Platform. The workshop was hosted within the framework of the Highway Africa and the Pan African Conference on Access to Information (PACAI) conferences also happening at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) this past weekend. I wanted to share some thoughts on the workshop, in particular: an overview of the UNESCO model curriculum for journalism education; an invitation to comment on the UNESCO OER policy guidelines; an introduction to the UNESCO OER Platform; and some exciting future activities to watch from the UNESCO OER program.
UNESCO Model Curricula for Journalism Education
The workshop brought together stakeholders from journalism and media institutions throughout Africa in which UNESCO aims to support as they become ‘Centres of Excellence’ in journalism education. The stakeholders had been involved in developing and using the UNESCO Model Curricula for Journalism Education published in 2007. The UNESCO Model Curriculum for Journalism provides a model curriculum that any institution around the world can adopt and use in their institution.
The Curricula is a generic model that can be adapted according to each country’s specific needs. It takes full cognizance of the social, economic, political and cultural contexts of developing countries and emerging democracies, highlighting the connection between democracy and journalism and arguing for a more cross-disciplinary approach within journalism training centres. Source
From what I understand the curricula is an open educational resource, but I did note that it does not contain an open copyright license such as Creative Commons. It would be great to see an open license on the curriculum as well.
UNESCO OER Policy Guidelines
Abel Caine highlighted some of the activities which The UNESCO OER Programme are involved in including the recently drafted OER Policy Guidelines for Higher Education and the forthcoming UNESCO OER Platform.
The OER Policy Guidelines for Higher Education are being drafted and UNESCO has asked for comments on the draft guidelines. UNESCO in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) have developed these guidelines to support governments, teaching staff, higher education institutions/providers, and quality assurance/accreditation and recognition bodies. If you are like us and have an OER initiative on your campus, and yet no policy to formally support these activities, this document might be worth a review. I plan to take a close look at the policy guidelines in the next couple weeks and hopefully provide some feedback.
Introduction to the UNESCO OER Platform
We had a preview of the OER Platform currently being developed by UNESCO in collaboration with the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE). The platform will be used by UNESCO to “radically “enhance” UNESCO’s Clearing House function by offering “selected” UNESCO publications as OER products and allowing “stakeholders” to freely copy, adapt, and share their resources”.Source
The platform will host and share open curriculum developed by UNESCO and will eventually move towards hosting more diverse types of OER. The platform comes with the tagline “Find, compare, build and share”. Any UNESCO curriculum on the platform can be adapted, localized, translated, or innovated upon directly in the browser. The adaptation is linked to the original version, as well as any other adaptations of the original (or an adaptation of an adaptation!) What makes this platform different is that it allows one to then compare revisions of a curriculum document directly in the browser. Differences are highlighted to show where the content has been revised to match the need of the local context.
The OER Platform uses similar functionality to the Open University’s LabSpace, which allows one to make ‘revisions’ of content; and Rice University’s Connexions platform, which uses one to ‘reuse / edit’ content on their site. Keeping track of the versions and adaptations is the real strength of such a system, as it is then easy to see the reuse of content and how it has been contextualized within different contexts.
It was a great workshop and I was really happy to engage with the other institutions who are looking to open educational content to improve teaching and learning at their respective universites.
More information about upcoming UNESCO OER initiatives can be found below:
UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning are “planning” to host the 2012 World OER Conference at UNESCO in Paris from Wednesday 20 – Friday 22 June, 2012.
he purpose of the Conference will be to:
- Highlight global best practices in OER laws or policy, projects or initiatives, and practices;
- Release the 2012 Paris OER Declaration calling on Governments to support the development and use of OERs
We are planning several lead-up events:
- UNESCO Forum on OER Policy Guidelines – UNESCO, Paris, January 2012
- Asia-Pacific OER Policy Forum – India, Feb 2012
- Africa OER Policy Forum – South Africa, March 2012
- Latin America OER Policy Forum – Brazil, April 2012
The 2012 World Conference will be followed up by a 2015 Millennium World Conference where we hope to show very strong progress by Governments on OER policies, initiatives, and practices.