We have noticed a great interest by students in the omission of open education sites from the UCT student internet quota. This initiative enables UCT students to access open educational resources from around the world without impacting upon their monthly bandwidth. We have heard before from students who wanted TED lectures and other educational materials downloaded and made available for local access, so we are thrilled to have been able to get this content more accessible to students.
We could only make this possible with the help of Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS). ICTS recognized the value in increasing access to educational resources from around the world. The additional bandwidth available in South Africa, made possible via the SEACOM fibre optic cable, has also increased opportunities for this kind of access. In doing so I believe that UCT as a whole is making its first steps towards open educational practices.
Open Educational Practices have been defined as:
The use of open educational resources (OER) to raise the quality of education and training and innovate educational practices on institutional, professional and individual level. OPAL – The Open Quality Initiative
Practices which support the production, use and reuse of high quality open educational resources (OER) through institutional policies, which promote innovative pedagogical models, and respect and empower learners as co-producers on their lifelong learning path. OEP address the whole OER governance community: policy makers, managers and administrators of organizations, educational professionals and learners. International Council for Open and Distance Education
By increasing access to educational resources from around the world we can begin to explore new ways of understanding and approaching teaching and learning at our own university. The university also demonstrates to the entire UCT community that we are committed to giving our students the most modern and current information and communications technology tools to enhance their learning experience.
Students have responded quite positively to the increased access. The links from the OpenContent website to the open education sites have been getting lots of traffic. We have also had a number of requests for additional open education sties to be added to the list. Among these are the Open Yale University and the Kahn Academy. We are currently compiling a list of sites which we will take to ICTS with a request to omit from the student internet quota. Open Yale will be on the list but sadly the Khan Academy will not as the Khan videos are currently hosted in Youtube. Obviously omitting the entire YouTube site would be impossible!
There is a possibility of approaching the Khan Academy and seeing if we might host the instructional video files locally. Is this something the UCT community would find useful?
Please leave us a comment with any other open education sites which could be included in the access list.