At its core, the concept of Open Educational Resources (OER) describes educational resources that are freely available for use by educators and learners, without an accompanying need to pay royalties or licence fees. A broad spectrum of frameworks is emerging to govern how OER is licensed for use, some of which simply allow copying and others that make provision for users to adapt the resources that they use. The most well known of these are the Creative Commons (CC) licences, which provide legal mechanisms to ensure that people can retain acknowledgement for their work while allowing it to be shared, seek to restrict commercial activity if they so wish, and aim to prevent people adapting work if appropriate (although this may be legally difficult to enforce at the margins).
OER is not synonymous with online learning or e-learning, and indeed, in an African context, it is anticipated that many of the resources produced – while shareable in a digital format (both online and via offline formats such as CD-ROM) – will be printable. Thus, it would be anticipated that a very high percentage of resources of relevance to African education will be shared as RTF or similar files (for purposes of adaptation) and packaged as PDF files (for purposes of printing).
This introduction is taken from Saide’s Policy on Open Education Resources.
Although the concept and terminology of Open Education Resources is relatively new, Saide has since inception tried to make as much of its work freely available. For example:
- Managing ICTs in South African Schools: A Guide for School Principals was published in 2005. The Department of Education printed it and disseminated over 20 000 copies of the resource to schools in the country.
- Being a Vocational Educator: A Guide for Lecturers in FET Colleges was published in 2005 and made freely available on our website.
- Fundamentals in ECD in Communications and Maths Literacy. Trainers’ guides and learner guides were developed for the Department of Education.
- Our newsletter was disseminated freely in hard copy from 1995 to 2005.
- Where possible all our research reports have always been made available on our website.
Saide has consolidated its OER work through our OER Africa initiative. All our OER projects and resources will be showcased on the OER Africa website. The OER Africa brochure provides more information on the initiative. The initiative is focused on four areas: namely agriculture, health, foundation skills, and teacher education. Theoretical resources on open education resources and toolkits are also made available on the site.
We have embarked on an exciting new initiative - the African Storybook Project which aims to stimulate the provision and use of a wealth of openly licensed stories in local African languages for early reading. Go to the African Storybook website to "find", "create" and "version/translate" stories.
Examples of our resources include:
- The Saide Teacher Education Series
- Supporting Distance Learners in the 21st Century
- Course Design and Materials Development Guide
- OER Copyright and Licensing Toolkit
- OER Policy Review and Development Toolkit
OER Africa also encourages other African OER projects to showcase their work on the site. Examples of projects are: