Closing and Final Remarks

presenter: Asha S. Kanwar, Commonwealth of Learning (COL)
published: Jan. 11, 2017,   recorded: December 2016,   views: 1015
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY)

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The Way Forward – by Professor Asha Kanwar
Professor Kanwar thanked the Honourable Deputy Minister of Education, Dato’ Dr. Mary Yap, and the Chairman of the AeU Board of Directors, Academician Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Syed Jalaludin Syed Salim for gracing the occasion. She also thanked Professor Dato’ Dr. Ansary Ahmed for hosting this event and the AeU team for helping out. She conveyed her appreciation to Ms. Barbara Chow and Dr. T.J. Bliss of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Dr. David Wiley and Dr. Cable Green for their fantastic presentations, which cleared away OER newcomers’ doubts about open licences and open textbooks, as well as to Dr. Indrajit Banerjee and Dr. Fengchun Miao of UNESCO, and to Slovenia friends Mr. Gasper Hrastelj and Dr. Mitja Jermol.

Why OER?
Dr. Kanwar provided two examples. In the USA, the cost of textbooks has increased 812% for students, raising the question of affordability for students pursuing education in the United States. In Sub-Saharan Africa and Cameroon, 12 children typically have to share one textbook. The OER initiative attempts to put a textbook in the hands of every child in Africa and the rest of the world. This is reflected in the theme “OER for inclusive and equitable quality education: from commitment to action.” By 2030, OER can become a complete mechanism in the provision of tertiary, technical and vocational education, and in lifelong learning. However, this can only happen by using OER to cut costs and improve the quality and distribution of content to the most remote regions of the world.

What have we achieved in the past two days?

  • A better understanding of OER, recognising the challenges and solutions
  • A consensus that will be documented
  • A network of policy makers and practitioners

COL is still conducting surveys for governments and hopes to accelerate the process. Dr. Kanwar encouraged participants to share the surveys with their networks. COL will produce a final global report on the state of OER across the world, based on reports from the six regional consultations. This will be the background text for the 2nd World OER Congress. Dr. Kanwar closed by emphasising that OER is related to “the 3 Ps”: People, Performance and Partnership.

Remarks from UNESCO Representative Dr. Fengchun Miao, Program Specialist, UNESCO
Dr. Miao conveyed UNESCO’s appreciation and gratitude to its partners and the AeU support team that helped contribute to the smooth running of the RCOER. He reminded participants of another aspect of Professor Kanwar’s statement regarding adopting and applying OER in education: the SGD4 Education 2030 agenda. This global education agenda is part of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which comprise the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. The success of these goals is driven by the education goal. Governments have another 15 years to fulfil the agenda. Harnessing OER for education will help promote education for all. Dr. Miao said that with the adoption of OER, governments can reach out and promote inclusive education, especially for refugees and people with disabilities, and can address gender inequality in education. He also reiterated that UNESCO will provide support, especially technical support, in the field of education. He thanked COL and AeU for the excellent organisation of the event.

Remarks from Hewlett Foundation Representative Ms. Barbara Chow, Program Director, Education
Ms. Chow expressed her deepest gratitude and appreciation to the participants, the COL team under Professor Kanwar, and AeU for being the host institution, for a well-organised and highly informative workshop. She noted that the Hewlett Foundation has been supporting the OER movement since its conception. The movement was originally inspired by MIT and others with the aim of sharing academic content at the dawn of the Internet revolution, and was joined by UNESCO in 2002. Ms. Chow said that OER has grown from a group of renegades and open advocates to a worldwide field. She reminded participants of their important roles in this transition from outsider to mainstream. On the road to mainstream adoption, OER converts need to maintain the spirit of innovation, challenge conventional thinking and at the same time seek to be accepted by conventional thinkers. It will be more difficult to convince the next round of OER converts than the first. The latter will be more sceptical, demand concrete evidence and be less forgiving; they will need to be convinced and supported, and they will give up easily when faced with challenges. The challenges to be faced were mentioned by COL and other presenters during the Day 1 sessions. There are solutions for these challenges, but we will also need patient advocacy and greater problem solving for each of the variables. Emphasising that online learning will continue to rise and can go a significant distance, Ms. Chow indicated that OER will be the last mile. It will enable building rather than recreating knowledge, as well as adapting knowledge to local contexts and creating equitable access to learning. The 2nd OER World Congress represents the best place to advance these goals, moving on from commitment to action. Ms. Chow urged participants to come to Slovenia and challenge the world, and to continue to press for OER in their institutions within national contexts.

Remarks from Government of Slovenia, Mr. Gasper Hrastelj, Deputy Secretary General, Slovenian National Commission for UNESCO
Mr. Hrastelj thanked all partners and participants and the host institution for their contributions to making the RCOER a success. All the RCOER sessions ended on a very enthusiastic and creative note. The entire programme managed to create a very strong and co-operative environment among the participants and to generate many solutions and suggestions pertaining to OER initiatives and the 2nd World OER Congress. He said that various governments have been informed about the upcoming congress, and formal invitations will be issued soon.

Speech by the Honourable Dato’ Dr. Mary Yap, Deputy Minister of Education, Malaysia
The Honourable Minister conveyed her gratitude that Malaysia played host to a significant educational conference. She highlighted the following governmental initiatives:

  • Development of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015– 2025 (Higher Education), which aims to chart the transformation of higher education in the country. Malaysia intends to be a regional and international forerunner of co-operation in higher education.
  • Malaysia’s National e-Learning Policy (DePAN 2.0), which was chaired by Professor Ansary and aims to release 15% of all course materials as open courseware by 2025.
  • Malaysia’s initiatives in promoting access to higher e-education: the establishment of two open universities, the development of Malaysia’s MOOC platform, and the creation of a credit transfer policy for MOOCs. Many higher education institutions in this country are already members of the MIT OpenCourseware Consortium and are releasing their materials with an open licence.
  • A national consultation workshop on OER was organised by Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) on 24–25 November 2016 with the support of COL. The aim was to develop a guide for making OER available in a systematic manner, emphasising the need for understanding OER and how to create and share OER using a platform/repository to enable the country to implement the goals of the national eLearning policy.

The Minister assured the Slovenian representative of Malaysia’s support for the 2nd World OER Congress and what it hopes to achieve, as the Malaysian Government believes in working together as part of the global community to manage education strategies and resources which are of significant value. Malaysia firmly believes in the sharing of experiences and resources to ensure a dynamic global engagement where mutual benefits can be derived by all parties concerned.

Closing and thanks by Professor Dato’ Ansary Ahmed, President and CEO of Asia e University
Professor Ansary began by thanking the Honourable Minister, Dato’ Dr. Mary Yap for making time to be with the participants during the RCOER dinner and at this closing session. He expressed his deepest appreciation to Professor Kanwar and COL for honouring Asia e University by choosing it to be the host institution for this important event. He thanked all learned participants for their enthusiasm and commitment during discussions and hoped participants would continue to champion OER.

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