Welcome remarks

presenter: Ishan Abeywardena, Commonwealth of Learning (COL)
presenter: Sanjaya Mishra, Commonwealth of Learning (COL)
presenter: K. Balasubramanian, Commonwealth of Learning (COL)
presenter: Gašper Hrastelj, Slovenian National Commission for UNESCO
presenter: Indrajit Banerjee, UNESCO
presenter: Ansary Ahmed, AsiaeUniversity (AeU)
presenter: Asha S. Kanwar, Commonwealth of Learning (COL)
published: Jan. 11, 2017,   recorded: December 2016,   views: 1672
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY)


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Welcome remarks from Professor Asha S. Kanwar, President and CEO, COL
Professor Asha warmly welcomed all participants to the workshop, the first of six regional consultations that will be organised by COL. She said that this workshop would be a testing ground, and that the template emerging from this workshop would be used in the other regional consultations. She noted that six COL staff members were participating in this workshop to learn and then implement the model in other regional consultations, where only two COL staff members would be participating in each case. She urged all participants to actively engage in the discussion. She also thanked the local host for partnering with COL to organise this important event.

Remarks from the host institution by Professor Dato’ Dr. Ansary Ahmed, President of Asia eUniversity
Professor Dato’ Ansary greeted all participants with a “Selamat Datang” (meaning “Welcome”) to Kuala Lumpur and wished all the participants a pleasant stay. He hoped the participants would find time to visit the city, if not the country, as the programme would be intense. He provided a brief background on the university—its origins and where it is heading. Established in 2007, Asia e University (AeU) is the youngest university in Malaysia, and from day one it has been an online university. It offers courses in three modes: blended, online, and face-to-face. AeU strives to harness appropriate technologies to improve the institution’s quality of teaching and learning and to reach out to its diverse learners. AeU is one of the early adopters of OER. The university has been using OER to develop courses, especially teacher training programmes. The president indicated that the university still had a long way to go and was looking forward to learning from others, especially from the participants in the two days of this workshop. He thanked COL for partnering with AeU to host this important event.

Remarks from Dr. Indrajit Banerjee, Director, Knowledge Societies Division, Communications and Information Sector, UNESCO, Paris
Dr. Banerjee began by thanking Professor Kanwar and her COL team for UNESCO’s excellent partnership with COL as well as with Ms. Barbara Chow and Dr. T. J. Bliss of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. He noted that this event would not have been possible without their support, and he also thanked Slovenian colleagues Gasper Hrastelj and Dr. Mitja Jermol, along with Asia eUniversity, for hosting the event. Dr. Banerjee said that the World OER Congress 2012 had been “a shot in the dark.” At that time, there were many initiatives but no cohesion among the players. An outcome of the 2012 Congress was the Paris Declaration, which encourages governments to:

  • foster awareness and use of OER;
  • reinforce the development of OER strategies and policies;
  • promote the understanding and use of open licensing frameworks; and
  • support capacity building for the sustainable development of quality learning materials.

UNESCO, with its 195 member states, realised that relying on enthusiasm for OER was not enough. Commitment needs to be put into action. The 2nd World OER Congress will have three objectives, which will differ from those of the 2012 Congress. The regional consultations will be based on these objectives:

  • Examine solutions for meeting the challenges of mainstream OER practices in education systems worldwide.
  • Showcase the world’s experts as well as best practices in OER policies and initiatives.
  • Provide recommendations for mainstreaming OER to expand the reach of best practices.

Dr. Banerjee emphasised that this workshop was critical for the success of the coming congress, saying, “We need to move from commitment to action,” including offering strategies and specific recommendations for the mainstreaming of OER. He highlighted five challenges to mainstreaming OER:

  • The capacity of users to access, reuse, and share OER
  • Language and cultural barriers
  • The guarantee of inclusive and equitable access to quality content
  • Shifts in business models
  • The development of appropriate policy solutions

Remarks from the Government of Slovenia by Mr. Gasper Hrastelj, Deputy Secretary General, Slovenian National Commission for UNESCO
Mr. Hrastelj began by expressing his appreciation for everyone playing an active role in preparing for the 2nd World OER Congress, as well as for Professor Kanwar and the COL team, and Asia eUniversity for hosting the workshop. He indicated that Slovenia has OER initiatives underway and that recently, UNESCO signed an agreement to establish a UNESCO Chair on Open Technology for OER and Open Learning in Slovenia. He was confident that Slovenia would manage the upcoming congress well, as there was political support from the Slovenian government and financial support from donors. The congress, he said, would move from commitments made in the 2012 Paris Declaration to establishing a plan of action for international collaboration in OER. He extended the country’s invitation to participants to attend the 2017 congress.

Introduction to the workshop, by Dr. K. Balasubramanian, Vice President, COL
Dr. Balasubramanian welcomed participants and informed them about the workshop’s contents and goals. He reiterated that this workshop needed to move from commitment to action—that the participants should aim to provide answers, and the organisers would take solutions to the next level. He acknowledged that there might be discussions about the need to create policies, but he emphasized that participants also needed to determine how to translate discussions and policies into action, because participants’ actions would impact policy makers. He advised participants to talk in realistic terms. He then facilitated a get-acquainted session wherein participants were asked to have a short conversation with a participant he/she had not met before, asking them to talk about their job and other matters, and then to briefly introduce the new friend to the others in the room. This became a quick and interesting ice-breaker.

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Download slides icon Download slides: OERregional_welcome_remarks_01.pdf (2.1 MB)

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