The role of OER localisation in building a knowledge partnership for development: Comparing the TESSA and TESS-India teacher education projects
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As ever more OER are produced with the aim of widening access to learning in international contexts, debates around the localisation of OER have been increasingly voiced (e.g. Teemant, Taylor and West, 2011). It is generally agreed that sharing OER across continents is not just a matter of distributing resources to those who need them on a ‘one size fits all’ basis - ‘whereby the rich north would push these resources at the south without thought of reciprocity’ (Glennie et al 2012:v) - a notion that has been criticised for reflecting neo-colonial practices. Bateman, Lane and Moon (2012) observe a tendency for the OER Movement to be seen as (and see itself as) ‘benevolent, developed country ‘providers’ of OER’ as distinct from ‘passive, developing country ‘users’ of them’ while Miyagawa (2005) warns that by ignoring such concerns we may see a global information society resembling ‘a map of the world in the 16th century composed of those that colonize and those that are colonized.’
It is clear that for OER to be truly valuable to educators and learners, they need to be adapted to suit the contexts in which they are to be used, and adapted by those with a nuanced understanding of these contexts. Adapting OER for local contexts remains one of the greatest challenges of the open education movement (Wolfenden and Buckler, 2012) and very little has been written about how to support communities of users to adapt materials. Indeed, an outcome of the 2012 UNESCO World OER Congress in Paris was the note that OER producers need to give more attention to reuse and repurposing.
This paper is intended to extend the global conversation about how best to localise OER through adaptation and repurposing. It maps the landscape of OER for teacher education in low-income countries and presents a continuum between cultural imperialism to cultural knowledge sharing. Drawing in particular on the experiences of two UK-based teacher education OER projects - the Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA) programme and the Teacher Education through School-based Support in India (TESS-India) project - the paper presents an emerging toolkit for developers of OERs to move initiatives along the continuum to ensure more equitable and sustainable OER development and use.
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