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Open Source Systems – Enablers and barriers to the use of open educational resources in Africa

Jean-Paul van Belle

Jean-Paul outlined a number of barriers to the adoption of open educational resources (OERs) in Africa, and the body of research he and his team had done to validate this. They concluded that;

  • Technology – Internet access is still an issue in many parts of Africa. OERs are difficult to use if internet access is not available. However, only the teacher in a group needs internet access; s/he can then teach his/her students once the OER materials are downloaded.
  • Copyright – Creative Commons license has not been tested in court very much
  • Politics and culture – An anti-Western cultural bias was found; people were suspicious of materials from the West, and also in English. There were a lack of materials in other languages.
  • Quality – People equivocate the free nature of OERs with poor quality; because it’s low cost it’s assumed to be poor quality
  • Discovery and meta data – there is no SourceForge for OER, making resources difficult to find. This was the second highest barrier.
  • Context – many OERs lack metadata, making them hard to find. It’s also hard to align them with learning objectives without this meta data.

The research also showed the need for communication, advertising, training and awareness, and that there was a lack of OERs suitable for use by Arabic and French language academics.