Changes in Libraries: Expanding access to information through OER


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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) “Information for All Programme” (IFAP) describes Information literacy and lifelong learning as the beacons of the information society, illuminating the courses to development, prosperity and freedom. In the current digital environment information sharing has the power to bolster educational equality across the world.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are helping to reduce the digital divide by making it possible for marginalized users to get access to a large quantity of educational content.  The term Open Educational Resources (OER) coined at UNESCO’s Forum for Open course in 2002 are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. OERs range from:

  • Textbooks to curricula
  • Syllabi
  • Lecture notes
  • Assignments
  • Tests and projects
  • Audio, video and animation.

Their principal use is by teachers and educational institutions, support course development, but they can also be used directly students (David Wiley). A decade since MIT Open Course Ware was made available, challenges are still there for countries with limited infrastructure in terms of internet access- a perquisite for accessing OER content.

In summer 2016, the School of Library and Information Science at the Central University of Gujarat (India) took up an initiative to provide access to open content to a primary school located near to the university as part of a student project. This school has been adopted by the university under the School Adoption Program. The school has limited infrastructural and human resources. The children enrolled in the school are from low income groups. The biggest barrier to accessing OER content is the lack of internet connectivity in the computer laboratory. A student form the School of Library and Information Science took up a small project to provide Khan Academy learning resources for the intended audience comprising of teachers and students.

A mapping of subjects was undertaken to identify the exact topics of the syllabus for the subject mathematics taught to the 5th and 6th grades. Khan Academy modules for NCERT (National Council for Educational Research and Training- a premier organization in India) were selected as these modules matched the prescribed syllabus. In a preliminary survey done to identify the language understanding  of teachers, they expressed interest in the English language videos for themselves and Hindi language videos for the students.  Two teachers of the subject mathematics were shown how to use Khan Academy resources for teaching.

Availability of such resources have presented an immense opportunity to provide resources for the social good – going beyond the four walls of the libraries. The greatest change technology has enabled is the expanded access to information sharing.

Here are some questions you might like to discuss with your partner:

  1. Does your library provide open content to the users?
  2. Does your library include open content in the collection development policies?

We would love to hear more from you on our Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn accounts.

Bhakti Gala, ILN Content Officer

Posted in Round 2016B and tagged , , , .

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