Friday, April 29, 2011

LESSONS GAINED FROM THE Open Educational Resources for School Teachers from Developing Nations

Participating in this course has further broadened my knowledge of the OER concept.
My readings have allowed me understand the CC licensing system better and further enriched my knowledge of various OER authoring software and web sites that i had not known about before now.
With a better understanding of the various tools available for creating OER and a more in-depth knowledge of the CC licensing system, I am hoping to be able to create more training materials on Computer Applications in different freely available formats.
This added knowledge will further help me in my future endeavors in the OER community. I am planning on creating a platform for authoring Primary, Secondary and Vocational schools cooks that will be based on local Nigerian content and the knowledge i have gained from this course added to my previously acquired wiki skills from Wikieducator will certainly be of great use in this effort.
One the whole, it has been a worthwhile experience and I am hoping to be part of future courses whenever they are organized because just as OER is a continuous process, acquisition of the various skills require continually following the innovations and using them.


From my perspective, nations in the developing world stand to benefit the most from a proper implementation of OER. Our educational systems are mostly in dire need of qualitative educational materials which are scarce to find and where available are mostly out of the reach of the average masses.

Though most developing nations have problems of Power supply and Internet access which could inhibit the spread the OER, it is still very possible to expand awareness about OER especially within the academic community. Many academics will be willing to create materials that will be published under CC licenses but it will require a more concerted awareness raising effort on the part of the OER community to involve them is already doing a good job at spreading the OER gospel and with time, it is hoped that we will have more OER materials authored and tailored to serve the educational needs of developing nations.
To achieve this lofty goal, there is the need to involve governments and educational bodies who hold control over the policies that guide educational material sourcing and production in these countries. For example, if the government of a country subscribes  to the ideals of OER, it could provide funding for will-be OER authors and producers and from such materials a whole set of usable materials could be produced to serve the nation’s educational needs.

From my personal experience, ICT professionals in different fields are usually ready to network on projects and this inherent willingness could be translated into collaborative work on OERs. in the production of OERs, while one person could produce the content, a skilled web author could handle the design and since these materials will be open for remixing and modification, the involvement of more experts will eventually lead to high quality resources being available.

Some people always bring up the issue of quality, to me, i have the believe that open works will continue to be fine tuned and added to on a continuous basis. and if I find some contents I disagree with in an OER, i could simply reproduce it with my modifications and publish it back for use. Knowledge is not static, it is always in a process of development and materials released as OER will best serve the principles of knowledge by being always in a state of continuous development.

CC licenses

Creative Commons licenses are several copyright licenses that allow the distribution of copyrighted works. The licenses differ by several combinations that condition the terms of distribution. They were initially released on December 16, 2002 by Creative Commons, a U.S. non-profit corporation founded in 2001.

As of September, 2010, Creative Commons licenses have been "ported" to 53 different jurisdictions worldwide, with 8 others under development.


The original set of licenses all grant the "baseline rights", such as the right to distribute the copyrighted work worldwide, without changes, at no charge.The details of each of these licenses depends on the version, and comprises a selection of four conditions:
    Attribution     Attribution (by)     Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only if they give the author or licensor the credits in the manner specified by these.
    Non-commercial     Noncommercial (nc)     Licensees may copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only for noncommercial purposes.
    Non-derivative     No Derivative Works (nd)     Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work, not derivative works based on it.
    Share-alike     Share-alike (sa)     Licensees may distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs the original work.


Mixing and matching these conditions produces sixteen possible combinations, of which eleven are valid Creative Commons licenses and five are not. Of the five invalid combinations, four include both the "nd" and "sa" clauses, which are mutually exclusive; and one includes none of the clauses. Of the eleven valid combinations, the five that lack the "by" clause have been retired because 98% of licensors requested Attribution, though they do remain available for reference on the website. This leaves six regularly used licenses:

        Attribution alone (by)
        Attribution + Noncommercial (by-nc)
        Attribution + NoDerivatives (by-nd)
        Attribution + ShareAlike (by-sa)
        Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives (by-nc-nd)
        Attribution + Noncommercial + ShareAlike (by-nc-sa)

For example, the Creative Commons Attribution (BY) license allows one to share and remix (create derivative works), even for commercial use, so long as attribution is given.


Since 2004, all current licenses require attribution of the original author. The attribution must be given to "the best of [one's] ability using the information available". Generally this implies the following:

        Include any copyright notices (if applicable). If the work itself contains any copyright notices placed there by the copyright holder, those notices must be left intact, or reproduced in a way that is reasonable to the medium in which the work is being re-published.
        Cite the author's name, screen name, or user ID, etc. If the work is being published on the Internet, it is nice to link that name to the person's profile page, if such a page exists.
        Cite the work's title or name (if applicable), if such a thing exists. If the work is being published on the Internet, it is nice to link the name or title directly to the original work.
        Cite the specific CC license the work is under. If the work is being published on the Internet, it is nice if the license citation links to the license on the CC website.
        Mention if the work is a derivative work or adaptation, in addition to the above, one needs to identify that their work is a derivative work i.e., “This is a Finnish translation of [original work] by [author].” or “Screenplay based on [original work] by [author].”


Work licensed under a Creative Commons License is governed by applicable copyright law. This allows Creative Commons licenses to be applied to all work falling under copyright, including: books, plays, movies, music, articles, photographs, blogs, and websites. Creative Commons does not recommend the use of Creative Commons licenses for software.

However, application of a Creative Commons license may not modify the rights allowed by fair use or fair dealing or exert restrictions which violate copyright exceptions. Furthermore, Creative Commons Licenses are non-exclusive and non-revocable. Any work or copies of the work obtained under a Creative Commons license may continue to be used under that license.

In the case of works protected by multiple Creative Common Licenses, the user may choose either.


A number of additional licenses have been introduced, which are more specialized:

     Sampling licenses, with two options:
    Sampling Plus: parts of the work can be copied and modified for any purpose other than advertising, and the entire work can be copied for noncommercial purposes
    Noncommercial Sampling Plus: the whole work or parts of the work can be copied and modified for noncommercial purposes


Due to either disuse or criticism, a number of previously offered Creative Commons licenses have since been retired,and are no longer recommended for new works. The retired licenses include all licenses lacking the Attribution element other than CC0, as well as two licenses not allowing at least non-commercial verbatim distribution worldwide:

        Sampling: parts of the work can be used for any purpose other than advertising, but the whole work cannot be copied or modified
    DevNations: a Developing Nations license, which only applies to countries deemed by the World Bank as a "non-high-income economy". Full copyright restrictions apply to people in other countries.


Besides licenses, Creative Commons also offers a way to release material into the public domain through CC0, a legal tool for waiving as many rights as legally possible, worldwide. Development of CC0 began in 2007 and the tool was released in 2009.

In 2010, Creative Commons announced its Public Domain Mark, a tool for labeling works already in the public domain. Together, CC0 and the Public Domain Mark replace the Public Domain Dedication and Certification,  which took a U.S.-centric approach and co-mingled distinct operations.

Reusing OER and Open Content

Some available educational resources relevant to my courses of study which i have had the opportunity of gaining from include:
    (Introduction to Computing)
    (Introduction to ICT systems)
    (ICT systems)
    (WWW Tutorial)
    (Various Computing tutorials)

Some projects i am currently involved in include:

Authoring Tools

from my findings, the following sites offer a good opportunity for authoring:

I enjoy using the Wieducator site for my authoring because using Wikitext gives me a lot of flexibility as i am accustomed to HTML.
The availability of the Rich text option also makes Wiki authoring as simple as just preparing a word processing document.
One big advantage of using Wikis is that is allows for collaboration with other members of the network. another advantage is the fact that you can use the revision tab to monitor changes made to pages i.e. accept them to revert back to previous versions at any time.

Characteristics of OER

Characteristics of OER
Open Educational Resources are best understood by the following characteristics that define them as a way of definition:

Cost minimization

OERs are most commonly cost-free. The OER movement generally sets great store in lowering the total cost of ownership, which means that not only should resources and tools be cost-free wherever possible, but also that the medium of their distribution should not presuppose expensive hardware or software. For example, resources which require high bandwidth might cause large Internet connection costs in developing countries. So it is good practice for OER creators to look at the wider picture of OER usage and aim at minimizing all possible cost factors.

Issues of cost-minimization may include or disguise issues of cost-shifting. Cost-minimization may mean minimization only for the end-consumer, or it may take a more holistic view. Cost-shifting may mean that costs are shifted away from the end-consumer, producing only an appearance of cost-minimization or a (real) avoidance of profiting out of the end-consumer.

Cost-shifting in OER is accompanied by measures which spread the costs of production processes. For example, the costs borne by educators are reduced by involving software programmers, legal experts and repository managers in the whole OER production process,
Cost-shifting in OER is also accompanied by measures which maximize the cost-efficiency of production processes. Reusability is a core principle here. For example, the reusability of a software license reduces legal costs without adding any time-related burden to a legal expert.

There is no one economic model which OERs must follow. On the contrary, there is considerable debate and experimentation in this area. What characterizes OER production is the move away from the traditional model where a consumer pays the producer for their goods or services. By freely making these resources available online for use and modification to specific purposes, it deviates from the present cash-and-carry system that operates for educational materials.

Open: Accessibility

Open educational resources are currently an Internet phenomenon, because currently only the Internet can offer the almost zero-cost and universal access that characterizes OER. OER are generally available for public use, without password-protection or registration requirements. A higher degree of openness concerning accessibility relates to the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it. Underdeveloped or poor infrastructure also need to be considered when thinking about open access.

Accessibility can also be used in the narrower sense of ensuring that OER are accessible to disabled users. Accessibility practices include creating subtitles, providing alternate text for images, audio article transcription, generating high contrast color schemes, verifying that content is accessible at larger font sizes, and testing that interfaces are navigable via keyboard and/or alternative devices.
By being freely accessible for use to anyone with access to the internet, OERs makes it possible for users with limited resources to have high quality resources for their studies.

Open: Consumer/producer relationship

Openness may also refer to the openness of production: the set of producers is not necessarily closed to or separate from the set of consumers. Not all OER's share this characteristic, but it is a common theme in OER that consumers may become producers and vice-versa. The technical openness of production processes leads to a social openness of the same processes. A higher degree of openness concerning the consumer / producer relationship relates to the freedom to make changes and improvements, and to distribute derivative works.

Open: Licences

OER are often characterised by use of certain licences, although this is not a part of their definition. The licencing of OER is rather wide and includes but extends beyond copyleft and free software. Resources which are widely recognized as OER, such as MIT's OpenCourseware, use licences such as CC-BY-SA-NC (a Creative Commons licence which requires attribution, adherence of modifications to the same licence, and restricts to non-commercial use).

The most important criteria of OER licences is that they should permit

an indefinite chain of distribution without further permission and
promote re-purposing.

However there are no precise definitions.

A higher degree of openness concerning licenses relates to the freedom to make and redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression.

Educational content

While OER normally have educational content, there is some debate or uncertainty as to the inclusion of very fine-grained resources under the term OER. Fine-grained resources means the smallest possible building blocks of resources, such as images or audio-clips. Images or audio-clips may not have a specifically educational content by themselves, but educational sites may nevertheless collect them and make them available for educational purposes. At the other end of the scale, repositories and tools can be considered "OER", although by themselves they may have no special educational relevance, and it may only be their application to educational resources which makes them educational.


Emphasis is laid in all descriptions of OER on the varied and all-encompassing nature of resources.

One way to list possible resource types is by the skills of the resource producer:

    Educators: content.
    Programmers: tools for creating OER content, tools for OER repositories.
    Legal experts: intellectual property licences.
This list cannot be closed; for example, how does one categorize the broader group of people who promote OER. Further, there is an OER interest in experimenting with closing the producer-consumer gap, so perhaps the consumer's activity needs to be listed

Wednesday, April 27, 2011



Open educational resources or OER are defined by a report to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation as follows:

"OER are teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials or techniques used to support access to knowledge." describes the origin and meaning of the word as follows:

"The phrase ‘open education resources’ was first coined in 2002 at UNESCO’s Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries. It encompasses several different types of resources, including learning content (courses, lesson plans and learning objects), tools (software that supports the development, management and re-use of content) and implementation resources (the intellectual property licences that promote open licensing and other principles of best practice)."

UNESCO's current interest in OER is centered at its International Institute for Educational Planning, but this site does not appear to define what OER are, except by exhaustive listing of OERs and assistance with creating them.

In his article "The new pedagogy of open content: bringing together production, knowledge development and learning", Graham Attwell writes: "There is no clear agreement on exactly what we mean by Open Content or Open Educational Resources", but he goes on to give an impression of the full range and diversity of the movement.

From the above formal definitions, we can deduce that OERs are educational resources which are freely available for use, editing sharing and reproduction without the intricate maze of Copyright laws that restrict the use of most materials in print or online.
OER materials are licensed under a variety of Free to use licenses that offer the user an opportunity to access materials, modify them and again make available for further use without legal hindrances.
It is quite a novel way of creating materials and leaves materials open for continuous development through modification. And considering the fact that knowledge is ever improving, OER offers a great medium for collaborative efforts by people from diverse backgrounds in different places in the world.
For developing nations where educational materials are costly to come across and the available ones restricted for adaptation by various copyright statutes, OER is heaven sent. You can download OER content, adapt it to your needs and redistribute it freely.
One of the pluses of OER is that materials can be downloaded, edited and if there be need, printed out in hard copy ,without need for long copyright application processes.