11.03.2015 - Communication & Information Sector

The University of Nairobi enhances education for all with Open Educational Resources

The successful launch of the OER initiative at the School of Open – Africa. Photo by Creative Commons (CC)

UNESCO supported the University of Nairobi, Kenya, to transform four courses from static text into dynamic online learning materials and released with an open license that allows users to freely and legally access, use, and adapt the materials. The courses are hosted on the OER Commons Platform.

For a number of years, efforts have been made to promote Open Education Resources (OER) in Kenya. Adoption is not yet high, yet the need is obvious. Numerous academic institutions have been establishing OERs in the country and the urge to learn more about OERs continue. The number of faculty members utilizing OERs continues to grow demonstrating an appreciation and demand for the same. Under the framework of Open Education Week and in a bid to promote Open Solution for knowledge Societies and also enhance accessibility, UNESCO supported the OERisation of the four pilot courses at the University of Nairobi. The selected pilot courses included:

  • Information Studies; a course unit offered to masters students at the school of Biological and Physical Sciences,
  • Introduction to Business and Entrepreneurship; a course unit offered to undergraduate students at the college of Biological;
  • Physical Sciences, Audit and Control; a course unit offered to both undergraduate and master’s students in different departments at the College of Biological
  • Physical Sciences and Database Systems; a course unit offered to both undergraduate and graduate masters students in different departments at the College of Biological and Physical Sciences.

The selection and design of the four courses was done by Dr. Tonny Omwansa who is the head of the University of Nairobi’s innovation Centre (the C4DLab) and his two assistants; Selina Ochukut; a graduate student at the school of computing and informatics and Elton Maiyo; an intern at C4Dlab.

The University of Nairobi established a multidisciplinary Centre of excellence known as Computing for Development (C4D) center. This Centre serves as the technology research and development arm of the University. The objectives of the C4Dlab are to provide national leadership in computing and ICT research, carry out research in technology priority areas approved by the board, incubate innovative ideas and potential commercial products from the Lab’s research efforts and University community, build research capacity in computing and ICT research and promote innovation by creating an atmosphere of idea generation, evaluation, development and dissemination.

The head of the University of Nairobi’s innovation Centre, the C4DLab stated; “Having been involved in OERizing, through the support of UNESCO, I have come to appreciate the subject matter at a deep level. This was an opportunity to learn more about OERisation and in the process created more valuable, locally relevant and useful courses”.

Creative Commons featured this OERisation pilot at their launch of School of Open Africa (SOO-Africa) event presided over by senior officials from Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, as reported here.

“The presentation, aligned to School of Open Africa objective of universal access to education stimulated an exciting OER conversation among participating professors from several universities, policy makers, copyright law course graduands, other education stakeholders and SOO-Africa supporters present at the event,” said Alex Gakuru, Regional  Coordinator -  Africa, Creative Commons.

The educational products generated by C4DLab demonstrated quality alternative Open knowledge co-creation and mode of delivery that got the attention of and support from the government of Kenya, he adds.

The four courses OERised were successfully uploaded at the OERCommons platform.

(See the link: https://www.oercommons.org/search?f.search=c4dlab)

This activity falls within UNESCO’s mandate to assisting educational planners and teacher training course developers to prepare teachers for making effective use of technology solutions.  This activity is a direct follow-up to the 2012 World Congress on Open Educational Resources which released the Paris Declaration on OERs calling on Governments to openly license all educational materials produced with public funds. Supported by a generous grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (USA), UNESCO is working with the Governments of Kenya, Oman, Bahrain, and Indonesia to implement dynamic and relevant policies to guide and recognize teachers and learners to find, adapt, use, develop, and share open educational resources.

Under the same framework, the Hewlett Foundation and the European Commission are currently funding a similar initiative for the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). As a direct outcome from the first NOUN OpenupEd workshop last September and the second workshop held in February, the NOUN OER-MOOC Project seeks to transform all 1,600+ courses of NOUN into full-featured OERs as well as launch new open-licensed MOOC versions of the courses to increase access and quality to higher education.

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