The International Development Research Centre of Canada [(IDRC) is pleased to be associated with the training modules on Open Education Resources (OER) that are being presented, through our sponsorship of its development. Our interest in OER stems from our interest in the inherent value of freely available knowledge resources to the world’s poor and marginalised populations and our long association with the Open Source movement. Many of the developing countries, where IDRC is active, are challenged to find financially affordable and pedagogically acceptable solutions in providing educational services, in the face of increasing demand for post-secondary education and increasing cost. A foremost concern is to maintain the quality of teachers and the content and instruction they deliver. It is possible to address educational quality and reach by increasing the availability and use of OER and associated open source software. By supporting OER research and development, our aim is to enhance the quality of openness that networked technologies enable; protect the rights of citizens and consumers to knowledge; catalyze the inclusion of marginalized communities in emerging networked societies; and deepen the field of information networks and development.
In preparation for the roll-out of its 2011-2016 programming, the “Information and Networks” Team at IDRC made early investments in 2009 into an Asia-wide study to gather information on the state-of-practice of OERs in adult education; assess OER costs and benefits; and produce recommendations to motivate OER practice through a series of case studies. In the process, we became aware that those who stand to gain the most from OER reuse in the developing world face considerable barriers, owing to a general lack of knowledge about the concept of OER and a paucity of technological infrastructure and institutional policies. Thus, our project stakeholders formed a materials development team to design, develop and trial the delivery of a modular training course on Open Educational Resources aimed at teachers and policymakers in the developing world. The course delivery was trialled in Hanoi and Ulaanbaatar during 2010 and more recently in Penang, Malaysia in May of 2011. A few of the modules in this suite were also trialled in British Columbia to test out their portability. Following the various trials, the training content has been further reviewed and edited by the OER experts who designed these materials. I am happy to see this product being released through OERAsia.com and the Wikieducator under a CC-BY license in the spirit of the openness philosophy that underlies IDRC-supported research. We hope through continuous engagement with the community these modules will be regularly updated as new knowledge about the practice accumulates. For its part, IDRC through its new Program Prospectus for 2011-2016 will continue to focus and build a critical southern perspective of the networked society that is transforming developing countries, and the extent to which marginalized groups are able to productively take part in emerging networked societies.
I wish to place IDRC’s thanks to the authors of these modules : Dr. David Porter, Dr. V. Balaji and Dr. G. Dhanarajan as well Dr. Wayne Mackintosh who peer reviewed the materials for us.
Maria Ng Lee Hoon
Senior Program Specialist
Information and Networks , Science and Innovation Program Area
International Development Research Centre