Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

Open Content for Elearning: Cross-Institutional Collaboration for Education and Training in a Digital Environment

Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

Open Content for Elearning: Cross-Institutional Collaboration for Education and Training in a Digital Environment

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The University of the West Indies Open Campus and Athabasca University conducted a pilot workshop to see if open educational resources (OER) could be used to construct curricula. UWIOC was interested in increasing distance education offerings and Athabasca University was interested in expanding programming to offer an online graduate program in Instructional Design. A workshop brought a team together to: come to a consensus on the format of module specifications, select appropriate resources, and to report on the feasibility of the approach. The team produced course outlines and specifications for modules using OER. The following were noted: Use of OER sped the aggregation of content; OER are not available for every topic; OER differ from the desired scope and academic level; they vary in media and content quality; and OER that lack clarity of authorship and copyright are difficult to include in courses.

Keywords: Open Education Resources, Instructional Design, Digital Environments

DIRECTIONS IN DISTANCE EDUCATION

In the process of trying to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and more particularly in these recent difficult financial times, there has been a massive increase in interest in distance education in both developed and developing countries. Distance education is very attractive for governments wishing to achieve a rapid increase in trained professionals without the massive infrastructure costs associated with "bricks and mortar" institutions. Considerable progress has been made in some professions, but there is still a desperate need for more training in others. Distance education also has the potential to diminish the internal brain drain from the rural areas that often occurs when students are forced to move from their communities to an urban institution if they wish to study.

From the point of view of the learner, not only is distance education usually more affordable, it is also more convenient - allowing the learner to study where and when they wish. And it means that those in employment wishing to upgrade their education do not need to seek study leave or relinquish their positions. There are difficulties, of course, and these have been well researched and documented in many contexts over the years. These include: questions about the quality, providing adequate learner support, helping dependent learners, lowering the high attrition rate, and dealing with the lack of time and funding to create materials. But there is new hope for tackling these difficulties. This paper looks at an initiative taken in the Caribbean to tackle one of these difficulties, viz., the lack of time and funding to create materials.

THE BIRTH OF AN "OPEN CAMPUS" IN THE CARIBBEAN

The Caribbean region comprises a number of islands and mainland countries which border on, the Caribbean Sea. Described as small, developing countries, they share a history of colonization by the English, French, Spanish and Dutch (some countries still remain colonies) resulting in varying language and culture groupings in the region today. Human resource development is a primary concern of governments in the Caribbean, with increased participation in post-secondary education viewed as an important aspect. Because of the relatively small population distributed across mainly small islands, distance education is seen as an important means of providing costeffective access.

The University of the West Indies Open Campus was opened in 2008. It was created by combining and reconfiguring the existing outreach entities of the University, the largest being the Distance Education Centre and the School of Continuing Studies. One of the key strategic aims of the creation of an Open Campus was to enable The University of the West Indies to expand the scope, enhance the appeal and improve the efficiency of its service to the individuals, communities and countries which it serves.

The Open Campus is simultaneously a virtual campus and a physical entity with 50 site locations in 16 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean (see Figure 1). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.