Developing Methods to Automate the Utilization of OER in Higher Education
The term Open Educational Resources (OER) was first emerged at UNESCO’s 2002 Forum. Ten years later, the 2012 OER Paris Declaration has been adopted at the World Open Educational Resources (OER) Congress. UNESCO defines OER as: “teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no cost access, use, adaption and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions”. OER cover different types of materials such as full courses, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software and course materials. They include also different tools and techniques used to support access to knowledge.
OER can potentially play an important role in improving the education around the globe, since it eases the access to high quality digital educational materials. Accordingly, there is steady increase among higher education institutions to participate in the “open” movement in general and in utilizing OER specifically. OER offer opportunities for broadening the participation in higher education, reducing course development and study costs. This could reduce the impact of demographic, economic, geographic educational boundaries and offer students especially from the developing countries access to the best courses and degree programs. Nevertheless, there are many challenges that are still facing the deployment of OER in the higher education context. One of the most important challenges is how to access the appropriate resource and to choose among that huge number of available resources which are permanently growing. Another signif-icant challenge is the production of new OER materials and the conversion of already existing ones which is only viable by qualifying educators and teachers through training courses and/or supporting them with specific tools.
There are many platforms and tools that support producing and sharing OER contents. But what about the huge amount of already produced and well tested educational materials which are not OER compliant? It would make sense to convert these materials to OER instead of the time-consuming production of new materials from scratch. In this research project, we will analyse the challenges facing the educators when producing OER based on a survey covering different aspects of utilizing OER in higher education. Additionally, we intend to research some methods that could be adopted to enhance the utilization of OER in (higher) education. We will concentrate mainly on introducing a technical solution (Tool) to enhance the deployment of OER and to motivate more educators in producing OER. Accordingly, we will develop a tool to automate/semi-automate the conversion of exiting educational materials to OER and evaluate its performance.