OE Global 2023 has ended
Building a Sustainable World through Open Education
Tuesday, October 17 • 2:30pm - 3:00pm
The Siyaphumelela National OER Workstream in South Africa

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Open Educational Resources (OER) have acquired considerable prominence over the last decade, due to efforts of international organisations such as Creative Commons and the Hewlett Foundation, as well as regional initiatives such as OER Africa. There is considerable evidence, mainly from the United States, that open textbooks (a variant of OER) can reduce costs for students, thus mitigating inequality and improving student success rates. In South Africa, there is evidence that many students do not purchase textbooks, yet lecturers make assumptions that they do. Providing students with access to freely available open learning resources – for example course modules – is clearly an important concern.

At 2022 Siyaphumelela Conference it was proposed to set up a workstream in OER. Workstreams in the Siyaphumelela Initiative have been established in areas of major interest that benefit student success. Examples include Academic Advising and the First Year Experience. The aim of the OER workstream would be to encourage other institutions to develop their own OER schemes to support the student success agenda.

The Workstream stakeholders are: The Open Education Influencers at Nelson Mandela University (NMU), Digital Open Textbooks for Development (DOT4D) at the University of Cape Town, the OER Fellows at North West University (NWU), and the South African Institute of Distance Education (SAIDE)/ OER Africa.

The OER workstream will examine what these institutions’ experiences can offer to support the student success agenda, as well as explore international experiences. Plans are to

• Develop OER and Open CourseWare modules from existing teaching and learning materials.

• Develop OER 'from scratch' so content creation processes include students in scoping and conceptualisation.

• Create a short series of workshops for academic staff

· from institutions where OER are minimally developed,

· with the same staff participating throughout the series so that they can champion Openness

· with the overall theme of “Process is as important as product”.

Stakeholder workshops have been set for attendance across the national university cohort, with NMU presenting the first session in May: Opening Up– What about Open Education? The session focus: The innovation and use of OER is an ever-increasing opportunity for universities to approach issues of access and provision more directly, but issues of awareness and fear of Opening Up often delay adoption. Using open licenses as a tool to enable creation, adaptation, recreation and sharing of new and existing resources is a valuable opportunity to augment and/or support learning and teaching, as well to facilitate the empowerment of those students and staff engaging with the resources.

DOT4D session (under construction) investigates OT publishing and provides support in OT development activity at UCT, aiming to support development of institutional and national policy frameworks that govern OT publishing activity and address long-term sustainability mechanisms. The OER Fellows provide grants for OER development at NWU. SAIDE/ OER Africa collaborates with HE institutions in Africa in development and use of OER. These sessions are under construction and will be presented during the session, offering insights into experiences and activities across the Workstream.

Keywords: OER, Siyaphumelela, Open Education Influencers, Nelson Mandela University, University of Cape Town, North West University, SAIDE, OER Africa, DOT4D, network, South Africa

Session outcomes and takeaways: 1. Understand OER and Open licenses
2. Explore types of OER
3. Challenges of Opening Up
4. Explore student engagement in OER
5. Consider using OER for your LT community
6. Understand Open Textbooks
7. Explore the national university engagement in OER


Michelle Wilmers

Publishing and Implementation Manager, University of Cape Town
Background in scholarly communication and research project administration, with a focus on the African higher education sector. Interest in all things "open".
avatar for Gino Fransman

Gino Fransman

Project Leader: OpenEdInfluencers, Nelson Mandela University
OER advocate, student voice, Open Textbooks, OpenEdInfluencers, innovation, OGP, South Africa, Nelson Mandela University, GO_GN

Tony Lelliott


Tuesday October 17, 2023 2:30pm - 3:00pm MDT
Bison (S15/16) Edmonton Convention Centre
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