Open Educational Resources are emerging as one of the most critical contributions to the provision as well as the enhancement of learning and teaching quality in both, developed and developing contexts. While OERs can greatly improve the provision of learning opportunities for all, educational organizations (especially Open Universities) that depend on copyrighted distance learning materials including textbooks can now use OERs to offer their courses and programmes far more cheaply and efficiently. However, due to the lack of capability to develop and effectively use OERs, institutions are unable to make the most of the opportunities presented by OERs. Realising that only a consumer culture of OER would not help educational institutions to fully optimize the potential of OER, our regional centre in New Delhi – Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia -- initiated a programme on OER-based eLearning in 2012.
As a result of this intervention, we have been able to train about 300 teachers to re-use, and re-mix existing OER to offer online learning in their educational institutions. The initiative started with Wawasan Open University (WOU) in Malaysia as the hub of all the activities around this project, where other institutions of the region contributed. In all, seven institutions in India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka participated in this activity, and received the benefits of the training. The most important part of the project was to develop a course on OER-based eLearning by novice teachers, who had very little or no knowledge of OER. At the end of the project, we have a course available both in print and online developed by the teachers from Wawasan Open University, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Open University of Malaysia (OUM), Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) and National Institute of Open Schooling (India). The course contains five modules and four case studies developed by the participants in the workshops conducted during the project. The programme developed is now adopted by WOU and OUSL for their internal staff development, and also offering the same as a stand-alone course.
According to Som Naidu, the lead consultant for this project, the change of the participants from the first workshop to the institutional adoption in WOU and OUSL has been the significant outcome of this project. Transformation of novice teachers into champions of using OER for online learning is something that this project achieved, while the resources generated are now available for others to use as well.