OER for Quality Teaching in STEM: Solomon Island teachers trained

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The Solomon Islands is actively addressing the urgent need to prepare its students for a future driven by science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). With STEM education becoming critical to global economic and social progress, teachers need tools to enrich teaching and learning experiences and achieve better outcomes in their respective subjects. Open educational resources (OER) are vital in this context, providing open access and adaptable educational content.

A recent workshop held in Honiara brought together 90 STEM teachers to build their capacity in OER. The blended workshop, which had a two-day in-person component, is part of a larger five-year project funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade (MFAT) to enhance the efficiency of the education sector in Pacific countries through innovative delivery mechanisms and technology.

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and the Pacific Centre for Flexible and Open Learning for Development (PACFOLD) organised the workshop in partnership with the University of South Pacific (USP) campus in the Solomon Islands. USP played a crucial role by mobilising participants and providing the venue for the workshop.

The workshop model is designed to equip teachers with the necessary skills to integrate OER into their pedagogy, thereby improving the quality of the lessons they teach. Participants engaged in practical exercises to increase their understanding and familiarity with OER, including searching for, accessing, co-creating and contributing OER relevant to the national curriculum.

The model also includes online and in-person support from STEM mentors drawn from the USP Solomon Islands campus and the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development. The participants received training on how to navigate online repositories, including the evolving national OER Collection Site for locally developed and adapted resources.

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Dr Franco Rodie, shared some challenges, strategies, and future plans for teacher professional development. He said, “We are actively working with teacher education institutions to make teachers more aware of opportunities to upskill, ensuring they are equipped to meet the demands of education.”

COL Education Specialist, Dr Betty Ogange, who facilitated the workshop, commented, “This initiative is a significant stride towards reshaping STEM education in the region and  creating a network of educators ready to innovate with OER to improve learning outcomes.”

Dr Rajni Chand, Director of USP’s Centre for Flexible Learning and co-facilitator of the workshop, expressed her appreciation for the support provided by MFAT and COL, noting that the workshop’s achievements demonstrated the power of collaboration and the potential of open education.

This workshop model, designed for replicability, has laid the groundwork for a series of similar events to be held, offering STEM educators across the Pacific region access to a wealth of resources and ongoing mentorship for continuous learning and professional growth with the objective of improving the quality of teaching.

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