Open Educational Resources

Policy and Platform Workshop

4 – 5 March 2014

Maritim Hotel- Balaclava

Workshop Concept note

The Tertiary Education Commission has as objects to promote, plan, develop and coordinate post-secondary education in Mauritius and to implement an overarching regulatory framework to achieve high international quality.

As part of this coordination role and towards implementing the overarching regulatory framework, the OER policy and platform workshop is being organized with the support of the Commonwealth of Learning.

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are any educational resources that are openly available for use by anyone and where the need to pay royalties or licence fees does not [necessarily] apply. Typically, these resources are found in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use, re-use and re-purposing. OERs include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. (Link : Open Educational Resources)

The UNESCO Open Educational Resources Declaration (2012) states that OERs are:

"teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain" …to widen access to education at all levels, both formal and non-formal, …for lifelong learning, contributing to social inclusion, gender equity and special needs education…improved cost-efficiency and quality of teaching and learning outcomes

Open Educational Resources have three implications: legal & regulatory, pedagogical and technical. It is the regulatory aspect that the TEC as nodal coordinator for distance education seeks to address.

Workshop rationale

Subscribing to the OECD perspective on lifelong and lifewide learning as well as to the 2012 Paris OER declaration and the UN Agenda 21, the TEC, is organizing a workshop towards the development of terms of reference that take into consideration the contextualized legal, regulatory, technical and cooperation arrangements towards the development of an Open Educational Resources platform or repository.

The Strategic Plan of the TEC makes provision for the appropriate integration of ICTs including through e-learning and Open Educational Resources (OER) in the Tertiary Education Institutions. Similarly, the Education & Human Resources Strategy (2008-2020) of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research upfront states that OERs are one of its priorities to "promote e-learning and Open Educational Resources (OERs)" and situates the development of linkages and Memoranda of Understanding as central to this promotion. To articulate its strategic plan, the Tertiary Education Commission has recently developed and launched its Distance Education Policy (2013). One of its policy goals is stated as follows:

P4 ICT integration
P4.2 The TEC will develop and host an Open Educational Resource Platform to provide a space for the sharing of distance education resources, instructional materials as well as best practices for all providers, researchers, practitioners and students in distance education. The TEC will facilitate such development at institutional levels.

The driving principle of this policy is that all learning is intended for development, whether this learning takes place in face to face settings or mediated by technology as in distance education situations. Further the policy considers that all learning –whether in formal, non-formal or informal settings- is and should be valued equally. This view is consistent with that adopted by global agendas since all are seen to contribute to sustainable human development as follows:

Workshop objectives

The aim of the workshop is (i) to engage in the capacity building of members of the above committee whereby diverse stakeholders from institutions/organisations that are involved in aspects of training, public awareness and/or education are exposed to aspects of OERs. Capacity building is seen in terms of developing awareness and a common understanding of the concept of Open Educational Resources (OER) and its potential to contribute to improving quality education in Mauritius. (ii) Once participants gain an understanding of how they are concerned with OERs, they will be expected to participate in delineating the Terms of Reference regarding future collaboration on an OER platform/repository that will be hosted by the Tertiary Education Commission, taking into consideration local legal implications and technical requirements.

Coordination role of the TEC

In pursuance of its quality assurance mission and nodal coordination role of distance education, through this workshop, the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) intends to create awareness of and develop capacity towards using an OER platform that it intends to host. Given the fact that the Distance Education policy document upfront situates the nodal coordination role of the TEC, the Distance Education Coordination Committee provides the platform par excellence from where to start this initiative. The Distance Education Coordination Committee of the TEC has the following membership:

Distance Education Coordination Committee ...platform for dialogue and coordination
Ministries Universities Institutions Authorities
Prime Minister's Office/Maurice Ile Durable Commission University of Mauritius (UoM): VCILT/CPDL Mauritius Institute of Training and Development (MITD) Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA)
Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research Open University of Mauritius Mauritius Institute of Health (MIH) Early Childhood Care and Education Authority (ECCEA)
Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research University of Technology, Mauritius (UTM) Two representatives from private providers selected on an annual basis depending on number of students enrolled Rodrigues Education Commission (added June 2013)
Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE)
Ministry of Arts and Culture Mahatma Gandhi Institute (MGI)
Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development
Ministry of Social Integration & Economic Empowerment

It is the awareness raising, training or education aspect of the mandates of the above members that the workshop seeks to address. In fact as members above-listed get engaged in the development of learning objects involving the creating, accessing , utilization and sharing of information and knowledge towards enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development, they are engaged in education. In as far as their above initiatives lead to the development of some sort of learning object that is mediated through some form of technology- be it print, audio/visual, electronic or otherwise, they are engaged in some aspect of DISTANCE EDUCATION.

Expected workshop outcome

It is foreseen that the OER platform will help improve the quality of the programmes/OERs by encouraging a culture of sharing, transparency and peer-review on the OER platform that aims at linking all developers of educational content. In addition, with such a platform, unethical practices like content poaching and plagiarism will be discouraged in favor of innovation. It becomes clear that educational materials that are 'developed' for formal learning should be given equal consideration as those that are developed for non-formal and informal situations.

Since workshop participants come from diverse organizations, they will be encouraged to find from the following workshop objectives, those that are more relevant to them. However it is expected that practice will generally converge on the OER platform.

Specific expected outcomes

At the end of the workshop, the following will be expected from the participants:

  1. A list of concrete and practical potential contributions that OER can make to achieving key national educational policy objectives (from the perspective of individual participants).
  2. Agree on scope of proposed OER policy for Mauritius and key policy positions for the country (especially in terms of enhancing quality in education).
  3. Formulate proposals for licensing frameworks that will emerge from workshop participants in response that will be submitted to the State Law Office for consideration.
  4. Prepare draft outline of OER Policy for Mauritius (to be fleshed out and completed by the DECC members after the workshop).
  5. Identify technical requirements and develop a draft plan for an OER platform as well as how each participant will interact with this platform from their given area of practice.
  6. Capacity building with regard to the technical requirement towards the development of an OER platform.
  7. Agreement that the platform will be hosted and monitored by the TEC to enhance and facilitate collaboration among DECC members.