Today we are launching the discussion of the topic, Access to OER. But first I would like to refer to the initial informal discussion of the issue (on the wiki), then outline the proposed organization for the exploration of the issue, and finally introduce our moderator for the session of the next three weeks.
The important issue of access was raised at the end of our community discussion in June. OER is seen as having the potential to extend access to knowledge worldwide, but there exist certain barriers to its achieving this objective. Access is one potential barrier – and a crucial challenge.
Although our initial interaction on the issue started with the consideration of limited or no connectivity, lack of electricity was identified as an even more basic barrier to access to OER. However, there are many other potential barriers or constraints and it will be useful to identify the range of them, for there are emerging solutions or approaches that would mitigate the problems. Developers of OER will benefit from having these in mind – donors and other agencies may be able to contribute to addressing them.
THE ORGANIZATION OF THE SESSION
In this brief session, let us take up the issue of access to OER and explore the challenges and some of the potential solutions at hand. This is an opportunity to share creative responses from different situations.
A simple organization is proposed for the exploration of the topic:
Week 1: Identification and description of the main problems associated with access, and an initial development of a classification scheme.
Weeks 2 and 3: Reflection upon and exploration of solutions and approaches and their potential for the various types of barriers identified.
At the end of this discussion we should aim to have an overview of the various types of constraints that limit access to OER, as well as some tested or proposed solutions or approaches. A summary report will be prepared documenting these.
The challenges raised by problems related to access may justify further exploration and follow up action. This will depend upon the OER Community.
Bjoern Hassler will act as discussion moderator, introducing the issue, guiding the discussion and preparing a report of the deliberations.
For those of you who do not already know Bjoern, he is senior research associate at the University of Cambridge, UK, where he works on multi-media, and Open Educational Resources. He has worked extensively with Aptivate (a UK NGO, based in Cambridge), focusing on access issues, particularly for bandwidth-intensive resources. http://www.sciencemedianetwork.org
During the discussion, we will also hear from a number of experts who generously contributed to the planning of this session.
Now I turn the floor over to Bjoern,
Looking forward to an active discussion,