By Ujunwa AtueyiOPEN Educational Resources (OER) programme specialist for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Mr. Abel Caine, has commended the management of National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) for its efforts towards converting its courses to OER.
When courses are converted to OER, they are delivered as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
Caine who spoke during the opening ceremony of a recent two-day UNESCO-NOUN OER/MOOC's sensitisation workshop in Lagos, said the purpose of the workshop was to extensively assess six existing NOUN courses for transformation into fully licensed OER and MOOCs format.
The OER-MOOCs are teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain, or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.
The workshop, which is a direct follow-up of the first Africa workshop for the Globalising OpenUpEd project, according to Caine, would allow participants and NOUN to have a clear understanding of the challenges, time frames and required resources.
"OER would create a platform for NOUN to share their huge intellectual wealth so that other educational institutions within Nigeria, Africa and globally could use them free of cost, as well as with the legal freedom to adapt them," Caine stated.
"It would interest you to know that through the vision of the Vice Chancellor of NOUN, Prof Vincent Tenebe, the institution has become the first tertiary institution in Nigeria and West Africa to have made a significant commitment to OER and MOOCs," the UNESCO chief informed adding, "MOOCs would also allow NOUN to deliver their courses in a new format especially for mobile phones so that millions of learners can access knowledge."
"If the NOUN OER-MOOCs project is successful, it could be highlighted at the 2015 World Education Forum in Seoul, South Korea in May 2015, and this will bring global prestige and partnership opportunities for NOUN and Nigeria as a country," he added.
He called on other tertiary institutions in the country to key into the vision in order to create opportunities to address the tertiary education access challenge facing the country's education system.
Caine further stated that if tertiary institutions in the country embrace the initiative, it would to a large extent, open more doors to, not only Nigerians, but also Africans yearning for qualitative education in the most stress freeway.
His words, "NOUN has made efforts to transform its course materials to OER and we all know that it is currently the only institution in Nigeria committed to this project. Meanwhile, in Africa, there are several institutions in South Africa and Ghana that have keyed into this project. Our organisation is always set to introduce OER to the tertiary education system in different countries."
He said the project allows access for personalised learning; fosters innovation; improved availability of materials; improved technical quality as well as improve coherence across courses.
Tenebe in his remarks hinted that OER has emerged as a concept with great potential to support educational transformation, adding that NOUN being a forerunner in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in Africa was set to key into it.
"There is only one key differentiator between an OER and any other educational resource, which is its licence. The OER incorporates a licence that facilitates re-use and potential adaptation without first requesting permission from the copyright holder. NOUN has decided to embrace this concept and run it in order not to be left behind," Tenebe informed.