Mr Ioane Tiko, Permanent Secretary for Education, Heritage and Arts launching the OER workshop at the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre in Laucala on 21 September, 2016.
A workshop on Open Education Resources (OER) organised by The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) School of Education (SOEd) was opened by Mr Iowane Tiko, Permanent Secretary for Education, Heritage and Arts at the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre in Laucala on 21 September, 2016.
The aim of the two-day workshop was to agree on a package of OERs for Fijian Primary schools and agree on plans to develop and release it.
In his keynote address, Mr Tiko said OERs are resources which are freely accessible and openly licensed documents that are useful for teaching, learning and assessing as well as for research purposes.
“OERs have been authored, created by individuals and in some cases organisations, that choose to retain few if any, ownership rights.
“I am glad SOEd has decided to organise the OER workshop because of its multiple benefits to education officers, teachers, academics as well as students,” Mr Tiko stated.
According to Mr Tiko, some of the benefits of OER include the provision of affordable textbooks and other educational resources; it is accessible through the Internet anywhere and at any time.
“Moreover it is available when downloading resources and open for use and also available in electronic and printed copies. Therefore it would really impact on teachers, students and academic’s intentions to carry out research using resources to support them,” he noted.
“I strongly support the work done by SOEd in partnership with the Fiji Higher Education Commission of the Ministry of Education, as our students will not have to pay a hefty sum to use OER,” he added.
Mr Tiko also emphasised the importance of quality throughout the use of OER.
“For every journey, there is a purpose and for every purpose there are expectations and with that there are outcomes. The process of any journey will define the quality of all expected output,” he said.
FHEC Director Salote Rabuka explained that everything began in April of 2012 in Bangkok, at a Regional Policy Forum for Asia and the Pacific on Policy and Practices on OER, which she had attended.
“It was facilitated by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and I thank the Ministry of Education for sending me. That was in fact my first encounter with OER and when I got back I thought I should do something about it,” she said.
“OER has had so much benefits for the countries that have tried it and used it in schools,” Ms Rabuka noted.
She said following the Forum in Bangkok, there were numerous consultations with stakeholders including USP, COL and United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) which eventually led to the formulation and endorsement of a National Policy on OER.
Ms Rabuka said according to findings on the use of OER, the most common digital resources were images, digitised documents, online references and digital readers.
Some of the benefits of OER in teaching are:
· Gaining access to the best possible resources;
· Promoting scientific research and education as publicly open activities;
· Reducing costs for students;
· Reducing costs for developing courses by institutions; and
· Outreach to disadvantaged communities.
Head of the SOEd Professor Govinda Lingam said he hoped the two day workshop would be an eye-opener and of much benefit to the participants. He also cautioned about the need for quality teaching and learning resources which would enhance meaningful and rewarding experience and at the same time maximize children’s learning outcomes.
At the end of the course, participants will have better knowledge of the role of OERS in learning and teaching.
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