From L-R: Professor Jito Vanualailai, Director Research, USP; Dr. Sanjaya Mishra, Education Specialist eLearning, COL and Professor Som Naidu, Pro-Vice Chancellor Flexible Learning & Director CFL.
The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Centre for Flexible Learning (CFL) recently organised a two-day workshop at the Laucala Campus in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) to improve a draft institutional policy on Open Educational Resources (OER).
Held on 25-26 May, the workshop was co-facilitated by Professor Som Naidu, Pro-Vice Chancellor Flexible Learning and Director CFL and Dr. Sanjaya Mishra, Education Specialist eLearning from COL.
While opening the workshop, Professor Jito Vanualailai, Director Research reiterated the University’s commitment to the open education movement, especially with news of planned enhancements to the USP network with faster connectivity and data transmission.
Participants of the OER Policy Development Workshop at USP.
In attendance were a total of 30 participants from the three Faculties, the office of Deputy Vice-Chancellor Learning and Teaching and Student Services, Library, Planning and Quality Office, Disability Resource Centre, PACFOLD, USP Students Association and CFL.
Professor Naidu explained the history behind the OER movement, its characteristics and in particular its value principles stating that, “we needed to understand the connection between the Mission and Goals of a University such as this and the need to adopt the use of open educational resources and open educational practice more broadly”.
He mentioned that engagement with open educational practice and the adoption of OER was driven by a belief and value system which suggested that the products of publically funded and supported research and scholarship ought to be shared openly and freely by all. He explained that this kind of sharing (of the products of research and scholarship) with others openly and freely does not mean relinquishing of ownership and IP. It simply meant using a different kind of license -- an open license which allowed use, reuse and redistribution at no cost, but with appropriate attribution.
Dr. Mishra elaborated on the points raised by Professor Naidu especially with regard to his experiences with OER policy development around the world. Of particular interest was the clarification and distinction of the various categories of open licenses available to use. He stated that the OER initiative should be built on three pillars, which are:
1. Policy formulation;
2. Capacity building; and
3. Appropriate institutional mechanisms and facilities.
Both presentations set the tone for discussions around the draft USP OER policy that followed. In groups, the participants were asked to identify certain existing institutional policies that would have an impact on the draft OER policy. This was followed by a SWOT analysis of the adoption of OER and OEP at the University with regard to OER. Some of the key points raised were:
• The role of OER in preserving our cultural heritage;
• The potential of OER in reducing workload and improving efficiency;
• The need to have quality control mechanisms for OER in place;
• Commitment from Senior Management Team in terms of articulation in the next strategic plan; and
• Human Resource implications.
The workshop concluded with presentations from the groups feeding back to the various sections of the draft OER policy in terms of strengthening its scope, content and application. The final draft of the OER policy will be compiled by Dr. Mishra and Professor Naidu for consideration by the group and University Committees.
Professor Som Naidu thanked Dr. Mishra and the participants for availing themselves and the support they continued to show for the OER movement. He also thanked the CFL team that organised the workshop.
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