The OER4Schools project was initiated in 2009, and the initial research and development phase took place until the end of 2014 in Zambia. However, in 2014, there was substantial interest from other countries in implementing similar programmes, including Kenya, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. Initially Juddie Omondi adapted the programme for Kenya (here), followed by initial work with the Rwanda Education Board (Rwanda), and work with the University of Sierra Leone (here).
1 Introducing digital Open Educational Resources into Zambian primary schools through school-based professional development
OER4Schools is a school-based PD programme (initiated in 2009) supporting interactive forms of subject teaching in conjunction with Open Educational Resources (OER) and technology in Zambian primary schools. The programme was co-developed with Sara Hennessy (Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge) and Zambian teachers, and is based on participatory, collaborative and inquiry-based pedagogies for both classroom learning and teacher development. Our OER4Schools programme so far has culminated in the development of a professional learning resource for low-resourced primary schools in Zambia, offering a complete professional development programme, which can be undertaken by schools as well as colleges (particularly in conjunction with teaching practice). The resource consists of 25 two-hour sessions, organised in five units, covering group work, questioning, dialogue, Assessment for Learning, and enquiry-based learning. Each session is well structured, and provides ample resources as well as facilitator notes. It is freely available as an OER, and includes unique, professionally filmed video exemplars of interactive practices in Zambian and South African classrooms, and accompanying texts co-authored with in-country partners. It builds on an established, sustained teacher-led process for sharing and trialling new ideas, resources and practices; peer observation; discussion and joint reflection.
We aim to provide school-centred blended learning and distance learning forms of adaptable professional development, itself supported by new technology (offline or online, mobile or static) where available, and in other formats (print) where not. OER4Schools partially builds on the Appropriate New Technologies to Support Interactive Teaching project (ANTSIT; Haßler et al., 2011a), which explored what kinds of mobile devices (and innovative uses) can create an environment supportive of learning through active participation in under-resourced school communities (drawing both on Ubuntu and Android). Parts of OER4Schools (including videos) were developed in partnership with AIMS-SEC.
Following our trialling and evaluation, OER4Schools is now ready for wider implementation. We are already working on a joint programme with UNISA and OER Africa, where outcomes from the OER4Schools programme are being integrated into new open Unisa qualifications (Advanced Diplomas in Education for in-service teachers). We are actively seeking partners among other organisations for wider implementation.
OER4Schools necessarily focuses on SSA, but seeks wider synergies where possible, and relates to similar issues in both developing and developed nations. OER4Schools is related to other projects at the Centre for Commonwealth Education that we intend to draw on, such as Leadership for Learning, ASKAIDS, and ORBIT.
Our work in underpinned by a value-based approach, valuing participation, inclusion and openness. Participation is related to IPe both in the classroom and in PD. Inclusion means education for everybody, with as little bias as possible: all children (respecting the individual needs of everybody, including learning needs), and all contexts (in all aspects of children’s education; respecting the different requirements of various contexts, urban vs. rural, in stable and emergency situations). Openness means open content, open technology, and open dialogue.
Sara Hennessy (Centre for Commonwealth Education, University of Cambridge, UK), Björn Haßler (Aptivate, UK), Mark Bennett (AfriConnect, Zambia), Clare Stead (iSchool, Zambia), Godfrey Mwewa (School of Education, University of Zambia), Ruth Mubanga (Director of Teacher Training, Ministry of Education, Zambia), Athanasius Mulenga (Chief Education Officer, Directorate of Open and Distance Learning, and Chair of the iSchool steering committee at Ministry of Education, Zambia), Tiffiniy Cheng (Participatory Culture Foundation, USA)
1.3.1 Phase 1: Pilot Project (2009/2010)
This CCE-funded pilot project (August 2009-May 2010) assesses the feasibility of providing Open Educational Resources (OER) to ICT- and Internet-equipped primary schools in Zambia, and of supporting interactive forms of subject pedagogy with the new resources. It also identifies the needs of school-based professional development adapted to the local context. The project is conducted in a North-South partnership between the CCE and institutions in Zambia. It uniquely combines stakeholders from various sectors (including educational research, ICT for development [NGOs], government, and the ICT service sector) as a basis for developing methodologies that promise lasting transformation in Zambian primary education. While the project is conducted in Zambia, it is anticipated to be relevant to a wide range of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Key outputs include models for OER-Pedagogy-ICT adoption in poorly resourced educational systems, and guidance on implementing better learning environments.
A primary aim of the present project is to conduct the necessary research to build a further proposal for external funding over a longer period. We are working with teachers in 3 schools, developing, supporting and trialling uses of OERs combined with new pedagogical approaches for teaching mathematics. There are opportunities for peer observation and reflective practice. The research element records classroom practice and assesses participants' reactions and learning, eliciting messages for embedding basic ICT and OER use in teacher education. Findings have been presented at the e-Learning Africa Conference in Lusaka in May 2010.
1.3.2 Phase 2: Development of OER4Schools Professional Development Resource (2010-11)
The project is now in it's second phase, focussing on producing a professional development resource in collaboration with our Zambian partners. This phase culminated in the professional filming of video clips, and developing the draft resource. The resource is available here: http://www.oer4schools.org
A research paper reporting on the outcomes of this phase is available.
1.3.3 Phase 3: Trial with Grades 4-6 (2012)
During this phase, the resource was further developed in conjunction with a trial involving all teachers in Grades 4-6 in Chalimbana Basic School.
A research paper reporting on the outcomes of this phase is is avaialble.
1.3.4 Phase 4: Whole schools trial (all grades, 2013-14)
The whole schools trial in this phase is now complete, and a research paper reporting on the outcomes of this phase is is avaialble.
The project team have produced a poster summarising the key ideas and aspirations for the project, the findings so far and future plans for carrying the work forward. For further information a full size version of the poster is available for download as a pdf file.
For more details, see
- http://www.oer4schools.org http://orbit.educ.cam.ac.uk/wiki/OER4Schools