4.5.5 Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are learning materials that are freely available for use, repurposing and redistribution. The term was first adopted at UNESCO's 2002 Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries.136 While many OERs are available over the Web, many are not accessible to persons with disabilities. Policy considerations in this area could include international cooperation with other countries, establishing projects to develop OERs that are accessible to persons with disabilities, or developing strategies to systematically provide existing OERs in accessible formats.

An example of one such project is the “FLOE” or Flexible Learning for Open Education project, which received funding approval from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in 2010.137 The FLOE project will work with current OER projects and the accessibility community to develop a system that will better match OERs with the needs of learners. Current OER projects will be supported to produce more accessible OERs. Where learners’ needs are not being met, the FLOE project will work with the community of alternate format providers to develop accessible versions of OERs. Led by the Inclusive Design Research Centre138 at the Ontario College of Art And Design, the project will include a range of developing country partners such as:

1. OER Africa,139
2. Strathmore University, Kenya,
3. University of Capetown, South Africa. and
4. Research Institute for Technology and Innovation (IPTI), Brazil.

To support adoption in Africa and other areas where mobile devices are more prevalent than Internet access, FLOE will create the tools and services needed to deliver OER via audio-only, text messages and small screens found on popular cell phones.

For further information on the potential of OERs as a tool for inclusive education, see the article “Access to Education with Online Learning and Open Education Resources: Can they Close the Gap?”140

For a discussion on making online educational resources accessible, see the article “Accessible Distance Education 101.”141
 

136http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_educational_resources

137http://www.hewlett.org/

138http://idrc.ocad.ca/

139http://www.oerafrica.org/

140Geith, Christine. Access to Education with Online Learning and Open Education Resources: Can they Close the Gap http://www.distanceetdroitaleducation.org/contents/FJALN_v12n1_Geith.pdf

141Robert, Jodi. Accessible Distance Education 101. http://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/09141.pdf