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Adult Education and OER: conclusions and policy recommendations for Europe

- October 21, 2015 in adulteducation, Featured, mooc, OEP, oer, open educational resources, open-education, opening up education

This posting deals with the conclusions and policy recommendations from the Adult Education and Open Educational Resources study for the European Parliament, a 140-page “Study”, written by Sero, released on 15 October 2015. The Study reviews the current use of Open Educational Resources in Adult Education in Europe (with a focus on Member States of the European Union), assesses its potential and makes recommendations for policy interventions, taking account of the European Commission’s policy frameworks and those developed by the European Parliament and relevant European agencies. The majority of the research was carried out in the first five months of 2015.
The Study incorporates an Annex (starting on p. 77) including new research on over 12 Member States (with a focus on UK, France, Spain, Hungary, Sweden, Latvia, Germany and Romania), leveraging on a synthesis of existing research from a range of projects including POERUP (Policies for OER Uptake) and a 2014-15 study on Shared OER for the Joint Research Centre, augmented by more recent OER-related studies (D-TRANSFORM and SEQUENT) from Sero and others for the Joint Research Centre, Erasmus+ and the Lifelong Learning Programme. The work also was able to draw on some of the country reports for OERup!

The main conclusions are:

  1. There is sufficient OER activity under way related to Adult Education that we felt confident in drawing conclusions; however, some conclusions are tentative and for others the evidence base (especially in terms of case studies) is weak.
  2. The topic of OER is most usefully considered within the wider topic of the use of ICT in Adult Education.
  3. Issues of quality and accreditation are in our view soluble, but we encourage European and national agencies to move faster to solve them.
  4. The issue of recognition of prior learning is again in our view soluble, but requires an element of specialised attention and faster progress in EQF, ECTS and credit transfer generally.
  5. The much-hoped cost savings are potentially achievable, but case study information is limited. Furthermore, the cost savings may be achievable only by making changes to the educational system which may be challenging in some Member States as an infringement on the role of institutions or the teachers within them. Trade-offs will be needed. Smaller states, and smaller autonomous regions within states (especially those with their own languages), may have difficulty in making these trade-offs.
  6. A range of actions is also possible with bilateral or language-specific multilateral collaborations between Member States. (Examples are given in the SharedOER report – see Language Groupings below.)

Policy recommendations come into several categories:

Quality and accreditation

  1. National quality agencies, with support from ENQA (for HE) and EQAVET (for VET) should develop their understanding of new modes of learning (including online,
    distance, OER and MOOCs) and ensure that there is no implicit non-evidencebased bias against these new modes.
  2. The Commission and related national and international authorities developing the European Higher Education Area and the European Area of Skills and Qualifications should work towards reducing the regulatory barriers against new
    non-study-time-based modes of provision.
  3. Member States should more strongly encourage HE and VET providers to improve and proceduralise their activity on Accreditation of Prior Learning.
  4. Larger Member States should set up an Open Accreditor to accredit students for HE studies and a parallel model, perhaps via ‘one stop shops’, to accredit vocational competences.

 Staff development

  1. Member States, with support from the Commission, should support the development of online initial and continuous professional development programmes for teachers/trainers/lecturers, focussing on online learning and intellectual property rights (IPR).
  2. Member States should consider the use of incentive schemes for teachers/trainers/lecturers engaged in online professional development of their pedagogic skills including online learning.

 OER and IPR

  1. The Commission and Member States should adopt and recommend a standard Creative Commons license for all openly available educational and vocational training material they are involved in funding.
  2. Member States should phase out use of the ‘NonCommercial’ restriction on content.

Costing and other research

  • Member States should increase their scrutiny of the cost basis for university teaching and vocational training and consider the benefits of different modes of funding for their institutions

 Focus on students

  1. Member States should promote (within the context of their sovereign educational aims and objectives) to adult learners the availability and accessibility of open resources created through their respective cultural sector and schools
    programmes.
  2. Specific funding should be devoted to building OER corpora of material in key topic areas of interest to adults. The corpora should be designed ideally for independent self-study, guided self-study (in both the formal and informal sector)
    and as resources to support lecturers teaching such courses. This maximises the investment in them. Rather than just ‘silent’ textual materials, the materials should contain audio-visual elements and, for hard to learn concepts, interactive components and quizzes. This to some extent will overcome the barriers that can be found to studying textual material by those whose reading skills in the national language(s) may be less adequate.

 Funding

  • The scarce funding for supporting adult learners should increasingly be targeted in an output-based fashion to reward adult learners for progression through the EQF. The accreditation gateways (one stop shops) could play a key role in this process. It is recognised that for this to work well, it needs a more developed and pervasive EQF than currently exists.

Language groupings

Language groupings where the languages are (a) either shared across borders or (b) are sufficiently similar to enable access (reading or listening for study purposes) from each country in the linguistic community, could include:
  1. the wider French, Dutch and German-speaking communities
  2. the groups of countries speaking the Continental Scandinavian, Balto-Finnic and Eastern Baltic groups of languages (Sweden/Norway/Denmark; Finland/Estonia; just possibly Lithuania/Latvia).
  3. within the wider set of European countries that can take part in the Erasmus+ Programme, some of the Slavic countries.
 

Adult Education and OER: conclusions and policy recommendations for Europe

- October 21, 2015 in adulteducation, Featured, mooc, OEP, oer, open educational resources, open-education, opening up education

This posting deals with the conclusions and policy recommendations from the Adult Education and Open Educational Resources study for the European Parliament, a 140-page “Study”, written by Sero, released on 15 October 2015. The Study reviews the current use of Open Educational Resources in Adult Education in Europe (with a focus on Member States of the European Union), assesses its potential and makes recommendations for policy interventions, taking account of the European Commission’s policy frameworks and those developed by the European Parliament and relevant European agencies. The majority of the research was carried out in the first five months of 2015.
The Study incorporates an Annex (starting on p. 77) including new research on over 12 Member States (with a focus on UK, France, Spain, Hungary, Sweden, Latvia, Germany and Romania), leveraging on a synthesis of existing research from a range of projects including POERUP (Policies for OER Uptake) and a 2014-15 study on Shared OER for the Joint Research Centre, augmented by more recent OER-related studies (D-TRANSFORM and SEQUENT) from Sero and others for the Joint Research Centre, Erasmus+ and the Lifelong Learning Programme. The work also was able to draw on some of the country reports for OERup!

The main conclusions are:

  1. There is sufficient OER activity under way related to Adult Education that we felt confident in drawing conclusions; however, some conclusions are tentative and for others the evidence base (especially in terms of case studies) is weak.
  2. The topic of OER is most usefully considered within the wider topic of the use of ICT in Adult Education.
  3. Issues of quality and accreditation are in our view soluble, but we encourage European and national agencies to move faster to solve them.
  4. The issue of recognition of prior learning is again in our view soluble, but requires an element of specialised attention and faster progress in EQF, ECTS and credit transfer generally.
  5. The much-hoped cost savings are potentially achievable, but case study information is limited. Furthermore, the cost savings may be achievable only by making changes to the educational system which may be challenging in some Member States as an infringement on the role of institutions or the teachers within them. Trade-offs will be needed. Smaller states, and smaller autonomous regions within states (especially those with their own languages), may have difficulty in making these trade-offs.
  6. A range of actions is also possible with bilateral or language-specific multilateral collaborations between Member States. (Examples are given in the SharedOER report – see Language Groupings below.)

Policy recommendations come into several categories:

Quality and accreditation

  1. National quality agencies, with support from ENQA (for HE) and EQAVET (for VET) should develop their understanding of new modes of learning (including online, distance, OER and MOOCs) and ensure that there is no implicit non-evidencebased bias against these new modes.
  2. The Commission and related national and international authorities developing the European Higher Education Area and the European Area of Skills and Qualifications should work towards reducing the regulatory barriers against new non-study-time-based modes of provision.
  3. Member States should more strongly encourage HE and VET providers to improve and proceduralise their activity on Accreditation of Prior Learning.
  4. Larger Member States should set up an Open Accreditor to accredit students for HE studies and a parallel model, perhaps via ‘one stop shops’, to accredit vocational competences.

 Staff development

  1. Member States, with support from the Commission, should support the development of online initial and continuous professional development programmes for teachers/trainers/lecturers, focussing on online learning and intellectual property rights (IPR).
  2. Member States should consider the use of incentive schemes for teachers/trainers/lecturers engaged in online professional development of their pedagogic skills including online learning.

 OER and IPR

  1. The Commission and Member States should adopt and recommend a standard Creative Commons license for all openly available educational and vocational training material they are involved in funding.
  2. Member States should phase out use of the ‘NonCommercial’ restriction on content.

Costing and other research

  • Member States should increase their scrutiny of the cost basis for university teaching and vocational training and consider the benefits of different modes of funding for their institutions

 Focus on students

  1. Member States should promote (within the context of their sovereign educational aims and objectives) to adult learners the availability and accessibility of open resources created through their respective cultural sector and schools programmes.
  2. Specific funding should be devoted to building OER corpora of material in key topic areas of interest to adults. The corpora should be designed ideally for independent self-study, guided self-study (in both the formal and informal sector) and as resources to support lecturers teaching such courses. This maximises the investment in them. Rather than just ‘silent’ textual materials, the materials should contain audio-visual elements and, for hard to learn concepts, interactive components and quizzes. This to some extent will overcome the barriers that can be found to studying textual material by those whose reading skills in the national language(s) may be less adequate.

 Funding

  • The scarce funding for supporting adult learners should increasingly be targeted in an output-based fashion to reward adult learners for progression through the EQF. The accreditation gateways (one stop shops) could play a key role in this process. It is recognised that for this to work well, it needs a more developed and pervasive EQF than currently exists.

Language groupings

Language groupings where the languages are (a) either shared across borders or (b) are sufficiently similar to enable access (reading or listening for study purposes) from each country in the linguistic community, could include:
  1. the wider French, Dutch and German-speaking communities
  2. the groups of countries speaking the Continental Scandinavian, Balto-Finnic and Eastern Baltic groups of languages (Sweden/Norway/Denmark; Finland/Estonia; just possibly Lithuania/Latvia).
  3. within the wider set of European countries that can take part in the Erasmus+ Programme, some of the Slavic countries.
 

Adult Education and OER: conclusions and policy recommendations for Europe

- October 21, 2015 in adulteducation, Featured, mooc, OEP, oer, open educational resources, open-education, opening up education

This posting deals with the conclusions and policy recommendations from the Adult Education and Open Educational Resources study for the European Parliament, a 140-page “Study”, written by Sero, released on 15 October 2015. The Study reviews the current use of Open Educational Resources in Adult Education in Europe (with a focus on Member States of the European Union), assesses its potential and makes recommendations for policy interventions, taking account of the European Commission’s policy frameworks and those developed by the European Parliament and relevant European agencies. The majority of the research was carried out in the first five months of 2015.
The Study incorporates an Annex (starting on p. 77) including new research on over 12 Member States (with a focus on UK, France, Spain, Hungary, Sweden, Latvia, Germany and Romania), leveraging on a synthesis of existing research from a range of projects including POERUP (Policies for OER Uptake) and a 2014-15 study on Shared OER for the Joint Research Centre, augmented by more recent OER-related studies (D-TRANSFORM and SEQUENT) from Sero and others for the Joint Research Centre, Erasmus+ and the Lifelong Learning Programme. The work also was able to draw on some of the country reports for OERup!

The main conclusions are:

  1. There is sufficient OER activity under way related to Adult Education that we felt confident in drawing conclusions; however, some conclusions are tentative and for others the evidence base (especially in terms of case studies) is weak.
  2. The topic of OER is most usefully considered within the wider topic of the use of ICT in Adult Education.
  3. Issues of quality and accreditation are in our view soluble, but we encourage European and national agencies to move faster to solve them.
  4. The issue of recognition of prior learning is again in our view soluble, but requires an element of specialised attention and faster progress in EQF, ECTS and credit transfer generally.
  5. The much-hoped cost savings are potentially achievable, but case study information is limited. Furthermore, the cost savings may be achievable only by making changes to the educational system which may be challenging in some Member States as an infringement on the role of institutions or the teachers within them. Trade-offs will be needed. Smaller states, and smaller autonomous regions within states (especially those with their own languages), may have difficulty in making these trade-offs.
  6. A range of actions is also possible with bilateral or language-specific multilateral collaborations between Member States. (Examples are given in the SharedOER report – see Language Groupings below.)

Policy recommendations come into several categories:

Quality and accreditation

  1. National quality agencies, with support from ENQA (for HE) and EQAVET (for VET) should develop their understanding of new modes of learning (including online,
    distance, OER and MOOCs) and ensure that there is no implicit non-evidencebased bias against these new modes.
  2. The Commission and related national and international authorities developing the European Higher Education Area and the European Area of Skills and Qualifications should work towards reducing the regulatory barriers against new
    non-study-time-based modes of provision.
  3. Member States should more strongly encourage HE and VET providers to improve and proceduralise their activity on Accreditation of Prior Learning.
  4. Larger Member States should set up an Open Accreditor to accredit students for HE studies and a parallel model, perhaps via ‘one stop shops’, to accredit vocational competences.

 Staff development

  1. Member States, with support from the Commission, should support the development of online initial and continuous professional development programmes for teachers/trainers/lecturers, focussing on online learning and intellectual property rights (IPR).
  2. Member States should consider the use of incentive schemes for teachers/trainers/lecturers engaged in online professional development of their pedagogic skills including online learning.

 OER and IPR

  1. The Commission and Member States should adopt and recommend a standard Creative Commons license for all openly available educational and vocational training material they are involved in funding.
  2. Member States should phase out use of the ‘NonCommercial’ restriction on content.

Costing and other research

  • Member States should increase their scrutiny of the cost basis for university teaching and vocational training and consider the benefits of different modes of funding for their institutions

 Focus on students

  1. Member States should promote (within the context of their sovereign educational aims and objectives) to adult learners the availability and accessibility of open resources created through their respective cultural sector and schools
    programmes.
  2. Specific funding should be devoted to building OER corpora of material in key topic areas of interest to adults. The corpora should be designed ideally for independent self-study, guided self-study (in both the formal and informal sector)
    and as resources to support lecturers teaching such courses. This maximises the investment in them. Rather than just ‘silent’ textual materials, the materials should contain audio-visual elements and, for hard to learn concepts, interactive components and quizzes. This to some extent will overcome the barriers that can be found to studying textual material by those whose reading skills in the national language(s) may be less adequate.

 Funding

  • The scarce funding for supporting adult learners should increasingly be targeted in an output-based fashion to reward adult learners for progression through the EQF. The accreditation gateways (one stop shops) could play a key role in this process. It is recognised that for this to work well, it needs a more developed and pervasive EQF than currently exists.

Language groupings

Language groupings where the languages are (a) either shared across borders or (b) are sufficiently similar to enable access (reading or listening for study purposes) from each country in the linguistic community, could include:
  1. the wider French, Dutch and German-speaking communities
  2. the groups of countries speaking the Continental Scandinavian, Balto-Finnic and Eastern Baltic groups of languages (Sweden/Norway/Denmark; Finland/Estonia; just possibly Lithuania/Latvia).
  3. within the wider set of European countries that can take part in the Erasmus+ Programme, some of the Slavic countries.
 

European migrant crisis: Czech teachers create and share open resources

- September 25, 2015 in communication, Featured, guestpost

We are very pleased to have the opportunity to make more widely available a post by Jan Gondol, originally published on the Creative Commons blog, on developing OER to help address the knowledge needs caused by the current migrant crisis. Jan Gondol Jan Gondol (@jangondol) is Professional Advisor, Open Data to the Ministry of Interior, Slovak Republic. He has worked on the Open Government Partnership (OGP) as co-author of Slovakia’s National Action Plan and is responsible for managing open data and open education activities under the OGP umbrella. He is Advisor to Slovakia’s Digital Champion (Peter Pellegrini) He is also Owner and CEO of Switzerlab since July 2011.

Collaboration between EDUin and the Czech Organisation of Civic Education Teachers

pencils

In the midst of the European migrant crisis, the Czech Republic is showing the power of open educational resources (OER). EDUin, a non-profit organization based in Prague worked with the Czech organization of civic education teachers to address the current migrant crisis. Students in schools were asking questions and wanted to understand what was going on. Why are so many people on the run? What is the difference between a refugee and a migrant? What is the difference between migration, emigration and immigration? The teachers worked on developing the materials for Czech schools, and the resulting worksheets are now shared on their website (in the Czech language). These worksheets are licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0, and there are different versions for ages 6-11 and ages 12-16. uprchlicimigrant_azyl_azylant“This activity shows that open educational resources can help react to a new situation very quickly in a way traditional textbooks cannot,” says Tamara Kováčová, coordinator of EDUin’s open education program. “Because of fast distribution, materials get to schools around the country in a matter of days. Teachers get support in time when they need it and teaching is up-to-date. Furthermore, it’s possible to join several school subjects together on phenomenon based learning principle.”
The Editors of the Open Education Working Group blog would like to acknowledge the prior publication of this posting on the Creative Commons blog and thank Tamara Kováčová for encouraging wider distribution, and acknowledge the moral rights of Jan Gondol as author and Timothy Vollmer as editor of the original posting.

Open Education Brazil – a view from eMundus

- September 25, 2015 in communication, developing-world, Featured, guestpost, mooc, oer

Our next post on Open Education from Around the World comes from Brazil. With over 204 million people, Brazil is the 5th most populous country in the world. Its territorial area covers 48% of the total area of South America and it has the 8th largest economy on the planet. The post is authored by  Vera Queiroz and edited on to the blog by Paul Bacsich. Vera Vera holds a PhD in Education from USP (University of São Paulo). At present, she is  participating in the E-mundus Project – an international collaborative Project on Open Education, funded by the European Union. Brazil is a partner in the Project. The project’s main objectives are to map the state of art of  MOOCs in higher education and contribute towards the sharing of knowledge, tools and practices of MOOC and VM developed mainly by and in Brazilian universities OUR CONTEXT IN HIGHER EDUCATION Open Education Brazil image001 Education in Brazil is controlled by the Federal Government, by means of the Ministry of Education, which defines the rules and demands for the organization of educational programs in the country. The local governments are responsible for establishing and implementing the programs which use the funding supplied by the Federal Government. The Brazilian tertiary education system is not compulsory. Higher education is offered by private, public universities, colleges, higher institutes and educational technology centers. To pursue higher education in Brazil, it is mandatory that students have secondary education. In addition, students must also pass a competitive entrance examination (Vestibular) to be able to take the course of their interest in higher education. Similarly to Vestibular, the National Examination of Secondary Education (ENEM) is another type of higher education entrance examination adopted by a number of public universities in the country. To improve equity and opportunities for tertiary education, the Government of Brazil has launched the ProUni program to help place academically qualified low income students into private education institutions. Also attempting to give underprivileged Brazilian students a chance of getting free higher education and, thus, access to better jobs, a new law was approved in 2012. The so called Lei das Cotas n. 12.711/2012] (a polemic law) guarantees 50% of the places in Brazil´s federal universities and institutes to students coming from public schools, low-income families and who are Afro or indigenous descendent. OPEN EDUCATION (SOME INITIATIVES) Due to Brazil´s territorial extension and the number of people wishing to have access to education, Distance Education was considered a feasible and interesting way of providing education to our population. In June, 2006, the Open University of Brasil System [uab.capes.gov.br/index.php] – which is composed of public universities – was created under Decree 5800. Through distance education methodology, it aims at expanding and democratizing access to higher education courses and programs for the population at large and in particular for primary teachers living in areas far from big urban centers. The UAB System supports researches in innovative technological higher education methodology and stimulates collaboration between the Union and its Federate members. It also encourages the creation of centers for permanent training in strategic poles located in the countryside, thus trying to curb the migratory movement towards the big centers by those seeking higher education opportunities. At present, 88 institutions (among federal and state universities, and federal education, science and technology institutions (IFETs) compose the UAB System. UAB System is the articulator between the higher education institutions and the municipal and state governments in attending to local demands for higher education. In 2008, Carolina Rossini launched the OER project in Brazil. It was the first attempt to suit the international discussion on OER and on Open Education to Brazilian reality. At present, the REA Brazil Community gathers whoever is interested in discussing about and or reflecting upon OER and Open Education. Despite the fact that Brazil still has a long way to go in its awareness of the importance of Open Education, several initiatives have popped up and are popping up in the country. To mention a few initiatives from universities, we have, for instance: Virtual University of the State of São Paulo (UNIVESP) [univesp.br] is the newest and most innovative public university of the State of São Paulo. Created under Decree No. 53.536 on October 9th, 2008, the program of the Government of São Paulo aims at expanding access to free quality public higher education for the population of the State of São Paulo. To achieve the objective, the program counts on three universities – University of São Paulo (USP), Campinas State University (UNICAMP) and University of the State of São Paulo (UNESP) – and on Technological State Center Paula Souza (CEETEPs). The program receives grants from the Research Aid Foundation from the State of São Paulo (FAPESP), Paulista Administrative Development Foundation (FUNDAP) and Padre Anchieta Foundation (FPA). While the universities are responsible for the academic project itself, UNIVESP guarantees the material; financial and technological conditions for the courses and does the follow up of the students´ development and performance. Associated with face-to-face activities in the learning poles (settled in several regions of the State), the virtual learning environment includes pedagogical materials, articles, videos, forum and chats. Besides the internet, UNIVESP counts on UNIVESP TV – a digital channel from Padre Anchieta Foundation directly linked to UNIVESP courses. Also aiming at democratizing access to information and knowledge Paulista State University “Júlio de Mesquita Filho” (UNESP Aberta) [unesp.br/unespaberta/] launched the first MOOC initiative in June 2012. The courses with videoclasses, texts, activities, animation, educational software from various areas of knowledge were open, free of charge and available to anyone via Internet. There was no certification, tutoring or evaluation of the activities done along the course. To contribute to better the quality of education in Brazil and to promote access to many courses from renowned universities (both from Brazil and from abroad), edtech companies came up as a solution. In June 2013, Veduca [www.veduca.org.br/] – an edtech company that provides business to consumer and business to business solutions in education and professional training – in partnership with the University of São Paulo (USP) launched two MOOCs: Basic Physics, and Statistics and Probability. From then on, other renowned Brazilian universities also started to offer courses at Veduca. Among them, we find Brasília University (UNB), Campinas State University (UNICAMP), Paulista State University (UNESP) and Santa Catarina Federal University (UFSC). Little by little, more and more universities and institutions are offering their courses and materials for free at the platform. All the content at Veduca is free of charge. However, not all courses hosted at the plataform grant an official certificate. When they do so, student wishing to earn a certificate must pay for it, after proving the competences and knowledge acquired in the course. The certificates are issued by the Brazilian Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC). In September, 2014, Coursera (a for-profit educational technology company) was launched in Brazil hosting Portuguese language MOOCs from University of São Paulo (USP) and Campinas State University (UNICAMP). Similarly to Veduca, the courses offered by Coursera are free of charge and some give the option to pay a fee to join the “Signature Track”, which allows the students to receive a verified certificate, appropriate for employment purposes. Video classes are another way used by some Brazilian universities to offer free courses on the Web. An example is outlined below: E-classes from University of São Paulo (USP) [www.eaulas.usp.br] are free without tutoring, evaluation and certification. It is not necessary to be USP student to access the e-classes. Depending on the program and subject, there is no knowledge requirement to follow the classes. EMUNDUS PROJECT In what concerns international cooperation projects on Open Education, among the several that could be mentioned, we will focus on emundus Project, funded by the European Union. Brazil, together with Mexico, Russia, Indonesia, Canada, New Zealand, Belgium, Italy and Holland develop research on Open Education use. The main objectives of the project are to map the state of the art MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) in higher education and contribute towards the sharing of knowledge, tools and practices of MOOC and of Virtual Mobility (VM) developed mainly by and in Brazilian universities. As a result of emundus project in Brazil, a collaborative work was established between two higher Brazilian Education Institutions: the University Center of the Educational Ignatius Foundation “Padre Saboia de Medeiros” (FEI) [portal.fei.edu.br/pt-br/paginas/home.aspx] and eMundus partner through the Engineering School of University of São Paulo (POLI/USP) [www.pdr.usp.br]. FEI developed an open source game engine software for teaching computer programming. This game is based on a previous business game developed in the Production Engineering Department from FEI. The initial results indicated that such approach to teaching computer programming could improve the learning process and motivate students. To learn more about the objectives and initial results of the use of the learning tool, see [library.iated.org/view/tercete2015lea]. To read and learn more about Brazilian initiatives on OER and Open Education, see http://wikieducator.org/Emundus/Brazil/ Open Education Brazil image003 See also: http://www.emundusatlas.org/country/br Open Education Brazil image004 ADDED BY THE EDITOR

For an earlier but comprehensive report on OER in Brazil see Open Educational Resources in Brazil: State-of-the-Art, Challenges and Prospects for Development and Innovation by Andreia Inamorato dos Santos – http://iite.unesco.org/publications/3214695

For background on e-learning in Brazil see http://www.virtualschoolsandcolleges.eu/index.php/Brazil

All these reports are linked from the POERUP page on Brazil – http://www.virtualschoolsandcolleges.eu/index.php/Brazil

OCR and OER – update

- September 25, 2015 in communication, developing-world, guestpost

We welcome this short posting from Subhashish Panigrahi which updates a 2014 posting of his – http://education.okfn.org/indic-language-wikipedias-as-open-educational-resources/
Subhashish Panigrahi (@subhapa) is an educator, author, blogger, Wikimedian, language activist and free knowledge evangelist based in Bengaluru (often called Bangalore), India. After working for a while at the Wikimedia Foundation’s India Program he is currently at the Centre for Internet and Society‘s Access To Knowledge program. He works primarily in building partnership with universities, language research and GLAM (Gallery, Library, Archive and Museums) organizations for bringing more scholarly and encyclopedic content under free licenses, designs outreach programs for South Asian language Wikipedia/Wikimedia projects and communities. He wears many other hats: Editor for Global Voices Odia, Community Moderator of Opensource.com, and Ambassador for India in OpenGLAM Local. Subhashish is the author of a piece “Rising Voices: Indigenous language Digital Activism” in the book Digital Activism in Asia Reader.
Subhashish

Google’s OCR and its use by Wikimedians in South Asia

Some time back on the OCR project support network, Google had announced that the Google drive could be used for Optical Character Recognition (OCR). The software now works for over 248 world languages (including all the major South Asian languages). Though the exact pattern of development of the software is not clear, some of the Wikimedians reported that there is improvement over time in the recognition of their native languages Malayalam and Tamil. The recent encounter has been with a simple, easy to to use and robust software that can detect most languages with over 90% accuracy. The OCR technology extracts text from images, scans of printed text, and even handwriting to some extent, which means that the text can be extracted pretty much from any old book, manuscript, or image. This certainly brings hope to most Indian languages as there is a lot to digitize. Most of the major Indian languages have plenty of non-digitized literature and the existing OCR systems are not as good as Google when so many languages are concerned as a whole. Google’s OCR engine is probably using aspects of Tesseract, an OCR engine released as free software, or OCRopus, a free document analysis and optical character recognition (OCR) system that is primarily used in Google Books. Developed as a community project during 1995-2006 and later taken over by Google, Tesseract is considered one of the most accurate OCR engines and works for over 60 languages. The source code is available on GitHub. The OCR project support page offers additional details on preserving character formatting for things like bold and italics after OCR in the output text.
When processing your document, we attempt to preserve basic text formatting such as bold and italic text, font size and type, and line breaks. However, detecting these elements is difficult and we may not always succeed. Other text formatting and structuring elements such as bulleted and numbered lists, tables, text columns, and footnotes or endnotes are likely to get lost.

The user-end interaction of the OCR software currently is rather simple. The user has to upload an image of the scan in any image format (.jpg, .png, .gif, etc.) or PDF to the Google Drive. Upon completion of the uploading, opening the file in Google Drive shows both the image and the converted text in the same document. One of the most popular free and open digitization platforms, Wikisource currently hosts hundreds or thousands of free books which are either out of copyright or under Creative Commons licenses (CC-by or CC-by-SA) allowing users to digitize. While OCR works quite well for Latin based languages, many other scripts do not get OCRed perfectly. So, the Wikisourcers (Wikisource contributors) often have to type the text. Thus the new Google OCR might be useful both for the Wikisource community and many others who are in the mission of digitizing old text and archiving them. The image below shows a screen from a tutorial to convert text in the Odia language from a scanned image using Google’s OCR. Tutorial to use Google OCR August 2015 JPEG

 This was designed by Subhashish Panigrahi. Freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

First step is the longest

- September 7, 2015 in communication

Greetings all I am just taking my first tentative steps into my new Open Education Working Group Coordinator role after a late summer holiday. My aim is to continue the excellent work done by Marieke, and looking forward to support from my co-workers Elena Stojanovska  in Macedonia (writer of Open Education Macedonia) and Javiera Atenas in London. And maybe some other volunteers soon? This week I am at the ALT-C e-learning conference in Manchester UK, and I shall of course be hanging round the OER sessions. Look forward to seeing some of you there.The ALT-C theme this year is Shaping the Future of Learning Together and that seems a good motto for this Working Group: Shaping the Future of Open Education Together. In that theme it will be nice to have a wider range of country postings – especially from the Global South – but there is plenty of room for thematic postings, or postings about one education sector – schools, adult learning, etc. No one should feel that they have to cover all the Open Education bases in any one article – that is too daunting a task these days. Anyone with a research result that they are bursting to tell the world about – let us know! Best wishes Paul