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14.12.2015 - Communication & Information Sector

National Open University of Nigeria launches the 1st West African University OER Portal

Professor Vincent Tenebe, Vice Chancellor of NOUN launching the NOUN OER Portal. CC BY SA

On 10 December, 2015, Professor Vincent Tenebe, Vice Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) launched the NOUN Portal of Open Educational Resources (OERs) – an online repository of the first 40 exiting NOUN courses re-released with the Creative Commons open licenses.

The Portal (http://oer.nou.edu.ng) was developed with the assistance of the UNESCO OER Programme and supported by the European Union and the Hewlett Foundation (USA), and represents a significant positive contribution from Nigeria to achieving universal access to high quality education and sustainable development.

OERs are defined as any type of educational materials or tools released in the public domain or with an open intellectual property license allowing teachers and learners to freely copy, use, adapt, and share the materials. Professor Tenebe stated that “OERs provide all education stakeholders with unprecedented opportunities to improve the quality of education as well as facilitating knowledge sharing and capacity building”.

The Portal was launched within the National OER Seminar organized by NOUN and UNESCO on Thursday 10 December, 2015 and attended by over 150 representatives from Nigerian universities and higher education organizations.

The courses which are released with the free-culture Creative Commons Attribution (BY) ShareAlike (SA) licenses, are based on an open-source master (XML) template with embedded metadata, machine readable code, and open-source fonts. All the course materials  are also available in 3 open-source file formats:

  1. PDF for reduced file size downloading, and print-format
  2. ODT – Open Document Text for editing of the courses
  3. ePub – for automatic scaling/reading on mobile devices (the most common computing device on the African continent).

Professor Tenebe presented an overview of NOUN’s journey towards embracing OER. In December 2013 NOUN was the host of the Pan Commonwealth Forum and announced the commitment of NOUN to OER. In August, 2014, NOUN became the 1st university in West Africa to make the giant step in creating a dedicated OER Unit to conduct awareness seminars and capacity-building workshops, and to transform the previously all rights reserved Copyright NOUN courses to fully open-licensed OERs.

The Launch Seminar was preceded by a Technical Training Workshop held at the UNESCO Office in Abuja on Wednesday 9 December, 2015 for academic staff and lecturers from Nigerian universities.

In addition to the first 40 OER courses, NOUN also launched the first open-licensed Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCs) in Africa. The 3 MOOCs in History and Philosophy of Science, Study Skills, and Information Literacy are specifically targeting the 1 million plus students per annum who had passed the Nigeria university entrance exam but did not secure a place at a university.

The 5-week MOOCs with podcasts, chat-sessions and peer-assessed reflection-assignments will start in January 2016. NOUNs hope to persuade these students through the mobile-friendly MOOCs to highly regard an ODL degree and become fee-paying students.

Reminding the high-level audience that OERs and MOOCs are related to the principle of sharing which is deeply rooted in African culture, Professor Tenebe boldly declared that by the end of 2017, NOUN will:

  • have 50% of its complete course catalogue (approximately 800 courses) as fully open-licensed OERs
  • developed 20 MOOCs based on the most pressing learning needs in Nigeria

If successful, NOUN will become the leading worldwide university in sharing OERs, in its efforts to significantly enhance access to high-quality tertiary education for Nigeria and globally.

About NOUN OER Unit

The NOUN OER Unit was officially adopted in August 2014, after due clearance from the Governing Council and the Senate and reports directly to the Office of the Vice Chancellor. The Unit was operating from a temporary location in the University and the commissioning of the Unit’s new Office in October 2015. The purpose of the Unit is to integrate OERs into all levels of teachings and leanings in NOUN to enhance the quality and access to higher education for thousands of Nigerians and African students.

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