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03.06.2015 - Communication & Information Sector

E-Learning open solutions for inclusive knowledge societies

Zeynep Varoglu, UNESCO. © ITU

A session on E-learning and E-science at the WSIS Forum 2015 focused on open solutions to support inclusive knowledge societies : Open Educational Resources (OER) ; Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and Open Access to Scientific Journals (OA).

The discussions concentrated on how Open Solutions – that is software, content and knowledge resources available on an open license such as Creative Commons – can contribute to achieving the Post-2015 Development Goals.

The last few years have seen growth in a number ICT-enabled organizations. There has been increasing use of big data, mobile subscriptions, cloud computing. The evolution of the industry is rapid. UNESCO is playing an increased role in knowledge societies.

The Post 2015 development agenda reinforces the need to use knowledge and technology to ensure development. For example one of the sustainable development goals recognizes the use of open educational materials in ensuring literacy including scientific literacy. Open educational materials by nature are free and legal. They include the use of multi-media applications but this depends on the parameters of the licenses. The declaration of the 2012 OER conference encourages the use of OER, promotes capacity building in this area. One recommendation of the conference is that if government pays for it then access should be free.

The session started with discussion on the E-learning Action Line with two presentations, the first by Ms Zeynep Varoglu, Communication and Information Sector, UNESCO which outlined the ICT Competency Framework for Teachers project and the draft UNESCO ODL Guidelines for Persons with Disabilities using Open Solutions. The ICT CFT Harnessing OER project works with Ministries of Education by supporting the contextualization of the ICT CFT to meet national teacher training and then developing OER-training materials to support this contextualization. The draft UNESCO Guidelines on Open and Distance Learning for Persons with Disabilities using Open Solutions outlines Open Solutions for supporting inclusive access to ODL.

Mr Peter Wallet of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) in Montreal, Canada, continued with a brief presentation on the work of UIS in revising UNESCO’s ICT in Education Indicators. In this presentation, Mr Wallet underscored "Data on infrastructure is easier to collect e.g. broadband and pc purchases. Much more data is being demanded on and used. There is a need for agreed definition of variables such as OER".

Mr Youssef Filali-Meknassi, Science Sector of UNESCO, based at UNESCO Windhoek (Namibia) followed with a presentation on the Hydro Open Source Platform for water management (HOPE Platform). The Hope initiative was developed out of the ICT for Africa conference. Europe is the most active region in the policy development area, followed by Asia and Latin America. UNESCO’s role through the HOPE-Initiative, is to sensitize Member States/Institutions (Universities, Colleges, Water Departments), People (Water professionals, Students, etc.) to develop and use Free and/or Open-Source Software in the effective management of water resources in their respective countries.

The ensuing discussions echoed the important role of Open solutions for providing sustainable solutions in the fast paced technology enriched escience and elearning environment and in ensuring that users are actors in the knowledge creation.

The E-learning debates contributed to discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals C4 ‘Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’. 

The E-science debates contribute to the following SDGs :

  • SDG 6: Ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all ;
  • SDG 13: Taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  • SDG 15: Protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

More information on the Forum:

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