Open Education from an international perspective

Open Education Practice and Teacher Capacity Building Forum

Covid-19 has brought new challenges to education. Open Education Practice and Teacher Capacity Building Forum of Global Smart Education Conference on August 19, 2021, explored how to increase education resilience through the adoption of open education. UNESCO IITE, Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO), Beijing Normal University, and Beijing Institute of Education jointly organized the Forum. Experts from China, Canada, Romania, Tunisia, India, and Palestine shared practices and theoretical development of utilizing OER and OEP. Over 20,000 people watched the live stream of the Forum online globally.

OER Recommendations and Research

In November 2019, UNESCO announced the OER Recommendation to support the development and sharing of openly-licensed learning and teaching materials. UNESCO suggests that the implementation of the Recommendation will contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. Dr. Ebba Ossiannilsson, OER Chair at the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) advocated future studies in line with the Recommendation. She also reviewed the definitions and frameworks for the OER research. Dr. Rory McGreal, from Athabasca University (Canada), delivered a speech on how OER can support SGD4. The expert also gave his recommendations for policymakers and universities.

Education Development in the Arab region

Both the Arab region and European Union (EU) have initiatives and strategies for supporting OER. Dr. Mohamed Jemni, Director of ICT at ALECSO, presented the organization’s initiatives in e-learning during the pandemic. These initiatives aim to develop alternative technological solutions, promote open and electronic learning by using the ALECSO OER hub. Dr. Jemni also reviewed the achievements made by SLIBNU-ALECSO “Smart Education” joint lab and pointed out the pathway for future collaboration, especially in open education.

Co-director of the SLI-BNU OER Lab, Dr. Ahmed Tlili announced the report “An Overview of Education Development in the Arab Region: Insights and Recommendations Towards SDGs”. This report provides a comprehensive understanding of education development in Arab regions with rich statistical details. The report shares insights about the challenges that the Arab region faced in education development. Dr. Tlili suggested through integrating education and technology and adopting open education resources and practices, education in the Arab region can be more resilient when facing challenges.

Experience of the EU

Dr. Jiayi Hu, from the Beijing Institute of Education, gave a speech about the EU’s digital strategy. By comparing the old version and new version of the digital strategy of the EU, she highlighted the successful experience of the EU, which includes improving citizen’s information literacy, promoting diversified production of digital education resources, and supporting tailored learning methods.

Strategies of education institutions

To support the successful implementation of OER and OEP, efforts from education institutions, both in basic education and higher education, are necessary. Ms. Xianlian Zou, president of Chongqing Xingyuan Primary School shared the practice of Online Merges Offline learning of her school.  Dr. Song Li, vice president of the Open University of China, shared the open education strategy of his institution. In addition, Dr. Diana Andone, from the Politehnica University of Timisoara, Romania talked about the digitalization strategy in her university and how renewable assignments can be adopted for students.

Teachers play an important role in transferring institutional level OER and OEP strategies into successful practice. Teacher capacity building, therefore, is an important topic in this forum. Dr. Ramesh Sharma, from Ambedkar University Delhi, India put forward teachers’ competencies model for OEP and OER adoption with motivation, volition, and engagement as three key dimensions of the model. Dr. Saida Affouneh, from An Najah National University, talked about how open education practices are carried out in Palestine. She suggested that teachers should be trained for digital skills, pedagogy skills, class management skills, hence have more effective online teaching during the pandemic.