Focus and Scope
Regional economies and communities are facing increasing economic, social and cultural hardship in many parts of the world as economies adjust to the demands of the new orders of the knowledge society. Online education can play a pivotal role in assisting developing economies to participate in the knowledge economy. But the rapid development of substantial quantities of learning material is a formidable task for the educational institutions, and for many small developing states, the recovery of the costs from student fees is not possible given the small population sizes.
But consider: If I share my loaf of bread with my neighbour, then I’ll have less bread for my family. However, if I share my knowledge with my neighbour, I still have the same amount left. So why do we treat knowledge as a precious commodity that must only be shared if paid for? Now apply this simple observation to course development. Individual institutions might not have the resources to develop a whole online programme themselves, but might be able to contribute one online course to a “bank” of such courses to be shared by many institutions. Taking this approach further, there is no reason why such online courses cannot be made available to the world as “Open Educational Resources”. Clearly, utilising courses from such resource banks frees up time and diminishes the amount of funding required for individual institutions to develop and deliver programmes to their students.
Open Education Resources (OER) are web-based educational materials that have purposely been made freely available for the re-use by others. UNESCO (2002) noted the potential benefit of OER for expansion of education in the developing world. Over 200 educational organizations, including the UWI Open Campus, have signed the Cape Town Open Education Declaration (Open Society Institute, 2007) a manifesto to remove barriers to education through the sharing of OER. In principle, users of “open” educational resources should be free to use, adopt, modify and re-publish the materials to suit their own purpose. Creators of materials may assign specific rights to the reuse of their OER and can do so through a Creative Commons License (Lessig, 2010). Several large institutions have made their distance education online courses available in this way, e.g., the Open University of the UK.
So the ideas and mechanisms are all there – but can it work in practice? Analyzing cases provides an opportunity to explore the issues actually faced when the ideas and mechanisms are implemented and to reflect on relevant theories, techniques and practices to understand the problems, proposed solutions and consequences, and develop responses.
|Open Submissions||Indexed||Peer Reviewed|
Peer Review Process
The chapters undergo a double-blind review process, i.e., the authors do not know who their reviewers are and the reviewers do not know who the authors are.
Open Access Policy
This Book provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.