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Wednesday, November 19 • 2:30pm - 3:00pm
Removing 'unfreedoms' through OER use in India's teacher education system

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Open Ed 2013 featured an early report on the OER Research Hub collaboration with the TESS-India OER for teacher education project. A year on, research findings from the collaboration are available, covering both the challenges of localising OER for use in international development and the impact of OER on educators' practice. This paper reports those findings, showing how TESS-India is helping to remove what the economist Amartya Sen (1999:xii) refers to as "unfreedoms", for example inadequate education and access to knowledge.

An initial baseline study explored Indian teacher educators' and trainee teachers' views on the challenges they face and the ways OER might ameliorate those challenges. The first research phase, reported in this paper, then studied the ways in which TESS-India's learning materials were localised to meet the needs of end-users within India's education system. OER localisation can include changing the language, pedagogy, content, style, imagery, cultural and geographical references featured in resources. The TESS-India OER localisation covers all these areas and involves adapting resources to be effective in several culturally and linguistically diverse Indian states.

The research focused on workshops held in three Indian states in early 2014. Interviews with workshop participants and facilitators, together with document analysis, gave a basis for addressing three main questions likely to be of wider interest:

(1) What are the challenges of localising OER?
(2) In what ways does the context in which localisation occurs, and the perceptions of the people doing the localisation, affect the process?
(3) How can communities of users best be supported when localising OER?

It was found that localisers' experience, cultural perspective and teaching preferences can greatly shape the OER localisation process and require careful navigation by the host institution. The research findings indicate both that localisation workshops should be longer and that they should be repeated when localisers have had time to reflect on the process. It is argued that bringing localisers together again in this way could work well in terms of long-term sustainability, helping to build a community of people who will adapt and create new OER in the future. A comparison with the UK OU-led TESSA project highlights an apparent dynamic between institutional control of the localisation process, localiser freedom and the level of openness in the process. This paper presents a possible model representing the dynamic.

A second phase of the TESS-India research is currently investigating the impact of the TESS-India OER on the ground, in terms of changes in teacher-educators' and trainee teachers' pedagogical and reflective practices, and standards of learning and teaching in India's schools. Emergent findings are also reported in the paper. This second phase of the research will also explore the overarching question of whether the use of OER can result in more equitable access to education and, more broadly, can contribute to the removal of unfreedoms "that leave people with little choice and little opportunity of exercising their reasoned agency" (Sen, 1999, p. xii).

Sen, A. 1999. Development As Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press

avatar for Leigh-Anne Perryman

Leigh-Anne Perryman

Senior Lecturer, The Open University
I'm passionate about open education, about social justice, about redressing the imbalance between the world's most and least privileged people, about teaching and learning, about openness and about women's empowerment.

Wednesday November 19, 2014 2:30pm - 3:00pm EST

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