Student focus groups at the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology showed support for OER and students expressed satisfaction both with OER as an approach and with the resources available to them.
Students mainly addressed the question of whether OER presented what had to be learnt in a more accessible form, and in a way that made for better understanding and use of knowledge. In this sense, learning was closely connected with assessment. Success in ‘the exams’ was a powerful consideration. Theirs was not a purely instrumental position, however. They were keenly aware of how OER can lead to more independent student learning; and they were also attuned to the potential of OER in their ongoing professional development…
The important conclusion is that from the distinctive perspectives of these three sets of key role‐players [students, educators and managers] OER had achieved high impact. OER experiences had created a ‘win‐win’ situation in terms of belief in, and commitment to, OER practices that met core needs.
From the 2012 African Health Network OER Impact Study:
It is not possible to cite conclusive statistical evidence to show that financial savings are being achieved through the use of OER. However, the cumulative weight of evidence from the accounts and experiences of academics strongly suggests that direct and indirect forms of financial savings are being realized. Evidence of direct savings is strongest in the case of complete sets of learning materials or textbooks that students would otherwise be required to buy. OER video productions that are ‘enhancements’ or supplementary to the normal lecture programme are self‐evidently less likely to result in direct financial savings […] There were several indications that OER achieve significant indirect forms of savings through interrelated combinations of the following:
a) Savings in time.
b) Improved quality/effectiveness of learning.
c) Enabling teaching on topics that might otherwise not be covered.
d) Fostering collaboration between academics.
The African Health OER Network is a sub‐programme of OER Africa. The Network seeks to enable participants to develop, adapt and share health educational resources to augment limited human and other resources in the health sector, and thereby to impact positively on overall health provision in Africa and beyond.
The Network is co‐facilitated by OER Africa, an initiative of the South African Institute
for Distance Education (Saide), and the University of Michigan (U‐M). Since 2008, the
following partners to the Network have been engaged in OER development:
- Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
- University of Ghana (UG).
- University of Cape Town (UCT).
- University of the Western Cape (UWC), with the project functioning independently in two different units, namely, the Faculty of Dentistry and the School of Public Health.
A formative evaluation of the Design Phase completed at the end of 2009 focused mainly on OER ‘take-up’ and production in the partner institutions. This evaluation concluded that expectations and contractual targets had been met, or exceeded by an impressive margin, with project coordinators and participants in each partner institution having engaged OER in creative ways that were most appropriate to their own contexts.
The second evaluation, a mid-term evaluation titled ‘Phase 2 Evaluation: Consolidation and Sustainability’ (OER Africa 2011),reinforced the finding that individual and institutional participants in the project had made significant progress in producing OER as well as in developing OER-supportive policy environments. This they had done in their own distinctive ways, in a manner that was consistent with their own ethos, contextual realities, strategies and resources.
Bakary Diallo has described at some length the African Virtual University initiative, a group of (mainly sub-Saharan) African nations who are widening access to university through open and distance learning. 53 partner institutions – mostly universities – are involved and approximately 43,000 students and academics have benefited from learning through AVU over the last 15 years. The project has established 10 centres for open and distance learning, developed 86 modules, and built a repository for course material in a number of different languages.
In August 2011, AVU won a prize for these open education resources from the United States-based Education Portal for Best Open Courseware (OCW) Emerging Initiative.
The use of open educational resources is crucial to our overall work. For example, the focus on math and science is very important for a continent like Africa. We need engineers and we need scientists. This is strategic for AVU, for the countries of Africa and for our donors. We set out to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the schools through the use of ICTs; increase the number of mathematics, science and ICT basic skills teachers; develop and promote research in teacher education to inform future curriculum reform; and establish and strengthen relevant partnerships with other teacher education initiatives in Africa.