Monday, August 01, 2022

Role of Librarians in UNESCO's 2030 Agenda on Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources are developed and promoted to provide an enhanced educational system and to broaden access to scholarly and creative conversations reducing the accessibility barriers. Open educational resources include courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools and techniques, in any medium Digital or other, used in teaching and learning. The word "Open" refers to the accessibility of these resources under open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions. In simple words the resources that are used for educational purpose available in public domain to be used by others freely or licensed in a way that allows their reuse.


As defined by the UNESCO, "The OER Open Educational Resources (OER) are learning, teaching and research materials in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open license, that permit no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation and redistribution by others." [1]



An OER Dynamic Coalition was established in 2020 by UNESCO's Communication and Information Sector to support member states, the implementation of OER Recommendations 2019, adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference at its 40th session on 25 November 2019.

"The five areas of action based on the OER Recommendations 2019 are following:

(i) building capacity of stakeholders to create, access, re-use, adapt and redistribute OER

(ii) developing supportive policy

(iii) encouraging inclusive and equitable quality OER

(iv) nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER

(v) facilitating international cooperation." [2]


How the Librarians contribute to UNESCO's Agenda

As is well known, the librarians have always been the advocates of open access to materials.
Additionally, they are directly or indirectly responsible for the collecting and accessibility of educational resources and greater commitment to duties associated to utilization and discovery of OER.

According to the The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2017 of UNESCO, Goal 4 is to "ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all" [3]

To achieve the UNESCO's Sustainable Development: Goal 4, mentioned above, guidelines on the development of OER policies have been provided that describe the whole process of designing and implementing the OER policy. In these guidelines the role of librarians as one of the key stakeholders is discussed.

Providing Awareness of OER to Key Stake Holders:

Awareness and knowledge of key stakeholders about open licensing and open educational resources play an important role in achieving the goal. Libraries and library support staff are also one of the stakeholders. The question is how well they understand OER and open licensing. Supporting capacity building and raising awareness among key stakeholders is given in UNESCO's guidelines on the development of open educational resources policies [4]. It focuses on informing these stakeholders about the characteristics and uses of OER. As part of the policy, library staff and other key members of educational institutions need to be given training and support on OER.

 IFLA [5] have also commented on OER recommendations and appreciated the inclusion of librarians as key stakeholders in OER policy. "We strongly appreciate this reference. Librarians have been active in supporting the use of library resources, where possible, to develop and deliver OER, as educators, curators, content creators and supporters of discovery."

Implementation phase of OER policy:

 Librarians and supporting staff are involved in the implementation of the objectives of OER awareness-based programs. According to UNESCO's guidelines on the development of open educational resources policies [6] the organisational structure for policy implementation and coordination should include representatives from the key stakeholders like teachers, librarians, and learners who understand the context and can help to form a proper implementation program. They are involved in the active implementation phase, providing insights into what kind of metadata would be helpful for discovery and the appropriate user interface for discovery. Initial and continual professional development courses on OER are open for teachers, instructors, and library professionals.



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