OER1057 Oral Presentation ppt

Siyavula: Building Communities to Support Teacher Use, Localization and Sharing of OER

Cynthia Jimes, Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education

Conference Theme: Open Educational Communities

Abstract: South Africa’s recent attempt at implementing a new set of outcomes-based curriculum standards has highlighted challenges for teachers that cannot adequately be met by the country’s current resources or professional development programs. Siyavula, a South African based project, seeks to address this need by offering quality open educational resources (OER) to teachers across all grades, subjects, and learning areas. The project’s overreaching goal is to support teachers in finding and adapting resources that match their local teaching and learning needs, and in sharing knowledge about resource use and pedagogy. Drawing on a theory of action that views communities of practice as central to the sustainability of open content models, Siyavula provides targeted professional development workshops and social networking tools that support teachers in building communities around Siyavula resources. The Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) has been conducting research on Siyavula’s activities and those of its teacher users to increase understanding of factors that contribute to the creation, use and localization of OER within the South African teaching and learning context. This presentation will focus on the research findings that shed light on the formation and engagement of Siyavula’s OER communities, and the role that these communities play in the use and reuse of OER. Based on observations of Siyavula’s professional development workshops, interviews with workshop facilitators, a survey of workshop participants, interviews with Siyavula community members, and analysis of community activities through Google Analytics and other web analysis tools, the presentation will tell the story of Siyavula’s OER communities and community development activities. The presentation provides evidence, for example, of the role that communities play in ensuring that new resources are added back to the wider user environment. The presentation also points to implications for community building efforts, including the importance of leveraging existing, offline communities of practice as starting points for online OER communities, the centrality of organic community-building techniques in relation to those that are more structured or forced, the role of self-identified, emergent champions who serve as informal leaders in inspiring new OER communities, and the importance of exploring alternative solutions for community members who currently work in predominantly paper-based environments.

Keywords: OER, OER communities, professional development, community building