Potentials of Unencumbered OER on Lifelong Learning: A Critical Review
Basic and elementary education is recognized as a fundamental right. However numerous citizens of the 21 st century are still devoid of access to educational opportunities. Open and distance learning (ODL) through Open Educational Resources (OER) and technological advancements has played a significant role in the trend towards opening education to more learners, and liberating them from the limitations of time and place. Being accessible to people of all ages and social and economic strata, at all places, methods and ideas, it has become an integral asset to the wider effort to democratize education. Basic foundations of OER are its ability to promote personal agency, self-determination, and self-regulated lifelong learning (at every stage of life) and life-wide learning (across all life activities) (Blessinger & Bliss, 2016). The idea behind OER was to prepare an educational resource that is non-prejudiced, non-restricted, unfettered and provide access to educational opportunities at all levels. However, issues of access, openness and free use are complex and contested. The development of OER takes place in contexts where educational and other resources are distributed unevenly, both in the developed world and specially in case of developing nations (Cannell, Macintyre & Hewitt, 2015). OER are considered to be high on the agenda of social and inclusion policies that want to leverage education and lifelong learning for the knowledge economy and society. Although supported by many stakeholders in the educational sphere, their use in higher education and adult education has not yet reached a critical threshold. This is posing an obstacle to the seamless provision of high quality learning resources and practices for citizens’ lifelong learning (Ehlers & Conole, 2010). This is explained by the fact that the current focus in OER is mainly on building more access to digital content and delivering of OER to the still dominant model of teacher-centred knowledge transfer, reflecting limited effect on equipping students and specially the adult learners and learners with lower levels of educational attainment or with no/less access to formal education, the competencies, knowledge and skills to participate successfully in the knowledge economy and society. This paper argues that access, curation, and contextualization as per needs and abilities are crucial for OER to be effective for lifelong learners, especially those who continue studying and updating at later stages of life. // Paper ID 220
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