Harnessing OER to Drive Systemic Educational Change in Secondary Schooling
This paper reports on two action research projects which explored the challenge of determining the conditions under which use of OER can drive a transformative educational agenda in schooling systems. At St Peter’s College in Johannesburg, South Africa, a small pilot study was conducted to explore how to best to adopt new teaching and learning methodologies to encourage greater student engagement and responsibility, and to gauge student and staff reactions to a change in teaching and learning methodologies. It placed heavy emphasis on harnessing OER to enable student-led content creation, with a long-term view of demonstrating that students can use OER to create self-paced learning environments that significantly accelerate their journey through the formal curriculum. In Antigua and Barbuda, the research project considered how to facilitate an entire system to change. It recognised that for change to be effective, it needs to be driven at the systemic level, as these ultimately direct the operations of most public schooling systems. The paper explores the different steps taken, starting from the government’s commitment to ICT infrastructure, fostering a policy environment through an ICT in Education policy and an ICT Master Plan to guide procurement and deployment of ICT in schools, and the development of a School ICT integration plan to ensure school’s ICT needs and requirements. The research explored the deployment of an OER Virtual learning Environment (VLE) Prototype, and the compilation of an online mathematics ‘textbook’ from available quality free OER. The paper concludes by highlighting the kinds of systemic actions required for the proponents of OER to build sustained pressure for long-term, educationally effective systemic change.