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Monday, November 30, 2015

Invitation to participate in a National Consultation on Open Educational Resources, 12 December 2015, Convention Centre, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi ( for first 50 on first-cum- first served basis)

Dear Colleague

UNESCO, the Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA) and Jawaharlal Nehru University are jointly organizing a National Consultation on the theme ?Open Educational Resources for Inclusive Development: Identifying Challenges, Addressing Opportunities?. 

It is our pleasure to invite you to participate in the event, which will take place at the Convention Centre, Jawaharlal Nehru University on 1?2 December 2015. We have enclosed the concept note for the event, and the detailed programme will be sent to you shortly.

The National Consultation will work towards (a) identifying present challenges to the creation and use of OER; and (b) identifying opportunities for intervention for inclusive development through OER at the institutional and national levels. All discussions will be recommendation- and action-oriented. In particular, the Consultation will focus on seven themes, each of which will be addressed by a dedicated consultative session. The themes are as follows:

1.      Examining the benefits and implications of the 2014 Open Licensing Policy Guidelines of the National Mission on Education through ICT

2.      Examining good practices and case studies on OER-based learning

3.      Exploring the role of digital libraries vis-?-vis OER initiatives

4.      Adapting existing institutional OER policies

5.      Developing and applying frameworks to assess the quality of OER

6.      OER for persons with disabilities

7.      OER for skill development

We would be glad if you would kindly accept our invitation, and confirm your availability and participation by 30 November 2015 at the latest. We would greatly appreciate it if you could be present for both days of the event, and take part in the various sessions.

Should you require any further information or assistance, please address your queries to Mr Anirban Sarma, National Programme Officer, UNESCO (, +91 9999265920) and Dr Manas Panigrahi, Programme Officer, CEMCA (, +91 9650154010).  

Yours sincerely,                                
Mr. Shigeru Aoyagi                                         Dr. Ramesh Sharma                          Dr. Ramesh Gaur

Director and UNESCO Representative              Director                                            University Librarian 

to Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka          CEMCA                                              JNU                                

OER for Inclusive Development: Identifying Challenges, Addressing Opportunities

A National Consultation on Open Educational Resources 

Concept Note[1]

1. Introduction

The emergence of open content in 1998 and the release of 50 higher education courses via MIT?s OpenCourseWare in 2002 were foundational moments in the sharing of educational content via the web. MIT?s innovative course-sharing mechanism prompted UNESCO to organize a ?Forum on the Impact of OpenCourseWare for Higher Education in Developing Countries? in 2002, at which the term ?Open Educational Resources? (OER) was coined. The UNESCO Forum has since been considered a major landmark in the history of the OER movement. Speaking on the occasion, Prof. V S Prasad, the then Director of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council and India?s representative at the Forum, had observed: ?The OpenCourseWare concept is based on the philosophical view of knowledge as a collective social product; and so it is desirable to make it a social property.?[2]

2. OER and Their Potential Impact on Educational Systems

It is necessary to understand what OER are in order to appreciate their potential impact on educational systems. An OER is any teaching, learning and research material that is available in the public domain, or with an open license, free of the cost to reuse, remix and redistribute the material while retaining its rights. The word ?open? is of critical importance here ? it refers not merely to the availability of the resource but to what one is allowed to do with the material. Copyright law provides for licensing any new knowledge generated, and it is within these same parameters that authors use a specific type of open license to allow full or limited use of the original materials created by them.

The advantages of OER are significant. Having an open license affixed to an educational resource / material enables it to remain relevant and up-to-date. As the resource is available online, an author himself / herself is motivated to ensure that its quality is continually improved and its immediacy and relevance are enhanced. Further, the target community or audience for the resource also assumes responsibility for strengthening quality and relevance. This approach helps avoid the duplication of efforts, and enables teachers to focus more on the efficacy of classroom delivery and teaching. An open license also permits the circulation of knowledge, by allowing re-mixing and re-distribution, and sometimes promoting entrepreneurship and livelihood creation. (For example, a short story by A could be translated by B, adapted as a play by C, adapted into a film by D, and further used in a classroom by a teacher E to promote learning. This would be possible only if the original ma!
terial was available as an OER.)

3. The 2012 Paris Declaration: A Framework for Action[3]

In June 2012, UNESCO convened the World OER Congress in partnership with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and the Hewlett Foundation to observe the completion of 10 years of the term ?Open Educational Resources? and to evaluate the progress of the OER movement globally. The Congress released the now famous Paris Declaration which stated that OER promote lifelong learning; contribute to social inclusion, gender equity and education for special needs; and improve cost efficiency and the quality of teaching and learning. The Declaration also recommended that educational institutes across the world:

1.      Promote the awareness and use of OER

2.      Improve media and information literacy

3.      Develop institutional policies for OER

4.      Educate stakeholders on open licenses and copyright

5.      Promote quality assurance and peer review of OER

6.      Develop strategic partnerships to avoid duplication of work and technologies

7.      Encourage and support research on OER

8.      Develop tools to facilitate access to OER.

4. The Incheon Declaration ? ?Education 2030?: Towards Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education and Lifelong Learning for All  

On 19?22 May 2015, UNESCO together with UNICEF, the World Bank, UNFPA, UNDP, UN Women and UNHCR organized the World Education Forum 2015 in Incheon, Republic of Korea. Over 1,600 participants from 160 countries, including over 120 Ministers, heads and members of delegations, heads of agencies and officials of multilateral and bilateral organizations, and representatives of civil society, the teaching profession, youth and the private sector, adopted the Incheon Declaration, ?Education 2030?, which set out a new vision for education for the next fifteen years. The final draft of the Incheon Declaration and Framework for Action has recommended the use of OER for the realization of its goals. Sections of the ?Education 2030? Framework that cite OER are:

1.      Target 4.3: By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university.

2.      Point 43. A well-established, properly regulated tertiary education system supported by technology, open educational resources (OER) and distance education can increase access, equity, quality and relevance, and can narrow the gap between what is taught at tertiary education institutions, including universities, and what economies and societies demand. The provision of tertiary education should be made progressively free, in line with existing international agreements.

5. OER in India

There have been steady attempts to promote and develop OER in India. In 2007, India?s National Knowledge Commission (NKC) formally recognized the role of OER to upgrade the quality of education.[4] NKC recommended the creation of a National Education Foundation to develop a web-based repository of high-quality educational resources in the form of OER through a collaborative process. The NKC noted that ?an enabling legal framework that would allow unrestricted access without compromising intellectual authorship must be devised for this purpose?. The Creative Commons licensing system has since emerged as a legitimate way to share educational materials. The NKC also recommended faculty development and teacher training in the area of OER to improve quality. Concurrent with the NKC?s discussions on OER, the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL, emerged as the country?s flagship initiative for Engineering and Basic Science courses.

In 2009, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India launched the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT), which covered the NPTEL, to strengthen connectivity, content and collaboration in Indian higher education. In September 2012, the NPTEL released its materials with CC-BY-NC-SA licenses. The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) also launched an OER initiative, releasing its educational materials under CC-BY-NC-SA. The National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER) at the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) however adopted a CC-BY-SA license for its materials.

In a landmark development in February 2014, the NMEICT released its ?Open Licensing Policy Guidelines?, stating its decision to adopt a CC-BY-SA license for all projects and materials funded by it. The Guidelines state that: ?The release of learning resources, software and technology in an appropriate open license regime would foster an environment of openness, collaboration; and a culture of sharing, reuse and adaptation amongst institutions and teachers to enhance the quality of education in the country. Learners will have easy access to digital and non-digital resources available either freely or at a low cost. Teachers in remote areas will have access to quality resources and can contextualize the materials without worrying about prior permissions and copyright issues. [?] Open licensing will also foster innovations in software development and create an ecosystem for the products delivered through the Mission funding.[5]

Currently, three universities in India have adopted open licences for their educational materials. They are the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), the Vardhman Mahaveer Open University (Kota), and the Krishna Kanta Handiqui State Open University (Guwahati). 

5. The National Consultation on OER

The proposed two-day National Consultation on OER is titled OER for Inclusive Development: Identifying Challenges, Addressing Opportunities. The Consultation will be organized by UNESCO, the Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), in collaboration with the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India. The event has been scheduled for 1?2 December 2015 at JNU in New Delhi.

The National Consultation is expected to work towards (a) addressing present challenges to the creation of OER; and (b) identifying opportunities for intervention for inclusive development through OER at the institutional and national levels. All discussions will be recommendation- and action-oriented. In particular, the Consultation will focus on seven themes, each of which will be addressed by a dedicated consultative session. The proposed themes are listed below, followed by a brief discussion of each theme.

1.      Examining the benefits and implications of the NMEICT?s Policy Guidelines

2.      Examining good practices and case studies on OER-based learning

3.      Exploring the role of digital libraries vis-?-vis OER initiatives

4.      Adapting existing institutional OER policies

5.      Developing and applying frameworks to assess the quality of OER

6.      OER for persons with disabilities

7.      OER for skill development

5.1 Examining the benefits and implications of the NMEICT?s Policy Guidelines  

More than one-and-a-half years into the implementation of the NMEICT?s Open Licensing Policy Guidelines, it is necessary to take stock, evaluate the progress made and identify areas for course correction. This session will explore the challenges to implementation and difficulties of compliance, along with the efficacy of the capacity development measures envisaged by the NMEICT, such as the advice on licensing (upon request) by the central project unit and periodic workshops on the Open License schema adopted by the Mission.

5.2 Examining good practices and case studies on OER-based learning  

This session will examine good practices and case studies related to OER from India, and up to two cases from other institutes in the South Asia that have demonstrated leadership and innovation in their adoption of OER policies and materials. The good practices of certain open universities in India could be examined, along with practices from the Open University of Sri Lanka and / or the Wawasan Open University in Malaysia. 

5.3 Exploring the role of digital libraries vis-?-vis OER initiatives

Institutional libraries tend to focus chiefly on research and scholarly material, books, journals and periodicals, but are not usually involved with the management of teaching and learning materials. Consequently, learning materials and OER, where available, are often poorly integrated into the user?s view of library resources. With the increase in the range and number of OER, libraries have an opportunity to capitalize on their already important role in students? academic development, academics? professional development, and the institution?s public portfolio. OER ought to be perceived as additional resources that subject librarians could reference in supporting students and researchers. They are also a new form of resource that require certain information literacy skills to assess (e.g. skills such as evaluating the quality of materials, their origin, currency and fit with a user?s existing learning patterns). This session will explore how libraries could actively advise i!
nstitutions, academic staff and students with regard to: (a) Metadata and resource description; (b) Information management and resource dissemination; (c) Information literacy (finding and evaluating OER); (d) Creating subject-based guides for finding resources; and (d) Managing IPRs and promoting appropriate open licensing.          

5.4  Adapting existing institutional OER policies

This session will focus on examples of progressive and comprehensive OER policies adopted by Indian institutions. It will encourage other institutes to evolve similar policies, and will focus on developing a set of recommendations for adapting existing institutional policies.  

5.5 Developing and applying frameworks to assess the quality of OER

Several factors determine the quality of OER ? their efficiency in achieving educational goals, their relevance to the target group, technical efficiency (in terms of content, pedagogy and organization of material), and ease of access (searchability and interoperability of delivery platforms). The rapidly growing number of online learning materials makes it necessary for users to be able find the most relevant and high-quality resources, and those which can be most efficiently reused, revised, remixed and redistributed. It is critical that a set of quality indicators and guidelines be applied in an objective manner to assess and enhance the quality of OER. This session will take as its starting point CEMCA?s TIPS Framework: Quality Assurance Guidelines for Teachers as Creators of Open Educational Resources, Version 2.0; and will focus on how to produce quality content for teaching and learning. The session will encourage an open discussion among stakeholders to develop strat!
egies and address challenges relating to the quality assurance of OER.

5.6  OER for persons with disabilities 

Globally, research has shown that increasing numbers of persons with disabilities (PWDs) are enrolling in open distance learning (ODL) courses, and expressing an intent to utilizing OER. It is critical therefore for OER to be made more inclusive and disability-friendly. This session will focus on prerequisite actions (platform selection, content creation), implementing actions (platform use, accessibility of content, support services) and monitoring processes (assessing platforms and determining the suitability of content) with respect to OER for PWDs. Ongoing initiatives and existing good practices will be closely examined; and using the UNESCO?COL Guidelines for OER in Higher Education (2015)[6] as a basis, the discussion will also focus on developing basic guidelines for institutions, administrators and instructors to integrate accessible OER into the learning experience. 

5.7  OER for skill development

Skill development is a challenge for most developing countries. In response to the need for skill development, India has created institutional structures to provide skills training to 500 million people by 2022. The National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) that superseded the National Vocational Education Qualifications Framework (NVEQF) mandates that all training programmes should be NSQF complaint by 2018. The NSQF provides course descriptors at 10 levels, recognizes prior learning and several forms of learning, including formal, informal, workplace-based and private study. The need to train a large number of people means that existing systems will need to be upgraded and newer methods of training and certification designed. OER offer an excellent option for delivering skill training to millions. The use of OER can supplement face-to-face or hands-on training initiatives. Moreover, creating a repository of OER on different levels and discipline areas would be a valua!
ble resource that could be be used by all Indian training institutions without duplicating efforts to create training materials. This session is envisaged as an extension of the National Consultation on OER for Skill Development organized by CEMCA in November 2014. The session?s objective will be to arrive at a set of recommendations and action points for the integration of OER into India?s skill development process.

7.      Profile of Participants

The two-day National Consultation on OER in New Delhi will be attended by 100?150 institutional administrators and decision-makers, Government representatives, librarians, information science practitioners, technologists / service providers, and other domain experts.

8.      Expected Outcomes

The National Consultation on OER will work towards achieving tangible outcomes at both the policy and programme levels. Each thematic session of the National Consultation will culminate a set of expert recommendations, action plans and a roadmap for activity. Collectively, these recommendations will take the form of a publication produced by the organizers, i.e. UNESCO, CEMCA and JNU. The recommendations will be disseminated to key stakeholders; and key recommendations will be taken up by the organizers and their networks / partners for further dialogue with Government and institutional decision-makers. Key action points could be taken up as part of the organizers? subsequent programmatic plans and activities.   


[1] Parts of this Concept Note draw on the public lecture titled ?Open Educational Resources for Higher Education? delivered by Dr Sanjaya Mishra (E-Learning Specialist, Commonwealth of Learning and former Director, Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia) at Krishna University (Machilipatnam, Andhra Pradesh) on 6 November 2014. 

[2] Quoted in the public lecture ?Open Educational Resources for Higher Education? by Dr Sanjaya Mishra.

[3] The complete text of the Paris Declaration is available at:


[5] The NMEICT?s Open Licensing Policy Guidelines are available at: 


Dr. Ramesh C Gaur
PGDCA, MLISc,Ph.D. Fulbright Scholar (Virginia Tech, USA)
University Librarian & Chair- ETD 2015 India
Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU)
New Meharuli Road, New Delhi - 110067
Tele +91-11-26742605, 26704551
Fax : +91-11-26741603
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