[Open-education] Friday chat: Do open educational resources have to be available online?

Venkataraman Balaji vbalaji at col.org
Fri Jun 27 17:05:29 UTC 2014

I have not come across any definition of OER that makes "online" a necessary condition. There is a need to encourage OER producers to offer an offline version wherever feasible. Khan Academy is exemplary in this regard. At least two different groupings of Wikipedia (in English) are available for schools offline and I found that they are highly valued in schools in relatively remote locations (for example, in the islands of Fiji or in Vanuatu).

I have also noted a robust reluctance in the mainstream IT community (corporates as well as most academic researchers ) to work in anything offline because today's big profits in IT are available in Internet technologies. There is no reason why a MOOC cannot be partly offline. In fact, processes like examinations-for-certificates are increasingly "offlined" if they were to have value to future or current employers (an example: https://onlinecourses.nptel.ac.in/explorer   ). Similar to the examination, part of an online course can be delivered offline. Back in '90s, a lot of emailing in India used to be part offline: people composed email in a stand-alone computer and bicycled to an Internet café from where it was emailed and mail was also received. As recently as 2007, a small campus of an international Ag research center in Niger enabled staff to compose email on the LAN (Yes, there was a mail server, which was not connected to Internet). Twice daily someone carried a CD to the only city nearby to up/download messages. Users certainly thought that it was not a bad thing.

In my understanding, there is a hidden assumption that unless one has the level of IT infrastructure fairly comparable with what one obtains in a mid-level OECD country, many of the online processes would not be viable. This is not valid. It is also important to note that, in "emerging economies", Internet access from mobile devices is fast outstripping access from laptops and PC's- a fact reported in the famous Meeker's report (KPCB) on Internet Trends even in 2013.


From: open-education [mailto:open-education-bounces at lists.okfn.org] On Behalf Of Marieke Guy
Sent: Friday, June 27, 2014 7:00 AM
To: open-education at lists.okfn.org
Subject: [GRAYMAIL] [Open-education] Friday chat: Do open educational resources have to be available online?

The ALT MOOC SIG conference has been taking place today and I noticed the following tweet from Pat Lockley (not his words).

"Taking a MOOC to a developing country is the modern 'coals to Newcastle'?"

The tweet refers to the waste of time involved in taking an online course to where there aren't computers or broadband. This obvious issue also came up at the recent Making it Matter workshop<http://linkedup-project.eu/making-it-matter-workshop/>:

"Poor infrastructure (energy, ICT, etc.) means that education can rarely be carried out solely online. We need to stop making technology and device assumptions and ensure adaptability of resources and data."

So do open educational resources have to be available online? CC give details on how to apply licenses offline<http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Frequently_Asked_Questions#How_do_I_apply_a_Creative_Commons_license_to_my_material.3F> - but what are the implications of having open resources that are solely offline? Are there initiatives working in this area?

Any thoughts?!


Marieke Guy
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