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Higher Education and Open Educational Resources in Asia: An Overview

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Higher education has experienced phenomenal growth in all parts of Asia over the last two decades. This expansion, coupled with a diversity of provisions, has meant that more and more young Asians are experiencing tertiary education within their own countries. Notwithstanding this massive expansion of provisions, equitable access is still a challenge for Asian countries. There is also concern that expansion will erode quality. The use of digital resources is seen as one way of addressing the dual challenges of quality and equity. Open educational resources (OER), free of licensing encumbrances, hold the promise of equitable access to knowledge and learning. However, the full potential of OER is only realisable by acquiring: (i) greater knowledge about OER, (ii) the skills to eectively use OER and (iii) policy provisions to support its establishment in the continent's higher education milieu.
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CHAPTER Higher Education and Open
Educational Resources in Asia:
An Overview
Gajaraj Dhanarajan and Ishan Sudeera Abeywardena
Abstract
Higher education has experienced phenomenal growth in all parts of Asia over
the last two decades. This expansion, coupled with a diversity of provisions, has
meant that more and more young Asians are experiencing tertiary education
within their own countries. Notwithstanding this massive expansion of
provisions, equitable access is still a challenge for Asian countries. There is
also concern that expansion will erode quality. The use of digital resources is
seen as one way of addressing the dual challenges of quality and equity. Open
educational resources (OER), free of licensing encumbrances, hold the promise of
equitable access to knowledge and learning. However, the full potential of OER
is only realisable by acquiring: (i) greater knowledge about OER, (ii) the skills to
eectively use OER and (iii) policy provisions to support its establishment in the
continent’s higher education milieu.
Keywords: Asia, higher education, digital resources, open educational resources, OER
awareness, policies, practices, benefits and barriers
Higher Education in Asia
The last three decades has seen a rapid increase in the provision of higher
education in almost all parts of greater Asia — from the Korean peninsula in the
east to the western borders of Central Asia. Nowhere has this increase matched
the growth seen in South, South East and Far East Asia. Universities, polytechnics,
colleges and training institutes with a variety of forms, structures, academic
programmes and funding provisions have been on an almost linear upward
progression (Table 1.1).
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Table 1.1: Number of higher education institutions in selected countries1
Country
Three- to four-
degree & post-
graduate schools
Two- to
four-year
undergraduate schools
Two- and three-
year diploma
schools
Short certificate
schools
Professional and
technical schools
Cambodia 69 9 - - -
PRC 1,237 1,264 1,878 - -
India 504 28,339 - - 3,533
Indonesia 480 3967 162 - -
Laos 34 - 11 - -
Malaysia 57 488 24 37 -
Philippines 1,710 - 114 30 -
South Korea 197 152 - - -
Sri Lanka 15 16 - - -
Thailand 102 32 19 - -
In addition to governments, private for-profit and not-for-profit organisations,
public–private partnerships, international agencies and intergovernmental agencies
have been participating in and financially supporting this growth. With the arrival
of and access to the Internet, World Wide Web and a huge range of fast and intelligent
information and communication technologies (ICT), many individuals have also
been prepared to share their life experiences and knowledge with others through
YouTube, Flickr, Wikieducator and other similar tools. Consumers of education have
themselves become producers of education. The growth in Asia reflects the growth in
many other parts of the world, which was experiencing increased participation from
28.6 million in 1970 to about 152.7 million in 2007, at a rate of increase of almost
4.6 per cent per year (UNESCO, 2009). Between 1990 and 2005, about 98 million
Asians had experienced one or another form of tertiary education in a variety of
institutions, ranging from technical colleges to universities (Table 1.2).
Table 1.2 is also illustrative of high levels of termination in higher education by
millions of young people who, despite being qualified to meet the challenges of
higher education, are unable to fulfil their aspirations. The gap between demand
for and supply of higher education still continues to be high. Further exacerbating
this situation is that those failing to gain admission into higher education are
often from the marginalised segments of a nation’s population.
Unequal access to higher education on the basis of gender, economic and social
status, location of residence and poor prior schooling all continue to challenge
many Asian nations. Countries such as Cambodia, Laos, India, Indonesia,
Pakistan and Vietnam have low participation rates for the 17–24 age cohort.
Further, policies on widening participation in higher education will also require
serious regard for many other groups besides those described so far. These other
groups include challenged and displaced persons, migrant labourers, immigrants
and the elderly. Many international conventions and covenants provide a
framework for countries to consider. As of June 2009, only India, the Philippines
and Bangladesh had ratified conventions, whilst others are moving slowly on this
front, even though countries like Malaysia have policies in place to facilitate access
for challenged persons.
1 Data extrapolated from Asian Development Bank, 2012.
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Table 1.2: Upper secondary gross, graduation and tertiary entry ratios (Asian
Development Bank, 2012)
Country
Secondary gross
enrolment ratio
Upper secondary gross graduation/
completion (ISCED 3A)
Gross entry ratio into tertiary
(ISCED 5A)
Cambodia 23a 7.5e, f
China 72a 33 14
India 52a 28 13c
Indonesia 58a 31 17
Laos 27b 5.3c, f
Malaysia 82a 26c
Philippines 72a, c 64
South Korea 102a 62 61
Sri Lanka 56.6f 28.3c, f 21.2c
Thailand 82a 40 20
Vietnam 25.5a, b 12.5c
ISCED = International Standard Classification of Education. ISCED 3A = upper secondary level
of education; programmes at level 3 are designed to provide direct access to ISCED 5A. ISCED 5A
= first stage of tertiary education; programmes are largely theoretically based and are intended
to provide sucient qualifications for gaining entry into advanced research programmes and
professions with high skills requirements.
Sources: (a) UNESCO, 2009 (data from [b] 20 05, [c] 2006, [d] 2001); (e) not segregated under
ISCED; (f) Barro & Lee, 2010.
Besides this normal age cohort, many other groups are also seeking or requiring
access to higher education. The biggest amongst these are adults who wish
to return to learning. For many of these adults, higher education was denied
them earlier. Their return to study requires facilitation which in an already
supply-poor situation presents diculties. Not facilitating or incentivising such
returnees is not only a social denial, but also economically counterproductive.
Malaysia presents such a situation. The country aspires to be high-income
in another decade. To support that aspiration, it requires an adult workforce
of highly skilled and knowledgeable citizens. Currently, of its 12 million
citizens in the workforce, more than 80 per cent have less than a secondary
school education. This is a serious concern, given the country’s ambition.
Policy initiatives will be required to increase participation. Countries such as
Malaysia recognise this dilemma and are actively pursuing policies to widen
participation. This may not be the case all across Asia. Special policies include
creating alternate pathways of entry, part-time studies, distance education,
special financial incentives and arrangements, recognition of workplace
training and according of academic credit for such training through policy
instruments promoting lifelong learning. South Korea, like its other OECD
counterparts, has long been a leader in such arrangements. The Philippines,
Indonesia, Thailand, India and China all have enculturised lifelong learning or
are moving towards doing so.
Besides “balancing the continued expansion of access with greater attention
to equity” (Asian Development Bank, 2011), higher education in Asia is also
6
challenged by other concerns. According to a recently published study by the
Asian Development Bank (2011), these include the following:
t Maintaining and improving education quality, even in the face of serious
financial constraints.
t Increasing the relevance of curriculum and instruction at a time of rapid
change in labour market needs.
t Increasing and better utilising the financial resources available to higher
education.
In many development circles in Asia, ICT has been viewed if not as a panacea then
at least as having the potential to address many of the above challenges. In an
earlier report on the role of ICT in education, the Asian Development Bank (2009)
went on to declare:
ICT has the potential to “bridge the knowledge gap” in terms of
improving quality of education, increasing the quantity of quality
educational opportunities, making knowledge building possible
through borderless and boundless accessibility to resources and
people, and reaching populations in remote areas to satisfy their basic
right to education. As various ICTs become increasingly aordable,
accessible, and interactive, their role at all levels of education is
likely to be all the more significant in making educational outcomes
relevant to the labor market, in revolutionizing educational content
and delivery, and in fostering “information literacy”.
Many Asian nations have been investing in ICT for the last four decades or so,
and some of these countries (e.g., South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia) have
ICT infrastructures that rank amongst the best in the world; on the other hand,
in many Asian countries ICT developments are somewhat modest, or even
inadequate to support the needs of higher education. Notwithstanding, there is a
clear appreciation of the role that ICT, especially digitised learning resources, can
play in expanding access and improving the quality of education.
Use of Digitised Educational Resources in Asian
Higher Education
During the last 40 years, Asian nations have developed an anity for the use
of ICT to serve education in a variety of ways. These technological tools have
been employed to deliver education in various sectors and at various levels.
Institutions have been using both low and high technologies, and many that
have been using the former, such as analogue broadcast radio and television
and print, have been gradually moving in tandem with the evolution of the
latter, i.e., from the analogue to the digital realm using the Internet, the World
Wide Web and multimedia resources. Amongst a few, pedagogy has also evolved
along with the technologies, albeit not at the same pace. Of the new pedagogies,
distance education or open distance education has proven to be especially
attractive to policy makers and budget-conscious administrators, as well as a
segment of learners who look for a much more self-directed and flexible learning
environment. But increasingly, eLearning, virtual campuses and online courses
are also being delivered, especially in ICT-rich environments like South Korea and
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Japan. The availability of new technologies has also created opportunities in other
Asian countries to embed digital resources in their courses delivered on- or oine.
However, the use of digital resources for teaching or learning is not uniform across
or within nations. A number of factors either enable or hinder such use. In a recent
study conducted with the support of a grant from the International Development
Research Centre of Canada, researchers found, through a survey of some 580
academic sta from ten Asian countries (South Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong,
the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and India), the following.
Access to ICT infrastructure and digital infrastructure
What was seen as a major impediment even as recently as the turn of the
millennium is no longer viewed as a major challenge. Reliable electricity, available
and aordable appliances, the skills to install, maintain and use appliances, and
access to the Internet (albeit at a higher connection cost and smaller bandwidth)
are there for most workers in higher education. Urban populations, both sta
and students, have easier access to ICT infrastructure, but with the increasing
availability of mobile devices and telephones the urban–rural imbalance is
somewhat mitigated. Infrastructural resources besides the availability of personal
computers and mobiles also include access to the Internet, the World Wide Web,
email, presentation software and in some cases electronic libraries (Figure 1.1).
Figure 1.1: The availability of ICT infrastructure in selected Asian countries
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
450
A personal computer
The World-Wide-Web
Email
Presentation software (e.g. PowerPoint)
An online library catalogue
A traditional library card catalogue
Abstracting and indexing databases
Almost all the time
Often
Sometimes
Rarely
Never
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Sources of digital resources
As Table 1.3 indicates, almost all academic sta use the popular search engines
(Google, Yahoo!, Safari and Bing). A few build and maintain their own personal
collections and/or use media sources, such as CNN, BBC or local television and
radio channels. There is limited use of resources from museums, professional
organisations and commercial databases (probably a reflection of the cost to access
these resources).
Table 1.3: Sources of digital resources (after Dhanarajan & Abeywardena, 2012)
Use (%)
Sources of digital resources
Almost all the
time Often Sometimes Rarely Never N
Search engines/directories (e.g., Google,
Yahoo!) 54.38 32.47 9.54 2.32 1.29 3 88
My own personal collection of digital materials 30.59 39.85 17.48 9.77 2.31 389
Public (free) online image databases 23.31 34.27 27.53 9.55 5.34 356
Online journals (e.g., via JSTOR) 21.43 28.06 27.3 15.82 7.4 392
Library collections (digital) 16.41 27.95 29.23 17.69 8.72 396
Campus image databases from my own
institution (e.g., departmental digital slide
library)
13.44 22.22 28.17 18.35 17.83 387
“Portals” that provide links or URLs relevant to
particular disciplinary topics 13.04 33.25 36.32 11.51 5.88 391
Media sites (e.g., NPR, New York Times, CNN,
PBS) 10.97 25.59 32.64 19.58 11.23 38 3
Other 5.56 11.11 18.52 12.04 52.78 108
Online exhibits (e.g., from museums) 3.66 10.44 25.85 32.11 27.94 383
Commercial image databases (e.g., Saskia,
AMICO) 2.86 9.61 24.16 27.01 36.36 385
Use of digital resources
Table 1.4 shows that depending on residential locations and bandwidth
availability, academics mostly accessed a range of resources, such as: digital
readers (e.g., Adobe Acrobat); images or other visual materials, such as drawings,
photographs and art posters; online reference materials; digitised documents;
digital film or video; and course packs. The least accessed resources included data
archives; audio materials, such as speeches and oral interviews; online diaries;
government documents; and simulations or animations.
9
Table 1.4: Types of digital resources and their frequency of use (after Dhanarajan &
Abeywardena, 2012)
Use (%)
Types of digital resources
Almost all the
time Often Sometimes Rarely Never N
Digital readers (e.g., Adobe Acrobat) 30.4 34.2 21.3 8.0 6.1 395
Images or visual materials (drawings,
photographs, art, posters, etc.) 26.8 41.3 23.3 7.3 1.5 400
Online reference resources (e.g., dictionaries) 24.2 40.9 25.0 7.1 2.9 396
Online or digitised documents (including
translations) 17.3 34.9 23.4 16.3 8.0 398
Online class discussions (including archived
discussions) 15.9 25.8 27.4 16.6 14.3 391
Digital film or video 15.4 33.9 35.7 10.6 4.3 395
News or other media sources and archives 15.3 35.1 32.3 13.0 4.3 393
Course packs 14.7 20.4 35.6 16.2 13.1 388
Curricular materials and websites that
are created by other faculty and/or other
institutions (e.g., MIT OpenCourseWare, World
Lecture Hall, MERLOT)
13.8 29.4 33.3 15.3 8.3 398
Other 13.3 20.5 25.8 9.3 31.1 151
E-book readers (e.g., Kindle) 10.3 19.6 19.57 22.83 27.72 368
Data archives (numeric databases, e.g., census
data) 9.16 23.4 31.6 20.6 15.3 393
Audio materials (speeches, interviews, music,
oral histories, etc.) 7.9 23.5 35.4 22.0 11.1 395
Personal online diaries (e.g., blogs) 6.9 18.9 27.0 27.3 19.9 392
Government documents in digital format 6.6 21.1 33.84 21.37 17.05 393
Simulations or animations 5.37 26.6 34.2 23.3 10.5 391
Maps 3.8 12.2 33.9 29.4 20.8 395
Digital facsimiles of ancient or historical
manuscripts 2.3 6.9 16.0 26.7 48.2 394
Factors inhibiting the use of digital resources
Two types of barriers seem to dissuade individuals, especially teachers, from
using digital resources: technical and attitudinal. The technical barriers include:
needing technical support to search and find digital resources; locating and
clearing copyright; setting up technical infrastructure (computers, connections);
installing appropriate software; evaluating the quality of resources; integrating
resources into learning management systems; and using learning management
systems (Table 1.5). The attitudinal barriers mostly arise from (i) apprehension
about the quality of the digital resources, the context of their creation and the
appropriateness of the resources to buttress the curriculum, (ii) lack of confidence
in learners’ skills to use digital resources and (iii) anxieties over issues relating to
plagiarism (Table 1.6).
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Table 1.5: Technical barriers to the use of digital resources (after Dhanarajan &
Abeywardena, 2012)
Barriers
Extremely
important
Very
important
Somewhat
important
A little
important
Not at all
important N Percentage
Support with
interpreting copyright
laws and/or securing
copyright permission
35.60% 38.90% 16.20% 6.40% 2.80% 388 92.40%
Support with finding
digital resources 35.00% 42.20% 13.80% 5.40% 3.60% 391 93.10%
Support with assessing
the credibility of digital
resources
34.60% 41.30% 15.40% 5.40% 3.30% 39 0 92.90%
Support with obtaining
or setting up technical
infrastructure (server s,
computers, smart
classrooms, etc.)
31.30% 38.20% 20.40% 6.70% 3.40% 387 92.10%
Support with
evaluating the
appropriateness of
resources for my
teaching goals
27.50% 38.00% 19.00% 11.60% 3.90% 389 92.60%
Support with
gathering, organising,
and maintaining digital
materials
26.50% 45.50% 16.20% 7.70% 4.10% 389 92.60%
Support with digitising
existing resources 26.00% 39.70% 22.90% 7.30% 4.20% 385 91.70%
Support with
integrating resources
into a learning
management system
(e.g., Moodle, Sakai)
24.90% 33.40% 23.10% 12.40% 6.20% 386 91.90%
Support with training
students to find
or evaluate digital
resources
24.00% 39.80% 25.10% 7.80% 3.40% 387 92.10%
Support with importing
resources into a
course website or a
database
21.80% 36.40% 23.40% 13.50% 4.90% 385 91.70%
Support with learning
how to use a learning
management system
(e.g., Moodle, Sakai)
20.00% 42.10% 19.00% 12.20% 6.80% 385 91.70%
Support with creating
my own website 19.30% 32.00% 27.60% 14.70% 6.40% 388 92.40%
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Table 1.6: Non-technical barriers to the use of digital resources (after Dhanarajan &
Abeywardena, 2012)
Barriers
Strongly
agree
Somewhat
agree
Somewhat
disagree
Strongly
disagree N Percentage
They cannot substitute for the
teaching approaches I use 13.60% 26.90% 33.80% 25.80% 361 86.00%
I don’t have time to use digital
resources 11.80% 24.60% 33.00% 30.60% 382 91.00%
Digital resources are difficult for me
to access 9.70% 20.20% 35.20% 34.90% 381 9 0.70%
Digital materials can be presented
outside their original contex t 8.30% 24.50% 41.90% 25.30% 3 63 86.40%
They are irrelevant to my field 7.70% 23.10% 35.60% 33.50% 376 89.50%
Using them distracts from the core
goals of my teaching 5.60% 22.70% 40.60% 31.00% 374 89.00%
Students don’t have the information
literacy skills to assess the
credibility of digital resources
5.40% 25.10% 37.60% 31.90% 367 87.40%
I don’t want my students to copy or
plagiarise material from the Web 4.20% 21.90% 42.70% 31.20% 356 8 4.80%
Factors enabling or encouraging academic staff to use
digital resources
These factors relate either to pedagogical reasons (Table 1.7) — such as a desire to
be current in knowledge, access to content not available in the local institution,
and availability of sophisticated media, digital resources and supporting research
— or to personal reasons (Table 1.8), including “exciting” learners about new
ways of learning and engaging in critical thinking, providing learners with
current knowledge from primary sources, supporting learner creativity and
enabling learning flexibility by allowing content to be available 24/7. Also
emerging amongst innovators are many novel opportunities that new digitised
resources present. These include collaborating in and sharing of curriculum,
learning materials and associated tools/technologies. In parallel to technological
advancements has been a desire of many to share — especially learning materials
— free of legal and logistical restrictions. The rearrangement of licensing protocols
and regulations, such as via the family of Creative Commons provisions,
is encouraging Asian academics to explore a range of activities, including
participation in the global open educational resources (OER) movement.
12
Table 1.7: Pedagogical reasons (after Dhanarajan & Abeywardena, 2012)
Factors
Strongly
agree
Somewhat
agree
Somewhat
disagree
Strongly
disagree N Percentage
It helps me get students excited
about a topic 57.30% 36.10% 5.90% 0.80% 393 93.60%
It improves my students’
learning 54.50% 39.5 0% 5.90% 0.00% 387 92.10%
It helps me let students know
the most up-to-date (or most
current) developments in the
subject
54.40% 37.90% 7.20% 0.50% 388 92.40%
It helps me provide students
with a contex t for a topic 52.40% 44.00% 3.10% 0.5 0% 391 93.10%
It allows me to integrate
primary source material into
the course
45.50% 44.70% 9.00% 0.80% 3 87 92.10%
It allows my students to be
more creative 42.50% 46.40% 9.80% 1.30% 38 6 91.90%
It is more convenient for my
students and their schedules 40.50% 42.60% 14.60% 2.30% 383 91.20%
Table1.8: Personal reasons (after Dhanarajan & Abeywardena, 2012)
Factors
Strongly
agree
Somewhat
agree
Somewhat
disagree
Strongly
disagree N Percentage
It saves me time 39.50% 37.10% 16.40% 7.00% 385 91.70%
It provides access to resources
that we don’t have at our
college
39.10% 46.10% 12.20% 2.60% 386 91.90%
It allows me to do things in the
classroom that I could never do
otherwise
36.40% 47.30% 11.40% 4.90% 385 91.70%
It allows me to stay up to date
with my colleagues 35.70% 35.90% 20.60% 7.80% 384 91.40%
It helps me to teach critical
thinking skills 35.10% 41.00% 19.10% 4.90% 388 92.40%
It helps me to integrate my
research interests into my
course
34.10% 49.40% 14.50% 2.10% 387 92.10%
I like or feel very comfortable
with the new technologies 30.60% 48.10% 17.70% 3.60% 385 91.70%
It helps me to teach information
literacy (i.e., evaluating the
online materials for themselves)
29.90% 47.90% 18.00% 4.10% 388 92.40%
I enjoy having my teaching
practices and course materials
available to anyone in the world
who would like to use them
29.70% 43.00% 19.90% 7.40% 377 89.80%
The administration (deans,
chairs, provost) encourages me
to use digital resources more
20.80% 32.80% 26.60% 19.80% 384 91.40%
It may help me get promoted or
get tenure 10.70% 25.10% 35.50% 28.70% 383 91.20%
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Pursuing OER
Open educational resources are increasingly being promoted by enthusiasts as a
solution, amongst many others, to overcome the challenges of access, quality and
cost in providing or participating in higher education, all over the world. Whilst in
many parts of the developed world cost has often been cited as a reason to seriously
consider OER as an alternative to expensive textbooks, skyrocketing tuition fees and
inflexible learning opportunities within conventional systems, in the developing
world inequitable access to learning, especially at the tertiary level — both formal
and non-formal — has been presented as an argument to buttress the case.
Conceiving of OER purely in terms of access, cost and quality is perhaps limiting, as
there are other more profound reasons to assert a place for OER in higher education.
Even though ideas relating to OER have been in circulation, globally, over the last
decade or so, developments in the poorer Asian nations have been slow. Similarly,
and despite the contemporary international debate and dialogue, knowledge of
OER and their value amongst members of the larger Asian academic community
as well educational policy makers is modest at best. Even in countries where there
is familiarity, such as Japan, China and India (all of which already have some
kind of arrangements to share digitised course content through consortium
arrangements),2 discernible gaps exist regarding understanding and application in
many of the following aspects:
t Detailed knowledge of OER as a practice.
t Knowledge of user needs.
t Knowledge of usage levels amongst various user groups.
t The characteristics of organisations successfully using OER.
t A knowledge of and compliance with standards.
t The range of technological assets required to benefit from OER.
t The human capacities needed to develop and manage OER.
t Other contextual factors (e.g., bandwidth).
Notwithstanding the above, a number of national and institutional initiatives are
ongoing, ranging from the big to the tiny. Some examples of OER activity in the
formal academic sector, described in the present volume, are: Indias NPTEL (National
Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning), the eorts by a consortium of
the Indian Institutes of Technology (Chapter 17); Beijing Open University’s non-
formal educational courses (Chapter 1); formal degree programmes at the Virtual
University of Pakistan (Chapter 8); South Korea’s provision of employment-related
training programmes (Chapter 6); Vietnam’s eorts at producing translated versions
of academic texts as open textbooks (Chapter 10); and formative eorts by Malaysia’s
Wawasan Open University (Chapter 11). In the non-formal sector, Indonesia’s Open
University is building a community of teachers to share learning resources through
its teacher education forum (Chapter 18); a commercial publisher in the Philippines
is putting together on a free-to-use basis historical and cultural documents about the
Philippines (Chapter 13); and in India an international development agency, ICRISAT
(International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics) has created a suite
of learning objects on agriculture and climate sciences, and made it available to
farmers, extension workers and academics as OER (Chapter 12).
2 www.ocwconsortium.org
14
There are any number of reasons why participation in an OER movement is
beginning to happen (Table 1.9). It is still early days to predict how well a culture
of producing, sharing, using and reusing OER will develop in most parts of Asia.
At best, it is a development in progress, and at worst, it could be perceived as yet
another techno-fad. Institutions and individuals who produce, access and use
OER clearly perceive benefits, despite some dicult barriers. Survey findings from
nine Asian countries regarding perceptions of benefits and barriers are presented
in Tables 1.9 and 1.10.
Table 1.9: Perceived benefits of accessing and using OER (after Dhanarajan &
Abeywardena, 2012)
1 2 3 4 5
Benefits
Very
important Unimportant N Percentage
Gaining access to the best possible
resources 72.30% 21.00% 5.40% 0.60% 0.60% 314 74.80%
Promoting scientific research and
education as publicly open activities 47.50% 34.90% 11.90% 3.80% 1.90% 318 75.70%
Bringing down costs for students 45.40% 29.30% 16.10% 6.6 0% 2.50% 317 75.50%
Bringing down costs of course
development for institutions 42.40% 30.10% 15.20% 6.60% 5.70% 316 75.20%
Providing outreach to disadvantaged
communities 44.00% 28.20% 17.70% 7.60% 2.50% 316 75.20%
Assisting developing countries 37.80% 26.70% 21.30% 9.8 0% 4.40% 315 75.00%
Becoming independent of publishers 27.60% 23.70% 28.80% 12.20% 7.70% 312 74.30%
Creating more flexible materials 47.20% 33.20% 12.00% 3.20% 4.40% 316 75.20%
Conducting research and
development 50.30% 27.40% 15.60% 4.80% 1.90% 314 74.80%
Building sustainable partnerships 41.50% 27.50% 21.10% 6.10% 3.80% 313 74.50%
Table 1.10: Barriers to producing and utilising OER (after Dhanarajan &
Abeywardena, 2012)
1 2 3 4 5
Very
important Unimportant N Percentage
Lack of awareness 51.00% 29.90% 9.90% 3.80% 5.4 0% 314 74.80%
Lack of skills 30.60% 4 0.80% 17.20% 5.40% 6.10% 314 74.80%
Lack of time 24.20% 30.60% 24.20% 9.70% 11.30% 310 73.80%
Lack of hardware 17.30% 24.70% 25.00% 15.10% 17.90% 312 74.30%
Lack of sof tware 18.70% 28.8 0% 23.40% 13.60% 15.50% 316 75.20%
Lack of access to computers 19.50% 19.20% 13.40% 16.00% 31.90% 313 74.50%
Lack of abilit y to locate specific
and relevant OER for my teaching 23.60% 33.70% 22.30% 11.30% 9.10% 309 73.60%
Lack of abilit y to locate quality
OER for my teaching 27.90% 39.60% 18.80% 8.40% 5.20% 308 73.30%
No reward system for staff
members devoting time and
energy
25.60% 31.10% 22.80% 7.40% 13.10% 312 74.30%
Lack of interest in pedagogical
innovation amongst staff members 28.60% 32.80% 22.80% 7.70% 8.00% 311 74.00%
No support from management level 27.40% 28.10% 21.80% 11.90% 10.90% 303 72.10%
15
Awareness and knowledge of OER
To those who are ardent advocates of OER, benefits of utilising these free resources
are familiar. However the higher education community in Asia is large, diverse
and relatively conservative in its attitudes towards teaching and learning.
Awareness as well as knowledge-building, amongst both teachers and policy
makers, is critical for the acceptance and integration of resources for teaching.
Such awareness is currently very low — recent advocacy eorts by UNESCO and
the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) through their joint declaration on OER
(UNESCO & COL, 2012) are helpful, but OER need to be popularised; greater
eorts at knowledge-building, especially amongst policy makers and institutional
management, have to be enhanced. Such knowledge-building has to be
comprehensive and current — those in decision-making positions must be aware
of what OER exist, in what contexts and how they have been used, how to gain
access to them, what technologies and skills are required for teachers and learners
alike to access them, and the pedagogical and economic benefits of OER.
Table 1.11: Familiarity with and awareness of OER (after Dhanarajan & Abeywardena, 2012)
Familiarity and awareness
Country Yes No Unsure Total (N)
China 40 21 11 72
55.60% 29.10% 15.30% 100.00%
Hong Kong 8 9 2 19
42.10% 47.40% 10.50% 100.00%
India 25 14 9 48
52.10% 29.20% 18.80% 100.00%
Indonesia 27 7 4 38
71.10% 18.40% 10.50% 100.00%
Japan 5 4 0 9
55.60% 4 4.40% 0.00% 100.00%
Malaysia 16 3 4 23
69.60% 13.00% 17.40% 100.00%
Philippines 20 1 3 24
83.30% 4.20% 12.50% 100.00%
South Korea 46 10 6 62
74.20% 16.10% 9.70% 100.00%
Vietnam 15 4 1 20
75.00% 20.00% 5.00% 100.00%
Purpose of OER
The international debate on a purpose for OER in the higher education milieu
continues to engage scholars passionately. Such debate also encompasses more
recent arguments around massive open online courses, or MOOCs, and their
range of analogues. What was once considered a straightforward purpose for
OER — i.e., resources such as “courses, course materials, content modules,
16
collections, and journals . . . [as well as] tools for delivering educational content,
e.g., software that supports the creation, delivery, use and improvement of
open learning content, searching and organisation of content, content and
learning management systems, content development tools, and on-line learning
communities meant to be used for education”,3 not necessarily for academic credit
— is no longer the case. As technology innovations progress, new agendas have
become part and parcel of OER dialogues; MOOCs are a recent innovation that
have confused the open space for consumers and academics alike.
In the context of developing Asia, it may be useful to promote OER with an
unambiguous clarity of purpose, such as that OER improves cost-free access
to up-to-date and current information relating to content, reduces the cost of
curriculum transformation, assists in designing employment-relevant curriculum,
supports flexible ways of delivering curriculum and facilitates inter-institutional
collaboration and co-operation in content development and sharing.
Policies on OER
In many parts of Asia, government policy support can accelerate the adoption of
innovations in education. Governments have it in their powers, through a variety
of instruments, to support innovation or retard it. Asian governments could
discourage OER production, use, reuse and distribution in a number of ways,
including: (i) restricting the free flow of information, (ii) limiting access to search
engines, (iii) limiting financial support for adopting innovations, (iv) limiting the
extent to which curriculum and content can be explored at the delivery end and
(v) discouraging the use of Creative Commons licences. At the last count, some
eleven countries in Asia had established national aliates. Some of the aliates
are active, whilst others are not.
Besides policy support at government levels, such support or lack thereof at
institutional levels also places limitations on the extent to which OER can
play an eective role. Familiarity with the purpose and benefits of OER as well
as comprehensive knowledge of copyright matters play a role in encouraging
academic sta to engage in OER-related activities. Recent studies indicate that
whilst there is sucient familiarity, at a surface level, with copyright legislation
and Creative Commons licensing in at least 300 of the academics surveyed,
fewer had in-depth knowledge of both (Dhanarajan & Abeywardena, 2012).
Institutional policies to incentivise, through recognition and rewards, the
production and use of OER are also somewhat thin in most Asian institutions.
Table 1.12: Policy matters (after Dhanarajan & Abeywardena, 2012)
Institutional policy items Yes No Total [N]
Knowledge of copyright 63 [97%] 24 [3%] 65
Knowledge of CC licences 41 [63%] 24 [37%] 65
Provisions for sharing, collaborating in and using OER 13 [18%] 58 [82%] 71
Provisions for incentivising OER par ticipation 25 [35%] 46 [65%] 71
Provisions for staff development 29 [42%] 40 [58%] 69
3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_educational_resources
17
Skills at using the technologies buttressing OER
Adequate national ICT infrastructures, such as telephony, access to computers,
adequate bandwidth, freedoms relating to using the Internet, exploring the
WWW for content through search engines, as well as knowledge of and skills
to use a range of appropriate software are all important prerequisites for greater
participation in OER-related activities. As mentioned earlier, most Asian nations
have adequate ICT provisions. Skills to use computers and access to the Internet
are also adequate; however, the limited availability of bandwidth and appropriate
software to access, remix, reuse and redistribute content requires further and
additional investment. The poorer nations and their institutions (especially in the
rural areas) are somewhat handicapped in this aspect. Until all the technologies
buttressing OER are freely and easily available, many developing Asian countries
will not be in a position to benefit from the full potential of OER for a little whilst
to come.
Conclusion
Whilst interest in and the production, distribution and use of OER are still very
much in the early stages of development in most parts of Asia, OER’s potential
value to improve the quality of curriculum, content and instruction, facilitate
academic collaboration and enhance equitable access to knowledge resources
cannot be overstated. Marshall Smith, in an unpublished paper (2011), articulated
this elegantly:
Knowledge should be universal but is unequally and unfairly
distributed and OER will help to overcome the gaps. A second
narrative emphasize[s] the opportunity for users to become
producers by having the opportunity to change and adapt OER for
their purposes. This same narrative [holds] that OER [provide] new
opportunities for teachers and other non-technical people to become
producers of totally new open content and tools. A third narrative
holds that OER [have] the potential to transform opportunities
for learning and teaching by providing opportunities for students
to learn on their own for free and from others (peers, mentors) on
the networks and in the crowd, and to potentially get credit for the
learning.
All of these narratives are still operable. A fourth narrative is about
fulfilling the first three in the developed world and, more importantly,
in the developing world. This is the narrative of implementation,
helping to create appropriate technical infrastructure including the
necessary tools such as platforms and Creative Commons licences
to construct quality open materials, making it possible for OER to
be easily accessed and used, and supporting local communities,
government and NGOs in their eorts to use OER eectively. This
is the narrative of our times — it will not be a smooth road but the
opportunities that it may provide are worth it.
It is in pursuit of especially the fourth narrative that educators and their political
masters need to invest eorts in OER, which have the potential to serve a
potpourri of multiple purposes in Asian higher education.
18
Acknowledgements
The authors wish to acknowledge the support of the International Development
Research Centre of Canada for its grant (No. 104917-001), without which it would
not have been possible to gather the data buttressing this chapter. We also wish to
acknowledge the many colleagues at Wawasan Open University and in the Asian
region who were most helpful in supporting us throughout the study. Many of
them are contributors to the various chapters in this volume.
References
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and strategies. Manila: Asian Development Bank. Retrieved from http://
www.adb.org/sites/default/files/pub/2011/higher-education-across-asia.
pdf
Asian Development Bank. (2012). Access without equity? Finding a better balance in
higher education in Asia. Manila: Asian Development Bank. Retrieved from
http://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/pub/2012/access-without-equity.
pdf
Barro, R., & Lee, J. W. (2010). A new data set of educational attainment in the
world, 1950–2010. NBER Working Paper No. 15902. Cambridge, MA:
National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from http://www.nber.
org/papers/w15902
Dhanarajan, G., & Abeywardena, I. S. (2012). A study of the current state of play
in the use of open educational resources in the Asian region. Unpublished
report of a project on open access and quality in Asian distance education.
Smith, M.S. (2011). Open educational resources: Opportunities for the developing
world. Unpublished report.
UNESCO. (2009). Global education digest: Comparing education statistics across
the world. Montréal: UNESCO Institute of Statistics. Retrieved from
http://www.uis.unesco.org/Library/Pages/DocumentMorePage.
aspx?docIdValue=80&docIdFld=ID
UNESCO & COL. (2012). 2012 Paris OER Declaration. Retrieved from http://
www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CI/CI/pdf/Events/
Paris%20OER%20Declaration_01.pdf
... As the number of MOOCs platforms and their contents are on the rise, there is a need to examine the factors that contribute to the intention to use MOOCs and barriers to the same. There is a gap in understanding user needs and usage levels among various user groups (Dhanarajan and Abeywardena 2013). Though a recent study (Tseng et al. 2019) has investigated teachers' level of adoption of MOOCs, students' perception, in this regard, remains unexplored. ...
... Open education resources (OER) are viewed as a means to provide access to quality and low cost higher education (Dhanarajan and Abeywardena 2013). The OERs refer to "educational resources that are freely available for use, reuse, adaptation and sharing" (UNESCO 2020). ...
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... A set of interview questions was developed to explore the beliefs, understandings and contexts underpinning OER use and potential in Mongolia. Based on key issues identified in a reading of the OER literature, the interview questions revolved around the following themes: OER awareness, as this can have a massive influence on whether OER is used or not (Allen & Seaman, 2014;Hatakka, 2009;Reed, 2012;Rolfe, 2012); infrastructural accessibility, because this is the foundation upon which OER activities take place (Bateman, 2006;Clements & Pawlowski, 2012;Dhanarajan & Abeydawara, 2013); organisational culture, as this may shape educators' choices around OER (Karunanayaka, Naidu, Dhanapala, Gonsalkorala & Ariyaratne, 2014); institutional policy, because this influences whether educators are allowed to engage with OER and whether they are rewarded or recognised for doing so (Cox & Trotter, 2017;Fitzgerald & Hashim, 2012;Flor, 2013;Tynan & James, 2013); quality concerns, because educators are reluctant to introduce new elements that might compromise the quality of their teaching (Clements & Pawlowski, 2012;Jung, Wong, Li, Baigaltugs & Belawati, 2011;Willems & Bossu, 2012); pedagogical practices, as these shape the type of engagement that educators may have with OER (Davis et al., 2010;Santos-Hermosa, 2014); and OER value and utility, as this judgement will determine whether OER become sustainable features of an education system or not (McGill, Falconer, Dempster, Littlejohn & Beetham, 2013;Pegler, 2012). ...
... Access is a key educational challenge in the Global South (Bateman, 2006;Clements & Pawlowski, 2012;Dhanarajan & Abeydawara, 2013) and forms an integral component of the interview and survey questions. Essentially, are OER accessible for Mongolian educators, given the character of their infrastructural and linguistic contexts? ...
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... Open education requires several elements to work: the provision of activities for educators; the establishment of programmes to support the development of both Open Educational Resources (OER) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs); and the support for research and development initiatives to ensure effective practices. However, despite a growing body of literature and public opinion supporting the economic, social and political benefits of open education, there remains a need for the development and implementation of policies at government and institutional levels in order for OER to become fully active (Dhanarajan & Abeywardena, 2013;European Parliament, 2014;Hylén, Damme, Mulder, & D'Antoni, 2012;van der Vaart, 2013). ...
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... Public domain in the context of copyright means works whose copyright has expired or whose author has relinquished his/her rights to the public. (Dhanarajan & Abeywardena, 2013). The study revealed that among academics in general, lack of awareness, skills and time impede their engagement with the OER movement. ...
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... Public domain in the context of copyright means works whose copyright has expired or whose author has relinquished his/her rights to the public. (Dhanarajan & Abeywardena, 2013). The study revealed that among academics in general, lack of awareness, skills and time impede their engagement with the OER movement. ...
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... Despite some penetration of OER in global education systems, many studies have revealed inadequacies in the awareness and understanding of OER among faculty. Awareness and knowledge of OER among the academic community in Asia have previously been found to be very low (Dhanarajan & Abeywardena, 2013). A study on the benefits and challenges in the use of OER conducted among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries indicates that even though the majority are active in the area of OER, mostly through specific projects or institutional initiatives, in many countries there is a lack of knowledge about OER activities among educators (Hylén et al., 2012). ...
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Our panel data set on educational attainment has been updated for 146 countries from 1950 to 2010. The data are disaggregated by sex and by 5-year age intervals. We have improved the accuracy of estimation by using information from consistent census data, disaggregated by age group, along with new estimates of mortality rates and completion rates by age and education level. We use these new data to investigate how output relates to the stock of human capital, measured by overall years of schooling as well as by the composition of educational attainment of workers at various levels of education. We find schooling has a significantly positive effect on output. After controlling for the simultaneous determination of human capital and output, by using the 10-year lag of parents‘ education as an instrument variable (IV) for the current level of education, the estimated rate-of-return to an additional year of schooling ranges from 5% to 12%, close to typical Mincerian return estimates found in the labor literature.
Open educational resources: Opportunities for the developing world
  • M S Smith
Smith, M.S. (2011). Open educational resources: Opportunities for the developing world. Unpublished report.
Higher education across Asia: An overview of issues and strategies. Manila: Asian Development Bank. Retrieved from http:// www.adb.org/sites
  • Asian Development Bank
Asian Development Bank. (2011). Higher education across Asia: An overview of issues and strategies. Manila: Asian Development Bank. Retrieved from http:// www.adb.org/sites/default/files/pub/2011/higher-education-across-asia. pdf
Global education digest: Comparing education statistics across the world Montréal: UNESCO Institute of Statistics Retrieved from http://www.uis.unesco.org/Library/Pages/DocumentMorePage. aspx?docIdValue=80&docIdFld=ID 2012 Paris OER Declaration. Retrieved from http
UNESCO. (2009). Global education digest: Comparing education statistics across the world. Montréal: UNESCO Institute of Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.uis.unesco.org/Library/Pages/DocumentMorePage. aspx?docIdValue=80&docIdFld=ID UNESCO & COL. (2012). 2012 Paris OER Declaration. Retrieved from http:// www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CI/CI/pdf/Events/ Paris%20OER%20Declaration_01.pdf
Good practice in information and communication technology for education. Manila: Asian Development Bank. Retrieved from http://www.adb.org/sites
  • Development Asian
  • Bank
Asian Development Bank. (2009). Good practice in information and communication technology for education. Manila: Asian Development Bank. Retrieved from http://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/pub/2009/Good-Practice-in-ICT- for-Education.pdf
Access without equity? Finding a better balance in higher education in Asia. Manila: Asian Development Bank. Retrieved from http
  • Asian Development Bank
Asian Development Bank. (2012). Access without equity? Finding a better balance in higher education in Asia. Manila: Asian Development Bank. Retrieved from http://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/pub/2012/access-without-equity. pdf
Global education digest: Comparing education statistics across the world. Montréal: UNESCO Institute of Statistics
UNESCO. (2009). Global education digest: Comparing education statistics across the world. Montréal: UNESCO Institute of Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.uis.unesco.org/Library/Pages/DocumentMorePage. aspx?docIdValue=80&docIdFld=ID