As we continue our journey into Open Learning and move on to topic 2, I thought a photo of Harvard University in Boston, was appropriate. Harvard is a leading provider of open education resources with free courses ranging from Masterpieces of World Literature, to Statistics. to Science and Cooking. I remember being quite awestruck as I walked the streets of Harvard by some of the great leaders and personalities who had studied there including Barack Obama, Matt Damon, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates to name but a few.
Enough of that.
As we chatted in our group last week we realised that the concept of free and open has very different implications for the countries in which we live. I learnt that in Sweden education is free, yes FREE. Can you comprehend, especially in the context of the current situation in South Africa where most public universities are closed as a result of unrest regarding student fees and free education. Unfortunately our government is not in a position to offer free and open access to all.
It all makes for a very interesting discussion. In a country like Sweden where education is free, MOOCs and OERs are almost a moot point because everything from a public institution is free. Its very different in South Africa where students pay for tertiary education (unless on a bursary or scholarship). Affordability is a serious area of concern for previously disadvantaged students. If we wish to transform our country and broaden access to higher education we need MOOCs and OERS, and we need them sooner rather than later. We do not have sufficient bricks and mortar universities to grant all deserving students a chance for a better future by obtaining a tertiary qualification.
So something to ponder on, context of MOOCs and OERs within a country is important. On the great African continent where affordability, access, lack of resources, communication and skills are lacking we need MASSIVE OPEN ONLINE COURSES AND OPEN EDUCATION RESOURCES for as many students as possible, but how will it be funded???