Landing : Athabascau University

UNESCO Chair info

The UNESCO Chair concept includes a TEAM or cluster of people, and so there is room for colleagues at AU to participate. Anyone at AU who is involved in OER work could legitimately be considered part of this Chair. AU is the Canadian leader in supporting OER and open access in general. IRRODL is one of the very first open access journals. AU Press is the first open access university press in Canada. We were the first Canadian University to join the OCW Consortium and the Chair is on the Board of the OER Foundation. AU is also a member of SPARC and was a signatory of the Budapest Open Access Initiative. in 2001. CDE/TEKRI is presently assembling a course on Open Education using OERs. Below is a description of the Chair priorities:

The Chair  addresses key UNESCO priorities and UN Millennium Development Goals as follows:

1.     Africa and Developing States

Participation in the OER movement  allows African post-secondary institutions to contribute to and make use of educational resources being made available on the World Wide Web. This Chair  collaborates with UNISA in South Africa and other African post-secondary institutions. The proposed program aligns well with the strategy for the Least Developed Countries and for the Small Island Developing States by targeting women and youth. Providing access to free course materials  significantly benefits higher education institutions in Africa and other parts of the South. Education will have a significant impact, if not be the main driver in addressing other goals, such as ending poverty and hunger through learning, training farmers and others in environmental sustainability, and public education on HIV/Aids and child health.

2.     Gender Equality

Distance education has traditionally been accessed more by women than by men. In many countries, the participation ratio is 60 – 40, women to men, or higher. Online OERs will complement distance education, making more learning opportunities accessible to women. 

3.     Support for Rural and Remote Communities and Youth

Youth issues can be addressed by using OERs for employment, ICT and adult literacy training. More importantly, promoting OER adaptation, creation and use provides an example of at least one successful alternative to conventional formal education, one that uses the latest technologies and that is accessible, even in the most remote villages of the world, through increasingly available mobile devices.In Canada and other countries with significantly disadvantaged rural, remote or indigenous communities, OERs can provide a means of extending learning opportunities to aboriginal reserves and other small or isolated communities, providing residents with access to learning that is not otherwise possible. Greater access to knowledge will contribute to building just and equitable knowledge societies.

OERs are already playing an important role in supporting development. They are becoming recognized as essential for building learning capacity in the different regions.  The use of OERs can have a strong impact across all sectors for development, including not just education, but also health, governance, and economic growth.

AU and in particular this Chair already can profit from good working relationships with colleagues at UNESCO through the work of Susan D’Antoni, who has built the UNESCO OER community and will continue to do so working with AU and the Chair, who will build on the network that she has created.

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