Siyavula Educator Survey Results: Educational Contexts (Part II)

This is the second of a four-part series of blog posts co-authored by Beck Pitt (OER Research Hub researcher) and Megan Beckett (Siyavula). You can read our posts on the Siyavula educator sample and background to the study here, more on educators’ attitudes and behaviours toward OER on Thursday and more on the impact of Siyavula on Friday. This post provides more information on different educational contexts in South Africa and concludes the overview of our sample.

As a recap, the following research findings relate to 89 educators who have used or currently use Siyavula open textbooks. You can read more about the sample group and background to the study here.

Educational Contexts 

South Africa’s basic education system consists of public and private schools. The public schools are government funded and it is these schools that received the printed Siyavula textbooks. Each province is responsible for…

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Siyavula Educator Survey Results: Sample (Part I)

This is the first of four co-authored blog posts (written by Beck Pitt and Megan Beckett) examining the preliminary Siyavula educator survey results. If you attended the open textbook webinar on 28 May 2014 (watch it here!), you’ll be aware of how both Megan and Daniel’s perspectives and contextualising of the survey results for Siyavula and OpenStax College, respectively, really benefited the research findings overview. To capture and extend some of the discussions in the webinar, Megan kindly agreed to contribute to a couple of blog posts for this week’s open textbook research week.

This post focuses on the sample and background to the study with forthcoming posts on the different educational contexts in South Africa, OER behaviours, attitudes and open licensing and educator opinions on the impact of Siyavula open textbooks.

Background to the Study

The OER Research Hub (OERRH) and Siyavula began collaboration in Fall 2013, following…

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Promoting open in an open textbook

Since I have been involved in the open movement, I have come to realise the crucial role of creating awareness of open education in an easily understandable way, contextual way. Most people do not know what we mean by the term “open”, and often only associate the word “free” with the content. But, there are many more benefits to being open, than something just being free. And, it’s up to us to promote this.

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Open licenses: Play a game and learn how they work

I recently held a workshop at Siyavula for the Pan African Open Advocacy Programme to discuss open education, OER and the African context. We had some really interesting and insightful discussions about the barriers to access to education, specific to Africa, and the potential for open resources in our various countries. You can view the slides from the workshop here.

Brainstorming the barriers to education in Africa.
Brainstorming the barriers to education in Africa.

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OER: Make up then break up

Having gone through 2 major projects now to produce open educational resources (OER) from scratch, I know what it takes! We produce, source and aggregate all the different pieces together, whether it is text, illustrations, photographs, videos, simulations, concept maps, or all of the above. The result is a complete package, under an open license, for a specific purpose or context.

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Scratching away – Meet the Thunderbolt Kids

scratchAs part of the Learning Creative Learning course that I am doing, run by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT Media Lab, we were introduced to Scratch. We were encouraged to create our own project to introduce ourselves. Scratch was developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten group (love that name!), as it is their mission to develop new technologies, looking back to kids for inspiration, thus expanding the range of what people can design, create and learn. And Scratch certainly achieves this!

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Concept, concept, concept mapping!

I actually really enjoy making concept maps. I find it quite a satisfying process to take several pages of content, a whole chapter, or a curriculum document, and present it all on one page, showing the links and creating an overall, cohesive graphical representation. And, of course, adding a dash of colour.

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Distributing OER in the developing world

This week, a story was sent around on the OKFN open education mailing list (subscribe here) about the devastation in Syria and how this is affecting the children. The context is that there are now about 7 million Syrian children living in refugee camps. Many children are therefore not receiving an education, either because the refugee schools are too full or it is very difficult to transfer in the chaotic system. Here is a quote from the article:

“I had top grades – I wanted to study communications at university. I was in my last two years of school [when the conflict broke out], but now I have no chance to finish my education,” he told us. “To get registered  in school here, they told me I must bring my school papers from Syria.  How  is  this  possible  when  my  school and house were completely destroyed? I told them I could sit an exam to show them, but they said they have  too many students already. I’ve tried to study by myself at home, but I  have  no access to books; I can’t learn anything. I had such hopes for a good future, but now they’ve been destroyed.

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Natural Sciences Gr 7-9 Brainstorming Workshop

Note: This is a repost from our old Siyavula blog in order to document the brainstorming workshop we held in 2013. I will soon be writing a follow up post about what I learned in 2013 in the creation of OER.

This last weekend’s brainstorming workshop certainly kick started the process to produce workbooks for Natural Sciences! Following the production, and success, of the Gr 4-6 workbooks last year (you can read about that here and download the books here), we at Siyavula embarked on the next phase with the Sasol Inzalo Foundation to continue our collaboration and work to produce workbooks for Gr 7-9.

As we are a fairly new organization and also approaching the production of openly licensed textbooks in an innovative, pioneering way, we need to constantly reflect on what we have learned from past experiences to inform and evolve our model going forward. With the start of this project, we did just that, and looked back before looking forwards.

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