Today Ale and I had an online meeting with Jenny Glennie and Tessa Welch (Director and Programme Specialist respectively) of SAIDE, the South African Institute for Distance Education. The purpose was to explore the possibility of collaborating on the publication of an open educational resource, ‘Supporting Distance Learning’, produced by SAIDE, and making it available as an OTTER OER. We very quickly arrived at agreement on this goal, and spent the rest of the meeting discussing the details of licensing, branding, and actually ‘OTTER-ising’ the materials. The resource is currently on a temporary site and will soon be located on the OERAfrica repository.
I should perhaps state my personal interest in this particular OER. The website, ‘Supporting Distance Learners’, is the updated version of a book by the same name published by SAIDE in 1998, both of which I had a hand in writing. The earlier version, which was co-authored with Suzanne Smythe, was written before online education had taken off in South Africa, and was largely a manual for tutors on how to support their learners in a traditional ‘correspondence’ type of setting, with occasional face-to-face tutorials. The current, web-based version is a completely different beast, and is aimed at helping tutors get to grips with the online tools at their disposal to provide effective support for their learners.
This is not the first OTTER OER to have been produced by a Leicester staff member while under contract to another institution – for example, we have just received IPR clearance from the University of Southampton for the inclusion of a great resource on phonology and phonetics written by Pam Rogerson-Revell from the School of Education at Leicester. However, it is OTTER’s first international partnership.
The benefit to the University of Leicester is that this resource will complement several others in the OTTER collection that are aimed at educators working in an online environment. It will also increase our ability to share knowledge (both ways) with the educator community in developing countries, which is a major aspect of the OTTER vision.
The benefits to SAIDE are: a potentially increased target audience for the resource, as well as the opportunity for the materials to undergo a rigorous evaluation by the OTTER team – they will be checked for pedagogical quality, for IPR/copyright issues, and for any formatting glitches. (And considering that I’m not a disinterested party, this prospect is somewhat scary to me… Please go easy, Sahm, Tania and Simon!)
I’m delighted to have brought two of my favourite work families together in this partnership, and thoroughly looking forward to the SAIDE-OTTER collaboration.