Using OERs to improve teacher quality: emerging findings from TESSA

Wolfenden, Freda; Umar, Abdurrahman; Aguti, Jessica and Abdel Gafar, Amani (2010). Using OERs to improve teacher quality: emerging findings from TESSA. In: Sixth Pan Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning, 24-28 Nov 2010, Kochi, India.



Recent UNESCO EFA reports draw attention to the importance of teacher quality for improving pupil achievement in schools (UNESCO 2009, 2010). The TESSA international consortium (Teacher Education in Sub Saharan Africa) is developing a practical and scalable response. TESSA - Africa’s largest teacher education network, is focused on the creation and use of Open Educational Resources (OERs) to improve the quality of, and extend access to, school based teacher education at scale (Wolfenden, 2008).
Since 2006 the TESSA consortium has collaboratively produced an extensive bank of original highly structured OERs to support the development of teachers’ classroom practices. These activity-based TESSA OERs have been adapted and localised to a number of different cultural contexts and are now available in over 12 versions through the TESSA web space (
Through 2008-10 over 300,000 teachers across 10 countries in Sub Saharan Africa will engage with the TESSA OERs. Many of these teachers are on formal courses and programmes – Certificate, Diploma, BEd, but others use TESSA OERs to support informal learning in their school and district (Thakrar et al, 2009).
Information and data has been collected from TESSA consortium institutions (10) on the use of the TESSA OERs; research instruments include classroom observation, participant photograph and large scale surveys. Following analysis of this data we report on:
• the different models and methods of access, selection and integration of the TESSA OERs;
• factors that have influenced these;
• changes in teachers’ classroom practices (planning for teaching, range of teaching strategies employed, use of resources and reflective thinking) and motivation.
Particular dimensions will be illustrated through case studies from the Open University of Sudan and a range of institutions in Uganda.
The paper concludes by highlighting the implications of the findings on the use of the OERs for teacher education institutions and the TESSA consortium’s future plans and activities.

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