Learning from TESS-India’s approach to OER localisation across multiple Indian states

Perryman, Leigh-Anne; Buckler, Alison and Seal, Timothy (2014). Learning from TESS-India’s approach to OER localisation across multiple Indian states. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2(7)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5334/jime.af

URL: http://www-jime.open.ac.uk/article/view/jime.af


Arguably, the benefits of open educational resources (OER) are greatest in low- and middle-income countries, where they have the potential to increase access to learning for those who may otherwise be excluded. However, for OER to be truly useful to educators and learners they need to be adapted to suit the contexts in which they are to be employed. Adapting OER for local contexts remains one of the greatest challenges for the OER movement (Wolfenden and Buckler, 2012) yet little is written about how to support communities of users to adapt materials. This study explores what kind of support is necessary for such communities of users, with the intention of creating a framework for guided localisation of OER across different cultural contexts.

The paper reports on the initial approach to OER localisation adopted by the Open University UK-led TESS-India (Teacher Education through School-based Support) project which is developing OER for use within India’s teacher education system. TESS-India, which underwent a large-scale re-framing exercise in early 2014, aims to enhance the access of teacher educators, head-teachers and teachers to free, highquality educational materials. The project spans multiple, culturally and linguistically diverse Indian states and the resources, therefore, require localisation to meet diverse linguistic, cultural and pedagogic needs.

TESS-India adopted a two-tier model of localisation. A CC-BY-SA license for all resources allows for adaptation by end users as long as the original author is attributed and the resource is shared under the same license as the original version. However, a stage of supported, state-level adaptation will be embedded within the production process and our research focuses on this stage. We collected evidence from early localisation workshops which aimed to trial localisation of these initial OERs. These workshops took place between November 2013 and February 2014, using participant observation and interviews with workshop participants to inform a detailed examination of the ways in which the workshop facilitators supported the resource localisers in adapting the TESS-India OER to meet local needs.

Our study findings highlight some challenges to localising OER for use across different cultural contexts, including the complexities of managing translation, the need to navigate localisers’ perceptions, preferences and professional experience as educators, and localisers’ unfamiliarity with OER and online learning. Our study of the TESS-India localisation workshops has also highlighted possible barriers to full engagement with OER in contexts such as India, where hierarchical understandings around knowledge ownership, and localisers’ subsequent reluctance to adapt resources, can be in tension with the aims of the OER movement to achieve an ‘embedded’ engagement with OER (Wild, 2012) in the interests of true openness.

OER initiatives have been criticised for promoting one-directional flows of knowledge and resources (Glennie et al, 2012). We argue that when collaboration is embedded within OER production and localisation, their creation and use can lead to a knowledge partnership approach whereby communities of OER practice engage in mutually beneficial sharing of expertise and contextual understanding. Drawing on the supported localisation process of TESS-India, we explore how such collaboration could better contribute towards the international – but also very local - pursuit of quality education.

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