Amidst these shifting practices there is a growing movement to promote Open Educational Resources (OER), described as learning materials that are freely available for use, remixing and redistribution. While the use of proprietary (copyright) material is
accompanied by the need to pay royalties or license fees, OER negates this process.
In education, and particularly in higher education, OER is gaining ascendancy. Logic suggests that the potential beneﬁts of OER are likely to be the greatest in resource-poor contexts such as Africa. At the University of Cape Town (UCT), OER is recognized as a tool for sharing knowledge and promoting social justice. An expanding commitment to openness in education has been supported by a global network led by the University of Michigan and African initiatives such as the African Health OER Network.
While there are many uncertainties in the future of Higher Education, there is an infinite potential for sharing digital resources from the web platform through the affordances offered by information available in different modalities such as video, images and animations. This shift in pedagogy brings the ‘internet’ into the classroom; encourages students to find the material that helps them in their learning; the accompanying move from copyright restrictions and peer reviewed publications towards Creative Commons licensing and institutional publishing, in an Open Content repository, can be enabling and empowering for individuals and institutions. In the Health Sciences Faculty at UCT this has become evident with several champions of OER leading the way showing the value of creating and using OER. Without doubt the local and global outreach for sharing knowledge is expanding.
We aim to showcase our experiences and open a dialogue on the affordances of OER as an important tool to increase access. Over the past 4 years our Faculty has published 80 resources. Three projects are of special significance. A mobile Application on language conversion created by Dr Saadiq Moolla and his actuarial student brother Ashraf Moolla, is becoming increasingly popular among Health Science students, health professionals and patients. Launched in early 2014, this Mobiletranslate App has already had over 10,000 screen views with over 100 active viewers in a month. Prof Johan Fagan’s two textbooks The Open Access Atlas of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Operative Surgery and the The Open Access Guide to Audiology and Hearing Aids for Otolaryngologists have been downloaded more than 100,000 times. He has collaboratively worked with other international experts who have voluntarily contributed to the growing PDF resources that are easily downloadable. Dr Juan Klopper’s YouTube teaching channel has had close to 200,000 views. He received the international Open CourseWare Consortium 2014 Award for the category Individual Educator for his work in open education.