OER deepen digital divide in educational system

OER are dedicated to eliminate the education divide by making high-quality learning materials freely available to educators and learners around the world. A common mistake made when talking about OERs is that they are the same as digital resources which is not true. Even if OERs are digital-born, publishing under free license makes it possible for them to be modified and brought as analog resources by anyone. Apart form that, OER policies like UNESCO’s or OECD’s recommend that OER should support lowering access barriers to education. This can be done only by making resources both easy to print (cheaply) and use with computers or mobile devices. Which way of distribution is cheaper and more effective depends on a country.

What can deepen digital divide is forcing ICT and digital resources where and when they are not better option or supersession of traditional resources without preparing schools, teachers and students for such change. Wrong policies and rigid implementations focused on technologies, not students can deepen digital divide and again, OER can be a way to bypass that. OER should be independent tools, thus they could be also printed and delivered to schools badly-equipped in ICT.

More info:

Bridging the Bandwidth Gap – OER and the Digital Divide, Björn Haßler and Alan McNeil Jackson, IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies

Investing in digital teaching and learning resources: Ten recommendations for policymakers, Michael Trucano, World Bank EduTech Blog

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