Open access and educational resources: Sustainability in digital era

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    Sudesh Kumar Sood College Librarian Postgraduate Govt. College,Una,H.P


    Sudhir Kumar Gupta Assistant Librarian Dr. YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry SOAN (HP)


    The development of the information society and the widespread diffusion of information technology give rise to new opportunities for learning. At the same time, they challenge established views and practices regarding how teaching and learning should be organized and carried out. Higher educational institutions have been using the Internet and other digital technologies to develop and distribute education for several years. Yet, until recently, much of the learning materials were locked up behind passwords within proprietary systems, unreachable for outsiders. The open educational resource (OER) movement aims to break down such barriers and to encourage and enable freely sharing content. The OECD Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) has already addressed a number of issues regarding e-learning in higher education, publishing reports on E-learning: The Partnership Challenge(OECD, 2001) and E-learning in Tertiary Education Where do we Stand? (OECD, 2005). The second of these reports concluded that e-learning is becoming increasingly prominent in tertiary education. All available evidence points to growing enrolments and provision, although from a low starting point. E-learning activities across tertiary education institutions are very diverse, from trivial online presence to programmes offered fully online. Modules accounted for the majority of e-learning activities, reflecting the dominant characteristic of e-learning as supplementary to on campus delivery at undergraduate level. Learning objects were said to be viewed as a promising way forward as they can potentially cut costs and revolutionize pedagogy. Some of these issues are further analyzed in this paper.


    The definition of OER currently most often used is digitized materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research. OER includes learning content, software tools to develop, use and distribute content, and implementation resources such as open licenses. This report suggests that open educational resources refers to accumulated digital assets that can be adjusted and which provide benefits without restricting the possibilities for others to enjoy them.*


    Open Access is a term used to describe published academic papers, books, reports, and other periodicals that are electronically available to readers without financial or technological barriers. Open Access will help scientists around the globe to develop collaborations with previously unknown colleagues and avoid repetitive research while tackling major regional problems. Open access increases the usage and citation of the published research. Recent studies have shown that Open Access articles are cited 25 - 50% more than non-Open Access articles from the same journal and year. The researchers are benefited due to the Open Access policies as their research work gets widely disseminated and can be read by anyone with Internet access without any recurrently, major libraries only exist in urban areas and rural India doesnt have access to the resources present in these large libraries. Open Access remedies this problem by allowing socially and economically disadvantaged individuals to access all the information if there is a free internet connection. India has done fairly well in the Open Access area by making 81 scientific journals accessible under OA. The Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, is coordinating the Digital Library of India project along with Carnegie Mellon University. In this project, 21 other Indian institutions are also participating and have digitized more than 450,000 books, out of which 220,000 books are now web-accessible.*


    Copyright law takes its definition from international conventions and is similar in most countries. Copyright primarily serves an economic function by granting creators monopoly rights in their creations for a limited time. Intellectual property issues are at the heart of OER. It was suggested that the issue of copyright and ownership of material is the root cause of slow development in this field inhibiting some faculty members and institutions from making more educational content available to the online community. The key issue is to find the right balance between open material to all with no control and open to no one*

  • SUSTANABILITY The impact of implementation of the working group recommendation can be felt only if the sustainability of the programs is ensured. The development cost of open educational resources materials is high, but the much higher translatable, measurable rewards resulting from an expansion of the OER universe makes it a clear case for the government to ensure its sustainability. Initially, the government can create a grant for the generation and distribution of OER material to students and teachers from all over the country. Private industry should be the second major source of funding for developing OERThe publishers of any Open Access journal will recover the cost of publishing and maintaining the journal on the web from the individual authors. To make this possible, the authors parent institution should pay the publication cost. A second model could be that the government establishes a specific fund for Open Access research publications.*

  • EXPECTATIONS No government program should be created, researched and supported unless all involved parties have an understanding as to what the long run possibilities are for the program. Once India embraces the concept and expands on the available Open Access and Open Educational Resources, the intellectual development of the nation will be accelerated. It is reasonable to expect that after 5 years of full implementation of the above suggestions, everyone in rural and urban areas will get the same quality training at a level that far surpasses what is given today. This will be possible since the OA and OER resources will create higher quality teachers with a new benchmarking standard for themselves. Along with the benchmarks that identify successful teachers, the OER and OA content will help teachers change their overall pedagogy for teaching. As the nations teachers get better, the students will become better students.*

  • EXPECTATIONSOne of the expectations from the exercise of making world class teaching material and methods available to the teachers and students freely, is that the students will develop the skills critical to the creation of new knowledge and advancement of technology that are necessary to maintain the tempo of economic growth. These skills include the ability to define the problems precisely, design the solutions that are right for the country and develop those solutions indigenously. Better teachers with the help of contemporary material will create better students that are naturally inquisitive about their local and global surroundings with a thirst for learning as opposed to the current paradigm of students being spoon-fed data and information about a certain topic. An additional benefit of adopting the above recommendations is a much larger student base for India. Currently, many rural and socio-economically disadvantaged students cannot gain access to any higher education institutions because the overall cost is much too high. With the inclusion of Open Access and Open Educational Resources materials, the cost of providing education to these students comes down drastically*


    Although, there are a growing number of OER initiatives and more and more institutions and individuals are sharing their digital learning resources over the Internet freely and openly. The importance of open access for fundamental as well as applied research and education cannot be over emphasized. Open Access remedies this problem by allowing socially and economically disadvantaged individuals to access all the information if there is a free internet connection. Once India embraces the concept and expands on the available Open Access and Open Educational Resources, the intellectual development of the nation will be accelerated. There are many major issues surrounding access, quality and costs of information and knowledge over the Internet as well as on provision of content and learning material are emerging. Copyright and IPR issues continue to dominate the OER initiative. Sustainability of OER is another major issue. Hence, there is a need for institutions, organizations and governments to share common interests and innovative approaches in providing open access to educational material thereby achieving economic efficiency and raising the quality of teaching and learning in higher education through a global endeavor.