Instructional faculty and other staff at KNUST who create OER are driven by various perceived short-term and long-term benefits. While KNUST's health OER initiative is still in its infancy and limited evaluation has been done to date, the perceived benefits serve as the motivating factors for faculty and other staff.
Global visibility for faculty and the university
Creating OER means making materials publicly available at a global level, so CHS faculty and administration view OER as a way to enhance their personal and institutional reputation. Publishing OER presents an opportunity for faculty to showcase their expertise and for CHS to share its curriculum.
In late 2009, KNUST added a Creative Commons Attribution licence to the university's website footer as part of a broader strategy to use Wikipedia and Google to help increase the institutions' web traffic. The KNUST webmaster believes that the licence is responsible, in part, for increasing the university's ranking in the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities
"It has made the university more visible because our OER are out there .... Lately KNUST is priding itself on being the best university in Ghana and this is partially based on the Webometrics ranking of the university's visibility. And OER have contributed, I think in a small way, towards making the university more visible."
(Peter Donkor, Provost, CHS)
Increased student and educator access to educational materials
When OER are distributed electronically, they are easy to access via a computer, to copy, and to share. This is true of any electronic learning resources, whether openly licences or not. The open license associated with OER, though; make it easier to share materials with wider audiences. Rather restricting access to enrolled students, Oer are available to students and educators in a variety of settings. Students can, therefore, access materials developed by their own faculty, as well as from faculty at other universities. Students already share notes, study guides, and other learning materials with their peers. The goal of OER is widespread distribution, so sharing OER with classmates is not only a legal but actively encouraged.
Expanded alumni access to KNUST content
The CHS provost views OER as a method for creating as a method for creating and sustaining the university's alumni networks. Alumni can use OER as a means o sharpening their skills, whether informally (though continuing medical education), or simply to stay connected to their Alma matter
Lower cost for students to access to education materials
Unlike traditional textbooks and journals, OER do not require licensing fees. Although OER are not free to produce they are free to access. There may still be a marginal cost for distributing OER (e.g. for printing or for removable media such as CDs), but it is a fraction of standard licensing fees.
Decreased faculty time on materials development
Harnessing open content can reduce faculty time required to produce content. Oer makes it easier for educators to preview how others in their field teach a given topic. Faculty can even use OER created by others – in whole or in part – to develop their own lecture slides or other teaching aids.
"It has potential for showing with other African institutions. I think if we were to decide to base the whole of the medical curriculum, for examples, on OER, then what we could do is that we could identify a number of institutions around Africa who we have confidence in and say,, "Look, why don't you develop a programme in ob/gyn?' for instance. We would look at surgery, and another would do paediatrics and ... then we can meet and look at everything and see whether they meet our needs at our local institution. Just by working together, we could develop the curriculum, which we share and it would make our lives much, much easier."
(Peter Donkor, Provost, CHS)
Re-examination of local curriculum and teaching styles
At CHS, the OER initiative is viewed as a catalyst for pedagogical change. Instructors may use OER from elsewhere to inform their own teaching. Likewise, creating OER for a global audience may encourage faculty to re-examine their own teaching practices before codifying them as OER.
"I think it's getting people here – faculty and even staff who are working on OER – to think at a certain level, because you know it's not only within your university now. Going through this process is making faculty think about things that they had done over and over again and had taken for granted. Now they are thinking about standards and about how to improve."
(Nadia Tagoe, Programme Manager, CHS)
Eased development of new programmes
OER may be particularly useful when a university is looking to expand its curriculum by offering new courses and degree programmes. OER allows faculty to preview how a topic is taught at other institutions. Open licensing allows faculty to contextualize and translate OER to suit their needs.
"It will help newer institutions o also develop such programme. If they want to set up a new medical school, they can just go to the website and look at all that needs to go into that and they dpn't have to reinvent the wheel. Even [for] the ones who reinvent the wheel, [it's] just with minimal effort. Many African institutions can actually work together on this. It has unlimited scope."
(Peter Donkor, Provost CHS)
The content on this page has been adapted from "Growing an Institutional Health OER Initiative: A Case Study of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology", by Kathleen Ludewig Omollo, published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)