This paper is an outgrowth of a student thesis completed last year on OER use: how it’s picked up, adapted (or not adapted), and used by facilitators in educational settings. Short story: people don’t segment OER out as a separate class of educational “thing” they treat different than any other. It just fits into their lives as educators as does other things. Beyond this, I think the abstract speaks for itself. So the only other commentary I want to offer is how ambitious this student’s project was, and how successful she was at pulling it off. I won’t share the mean details, but wow did a lot get in the way of this student’s work (more than she knows, actually; I kept some of it to myself). But she pushed through and pulled off a stellar piece of research.
Research on the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) often notes the potential benefits for users to revise, reuse, and remix OER to localize it for specific learners. However, a gap in the literature exists in terms of research that explores how this localization occurs in practice. This is a significant gap given the current flow of OER from higher-income countries in the Global North to lower-income countries in the Global South (King et al., 2018). This study explores how OER from one area of the world is localized when it is used in a different cultural context.
Findings indicated complex encounters with decontextualized content and a variety of localization practices. Participants experienced challenges with technology due to low bandwidth and hardware problems, as well as language problems given Ghana’s history of colonial rule. Native speakers of Twi are less proficient reading Twi than their national language, English. As facilitators worked to overcome these challenges, they were most likely to informally localize content in intuitive ways during the class based on students’ needs. Informal, in-the-moment practices included translating content into Twi, persisting through technological challenges, using local stories and pictures, localizing through discussion, and teaching responsively. These findings have implications for designers to design collaboratively with technological and linguistic flexibility for localization. More research on the practice of OER localization would refine our understanding of how OER is localized and what barriers and affordances exist to this practice.
Bradshaw, E. D., & McDonald, J. K. (2023). Informal practices of localizing open educational resources in Ghana. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 24(2), 18-36. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v24i2.7102