We are extremely pleased to announce that Jako Olivier, Professor in Multimodal Learning, Research with Focus Area on Self-Directed Learning, Faculty of Education and Head of the UNESCO Chair on Multimodal Learning and Open Educational Resources at the North-West University in Potchefstroom at South Africa, has joined SlideWiki’s Advisory Board. In this interview, we discuss with Prof. Jako Olivier his experience with the SlideWiki platform, and his plans in terms of using OER, OCW and SlideWiki beyond the duration of the SlideWiki project.
1. What is your experience with OER, OCW and (open) education in your country/city?
In South Africa there has been activity and research around OER and the openness agenda in general at some universities, organisations and even governmental education departments for quite some time now. However, there isn’t widespread uptake at all universities or school level yet and research has been confined to some of the bigger universities and local non-governmental organisations. In this regard, the newly established UNESCO Chair on Multimodal Learning and Open Educational Resources within the Self-Directed Learning Research Focus Area at the North-West University (Potchefstroom, South Africa) will aim to promote the use of OER in South African and the wider South African region even further.
2. How do you evaluate the importance of Open Course Ware and Open Educational Resources for all educational levels?
I have recently presented on the evaluation of OER at a local conference and from the literature, specifically on using OER in language classrooms, it is evident that many different variables in terms of content, methodology, design and technical aspects need to be considered. Yet, I have also realised that to an extent evaluating open content not only involves generic criteria but that evaluations should be discipline specific.
3. How do you deem the future of OER, OCW and open education?
I foresee an excellent future for OER, OCW and open education. The costs involved in traditional learning and teaching materials, especially in a South African context, as well as the way in which the younger open knowledge generation views content online will definitely drive us towards increased use of open content. Yet, this openness will imply greater importance of discourses around authorship, copyright and especially being able to judge the reliability and relevance of content. In this regard, open information literacy will need to be promoted among students as part of their range of multiliteracies required to function effectively in educational contexts and ultimately in a global environment.
4. What is special about the SlideWiki platform (https://slidewiki.org/)?
SlideWiki provides a unique user-friendly and interactive platform on which slides can be accessed, used, reused and even stored. Another special feature is that SlideWiki enables collaboration on slides – this allows for even greater online collaboration between lecturers and possibly even students. Being able to track the changes being made even has some interesting academic and research affordances. I am also looking forward to new developments regarding the inclusion of more multilingualism and so-called “semi-automatic translation” of slides as envisaged for SlideWiki.
5. In your opinion which are the target groups that can best benefit from using the SlideWiki platform?
Lecturers, teachers and students from different levels can benefit from SlideWiki.
6. How does your organization plan to use the SlideWiki platform in the future?
I plan to introduce SlideWiki at an information session by the UNESCO Chair on Multimodal Learning and Open Educational Resources at North-West University soon and would then like to work with individuals in different faculties of our university to determine the usefulness and possibilities for them in terms of learning and teaching as well as research. I see many research opportunities in this regard within the North-West University’s Self-Directed Learning Research Focus Area.
7. Would you like to share with us lessons learned and advice from your experience on working in the educational domain and give recommendations to learners and educators?
By no means do I have the answers or quick fixes for the challenges we have in education, but there are some things I remind myself of sometimes in this regard:
– Educators should try to avoid reinventing the wheel: through collaboration and sharing content we can save a lot of time and energy;
– Learners need to be challenged and involved throughout the educational process as they need to take ownership of their learning;
– Learners must become self-directed in order to be successful and life-long learners;
– The choice of inclusion and type of technology should be driven by practical concerns and especially the learning outcomes; and
– Regardless of our experience and training as educators we can always learn new things and improve our pedagogical and content knowledge: teaching is more about self-directed self-learning than just teaching.