Following the success of VideoLectures.NET, recognized by the UN and UNESCO as one of the most outstanding examples of creative and innovative e-Content in the world in the last decade, the “Jožef Stefan” Institute in Ljubljana (Slovenia) has successfully established a UNESCO Chair on Open Technologies for OER and Open Learning. The Chair is currently expanding its vision and strategy in collaboration within OpeningupSlovenia and with the Knowledge 4 All Foundation Ltd based in London (UK).
The project will contribute to Open Educational Resources in a twofold manner, firstly as a means of creation of innovative practices in driving forward the use of ICTs for OER-supported teaching and learning, online based education by using VideoLectures.Net, K4All, Opencast and OCWC, and secondly by applying methods in the realm of “big data” to analyse emerging trends in learning outcomes, in the creation, and dissemination in the field of OERs by means of AI techniques. The project focuses on OERs at national/regional and global level in line with the set objectives. The project will offer AI technologies, evidence and guidance for OER research methods ranging from research, use cases, deployment, exploration, exploitation and operability, whereas this may apply to all educational sectors. This will be done based on implementation, impact and creation analysis of OER initiatives pursued by other UNESCO OER Chairs. This project will create an OER research agenda and technology roadmap.
Launched in 1992, the UNESCO Chairs Programme, involving over 812 institutions in 128 countries and 600 chair holders, promotes international inter-university cooperation and networking to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge sharing and collaborative work. It supports the establishment of UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks in key priority areas related to UNESCO’s fields of competence – i.e. in education, the natural and social sciences, culture and communication. Through this network, higher education and research institutions all over the globe pool their resources, both human and material, to address pressing challenges and contribute to the development of their societies. The Chairs serve as think tanks and as bridge builders between academia, civil society, local communities, research and policy-making. In areas suffering from a dearth of expertise, Chairs have evolved into poles of excellence and innovation at the regional or sub-regional levels.
With this prestigious title, the Jožef Stefan Institute has proven that its vision of free and open access to academic knowledge in the form of open online videos and smart technologies is the right approach for addressing the global digital divide in education and knowledge transfer. The Chair on Open Technologies for Open Educational Resources and Open Learning is operating with an initial set of assets in form of EU FP7 research projects transLectures, MediaMixer, xLiMe, XLike, and VideoLectures.Net, an award winning video library. Its work is in synergy with the OpeningupSlovenia initiative and the Knowledge 4 All Foundation Ltd, dedicated to the creation of tools and intelligent services in open education. The Chair is serving to promote an integrated system of research, training, information and documentation on online learning for Open Educational Resources (OER) and open learning. It is facilitating collaboration between high-level, internationally-recognized researchers and teaching staff of the Institute and other institutions around the world. Welcoming the establishment of this Chair the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova commented: “We are very pleased to be expanding our cooperation in this forward-looking area that offers the opportunity to increase the quality of learning. This is essential in building knowledge-based societies.” She also praised Slovenia for being on the cutting edge in the field of open educational resources, with the recent establishment of the OpeningupSlovenia initiative.
This is UNESCO’s single such Chair with this remit. It’s not copying other Chairs, but has a unique remit and identity, which will complement other UNESCO Chairs in the area of Open Educational Resources. It has a clear interdisciplinary and intersectoral dimension: it transcends several of UNESCO’s programmes: education and communication and information.