Harnessing OER to Drive Systemic Educational Change in Secondary Schooling

  • Neil Butcher
  • Sarah Hoosen
  • Andrew Moore
Keywords: Open Educational Resources, professional development, pedagogy


This paper reports on two action research projects which explored the challenge of determining the conditions under which use of OER can drive a transformative educational agenda in schooling systems. At St Peter’s College in Johannesburg, South Africa, a small pilot study was conducted to explore how to best to adopt new teaching and learning methodologies to encourage greater student engagement and responsibility, and to gauge student and staff reactions to a change in teaching and learning methodologies. It placed heavy emphasis on harnessing OER to enable student-led content creation, with a long-term view of demonstrating that students can use OER to create self-paced learning environments that significantly accelerate their journey through the formal curriculum. In Antigua and Barbuda, the research project considered how to facilitate an entire system to change. It recognised that for change to be effective, it needs to be driven at the systemic level, as these ultimately direct the operations of most public schooling systems. The paper explores the different steps taken, starting from the government’s commitment to ICT infrastructure, fostering a policy environment through an ICT in Education policy and an ICT Master Plan to guide procurement and deployment of ICT in schools, and the development of a School ICT integration plan to ensure school’s ICT needs and requirements. The research explored the deployment of an OER Virtual learning Environment (VLE) Prototype, and the compilation of an online mathematics ‘textbook’ from available quality free OER. The paper concludes by highlighting the kinds of systemic actions required for the proponents of OER to build sustained pressure for long-term, educationally effective systemic change.

Author Biographies

Neil Butcher

Neil Butcher is based in South Africa, from where he provides policy and technical advice and support to a range of national and international clients in educational planning, use of educational technology and distance education, both as a full-time employee at the South African Institute for Distance Education (SAIDE) from 1993 to 2001 and as Director of Neil Butcher & Associates. He has worked with various educational institutions, assisting with transformation efforts that focus on effectively harnessing the potential of distance education methods, educational technology, and OER.

Sarah Hoosen

Sarah Hoosen is a researcher and project manager at Neil Butcher and Associates in Johannesburg where she works on projects in the higher education area, including institutional strategy development and the evaluation of education and technology. She has published widely on distance education and open educational resources. Sarah has a Masters’ Degree in Social Science in Counselling Psychology.

Andrew Moore

Andrew Moore works at Neil Butcher and Associates as an author, materials developer, instructional designer, web interface designer and educational technology trainer. He is currently managing a number of projects designed to provide capacity to staff at African higher education institutions to design, develop and deploy e-learning solutions. Other projects focus on providing capacity to courseware developers across the continent to identify, adapt, and share Open Education Resources (OER). Andrew has a Masters’ in Education degree specializing in Computer Assisted Education at the University of Pretoria in 2002.

How to Cite
Butcher, N., Hoosen, S., & Moore, A. (2014). Harnessing OER to Drive Systemic Educational Change in Secondary Schooling. Journal of Learning for Development , 1(3). Retrieved from https://jl4d.org/index.php/ejl4d/article/view/68
Reports from the Field