Multimodal learning and Open Educational Resources (OER) in Southern Africa
The North-West University (Potchefstroom, South Africa) is host to the UNESCO Chair on Multimodal Learning and Open Educational Resources (OER).
The Chair will focus on three specific areas: networking, capacity building and research within Southern Africa. In the long term, the principal objective of this Chair, which I will lead, is to contribute to national and international development by promoting research on the development, as well as use of OER and Multimodal Learning through the adaptation/localization of materials for use in both formal and informal learning contexts. Key development areas will be the development of OER repositories, the use of mobile learning technologies and development of multiliteracies. Some steps in the process of applying for the research chair has been done and we have already received backing from two similar international research chairs and from the regional UNESCO structures. Our final application to UNESCO will be in April 2018. However, despite this process our research in these fields will continue under my post as research professor. Currently I am setting up networks and obtaining funds from outside sponsors.
The specific objectives of the Chair will be:
– Collaboratively develop a map of the landscape of OER and Multimodal Learning initiatives in South Africa, and indicate how this corresponds to international initiatives;
– Promote a national OER Network in collaboration with organisations and universities with clear links to the international OER and community;
– Develop and support a network of Multimodal Learning researchers for the SADC region;
– Train at least 50 OER cadres in the SADC countries in the first year (using OER and Multimodal Learning), who will become empowered and capable of instructing others online;
– Produce and disseminate research on OER and Multimodal Learning;
– Provide consultancy and advisory services.
In terms of research some of my own immediate research interests/running projects include:
– Quality and cultural appropriateness of the application of self-directed multimodal learning – while building on existing expertise at the NWU on indigenous knowledge systems.
– The effective use of mobile devices (such as cell phones and tablets) for self-directed multimodal learning.
– Data mining of learning management systems (such as eFundi) as well as interactive study guides and relevant metadata.
– Multiliteracies (in terms of language, visual, information and computer literacies) of contact and distance students in a self-directed learning context.
– Individualisation, differentiation and adaptive learning by means of online resources.
– The use, establishment and contribution to open educational resources by lecturers within a self-directed learning context.
Multimodal multiliteracies in support of self-directed learning (MM-SDL)
(Project funded by National Research Foundation)
This project aims to explore the affordances of multimodal multiliteracies to support of self-directed learning in both the school and higher education contexts. As such the project aims at mapping the multiliteracies of Natural Sciences, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences and isiZulu, Sepedi, English and Afrikaans Home Language & First Additional Language in terms of relevant policy documents and selected text books at school level. In addition, the project will determine affordances are of indigenous multiliteracies delivered by means of digital technologies. This part of the project will also involve community engagement and an awareness campaign around multilingualism and multiliteracies. Another aspect will be investigating individualization and differentiation in terms of multimodal self-directed learning in higher education. Finally, the project will also explore the fostering metacognition by means of multimodal multiliteracies pedagogy – specifically by means of flipped-classroom and other blended learning approaches.
In terms of impact, this project will aim at changing practices in terms of multimodal multiliteracies and also to create awareness among the academic and wider communities involved. The following sub-outcomes are envisaged for this project:
− Curriculum transformation (transforming practices in terms of curriculum policy, learning and teaching support material).
− Relevant educator and student-teacher education (providing improved instruction on curriculum theory and the pedagogy of a multi-literacy practice).
− Improved learner and/or student achievement (the effect should ultimately be seen in test scores and in self-directed learning).
− An increased awareness of multilingualism (through the use of the Goethe Institute’s Multilingualism Challenge and adapted versions thereof).