This week I received confirmation from UNESCO HQ in Paris of the establishment of a UNESCO Chair on OER at Fontys University of Applied Sciences. At the School of ICT of this institution, I am working as lector OER since June 2014. For those not familiar with the Dutch system of Higher Education: “lector” is the title for a professor at a university of applied sciences in the Netherlands. UNESCO agreed with the proposal of Fontys to appoint me as the Chairholder for this Chair. Of course, I feel grateful and proud about this.
The full title of the Chair provides a summary of the kind of applied and practice-based research I am currently conducting: Open educational resources and their adoption by teachers, learners and institutions. I am interested to find out what actions will lead to large-scale adoption by OER and open online courses (whether or not massive) by (in Rogers’ terminology) the early and late majority of teachers in higher education.
Being appointed Chairholder does not change the subject of my research fundamentally, but it provides more opportunities to extend the research, in cooperation with the already existing Chairs on OER, to other regions of the world. I intend to explore opportunities with my collegue OER Chairholders of how to shape such an extension. I also expect to get involved in activities on OER that UNESCO will perform, e.g. those in preparation for the 2nd OER World Congress, next year in Slovenia.
In the end the results of my research will contribute to realisation of UNESCO Sustainable Development Goal 4:
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Massive sharing and reuse of OER and open online courses will contribute in reaching this goal because of its opportunities to lower access barriers to education. I am convinced that quality education is key to create a world where every single individual can develop and use his or her capabilities to contribute to a better world. I consider it an honor to have the opportunity to contribute to this goal. The label that UNESCO has provided recognizes the ambitions of Fontys and my own ambitions in this regard.
A disclaimer to end this post. The logo at the top of this post is provisionally assembled out of the two logos from UNESCO/Unitwin and Fontys. UNESCO will create a definite version of the logo for communication purposes. This final version can differ from the one in this post.