Blessing or curse? Open educational resources accessibility: The University of the South Pacific experience

Alanieta Lesuma-Fatiaki and Neelam Narayan
University of the South Pacific

Suva, Fiji Islands

The advent of open educational resources (OER) has been hailed by educators globally as a means through which many more people will have access to education. However, it has also been argued that it in fact limits accessibility to education for many. OER accessibility may cover various facets, such as language, design and technical accessibility the last of which in particular is quite critical, given that many of the available OERs reside in a digital format and are mostly available on the Web, although they may also be in other mediums (COL and UNESCO 2011).

This paper focuses on the findings of a project carried out in the last quarter of 2013 by the University of the South Pacific (USP), a regional university owned by 12 countries in the Oceania region, which aims to address the technical accessibility of OER. The project focuses on the specific goal of finding out whether OER could be 'instantly' accessed for just-in-time learning opportunities for students who are based outside the main Fiji campus in Laucala, Suva. Twenty-seven OERs in the English language skills discipline were selected to be part of this project and were tested in seven of the 12 countries of the USP based on a set of technical guidelines. The technical accessibility of OER is perhaps contextual, but it is hoped that discussion of the findings and associated recommendations from the USP will be of value to many education providers globally who plan to utilize OERs for the enhancement of their learning and teaching.