Open educational resources in distance learning: Policies and initiatives in Indian universities

Sujata Santosh
Indira Gandhi National Open University
New Delhi, India

Santosh Panda
National Council for Teacher Education
New Delhi, India

The entire education system is witnessing a sea change with the creation of a knowledge society enriched by various Open Educational Resources (OERs). OERs have emerged as a meaningful symbol of innovative attempts to achieve easy access to quality education at all levels. OER materials are the digitized version of learning materials that are available freely and openly for learners, teachers and scholars to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research activities. All over the world, a large number of innovative and open OER initiatives are being adopted. Distance education in India supports the learning needs of a wide range of learners from diverse backgrounds, economic status and geographical location. The use of OERs holds great promise for improving access to, and the overall quality of, education for the developed as well as the developing countries. It has therefore become critical to use OERs in order to ensure high quality and suitable educational opportunities for learners with diverse learning needs. This also necessitates the need for the establishment of policies and strategies which encourage the development and use of OERs. The OER declaration also stresses the need for the states to facilitate findings, retrieving and sharing OERs. In this context, the present paper focuses on the use of various available OERs in the open and distance institutions in India. A significant number of initiatives have been taken to support their development and sharing, and this paper highlights the various initiatives taken in Indian universities and educational institutions for the promotion and use of OERs. There is a need for the adoption of policies that enable and encourage the development and use of OERs. The paper also presents an analysis of the various issues related to their use in distance education, and discusses the existing policies and guidelines on the promotion and use of OERs in India.