The Siyavula project, an initiative launched by The Shuttleworth Foundation, to support teachers in working together to share and develop openly licensed resources under a Creative Commons copyright license, is making significant progress in light of its first workshop held on Open Education Resources.
Siyavula (a Nguni word which means “we are opening”) provides educational resources online in partnership with Connexions, resources that can be printed, adapted to ensure cultural relevance and refreshed freely without the barriers associated with the vast majority of educational material which is under a traditional, restrictive copyright license.
The workshop demonstrated the power of the Connexions platform for using, building, sharing and adapting educational resources. This is according to Mark Horner, project manager at Siyavula, who says the project is pursuing the rise of communities of practice among educators in the country who work together to support each other in their work and share educational materials with one another.
"Siyavula is supporting the creation of communities through our workshops and working with existing communities by making free and locally relevant curriculum-aligned content available for educators to work from.
"There are new communities forming that use Connexions as a means to support their activities and the workshop provides the possibility of new communities to flourish, and provides a platform that can enhance existing communities to swop and share ideas,” he says.
Horner says Siyavula is looking for writers of free and open textbooks, such as the Free High School Science Texts project, to support and make them widely available.
"The teachers were excited to see the way in which the Siyavula project could help them address some of the challenges that they face in their day-to-day line of work, such as not enough support or resources. By forming communities of practice and meeting up regularly they will get a chance to interact, band together and create a new layer of support,” he says.
Selwan Chetty, superintendent at the Department of Education, says that partnerships should exist between public service departments, such as the Department of Education and non-government organisations.
"The introduction of Siyavula has definitely got educators excited with the understanding that they now have access to resource material which will assist them in the workplace. More importantly, they see the value in using this process to collaborate and network amongst schools in regions so that the resources can be shared,” he says.