In Europe and North America many find it easy to join western-based communities that are involved in the development of freely available works – be it courseware, software or any other creative work. Meanwhile, in emerging economies there is much interest but little activity in the development of freely available works.
The focus of the Open Education Forum, is to broaden participation in the development and use of freely available educational courseware. The Forum initially has a strong focus on the emerging economies in East Asia.
Educators in East Asia who have shown interest in developing freely available educational courseware (the Audience) come to the Open Education Forum with the following constraints:
- Audience is comfortable with working in Microsoft Word
- Audience has limited or sporadic access to the Internet
- Audience often has limited control over the computers they use as the equipment is usually administrated by a university IT support department
- Audience doesn't care about free or open source software
- Audience has no interest to learn markup languages used in Wikis
- Audience is almost always hostile to having to learn new tools to perform actions that have already been mastered using current tools
- Audience has little patience for words like "community, contribute, free, freedom, give, share, etc."
Please note that these constraints are not necessarily unique to East Asia...
- Client-centric, browser based tools that allow for easy collaboration by authors in a distributed development environment
- A GForge for courseware development with many offline features – details
Because the Audience already has many reasons for not participating, it is of no use to give them free but unfriendly tools
I'm hoping that this meeting will assist in the creation/extension of tools to serve the needs of people who are not participating in the global dialog.