Using software in education is a modern phenomenon. It has emerged as a fruitful and timely means to receive and give education. As an upshot of it, Education Freedom Day is celebrated worldwide based on Free Software used in Education and Free Educational Resources. It was launched in 2013 with its first celebration in 2014. It aims at educating the worldwide public and educators about the benefits of making and sharing free knowledge and the tools already in place to achieve that objective. It also provides an international day to serve as a platform to raise awareness to existing projects and communities around the world. The non-profit organization Digital Freedom Foundation coordinates Education Freedom Day at a global level, providing support, giveaways and a point of collaboration. Volunteer teams around the world organize the local Education Freedom Days events to affect their own communities. It brings free educational resources in the spotlight to influence the teaching body and demonstrate methodologies already in place or ready to be implemented. It is the opportunity to highlight initiatives in place nearby or deployed within a similar framework, so our local educational group can quickly get up to speed and consider using a similar approach. As a member of global community Bangladesh observed the day on 18 January this year with the hope that a lot of current efforts will get more popular within the teaching arena and that creating Free Educational Resources in general become clearer for teachers. It also tends to empower all people to freely connect, create and share in a digital world. It is hoped that this celebration will provide a great introduction to the general public what Open Educational Resources is, its benefits and how vibrant the local community is.
Free Educational Resources needs to be brought to more people around the world. The use of education software and the celebration of this kind of day will definitely play as catalyst the objectives of education by meeting talented people who are willing to share knowledge, skills and dreams, by finding out resources and tools people have never dreamt possible to use for themselves, by learning about workshops and tutorials to develop new skills, by learning how to get involved and seeing how other people are applying this culture into their daily lives. Free Educational Resources covers all the educational resources needed to run courses. It’s really all the curriculum data to be able to provide knowledge to someone, and the ability to share those data freely and improve or adapt them eventually. We can get the introduction of this day through a post written by Pockey Lam, Pockey Lam, the Vice President of Digital Freedom Foundation. We can learn that there are nowadays hundreds of resources going from specific topics to complete curricula and targeting many different educational levels depending on what people focuses such as school, university, life learning, in class or online. Some involve software and computer usage, but most cover all educational fields from agriculture to being a teacher or attending university. While projects tend to be country specific due to national curricula guidelines which need to be followed, it is usually easy and definitely encouraged to adapt the materials to peoples’ specific needs or language.
Open Educational Resources focuses on the class itself, its methodology and how to provide the necessary skills it does not however cover certification at all, as often this part is handled by the educational institutions themselves. Still some famous universities such as the MIT have embraced OER since 2002 and are providing their courses online. There are of course plenty more nowadays, giving the education body plenty of resources to reuse. The strength of the courses is of course the ability to freely reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute, thus getting public and professional reviews and improvements of education materials, encouraging innovative ways to teach, lowering the cost of access to education in general, giving control to educators and overall contributing to making a more educated society.
We hope this celebration will provide a good opportunity for educational institutions, teachers, educators and professors to get together and make an update on any Open Educational Resources. Though this is the first celebration, it is expected that a clear map will help people belonging to education find events around the world and discover more information necessary to serve their purposes. In Bangladesh perspective, it attaches more important as we are going through the stages of materializing digital Bangladesh. The process of digitalized education has started going forward. The celebration of Education Freedom Day will further give an added value advantage to it.
MASUM BILLAH: Program Manager, BRAC Education Program, Brac and Vice-President, Bangladesh English Language Teachers Association (BELTA), Dhaka, Bangladesh.