Open Education in Palestine: A tool for liberation

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Palestine, to the West Bank to visit our OpenMed partners for the Palestine OER strategy Forum. Palestine, as land, is not always available in the modern maps,  because if you search for it in Google Maps, you can see the West Bank and Gaza, but its name, State of Palestine  it has been simply wiped out from today’s most popular cartographic search engine. So due to it’s political history, this Open Education trip has let me thinking about what I am doing, and why….

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Our trip started in Ramallah, a beautiful and vibrant city, were you can see the Mediterranean sea from distance, but if you were born there, and you don’t have the right credentials, you don’t hold the right to get there, so you can only see the sea from  the top the city, but you are separated from it because there is a wall.

The first day we visited Nablus and its university [An-Najah], where we were welcomed with cardamom infused coffee and kunefe, and we were told about the story and the current situation of HE in Palestine, they explained us how it works and how many students they have, how do they teach and how they are innovating, despite lack of access to things we normally take for granted, like internationalisation, as they cannot have visiting students because the visas granted are shorter than the semesters, and because there are very little visas granted for foreign academics.

Our trip continued to Jerusalem, the holy land, we took a taxi that transferred us to the first checkpoint of the day, because Palestinian cars are not allowed to circulate in Israeli roads. We crossed the checkpoint by foot (me in crutches) and I must say, that having to do this myself reminded me on how fortunate I am. I was born in Chile, therefore I hold a Chilean passport and I can go almost whatever I want without a visa, but also, I hold the British citizenship, and as such, I can move freely across almost every country, with very little exceptions without asking for permission. Crossing a checkpoint, from the perspective of a free citizen is overwhelming, because you stand on a queue, you are surrounded by fences, and when you manage to cross that metallic revolving door, your items are scanned and you must pass a metal detector and then, you are asked why you are there, in my case, and despite the politeness of the border officer, I did feel immensely sad.

Jerusalem, once you reach it takes you back in time, is lively, and vibrant, and magic, and crazy, the colours, the aroma, the voices, and sometimes you don’t know if you are in the past, the present or the future, and even though when you are not a spiritual person (like me) you feel that there is something special and magic in that city, where every stone you touch means something to someone, and where peace, faith and devotion can be seen in every corner.

From Jerusalem we moved to Bethlehem, and again the place seemed magic to me, because you realise that if Jesus was born in 2017 he will be a Palestinian, therefore he may need to hold a permission to cross to Jerusalem and he and his parents will be subject to checkpoints and scrutiny before entering Jerusalem, and you think why this is all so unfair, because there is the Nativity Church, and then, there is the wall, and there is a checkpoint that separates two cities that are holy, sacred and still alive. Once you see the wall, that wall, your heart breaks, you don’t understand why, and your head starts spinning, and while it spins, you have to cross another checkpoint, by foot, to get back to Ramallah.

The day of the Palestine OER strategy forum started with our Palestinian colleagues telling us what they are doing and us telling them about OpenMed, but there was one presentation that really inspired me, called Open Education for Palestine in which professor Marwan Tarazi stated that Open Education is a tool for liberation. He mentioned that under the current occupation, openness becomes essential to Palestine at philosophical level, and that the educators in Palestine need to open up because, in his words “if you don’t open up, someone will do under their own terms, therefore, if you don’t have an agenda, someone else will do“.

His presentation let me thinking, why I do what I do in the way I do it, I do believe in Openness, yes, but I never considered openness as a tool for liberation, yes for social justice, yes as an instrument for active citizenship, or as a tool to promote human rights, and this is not just about Open Education, but also concerns Open Data and Open Access, and also, Open Science, and his thoughts got me inspired, because sometimes the liberation has to do with becoming free from colonial and dominant perspectives, when we do teach or train communities in countries which are under the [awful] global south euphemism, we are liberating us/them from a discurse that is oppressive, allowing people and countries to grow accordingly to their own culture, telling stories from their own perspective and not playing the economy game imposed by the neoliberal rule.

The realities of these countries are diverse, as such is their culture, therefore access to material goods and to decent life standards are subject to the oppression of neoliberalism, capitalism, and predatory economic models which affect the access to basic human rights, proper education, a good and strong health system, an income that allows you to feed your loved ones without having to work in infra-human conditions.

When we do Open (Education, Data, Government, Science and Access) we need to consider that certain rules are better skipped, in the case of Open Education there is a tendency that does not exist in other Open fields, which is to consider Open just what is under the 5 Rs, therefore OER tends to mean resources are openly licensed and follow OE rules as if this was a dogma, but Open means to me, able to share your content, to detach your research from predatory – corporate publishers and to ignore for example the University Rankings, because their metrics are in a system that may not be helping to achieve success under each region or countries our own terms, because the rules are white and Anglo-Saxon, and each country and region tend to play at other rhythms, and ways of work.

Opening up means to me to share, to do things in a transparent way, to collaborate, to support and to provide the tools for educators and students to be critical thinkers, to challenge and to question, to become communities and not to follow a rule that tells you if you are open enough according to someone else’s agenda, so just be open, under your own terms, share, distribute, communicate, participate, engage, thinking that before Open rules there are human rights, and that accessing quality education is one of these.


PS1: Thanks to Birzeit University and An Najah Universities for the invitation, specially to Rania, Rula and Saida, you are very inspiring women, also to Abdellatif and Marwan, this event has been by far the most inspiring I have ever attended.

PS2: Thanks to Cristina, Fabio,Daniel, Isidro, Katherine, Sarah, Javier, Antonio  and to the rest of the OpenMed team, you people are amazing.

PS3: Any typos, blame the minions, they are not good at grammar because they don’t like to go to school.

PS4: All the pictures are public domain, I took them so I do what I want with them.

PS5: This is my personal perspective and are my views and may not represent the views of my employers, that’s why I’m using my personal blog to post it.

Putting research into practice: Training academics to use Open Data as OER: An experience from Uruguay

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View from the lecture theatre after the storm (by me under CC_BY_NC)

Post written by Javiera Atenas  (@jatenas)

Last week Chiara CiociolaManuel Podetti  and myself – with the help from OD4D and ILDA that  supported us on developing this project- ran a three-day workshop in Montevideo, in which we trained a group of academics, secondary school teachers, librarians, public sector professionals and postgraduate students in using Open Data as Open Educational Resources, and by working in groups they projected a research, explored the data and communicated the results using data journalism techniques.

40 (amazingly motivated) people attended the course during the 3 days despite the weather (torrential rains I brought all the way down from London). With the academic support and expertise of Manuel Podetti and Virginia Rodés from Núcleo REA (Universidad de la República) and with the invluable collaboration of Carolina Veiga and Daniel Carranza from Data Uruguay,  the participants achieved so much, leaving us amazed by setting up the bar so high.

The course design was a team effort, I had my very own ideas, taken mostly from the research Leo Havemann and I have done on Open Data as Open Educational Resources (book + paper), but it was inspired by the methodology developed by A Scuola di Open Coesione, and in the work Chiara Ciociola and Luigi Reggi  do on Open Data for civic engagement. Also, we had lots of support from Silvia Sanjuan to develop the materials in Spanish and got lots of ideas for this course from Nelson Piedra, Annalisa Manca, Francesca de Chiara, Mor Rubistein, Carla Bonina, Tim Coughlan and Fabrizio Scrollini.

To develop the course content, I looked into best practices on Open Data related literacies, and got some great content from Escuela de Datos and Open Knowledge International to introduce the participants to Open Data. But also, got help gathering resources, tutorials, ideas and good examples from Mariel García, Camila Salazar, Hassell Fallas, Juan Manuel Casanueva, Silvana Fumega and many other friends from Abrelatam, to all of whom I’m really thankful.

The course was outlined in three stages [project, explore and narrate] using a critical pedagogy approach to develop – in a short period of time – the skills needed to use open data as teaching and learning resources in formal and informal learning environments, working in multidisciplinary contexts and involving the civil society in the projects, to work with students into solving real life problems towards developing critical thinking and citizenship skills.

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Image by Manuel Podetti

On the first day [project], during the morning, the participants were introduced to the world of Openness (Open Licenses, Open Data and Open Educational Resources) and its basic tools. The afternoon started with the group work, setting up the first challenge: To work in groups and find a real life problem and to project a research question out of it which could be answered by using open data as core research element. So the participants gather up in multidisciplinary teams in which each participant had a specific role (project manager, designer, principal researcher, journalist or analyst) and by the end of the day, they all had a research problem, a research method and potential open data portals and documentation to gather information.

On the second day [explore], during the morning we reviewed tools to create datasets and to visualise data. During the afternoon, the participants started to report into the research problems and – with the help of lots of Mate to keep us warm and awake – presented the initial results of their research. Also, we had an interesting discussion about their views and perceptions on the pedagogical value of their projects, with a focus on the challenges they have faced and what they have achieved so far, looking into ways to embed these new data-led practices for teaching students or for training communities.


Image by Chiara Ciociola

On the third day [narrate] on the morning session, we looked into Data Journalism techniques and examples, we reviewed the news from traditional newspapers and compared them with news from Data Journalism portals, and discussed ways to embed data journalism techniques into teaching and learning to improve students’ communication skills and numeracies. During the afternoon, the groups worked into reporting the outcomes of their research in the READA-UdelaR Blog and finally presented the results of their projects.

As can be seen in the READA blog , the groups chose a diverse range of themes and topics, and also, chose different approaches and methods to analyse the data and to present the outcomes. One of the things that most surprised us, it was the speed in which they became empowered and started trying to access to public data that was not yet open, dealing with FOI requests and contacting the organisations that must have provided with the data.

Every group dealt with a different issue, from access to food to road accidents, they all used different research methodologies and reported and various and diverse ways. All their projects targeted real life problems, and in three days, every group was able to came with a research outcome and proposed solutions, they all presented nice and insightful infographics and participated in a panel where they discussed with the rest of the course the lessons learned, the challenges faced and sought for ideas to embed this practice into the classroom.

Also, it was interesting to see the landscape of opportunities they described as potential pedagogical uses of open data in formal and informal education, such as “provide the students with a different perspective to access information widening their panoramas“; “to empower students as citizens by giving them innovative tools to collect information and data“; “to explain the students the laws that allow them to get the data they need and to use it as an act of civic responsibility” and also, “to work with my colleagues to help students to work in multidisciplinary projects“.

From my side, I did learn a lot, both as a researcher and as a trainer, I loved the experience, the group of collaborators and participants was amazing, we were happily exhausted by the end of it, the motivation was contagious. I know there are some bits to improve in the course, but for being the first experience of this kind, I could not ask for more, I am really grateful for this opportunity and I’m looking forward to run this workshop again, as it was an incredible experience.

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Organisations that supported and or sponsored this project


Why Open Data is key to teach democracy and citizenship

It has been taking me few days to put into words  what has happened in the country I called home for the last few years, it has been sad, confusing and overwhelming.

Not long ago, with my colleague Leo Havemann (@leohavemann) started doing some research about the value of Open Data as Open Educational Resources, and with a little help from our friends, we published a book and a paper, but until this point this was just an idea in our heads, Open Data is key to teach citizenship skills and to understand democracy, and we did lots of research about it, and we still do (with Chiara Ciociola, Fabrizio ScrolliniTim Coughlan, Francesca de Chiara and Annalisa Manca et al.) and we saw its value at theoretical level, but when I woke up on Friday, in despair, I noticed that as Open Data and Open Education community we haven’t done enough to educate others, because the voters in the UK have been misleading with false claims and manipulated by the right to believe that the root of evil were the migrants (EU, non EU & Refugees) and the axis of evil was European Union.

How could this happen? well, there are certain indicators that can explain this, those who voted for Brexit were mostly over 40 years old, and, Brexiters grew accordingly with age, the eldest were more prone to vote for leave, but, within this group, only 34.8% of the population completed tertiary education (Source: OECD Data), which means (for me) that the most vulnerable and illiterate group of the population were maliciously (mis)led to vote against the migrants and the EU, and were used as an instrument to promote a rather xenophobic agenda and to lead the country into a political and economical crisis, so the politicians can now have another scapegoat to blame, the illiterate and elderly people of Britain.


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But as they say here, we need to keep calm and carry on, however, this carry on, put us, and by us I mean people working in the fields of Openness (Education, Data, Science & Access) into promoting global citizenship, working closer with the civil society  (as the friends from Abrelatam, ILDA, Open Knowledge InternationalSchool of Data and SocialTIC are doing)to create spaces for capacity building for students, teachers and academics towards developing data literacies so people can understand numbers, graphs, statistics and can critically assess the information.

I firmly believe that Open Data is a key resource to teach critical thinking, and used as Open Educational Resources allows us to showcase phenomena and to build understanding of it by critically evaluating and assessing a problem. Since the referendum campaign started we have seen far too many graphs, but graphs are misleading, people cannot read them, and stats are manipulated by the media as big red numbers and letters and shocking images are to construct newspapers headlines, and the illiterate people are terrorised by fake facts and they cannot assess truth from lies.

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I know this is a sad time for many of us, scary for lots of us and probably uncertain for most of us, but I also see an opportunity for the Open Education community to collectively build a more democratic society because today promoting openness is key.  The more Open Access research is published the more people can read evidence-based information. If Open Data is used  in teaching and learning, students will be able to critically assess the media, to question their governments and their policies, and by embracing Open Science principles, students will be able replicate studies to critically construct their opinions.

We need to support the development of a more critical society  to prevent politicians creating a new scapegoat to manipulate the society, but mostly to make sure that the darkest hours of Europe  won’t repeat, because as Niemöller once wrote

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”


Bibliography of OER, ROER et al. (PART 2) – other languages

As the Bibliography of OER, ROER and related subjects (PART 1) was becoming too long and difficult to manage, here is the second part. Thanks to Tel Amiel @edaberta for sharing this literature in Portuguese.

I will use this second page to add literature about OER in other languages apart from English, so if you know papers written in any language let me know (please add the references in the comments area  in APA only) and to avoid confusions please read the following notes

  • I’m sure I’m forgetting to add some super important references and key resources, or that there are some mistakes in this post, so, if you are twisting your head around and crawling on the ceiling like Linda Blair because I forgot to add THAT piece of research or because the reference is not correct, please forgive me.
  • Please send over only published – peer reviewed articles, as I cannot refer blog posts or other online materials, and make sure you add the link to retrieve the resource. I will give preference to the papers published in Open Access Journals as they are accessible to all…
  • If some of the links are broken, sorry for that, you can retrieve it by using to Google Scholar – or  your local library system as managing references is like having a leaking ceiling, you fix one hole and starts dripping somewhere else.
  • Finally, if you find a paper listed here chained to a paywall journal, first inhale and exhale a few times and contact the author(s) of the paper asking them why? (why, why, why?…) and maybe, ping the paper’s URL to the friends from the Open Access Button – @oa_button to raise awareness about the value of open access and also to highlight the open content / paywalled published contradiction…

Portuguese literature in OER

Abegg, I., Bastos, F. da P. de , Alberti, T. F., & Mallmann, E. M. (2013). MOOC mediado por REA : prática da liberdade nos programas de capacitação continuada no ensino superior. Retrieved from

Almeida, Fernando José de , Silva, M. da G. M. da , & Franco, M. M. G. (2012). Materiais mediadores e abertos para construção de conhecimento. Retrieved from

Coelho, D., Balula, A., & Ramos, F. (2014). O uso de recursos educacionais abertos no ensino superior: potencialidade, desafio e oportunidade. Retrieved from

Alencar, A., & Neto, J. M. (2012). Democratizando o Acesso à Vida e Obra de Paulo Freire: a experiência do Projeto Paulo Freire Memória e Presença. Anais dos Workshops do Congresso Brasileiro de Informática na Educação, 1(1). Retrieved from

Almeida, L. B. de, Merkle, L. E., & Silva, E. A. (2012). Proposta de Fluxo de Trabalho para Organização de Repositórios Abertos de Maneira Colaborativa. Anais dos Workshops do Congresso Brasileiro de Informática na Educação, 1(1). Retrieved from

Amiel, T. (2012). Educação aberta: configurando ambientes, práticas e recursos educacionais. In Recursos Educacionais Abertos: práticas colaborativas e políticas públicas (Vol. 1, pp. 17–34). São Paulo – SP; Salvador- BA. Retrieved from

Amiel, T., Orey, M., & West, R. (2010). Recursos Educacionais Abertos (REA): Modelos para localização e adaptação. ETD – Educação Temática Digital, 12(mar.), 112–125. Retrieved from

Amiel, T., & Santos, K. (2013). Uma análise dos termos de uso de repositórios de recursos educacionais digitais no Brasil. Trilha Digital, 1(1), 118–133. Retrieved from

Arimoto, M. M., & Barbosa, E. F. (2012). Um conjunto preliminar de práticas para o desenvolvimento ágil de recursos educacionais abertos. Anais dos Workshops do Congresso Brasileiro de Informática na Educação, 1(1). Retrieved from

Barin, C. S., Müller, L., & Ellensohn, R. M. (2012). Construção de significados e interação com, no e pelo computador: Estudos problematizados no AVEA Moodle sobre uso das tecnologias da informação e comunicação. RENOTE, 10(1). Retrieved from

Bassani, P. B. S., & Barbosa, D. N. F. (2012). Uma experiência envolvendo o desenvolvimento de recursos educacionais digitais sob a perspectiva da atividade. RENOTE, 10(3). Retrieved from

Brito, B. M. S. de. (2010). Propriedade intelectual nas escolas. In Anais do XXXIII Encontro da ANPED (p. 14). Caxambu, MG: 33. Retrieved from–Int.pdf

Castro, J. B. de, Souza, M. de F. C. de, Luiz, A. G., & Filho, J. A. de C. (2012). Localização de Recursos Educacionais Digitais Americanos para o Ensino de Matemática no Contexto Brasileiro. Anais dos Workshops do Congresso Brasileiro de Informática na Educação, 1(1). Retrieved from

Declaração da Cidade do Cabo. (2007). Declaração de cidade do cabo para educação aberta: Abrindo a promessa de recursos educativos abertos. Retrieved from

Dutra, R. L. de S., & Tarouco, L. M. R. (2011). Recursos Educacionais Abertos (Open Educational Resources). RENOTE, 5(1). Retrieved from

Educação Aberta. (2011). Recursos Educacionais Abertos (REA): Um caderno para professores. Campinas, SP: Educação Aberta. Retrieved from

Ferreira, G. M. dos S. (2012). De conteúdo a recurso, prática e pedagogia: sobre o movimento REA e suas ramificações. Revista Educação e Cultura Contemporânea, 9(18), 20–37. Retrieved from

Galvão, M. C. A., & Leite, L. S. (2011). Educopédia: uma experiência em construção. Retrieved from

Gohn, D. M. (2012, September 3). Educação musical à distância: Propostas para ensino e aprendizagem de percussão (Tese de Doutorado). Retrieved from

Gonsales, P. (2012). Aberturas e rupturas na formação de professores. In Recursos Educacionais Abertos: práticas colaborativas e políticas públicas (Vol. 1, pp. 143–152). São Paulo – SP; Salvador- BA. Retrieved from

Gonzalez, C., & Rossini, C. (2012). REA: o debate em política pública e as oportunidades para o mercado. In Recursos Educacionais Abertos: práticas colaborativas e políticas públicas (Vol. 1, pp. 35–70). São Paulo – SP; Salvador- BA. Retrieved from

Gosciola, V., & Versuti, A. (2012). Narrativa transmídia e sua potencialidade na educação aberta. In A. Okada (Ed.), Recursos educacionais abertos e redes sociais: Co-aprendizagem e desenvolvimento profissional. Londred: CoLearn/Open University. Retrieved from  – 8

Hinckel, N. C. (2011). Os recursos educacionais abertos e materialização do sujeito leitor aprendente no projeto openlearn da Open University. Retrieved from

Jordão, T. C. (2009). Recursos digitais de aprendizagem . Retrieved from

Laaser, W., Rodrigues, R. S., & Fachin, G. R. B. (2012). Educação a distância e Recursos Abertos. Retrieved from Almeida, Leandro Batista de, Luis Ernesto Merkle, and EdsonArmando Silva. 2012. “Proposta de Fluxo de Trabalho para Organização de Repositórios Abertos de Maneira Colaborativa.” Anais dos Workshops do Congresso Brasileiro de Informática na Educação 1(1). Retrieved April 1, 2013 (

Mallmann, Elena Maria et al. 2013. “Potencial dos Recursos Educacionais Abertos para integração das tecnologias e convergência entre as modalidades na UFSM.” Retrieved (

Mesquita, Ofélia Alencar de, and José Aires de Castro Filho. 2012. “A construção de conteúdos Educacionais Digitais 2.0 sob enfoque da múltipla autoria.” Anais dos Workshops do Congresso Brasileiro de Informática na Educação 1(1). Retrieved April 1, 2013 (

Moon, Bob. 2008. “O papel das novas tecnologias da comunicação e da educação a distância para responder à crise global na oferta e formação de professores: uma análise da experiência de pesquisa e desenvolvimento.” Educação & Sociedade 29(104):791–814. Retrieved May 16, 2013 (

Starobinas, Lilian. 2012. “REA na educação básica: a colaborção como estratégia de enriquecimento dos processos de ensino-aprendizagem.” Pp. 121–32 in Recursos Educacionais Abertos: práticas colaborativas e políticas públicas, vol. 1. São Paulo – SP; Salvador- BA. Retrieved (

Silva, M. A. G. (2012, December 6). LOD: Uma abordagem para desenvolvimento de objetos de aprendizagem multimídia e interativos (Tese de Doutorado). Retrieved from

Simon, I., & Vieira, M. S. (2008). O rossio não-rival. In Além das redes de colaboração: internet, diversidade cultural e tecnologias do poder (pp. 15–30). Salvador, Bahia: UFBA. Retrieved from

Souza, M. de F. C. de. (2012). Customização Guiada: uma estratégia orientada a modelos para produção de objetos de aprendizagem. Retrieved from

Souza, M. de F., Filho, J. A. de C., & Andrade, R. (2012). Ampliando a Autonomia Docente com o Uso de Objetos de Aprendizagem Customizáveis. Anais dos Workshops do Congresso Brasileiro de Informática na Educação, 1(1). Retrieved from

Tarouco, L. M. R., Schmitt, M. A. R., Rodrigues, A. P., & Viccari, R. M. (2010). Gestão colaborativa de conteúdo educacional. RENOTE, 7(1). Retrieved from

Map of OER Repositories

Recently Leo @leohavemann and I were discussing on how was the best way to encourage academics to use OER and share their materials, how can we make them see at the impact that sharing content can have and after reviewing some very interesting models of data visualisation, we decided that the best way was to generate a map with a which contains the list taken from the directory of repositories of OER and some new more.

To access the Map of OER Repositories please go to 


The University of Loja in Ecuador has developed an OER map we use as inspiration to showcase a large list of OCW and other initiatives so we thank Nelson @nopiedra for sharing his ideas with us. Also, we thank @gconole @fbocquet @Open_Education @alacre @polx @fatenas and @Andreas__Link for sharing repositories with us and for sharing the map around.

If you want us to tag another repository you can contact us by leaving a comment on the blog or in twitter to me @jatenas or Leo @leohavemann, just remember that we will only include repositories of OER, for institutional repositories of books, thesis and other documents you can contact the DOAR team as they are the experts.