OpenLearn

What is OpenLearn?

OpenLearn seeks to democratize education for communities that do not traditionally have access to western educational school systems, with a primary focus on empowering women. Our approach centers on providing highly curated, digital, downloadable, and scalable course materials with an easy ability to be used offline. 

It is evident that many underprivileged communities require improved educational systems. However, these communities often face challenges such as a shortage of qualified teachers, outdated materials, and inadequate infrastructure, leading to lower-quality education. In certain regions, there is a notable deficiency of qualified educators. According to the Global Education Monitoring Report 2020, an additional 69,000 teachers were needed to achieve universal primary education in sub-Saharan Africa.

Although there exists a growing array of on-line educational resources (many of which are free), navigating or comprehending how to utilize these resources from the perspective of marginalized communities poses significant challenges.

Accessing online resources such as Khan Academy, YouTube, Google, university libraries, and identifying the necessary resources is often taken for granted. However, it quickly becomes evident that even the most adept students struggle considerably to engage with these resources without substantial support. We often overlook the fact that individuals have grown up with unrestricted internet access to websites designed in the Western context, digital devices, e-commerce platforms, and multimedia content.

Rarely do we consider that the majority of online content caters to individuals deeply familiar with navigating Western-produced websites to locate desired content. Consequently, while education is accessible to nearly anyone with internet connectivity, it has exacerbated inequality both within and between societies. The more efficiently some individuals can learn, the wider the gap grows for those who lack access to educational resources or struggle to navigate and comprehend them without assistance. Unfortunately, the majority falls into this latter category; without the know-how or guidance on what to search for, libraries or search engines prove inadequate.

How Open Learn Works

Our proposed website/platform, scalable to an app that can be used offline, addresses the significant gap in accessible educational resources, particularly in regions where traditional schooling may be disrupted or resources limited, such as many parts of Africa. While students in more developed regions often have access to abundant online resources like Khan Academy or BBC educational materials, those in underserved areas lack similar opportunities for self-directed learning.

The platform seeks to replicate the success of platforms like Khan Academy or Internet Archive, but tailored specifically for students in regions with limited access to educational resources. It will provide open-source textbooks, educational videos, interactive exercises, and practice questions for a range of curricula, focusing initially on subjects and qualifications that are locally relevant and internationally recognized, such as IELTS for English or other global / national exams in various African countries.

The platform’s design will be similar to an interactive modern-day learning module, including the corresponding¬† textbooks, with lessons broken down into written content, explanatory videos, interactive exercises, and downloadable resources. Content creation will be crowd-sourced from local teachers and educators who understand the specific needs and challenges of their students. Moderators will ensure the quality and accuracy of submitted content.

Easier way to Navigating Educational Resources:

While numerous educational resources are available, navigating them poses a significant challenge for marginalized communities. OpenLearn addresses this issue by providing curated content tailored to the needs of these communities. Many free resources exist, but without proper guidance, they remain inaccessible. OpenLearn bridges this gap, making education truly inclusive. We know students are still able to learn with their own online resources curated by their teachers, specifically for them. With OpenLearn, they can upload their existing curated content for others to use, while finding new content that works for them that others have uploaded. Essentially, OpenLearn enables an easy platform for teachers across underprivileged communities to share and find the best resources for their students.

Addressing Inequality in Online Access:

The widespread assumption of unrestricted internet access and familiarity with Western-designed platforms poses a significant hurdle. OpenLearn acknowledges that online content is predominantly designed for those well-versed in Western internet usage. By addressing this inequality, including easily downloadable workbooks, lesson plans and interactive exercises as well as an app that can be used offline, OpenLearn ensures that education is accessible to all, regardless of background or familiarity with digital technologies.

Safety

Building physical schools is a formidable challenge in regions with high security risks, where marginalized groups face severe threats to their safety. OpenLearn’s digital education model circumvents these dangers, ensuring access to knowledge without compromising personal security.