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Adult Education and OER: conclusions and policy recommendations for Europe

- October 21, 2015 in adulteducation, featured, mooc, OEP, oer, Open Educational Resources

This posting deals with the conclusions and policy recommendations from the Adult Education and Open Educational Resources study for the European Parliament, a 140-page “Study”, written by Sero, released on 15 October 2015. The Study reviews the current use of Open Educational Resources in Adult Education in Europe (with a focus on Member States of the European Union), assesses its potential and makes recommendations for policy interventions, taking account of the European Commission’s policy frameworks and those developed by the European Parliament and relevant European agencies. The majority of the research was carried out in the first five months of 2015.

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European migrant crisis: Czech teachers create and share open resources

- September 25, 2015 in communication, featured, guestpost

We are very pleased to have the opportunity to make more widely available a post by Jan Gondol, originally published on the Creative Commons blog, on developing OER to help address the knowledge needs caused by the current migrant crisis.

Jan Gondol

Jan Gondol (@jangondol) is Professional Advisor, Open Data to the Ministry of Interior, Slovak Republic.

He has worked on the Open Government Partnership (OGP) as co-author of Slovakia’s National Action Plan and is responsible for managing open data and open education activities under the OGP umbrella.

He is Advisor to Slovakia’s Digital Champion (Peter Pellegrini)

He is also Owner and CEO of Switzerlab since July 2011.

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Open Education Brazil – a view from eMundus

- September 25, 2015 in communication, developing-world, featured, guestpost, mooc, oer

Our next post on Open Education from Around the World comes from Brazil. With over 204 million people, Brazil is the 5th most populous country in the world. Its territorial area covers 48% of the total area of South America and it has the 8th largest economy on the planet.

The post is authored by  Vera Queiroz and edited on to the blog by Paul Bacsich.


Vera holds a PhD in Education from USP (University of São Paulo). At present, she is  participating in the E-mundus Project – an international collaborative Project on Open Education, funded by the European Union. Brazil is a partner in the Project. The project’s main objectives are to map the state of art of  MOOCs in higher education and contribute towards the sharing of knowledge, tools and practices of MOOC and VM developed mainly by and in Brazilian universities

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OCR and OER – update

- September 25, 2015 in communication, developing-world, guestpost

We welcome this short posting from Subhashish Panigrahi which updates a 2014 posting of his –

Subhashish Panigrahi (@subhapa) is an educator, author, blogger, Wikimedian, language activist and free knowledge evangelist based in Bengaluru (often called Bangalore), India. After working for a while at the Wikimedia Foundation’s India Program he is currently at the Centre for Internet and Society‘s Access To Knowledge program. He works primarily in building partnership with universities, language research and GLAM (Gallery, Library, Archive and Museums) organizations for bringing more scholarly and encyclopedic content under free licenses, designs outreach programs for South Asian language Wikipedia/Wikimedia projects and communities. He wears many other hats: Editor for Global Voices Odia, Community Moderator of, and Ambassador for India in OpenGLAM Local. Subhashish is the author of a piece “Rising Voices: Indigenous language Digital Activism” in the book Digital Activism in Asia Reader.


Google’s OCR and its use by Wikimedians in South Asia

Some time back on the OCR project support network, Google had announced that the Google drive could be used for Optical Character Recognition (OCR). The software now works for over 248 world languages (including all the major South Asian languages). Though the exact pattern of development of the software is not clear, some of the Wikimedians reported that there is improvement over time in the recognition of their native languages Malayalam and Tamil. The recent encounter has been with a simple, easy to to use and robust software that can detect most languages with over 90% accuracy.

The OCR technology extracts text from images, scans of printed text, and even handwriting to some extent, which means that the text can be extracted pretty much from any old book, manuscript, or image. This certainly brings hope to most Indian languages as there is a lot to digitize. Most of the major Indian languages have plenty of non-digitized literature and the existing OCR systems are not as good as Google when so many languages are concerned as a whole.

Google’s OCR engine is probably using aspects of Tesseract, an OCR engine released as free software, or OCRopus, a free document analysis and optical character recognition (OCR) system that is primarily used in Google Books. Developed as a community project during 1995-2006 and later taken over by Google, Tesseract is considered one of the most accurate OCR engines and works for over 60 languages. The source code is available on GitHub.

The OCR project support page offers additional details on preserving character formatting for things like bold and italics after OCR in the output text.

When processing your document, we attempt to preserve basic text formatting such as bold and italic text, font size and type, and line breaks. However, detecting these elements is difficult and we may not always succeed. Other text formatting and structuring elements such as bulleted and numbered lists, tables, text columns, and footnotes or endnotes are likely to get lost.

The user-end interaction of the OCR software currently is rather simple. The user has to upload an image of the scan in any image format (.jpg, .png, .gif, etc.) or PDF to the Google Drive. Upon completion of the uploading, opening the file in Google Drive shows both the image and the converted text in the same document.

One of the most popular free and open digitization platforms, Wikisource currently hosts hundreds or thousands of free books which are either out of copyright or under Creative Commons licenses (CC-by or CC-by-SA) allowing users to digitize.

While OCR works quite well for Latin based languages, many other scripts do not get OCRed perfectly. So, the Wikisourcers (Wikisource contributors) often have to type the text.

Thus the new Google OCR might be useful both for the Wikisource community and many others who are in the mission of digitizing old text and archiving them.

The image below shows a screen from a tutorial to convert text in the Odia language from a scanned image using Google’s OCR.

Tutorial to use Google OCR August 2015 JPEG

 This was designed by Subhashish Panigrahi. Freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

First step is the longest

- September 7, 2015 in communication

Greetings all

I am just taking my first tentative steps into my new Open Education Working Group Coordinator role after a late summer holiday.

My aim is to continue the excellent work done by Marieke, and looking forward to support from my co-workers Elena Stojanovska  in Macedonia (writer of Open Education Macedonia) and Javiera Atenas in London. And maybe some other volunteers soon?

This week I am at the ALT-C e-learning conference in Manchester UK, and I shall of course be hanging round the OER sessions. Look forward to seeing some of you there.The ALT-C theme this year is Shaping the Future of Learning Together and that seems a good motto for this Working Group: Shaping the Future of Open Education Together.

In that theme it will be nice to have a wider range of country postings – especially from the Global South – but there is plenty of room for thematic postings, or postings about one education sector – schools, adult learning, etc. No one should feel that they have to cover all the Open Education bases in any one article – that is too daunting a task these days.

Anyone with a research result that they are bursting to tell the world about – let us know!

Best wishes