Open educational resources (OER) are increasingly regarded as an important part of the global educational landscape. Asian countries are very much involved in the OER movement, with India, China and Pakistan standing out for the quantity of OER each country has published (Dhanarajan & Porter, 2013). Arguably, OER offer particular benefits for the learners of Asia - a continent which has ?the largest number of ultra-poor people in the world? (Dhanarajan & Porter, 2013, p. vii). One area in which OER have the potential to make a dramatic and extensive impact in Asia is within the field of teacher education, where the insufficient supply of teachers, a limited capacity for teacher training, disparities in pupil-teacher ratios, the large numbers of unqualified teachers, and inadequate continuing professional development (Commonwealth of Learning, 2013) are resulting in inadequate access to education and poor standards of learning for those already in the education system.
The challenges above are all present in India, where there is an estimated 1.33 million shortfall in teachers and many existing teachers are unqualified. Indeed, India?s Annual Status of Education (ASER) 2012 report identified ?an alarming degeneration? (ASER 2012, p. 1) in educational standards in Indian primary schools and a ?national crisis in learning? (p. 2). This paper presents research by the UK Open University?s OER Research Hub (www.oerresearchhub.org) (OERRH) on the impact of OER on teacher education and learning standards achieved by two India-based projects: TESS-India and Karnataka OER. TESS-India (Teacher Education in School Sector India) is informed by its sister project TESSA (Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa) (Wolfenden, 2008) and like that project TESS-India aims to use OER to reduce pressure on teacher education institutions, enabling them to deliver quality teacher training, at scale and speed. The TESS-India project will eventually work in partnership with education institutions across seven Indian states to create the biggest network of freely available, high quality, teacher education resources in India. Karnataka OER is more advanced in its development than TESS-India and comprises a wiki-based repository of OER intended to support the professional development and improved practice of practising teachers. The Karnataka OER wiki is built by a community of educators who are engaged in the continuous creation, review, curation and publishing of digital curricular resources.
A mixed methods strategy is being employed to explore the impact of OER on teacher education within these two projects. To date, an initial scoping study focused on teacher education practices in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar has gathered evidence of existing resource use through interviews with teacher-educators and with Principals of the District Institutes for Education and Training (DIETs), and evidence of existing teacher-education practice via lesson observations. It is planned that the research will be extended over the coming months to include surveys, interviews and lesson observations with OER-using teachers and teacher educators across India. At Open Ed we will report the findings from the Karnataka OER and TESS-India studies and discuss the implications for Commonwealth countries across the globe