News from Brazil: the power of the apples and open educational resources

During March 28th and April 1st, Brasilia is playing host to the Brazilian National Conference on Education – CONAE 2010, which will define directives for the next 10 years of educational policy in Brazil and includes the participation of more than 2000 delegates and representatives from all around Brazil. And the project Open Education Resources: Challenges and Perspectives (OER-Br), funded by the Open Society Institute, is there following the debates and inserting the concept of OER in the workshop conversations.

Carolina Rossini, coordinator of the OER-Br project, and the House of Digital Culture representatives – the educator and journalist Bianca Santana and the journalist Luciana Scuarcialupi – are hosting an ongoing conversation from an official CONAE exhibit stand granted them by the CONAE coordination. Their work is also institutionally supported by two Members of the Brazilian House of Representatives, UNESCO, and a network of Brazilian Universities and civil society organizations.

The activities at the OER Stand start with the distribution of apples under the famous phrase of Robert Shaw “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”, which has been successful in attracting the attention of delegates to start the debate around OER, open education, open licensing and open standards for education. Giving out physical, rivalrous economic goods is a good way to illustrate the difference with digital, non-rivalrous goods like OER, and has been a great conversation starter with people who might otherwise have walked on by.

A series of materials in Portuguese explaining OER – such as a translation of the Cape Town Declaration on Open Education and the Green- Paper: The State and Challenges of OER in Brazil: From Readers to Writers?, and a folder explaining OER – which calls for the adoption of public policy on OER and Open Education mainly when there is tax payer money involved – is being distributed. One of the goals is to insert this debate in the center of the directives´ discussion.

The OER folder, besides explaining concepts, builds a dialogue with different types of actors, such as professors, teachers, students, policy makers, building upon the spirit of the of the Cape Town Declaration and ask for action and support. Some material pushing for the reform of the Brazilian Copyright Law, aiming broader exceptions and limitation for education is also being explained and distributed.
Daily reports will be published in Portuguese and some in English in the OER Brazilian Community Blog, where you also can see other creative art that is being used to raise awareness on OER and the reform of copyright law in Brazil and, soon, pictures.

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