Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announces effort to create Arabic language open educational resources
Washington DC, January 28, 2013 -- At a gathering that included representatives of the Arab League Education, Culture and Science Organization (ALECSO) and leaders of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the start of the Open Book Project, an effort to create openly licensed text books, course materials and other educational content to support the development of educational opportunities for Arabic-speaking populations. MIT plans to support the effort by expanding MIT OpenCourseWare's existing translation program to include Arabic translation affiliates, and by building on the success of the MIT BLOSSOMS project in creating Arabic-language educational resources.
Watch Secretary Clinton's comments on the State Department website.
In announcing the effort, Secretary Clinton remarked "We live at a time when technology is expanding access to information and learning materials like never before. You can look around the world and see young adults in remote villages and towns huddling around a computer watching videotaped physics lessons by MIT professors. Top universities like Rice University are creating free online textbooks and saving students money in their studies. Science education websites like Khan Academy go viral. There are other examples, and these are all fruits of technological progress, but also of a commitment to make more learning materials open—free, open licensing for anyone to use, adapt, and share."
In addition to Mohammed Al Hussaini Al Sharif, Ambassador of the League of Arab States to the United States, representatives from Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya attended the meeting. Ambassador Al Hussaini praised the effort, saying "The Open Book Project aims at expanding educational and economic opportunity across our region, so that our people can realize their economic aspirations. We hope that these good efforts of cooperation will lead to the establishment of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the region."
Other leading organizations of the open educational resources movement, including the OpenCourseWare Consortium, Creative Commons, OpenStax College, ISKME, Meedan and the Hewlett Foundation were also represented at the gathering. Participants shared views on the activities needed to support the successful creation and use of Arabic-language OER and identified next steps in moving the effort forward.
The Open Book Project is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State, the Arab League Education, Culture and Science Organization, and leading education innovators to expand access to free, high quality education materials in Arabic, with a focus on science and technology. These resources will be released under open licenses that allow free use, sharing, and adaptation to local context. Offering access to these resources will help to create educational opportunity, further scientific learning, and foster economic growth.
MIT OpenCourseWare makes the materials used in the majority of MIT's undergraduate and graduate courses—more than 2,100 in all—available on the Web, free of charge, to any user in the world. OCW receives an average of 2 million web site visits per month from more than 215 countries and territories worldwide. To date, more than 150 million individuals have accessed OCW materials. MIT OpenCourseWare is supported by donations from site visitors, grants and corporate sponsorship including our Next Decade Alliance sponsors Ab Initio Software Corporation, Lockheed Martin, MathWorks, Dow Chemical and Accenture.
BLOSSOMS video library contains approximately 100 math, science and engineering lessons for high school classes, all freely available to teachers as streaming video and Internet downloads and as DVDs and videotapes. The lessons intersperse video instruction with planned exercises that engage students in problem solving and critical thinking, helping students build the kind of gut knowledge that comes from hands-on experience. While MIT faculty members and partnering educators in Jordan and Pakistan created the first BLOSSOMS lessons, today educators from around the world create and submit BLOSSOMS modules, a large number available in Arabic.