Physiopedia – an Open Educational Resource

I just wanted to take the opportunity to cross post the latest post the I made at my own blog as I think (I hope) that the readers of this Physiopedia blog may find it quite interesting, if not inspiring!

The movement for open educational resources has been noticeably gathering pace recently and has sparked quite a lot of debate within the e-learning community. The recent Open Education Conference in Vancouver certainly had a lot of buzz (and tweeting) around it!!  The term “Open Educational Resources” (OER) was first adopted at UNESCO’s 2002 Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. They defined OER as follows:

“OER are teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”

Basically OER are all about sharing. In a brave new world of learning, OER content is made free to use or share, and in some cases, to change and share again, made possible through licensing, so that both teachers and learners can share what they know. There are many examples of institutions that have made a big effort to provide OER which everyone can benefit and learn from. This movement certainly makes self directed online learning a real possibility for our continuing education and professional development. However, those that will benefit the most are people whom otherwise have limited access to information. There is an urgent need to improve the availability and use of healthcare information in developing countries.

People in the developing world are dying for lack of knowledge. Today, 1.3 billion people lack access to basic health care services and many more are at risk of receiving poor quality care. A major contributing factor is lack of access to relevant, reliable healthcare information. The New York Law School/HIFA2015 White Paper: Access to Health Information Under International Human Rights Law, concludes that health information is an essential component of many identified and established human rights. The resulting HIFA2015 campaign has the goal that by 2015, every person worldwide will have access to an informed healthcare provider. The challenge is to ensure that everyone in the world can have access to clean, clear knowledge – a basic human right, and a public health need as important as access to clean, clear water, and much more easily achievable.

My contributions to these efforts come from my Physiopedia project. Essentially Physiopedia is an OER that provides free information to health care workers. As well as being a place where education can take place, I really do hope that physiotherapists across the world will see the benefits that contributing information to this site can bring. It really doesn’t take that much effort to create a page in Physiopedia and if all physios in the UK alone created just one page using the unique knowledge that we all have, that would immediately be 48,000 pages!!! Not only is it a great CPD activity in itself but contributors can also feel good in knowing that they are contributing to improving health care in the developing world.