This is UNESCO’s single such Chair with this remit. It’s not copying other Chairs, but has a unique remit and identity, which will complement other UNESCO Chairs in the area of Open Educational Resources. It has a clear interdisciplinary and intersectoral dimension: it transcends several of UNESCO’s programmes: education and communication and information

 The Chair will be established at the Jožef Stefan Institute in Slovenia (JSI), the leading national research institute. The Jožef Stefan Institute in general, and Mitja Jermol in particular, is a leader in providing global network of partners collaborating on video based Open Educational Resources (OER) via the free and open, premium service VideoLectures.Net. This includes Knowledge 4 All Foundation Ltd. (K4A), Opencast Community (developing the Opencast Matterhorn suite), Open Education consortium (former OCWC) and UNESCO itself, together with a selection of a number of top ranked research institutions involved in European FP7 research projects like transLectures, MediaMixer, Xlike, Xlime based on institutions consortiums.

The project will contribute to Open Educational Resources in a twofold manner, firstly as a means of creation of innovative practices in driving forward the use of ICTs for OER-supported teaching and learning, online based education by using VideoLectures.Net, K4All, Opencast and OCWC, and secondly by applying methods in the realm of “big data” to analyse emerging trends in learning outcomes, in the creation, and dissemination in the field of OERs by means of AI techniques. The project focuses on OERs at national/regional and global level in line with the set objectives. The project will offer AI technologies, evidence and guidance for OER research methods ranging from research, use cases, deployment, exploration, exploitation and operability, whereas this may apply to all educational sectors. This will be done based on implementation, impact and creation analysis of OER initiatives pursued by other UNESCO OER Chairs. This project will create an OER research agenda and technology roadmap.

A special focus will be placed particularly (but not limited to) developing countries and disadvantaged communities. A link with the UNESCO OER Chair initiative in the Netherlands will be created in order to optimize efforts under all UNESCO OER Chairs.

The Chair in a nutshell:

  1. Project title: UNESCO Chair in Open Technologies for Open Educational Resources and Open Learning
  2. Expected starting date and duration: 1 September 2014 to 1 September 2018
  3. Domains or disciplines concerned: Learning and Education, Technology enhanced learning, Digital archives, Multimedia and Computer Science, (based on the research results from the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data-Mining, Text-Mining, Web-Mining, Multimedia Mining, Semantic Technologies, Social Network Analysis, Language Technologies, Natural Language Processing, Multi-lingual, Cross-lingual Technologies, Scalable, Real-time Data Analysis, Data Visualization, Knowledge Management, Knowledge Reasoning, Cognitive Systems)
  4. Name and full address of host institution: Jožef Stefan Institute, Jamova cesta 39, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
  5. Departments concerned: The Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at Jožef Stefan Institute, which has created the VideoLectures.Net repository and is concerned mainly with research and development in information technologies with an emphasis on artificial intelligence. Associated Centre for Knowledge Transfer in Information Technologies at Jožef Stefan Institute, which is powering the VideoLectures.Net repository and performs educational, promotional and infrastructural activities and provides direct exchange of information and experience between researchers and the users of their research results. By partnering and active engagement in the different European research projects the Lab and Centre successfully extended its activities into the cutting edge and state-of-the-art research with considerable success in receiving European research grants in FP5, FP6 and FP7. The project would be run by the AI Lab and Center respectively.

 The specific objectives of the project are:

  1.  Collect data from available OER data sources and provide an infrastructure to ingest, process, analyse, aggregate and enrich the data with further metadata. This infrastructure will scale to large amounts of data (in the millions of OER audio, video and animation, curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, tests and datasets) that will form the basis for the algorithms to mine, represent, reason upon and use this diversity of information. This would be society agnostic, but would include the countries which are already OER adopters. As argued before, the core partnership lies with research institutes and partially universities. They are in the countries listed above. Not all countries, however, are represented in our network. While they still can be included in individual projects or as object of study, and certainly in the dissemination activities. In addition, it will also provide a test bed for other researchers outside the OER domain who might be interested in accessing the data processed and produced in the project. Access to the data sets and its metadata will be provided via a Web-based API, which will furthermore allow publishing new data sources.
  2.  Provide tools for creating Micro Open Educational Resources (Micro OERs). Conventional OERs are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain and have been released under an open licence that permits access, use, repurposing, reuse and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions. The nature of these materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. A specific objective is to propose and create special tools for automatic and large scale fragmentation of audio-visual media materials for repurposing and reuse of these digital contents across borders on the Web, Create learning purpose media fragments which are intelligent digital objects, identified and classified at a highly granular degree, integrated with knowledge management, and connected at Web-scale.
  3.  Introduce language technologies for multilingualism for OER products. This is a pending need and in line with the UNESCO’s Medium-Term Strategy as high-quality content should benefit the widest possible number of people, particularly (but not limited to) in developing countries and disadvantaged communities, thus an advanced approach in computer science and large scale language strategy needs to be implemented. “All societies, all women and men, must be able to benefit from the opportunities for creating and sharing knowledge through the Internet in their own languages. This is essential for inclusive and sustainable global development. UNESCO is committed to a multilingual Internet – we need the support of all actors to make this a reality”. [1] Project will provide set of open accessible prototype services for cross-lingual content analytics, knowledge extraction and linking and multimodal content translation.
  4.  Create technical means for a multimedia based OER creation and delivery. Media and ICTs are particularly effective tools in the outreach to marginalized communities in least developed countries (LDCs), small island developing states (SIDS) and especially in Africa. As multimedia is a much more effective way of dissemination scientific and academic results, an optimal way is to capture locally generated lecture content in the form of seminars, workshops, conferences and courses. This could be facilitated by using free, open-source platforms to support the management of educational audio and video content like Opencast Matterhorn and by constructing a free Open/Academic Content Delivery Network (Open CDN) initiative and network for institutions allowing them to create, disseminate and re-use all their filmed resources. Publication and consumption of multimedia based OERs would be centralised on the WSIS+10 Global Champion VideoLectures.Net video repository.
  5.  Create infrastructure for user modelling, personalisation and cross-recommendation. Understanding the user while learning is of paramount importance for any OER service that offers more than just a library. User models can be used for user grouping, service analysis but most importantly for the personalisation. Understanding user’s behaviour, background knowledge, user’s needs and preferences is essential in personalised learning. Advanced techniques from Machine Learning proved to be very successful in analysing users while online. JSI already supports several large scale online services with the personalisation. Current services have little or no personalisation. The plan is to make available open services for basic personalisation to OER and Open learning providers around the world together with the ability for the cross-recommendation. This is how we would be able to close the loop on OER use but also interlink users by providing them cross website recommendations.
  6.  Demonstrate, disseminate and upscale the use of prototypes and existing services for OER and Open learning. The main goal of the project is to make advanced ICT prototypes and services being largely used and developed and updated further. This is why will be used as a demonstration site. Dissemination activities will be done through existing networks (K4A, OCWC, Opencast, UNESCO), relevant projects at EC level and existing consortia of partners that are dealing with OER and in which JSI and K4All are already involved. JSI organises regularly several workshops and major conferences, it is present in many relevant events in which it will be promoting project and its results. Some of the target conferences include: OCWC Global, Matterhorn un-conference, ISWC, EDUCAUSE, ESWC, KDD, Educa online, WWW, ECEL, and eChallenges Africa.

[1] Statement of the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, on linguistic diversity on the Internet, 7 June 2013

The Chairholders team: Davor Orlic, Monika Kropej, Mihajela Crnko

The Chairholders contact: