The Cases on Open Learning (COOL) research project is an initiative by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) in partnership with Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) at the University of Cape Town (UCT). The COOL project is led by Principal Investigator Associate Professor Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams, who has extensive experience in researching open education and is the UNESCO Chair for Open Education and Social Justice and Dr Tabisa Mayisela, whose PhD investigated students knowledge of OER as part of their digital literacies.
The COOL project seeks to investigate the uptake of what DHET refers to as ‘open learning’ in Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and higher education (HE) institutions. The COOL project also aims to support DHET in the development of the Open Learning Policy Framework for Post-School Education and Training that will govern open learning in South Africa and contribute to opening up teaching and learning opportunities as a way to make education more socially just. This project aims to promote a better understanding of open learning practices in the South African tertiary education sector, encompassing recognition of prior learning, disability access, collaboration, professional development, blended learning, flexible learning, multilingualism, open education resource adoption and micro-credentialing in TVET and HE institutions.
The primary objective of the COOL project is to contribute to improving inclusion and social justice in the South African tertiary education sector by seeking to understand factors relating to equitable access, inclusive institutional culture, responsive teaching practice, sensitive student support, free and open access to materials, appropriate assessment, widely-accepted accreditation and ongoing professional development.
The specific objectives of the COOL project are:
Identification of cases of open learning approaches at TVET colleges and HE institutions that contribute to a social inclusion and social justice agenda.
Strengthening the capacity of a cadre of young South African researchers in the field of open learning.
Publication of case studies in an edited volume with an overview synthesis chapter, all of which will be freely available online.
Publication of case studies in a popularly accessible abridged booklet directed at practitioners.
Sharing insights from the case studies to demonstrate the benefits and challenges of open learning in TVET colleges and HE institutions, and how these challenges might be addressed.