Early-stage impact study of the Darakht-e Danesh (“Knowledge Tree”) OER Library in Afghanistan
This study evaluates a group of Afghan teachers’ use of Open Educational Resources (OER) from the Darakht-e Danesh Library (DDL) – a digital library comprised of educational materials in English, Dari and Pashto – investigating whether these resources enabled improvements in teaching practice and led to improved subject knowledge. Conducted with secondary-school teachers in Parwan, Afghanistan, who accessed the DDL over a four-week period in 2016, the study asked the following research questions: To what extent did teachers in this study access and use OER in the DDL? Did access and use of OER in the DDL enhance teachers’ subjectarea content knowledge? Did access and use of DDL resources enhance teachers’ instructional practices? To what extent did teachers’ understanding of OER and its value change?
The study utilised quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the behaviour and practices of 51 teachers in rural Afghanistan, all of whom were teaching at the secondary level or affiliated with a local teacher training college. The study collected data from server logs, pre- and post-treatment questionnaires, lesson plan analyses, teacher interviews and classroom observation. A purposive sampling technique was utilised to select the teachers, drawing from educational institutions with which the Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan non-governmental organisation had previously interacted.
Findings indicate that when the DDL was used by teachers, the OER accessed positively impacted teachers’ knowledge and helped them in lesson preparation. On average, the 33 teachers who visited the lab at least three times downloaded 12 OER each over the course of the study. However, a number of teachers did not download or use any OER, and many more preferred to continue using only the traditional textbook to prepare their lesson plans even after exposure to the DDL. Furthermore, while teachers found the OER helpful in creating assessment activities for their students, there was no observed improvement in teacher understanding and use of formative or summative assessment. Lastly, there was limited understanding among the teachers of the exact meaning of “open”, with most viewing OER as learning materials obtained from the internet, libraries or simply from outside of their school. Teachers made little reference to licensing or to the accessibility characteristics of OER. Thus, while teachers who used OER appeared to benefit from these resources, the concept was new to them, representing a disruption to the familiar way of preparing and delivering lessons.
For further diffusion of OER as an innovation in teachers’ learning and practice, concerted action will be required to build the collection of OER available in Afghan languages, provide support in how teachers might integrate OER into their teaching, and ensure connectivity in the context of limited internet access in rural areas and a teacher population with widely varying levels of proficiency in using digital technology.
The dataset arising from this study can be accessed at:
Oates, L., Goger, L. K., Hashimi, J. & Farahmand, M. (2017). An early stage impact study of localised OER in Afghanistan. In C. Hodgkinson-Williams & P. B. Arinto (Eds.), Adoption and impact of OER in the Global South (pp. 549–573). Retrieved from
Oates, L., Hashimi, J., Ziayee, M. & Parwani, A. R. (2017). Going Open in Afghanistan – Impact Study of an OER Library. Presented at Open Education Global Conference, 8-10 March 2017. Cape Town, South Africa. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/oeconsortium/going-open-in-afghanistan-impact-study-of-an-oer-library
Parwani, A. R. (2017). An early-stage impact study of OER in Afghanistan (video). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtqS85McfC0&index=4&list=PLqSYUJvxD-UDZPS5NwTJixYZqHTgYu7i2