Launching the Digital Humanities Open Educational Resources Champions Initiative

The South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) and the North-West University’s (NWU) UNESCO Chair on Multimodal Learning and Open Educational Resources (OERs) are proud to announce the first intake of our Digital Humanities OER Champions Initiative. This programme, offered through SADiLaR’s ESCALATOR Digital Champions Initiative, seeks to stimulate activism and research around the use and/or creation of OERs for the digital humanities at universities in South Africa.

To this end, we are pleased to announce that 26 projects have been accepted into this programme to support and fund the creation and adaptation of OERs in the digital humanities.

“As the name implies, OERs are any teaching, learning and research materials which are available in the public domain and permit no-cost access, use and adaptation and redistribution,” says Professor Jako Olivier, NWU UNESCO Chair on Multimodal Learning and OER. “OERs are an integral tool in the building of digital humanities skills and expertise in South Africa as this important field needs to develop in response to the specific needs of academics in the humanities in South Africa.”

“Digital humanities is a relatively new research field in South Africa,” says Professor Menno van Zaanen, digital humanities professor at SADiLaR, “It is the practice of using computational tools in the broad area of the humanities. Digital technologies allow humanities and social sciences researchers to analyse larger amounts of data (such as text), allowing them to answer research questions more objectively or even to answer completely novel research questions.”

The 26 projects chosen are distributed across institutions in South Africa. They have objectives ranging from using OERs to introduce a multilingual, decolonial and interdisciplinary perspective in journalism education, supporting indigenous language robotics education in South Africa, and introducing digital humanities and computational thinking into legal research. In the coming months, SADiLaR will showcase the work of the projects involved in the programme on its various platforms.

In addition to a research grant, the programme has a strong capacity-building focus. Programme participants will do an online short course on OERs, which includes webinars and workshops and creating a space to share best practices. The programme will also include support for champions from the humanities to research the process, participate in a colloquium on their research and work towards a publication on their work. An essential outcome of the programme is to build a network of digital humanities researchers and practitioners in South Africa to develop the fledgling field.

Natalie Simon
Natalie Simon
Research Communications Specialist