Research on the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) often notes the potential benefits for users to revise, reuse, and remix OER to localize it for specific learners. However, a gap in the literature exists in terms of research that explores how this localization occurs in practice. This is a significant gap given the current flow of OER from higher-income countries in the Global North to lower-income countries in the Global South (King et al., 2018). This study explores how OER from one area of the world is localized when it is used in a different cultural context. As part of a larger ed-tech project in Ghana, I piloted a human rights manual that I helped develop and interviewed six facilitators of that course to see how they tailored the course to their students in Ghana. The goal was to understand their experience, their decisions, and their challenges and to explore the practice of localization and the challenges and affordances related to that practice. Findings indicated complex encounters with decontextualized content and a variety of localization practices. Participants expressed feelings of ill-fit and cultural tensions in navigating between the human rights content in the OER manual and local cultural practices. They also experienced challenges with technology due to low bandwidth and hardware problems, as well as language problems given Ghana's history of colonial rule. Native speakers of Twi are less proficient reading Twi than their national language, English. As facilitators worked to overcome these challenges, they were most likely to informally localize content in intuitive ways during the class based on students' needs. Informal, in-the-moment practices included translating content into Twi, persisting through technological challenges, using local stories and pictures, localizing through discussion, and teaching responsively. While none of the participants were initially aware of OER and its unique permissions, as they became aware of OER, discussion around localization included these themes: 1. the burdensome process of localization 2. need for support 3. need for flexible formatting to allow editing 4. technological barriers 5. the practice of remaking the lessons into tailored slide presentations. These findings have implications for designers of OER and their awareness of real mismatches and otherness created by decontextualized content. There are also suggestions for ways to apply findings and design intentionally with space for localization. More research on the practice of OER localization would refine our understanding of how OER is localized and what barriers and affordances exist to this practice.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Instructional Psychology and Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





open educational resources, localization, Ghana, qualitative research



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Education Commons