The Unesco Chair

The establishment of a Chair on Multimodal Learning and Open Educational Resources (OER) at the North-West University (NWU) was recently approved by UNESCO. The Chair falls within the Research Unit Self-directed Learning (SDL) of the Faculty of Education.

The promotion of multimodal and self-directed learning has been identified as important aspects in the NWU Teaching and Learning Strategy as part of the university’s commitment to accessible and relevant high quality teaching and learning, with a view to enhancing student success as well as experience of the curriculum.

The research for this Chair will focus on multimodal learning (a blending of face-to-face and e-learning modalities) as well as the multiliteracies required for culturally appropriate and effective learning within an environment that is conducive to self-directed learning and Open Educational Resources (OER) (peer-reviewed shared online resources that include material, books, videos, lessons and even full courses).

The purpose of the research chair is to (1) build networks in Southern Africa around OER and multimodal learning, (2) build capacity at the NWU and in Southern Africa, (3) train and develop academic expertise among staff concerning multimodal learning and the creation and use of OER as well as (4) doing research on OER and multimodal learning.The NWU has already taken a leading role in promoting multimodal learning and research on OER in the region and internationally. The institution is a member of the National Association of Distance Education and Online Learning in South Africa (NADEOSA), Commonwealth of Learning, Open Educational Resources University (OERu) network and Apereo. In November 2013 the NWU joined the OER network as an anchor partner. The establishment of the UNESCO Chair was recommended by the NWU’s Institutional Committee for Research and Innovation on 14 September 2016. The formal agreement with UNESCO was signed on 15 April 2019.


Lecturing staff of the NWU are invited to apply to become an NWU Open Educational Resources (OERs) Fellow. This is an ideal opportunity for staff who are interested to include new online resources to their classes or adapt their resources to their students’ specific contexts to receive support and funding for creating or adapting open learning content as well as researching the process.