SIP TEL Innovation Report 1: Open Educational ResourcesSummary:This briefing paper is the first in a series that will be p...
This paper reviews the current development, status and use of OERs with particularreference to the Jisc Advance/InfoNet Op...
For a slightly more off-the-planet view of the digital future of education, Kamenetz’s TheEdupunk’s Guide16makes a good re...
emphasises ownership, IPR and ROI. If there was ever a reason for thinking outside the boxthen this is it.4. Conclusions a...
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Sip tel innovation report 1


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Sip tel innovation report 1

  1. 1. SIP TEL Innovation Report 1: Open Educational ResourcesSummary:This briefing paper is the first in a series that will be produced as deliverables from theEnhancing Institutional Capacity to Develop Technology Enhanced Learning SIP project. Thepurpose is to evaluate the Jisc Advance resources that are available to inform and guideinstitutions about the latest developments in technology enhanced learning. It will enableconclusions to be drawn about how Swansea Metropolitan/UW Trinity Saint David andother institutions can apply and benefit from these developments.There will be three reports in the series. They will focus on current TEL innovativedevelopments and debates and will use key Jisc Advance resources as part of that. Thereports will cover:1. Open Educational Resources2. MOOCs3. The Impact of Social Media and Personal Technologies on the Future of TELIn each case the reports will present speculative, but evidence-based and realistic, futureTEL scenarios intended to inform and assist institutional planning.1. Open Educational ResourcesThe Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education1through their OERCommons project2describes open educational resources in the following way:Open Education Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials freely available foreveryone to use, whether you are a teacher or a learner. This includes full courses, modules,syllabi, lectures, homework assignments, quizzes, lab activities, pedagogical materials,games, simulations, and many more resources contained in digital media collections fromaround the world.The creation and use of OER represents a shift in education that supports shared teacherexpertise and peer-based learning. Free and open content is not only a new economic modelfor schools and students, but also a primary vehicle for disseminating flexible, adaptablecurricula that support learner-centric approaches.This movement has come about as a result of educational materials being made availableglobally online. There is a compelling rationale that says that, where rich and varied learningresources are already available, there is no point in each individual teacher or institutionserially creating their own versions. They can contribute to improving it and keeping it up todate, of course, but not waste time and money redeveloping what already exists.For academics however, particularly in Higher Education, this requires a significant andpotentially problematic cultural shift. Traditionally the learning materials developed by theindividual academic are seen to be ‘owned’ by them, have IPR, and to have monetary valueif published. Also perhaps, they may be seen to define the academic prowess that theacademic wishes to demonstrate.1
  2. 2. This paper reviews the current development, status and use of OERs with particularreference to the Jisc Advance/InfoNet Open Educational Resources InfoKit3. The InfoKit notonly provides an up-to-date picture of OER development, it also provides links to a widerange of valuable documents and other resources for anyone looking for detailedinformation.The paper will conclude with some recommendations for institutions on the use of OERs indelivery and also some comments about what the future OER landscape might look like.2. The Open Educational Resources MovementThe OER movement came to the general attention of academia when MIT began their OpenCourseware4initiative in 2002, making the courseware for 50 courses available online foranyone to freely access. By 2007 over 1800 MIT courses were available in 33 disciplines.The movement rapidly became global with institutions from China to Europe now makingmaterials available online, including the UK Open University with its OpenLearn initiative5.This soon led to collaborative initiatives between institutions such as the Open CoursewareConsortium6, and the creation of digital content archives such as the Open Content Alliance7and, in the UK, Jorum8.At this time learning materials were still considered as having commercial value with ROIpotential and the concept of a standards-based ‘re-usable learning object’ design model wasin favour. Both of these ideas have since disappeared off the radar.Over the same period online access services were developing. Institutions were makinglearning materials available online for their students internally through their chosen learningmanagement systems such as Moodle, but also externally through social networkingapplications such as YouTube9and iTunes10. Although the latter have typically been a way ofmarketing the institutional offer, they do point to a different way of delivering learningcontent.Another very significant development has been the emergence of global information searchapplications with an educational agenda such as Wikipedia11, Wikiversity12, Google forTeachers13and Google Scholar14. These resources, particularly the basic Wikipedia andGoogle applications, are often dismissed as generating unverified content of dubiousacademic value, but it doesn’t take much thought to work out why that view does not makesense. Kernohan15observes that the more conventional ‘quality assured’ contentrepositories have struggled to make a case for viability against the intelligent and informeduse of mainstream search engines and – latterly - social medial hosting.3
  3. 3. For a slightly more off-the-planet view of the digital future of education, Kamenetz’s TheEdupunk’s Guide16makes a good read. In a similar vein, Thiel suggests that to question (thevalues, constructs, traditional methods of) education is really dangerous. It is the absolute taboo. It’slike telling the world there’s no Santa Claus17.3. The Open Educational Resources InfoKitThe InfoKit starts with an overview section which begins by defining OERs. It refers to anumber of resources which includes a very useful briefing paper18by Li Yuan of Jisc-Cetis.The overview examines evidence of the benefits of OERs to date, given the fact that millionsof pounds have been invested globally. It concludes that the benefits have not always beenwell articulated or evidenced and I would agree with that. To some extent this is reflected inthe limited way the benefits are summarised in this section. The benefits listed for the OERoriginator (i.e. the academic), for example, are less than convincing.Barriers to OER development and uptake are covered in a different section of the InfoKit butthey add to the overall message that, although the overarching benefits of efficiency andcost effectiveness in sharing resources are clear, barriers relating to culture change remain.In addition to the difficulties of culture change, it is my view that there is a major flaw in theoverall conception of OERs by the educational community. This is the perception that allopen educational resources are created by the educational community for use in formaleducational delivery.It is clear, however, that significant educational resources are available externally from thedocumented work of experienced practitioners in their chosen professions for whicheducation had a part in preparing them. It is equally clear that the greater part of learninghappens outside the formal educational environment as careers progress and individualsbecome more experienced and expert long after they have left university.This view re-contextualises our ideas about the creation, use and value of Open EducationalResources. It also obliges us to reconsider our pedagogic concepts and the changing roles ofboth teacher and learner in the online learning environment. A focus, for example, onteaching learning skills rather than subject specific skills, thus enabling the learners todetermine their own learning pathways and choice of resources as they progress beyondtheir formal education.The OER Myths section of the InfoKit19expands on the ideas expressed above. It attempts tostimulate debate about a common understanding of the terminology in use: sharing,exchange, reuse, repurposing, open, etc. It is also characteristic of the rest of the toolkit, inthat it is short, pithy and provides links to related resources.The Management Approaches and Models20section suggests, with no small conviction, thatOER business models are in their infancy. There is little disagreement with this view, but theway it is expressed in the toolkit does, however, reinforce the conventional model which16
  4. 4. emphasises ownership, IPR and ROI. If there was ever a reason for thinking outside the boxthen this is it.4. Conclusions and DiscussionThe Open Educational Resource movement is a global entity. It does not require a businessmodel, because it is not a business. It is a collaborative movement where it is moreadvantageous to be a partner and contribute than not. Individual institutions can exploit theresources locally and gain benefit, of course. However, the greater picture needs to beacknowledged and this is already well expressed by the principles of open source resourceprovision generally.Open source resources may be used by anyone, usually under some form of CreativeCommons license, on the understanding that whatever developments or improvements aremade they are also made generally available under the same conditions. The usercommunity will decide the value of any developments and will use or discard accordingly.A key consideration in any educational resource is the degree to which teaching isembedded. In the simplest form this could be a detailed ‘how to’ guide for some process. Inhigher education, however, it may rather involve pointing a learner towards a primarysource where they are expected to have the research skills to investigate, evaluate anddiscuss their conclusions.This, I think, reinforces my previous comments about OER design and usage. Teaching isgood for awareness raising and procedural instruction. It is not as good for the building ofpersonal meaning and cognition. This requires serious work on the part of the learner. It islearning skills that are needed here, and those are developed through guided practice.My general view is that the OER scenario is going to happen anyway. The internet willcontinue to develop and be populated by all manner of educational resource. Bothinstructional and primary resources will be freely available and it will undoubtedly challengethe conventional institutional resource provision model (particularly the classroom system).Physical institutions will continue to exist, of course. They are social centres where peoplemeet and share their work, learning, sports and leisure. However, the nature of learning willchange because of the internet and the balance of process control between learner andtutor will also change. Institutions, no doubt, are aware of this and are preparing for it.Overall, the OER InfoKit is of significant value for anyone exploring the use and potential ofopen educational resources. As a resource it embodies much that is good about OER in thatit is structured, usable, understandable, and provides links to enable anyone to drill down tofurther detail.In my view it doesn’t really point to what the future looks like. But that’s just my view.Tony TooleJune 2013