open educational resources (OER):
why they matter
Glasgow Graduate School of Law
1. OER – what are they?
2. Who develops them?
4. Problems to be overcome
6. Transformation of HE?
OER – what are they?
1. Learning content - full courses, course materials, content
modules, learning objects, collections and journals
2. Tools - software to support the creation, delivery, use and
improvement of open learning content including searching
and organisation of content, content and learning
management systems, content development tools and online
3. Implementation resources - intellectual property licenses to
promote open publishing of materials, design principles and
localisation of content.
other Open initiatives…
• UNESCO Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher
Education in Developing Countries (2002)
• SSRN – Social Science Research Networks
• Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard (DASH)
• Open-source software, eg OpenOffice
• Mozilla Foundation (Firefox, etc)
• Open primary resources in law, eg AUSTLII, BAILII
3 types of OER…
• Institutional OpenCourseWare initiatives: eg
MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Open University, etc
• Disciplinary initiatives: eg HumBox, or disciplinary repositories
• Pedagogic initiatives (simSHARE)
• There are hundreds of examples
of each category
MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) Initiative
• 2000: OpenCourseWare
• Goal: to make all
on the web
• 2002: launched
• 2009: 1,900 courses
available free online
Extent of MIT OCW?
• 86.8 M visits to OCW content as of Oct 09
• 791 courses translated and on 220 mirror sites globally
• OCW materials are being widely distributed offline and
through secondary channels.
• 10 M course zip files have been downloaded off the site since
July 2006, equivalent to 5,100 copies of the entire site
• 3.7 M OCW video and audio files have been downloaded
through iTunes U
2009 Program Evaluation Findings Summary
what do educators use it for?
• 17% of educators coming to the site have reused content and
32% expect to do so in the future
• 47% combine OCW materials with other content
• 30% adapt course syllabi
• 30% adapt assignments or exams
2009 Program Evaluation Findings Summary
why create OER?
• Lowers the costs of educational materials for students
• Fosters pedagogical innovation and relevance that avoids
‘teaching from the textbook’
• Gives faculty tools to gain control over learning content and
• Share and remix learning materials for customized and
• Fast feedback loop on quality and relevance of learning
materials => continual improvement and rapid development
why create OER?
• Philanthropic: Sharing and providing education to people all over the world, with
special attention to those in third-world countries or without access to high-
quality local education.
• Strategic: Adapting educational practices to the changing world culture may
increase viability of educational institutions. (Additional motivations exist here as
well, but are perhaps more subtle or less overarching).
• Pedagogic: The act of sharing may increase attention to quality; the act of
adapting or remixing may increase quality; the utilization of new technologies may
enhance educational engagement amongst learners.
• Economic: Cost-savings to the institution by digitally archiving their own
materials, and then sharing and reusing within the institution and amongst peers.
why do OERs fail?
OER Creators OER Community
1. Hubris 1.No community
2. Poor quality product 2.No embedded sense of a remix culture
3. No business plan 3.Other employment factors, eg
4. No sustainability plan management rules, block use of OER
5. Focus on product to detriment of 4.Community takes and doesn’t give
6. A heroic leader (who gets promoted
or fed up or too busy)
aims of the simSHARE project?
• Collation of simulation resources which are repurposed as
open educational content
• Creation of guidelines for future publication of simulation
• Help staff to use simulation more widely and effectively
through staff development.
• Create methodologies that will help staff to see more clearly
how simulation OER can be interpreted and in particular how
– Generate or re-purpose a simulation
– Archive a simulation
– Retrieve a simulation and analyse its component parts for educational
value and purpose
• Funded in the by JISC & HEA through the subject centre – see
http://www.jisc.ac.uk/oer for list of current projects
• Core personnel:
– Danielle Lysaght (Project Manager, UKCLE)
– Julian Priddle, (Project Co-ordinator)
– Sheila Skinner (Development Officer)
– Gavin Maxwell (Web Developer)
Academic advisors: Project partners:
Karen Barton University of Glamorgan
Karen Counsell University of Strathclyde
Patricia McKellar University of Warwick
• Collation of as many interdisciplinary sims as we can get
• We’re about to enter upload & then dissemination phases of
• simSHARE adds value to
SIMPLE blueprints as
• next step is to add further value
to the Open sim environment
by adding an open-source
e-portfolio, eg Mahara.
1. sustainability is not the main issue…
1. Simshare is not an organisation (Microsoft), it’s an
2. Like all Open ecosystems, it’s remarkably tolerant of failure
3. Cheap failure enables the creation of multiple possibilities
4. It best operates on a publish-then-filter model
5. This model requires very minimal infrastructure (Wikipedia
… it’s the type of CoP we need …
Re social capital, do we want –
Thanx to Shirky, C. (2008) Here Comes Everybody, London,
1. Bonding capital?
– Increase in trust & connections within a homogeneous group, eg a
disciplinary group or even sub-group interested in sims
– Relatively exclusive
– People support each other’s worldviews
2. Bridging capital?
– Increase in connections among heterogeneous groups, eg different
disciplinary groups interested in sims
– Relatively inclusive
– Puts people at great risk of having good ideas…
… and how we go about achieving it.
1. Construe Simshare as ‘commons-based peer production’
2. Bring together heterogeneous groups, ie use bridging capital
3. Build from the most local levels up, where there’s
opportunity to host & bridge
4. Accept power law distribution of effort, sharing & use.
5. Reconceptualise OER not as harmonious sharing but as peer
improvement and adaptation – sometimes with bittersweet
6. Link research to practice; radicalise practice by using
Simshare as a ZPD, a safe zone for experimentation