Friday, 29 March 2013

Activity 7 Exploring OER Issues #h817open

I firmly believe in the Open Educational Resources philosophy outlined by Downes (2007) as a collective social product to be shred universally. The OER movement has foundered on the over-engineering of the learning object and metadata technologies used in the disparate repositories. It seems to be pointless to continue to plough monetary resources into the current OER implementations.

The three problems from my perspective are:

  1. Re-usability. The unit of a whole course is too cumbersome and over complex, and by its very nature will have non-useful, specific institutional context that immediately impacts on the OER being re-purposed elsewhere.
  2. Granularity. Recordings of typical university lectures 1-2 hours in length are simply not useful for students. One aspect that MOOCs have shown us is that video lengths of up to 10 minutes only are effective. The same remarks apply to slide shows, audio, animations and simulations, and of course text readings. Keeping them small and reasonably standalone allows for remix to suit local requirements.
  3. Onerous metadata and storage. The complexity of the OER objects and their metadata from the perspective of preparation, deployment, discovery and reuse means the technology is expensive in terms of time and expense. A major rethink of the technologies employed is needed with an emphasis on instructor self-publishing models with automatic sharing and hashtag-like metadata.
The problems of IP and copyright will inevitably remain until CC BY becomes the norm for all educational materials - a distant hope at this point in time.

Downes, Stephen (2007), 'Models for sustainable open educational resources', Interdisciplinary Journal of Knowledge and Learning Objects, vol. 3. Available from:

Note: For a MOOC there should be an iron rule, all readings must be open access on the web. Many of the Academic References on the Cloudworks suggested OER reading list failed this test miserably. Even those with URLs are not marked as links on Cloudworks. A typical student on a MOOC is unable to access closed academic journal papers.