Saturday, 13 April 2013

Activity 11 Pros & Cons of big & little OER #h817open

In a couple of my previous posts for this MOOC specifically on location OERs for a digital literacies course and OER issues I have complained of various difficulties with what our instructor is calling Big OER. These difficulties mainly relate to searching and discovery, reusability and pertinent for this activity the granularity of OER. Long lectures peppered with irrelevancies and voluminous course notes carrying unwanted side issues are the main problems. Reuse of these Big OERs therefore mitigates against reuse without substantial remixing involving the same level of work by the instructor as starting from scratch.

Taking Martin's Collateral Damage slidecast as the queue I find I have always been in sympathy with the view that it is the collection of simple digital artifacts easily made widely available online that form the most useful educational material for my own courses. As Martin points out these artifacts are easily produced with simple online publishing services many of which are free, and, most importantly, don't require specialist broadcasting skills beyond those possessed by the typical lecturer. Most usefully too is these Little artifiacts tend to be byproducts of normal academic activities producing outputs like papers, code, lectures, recorded debates, conference talks, data, ideas, and workshop materials.

I like the thought of this long tail of academic outputs, often produced out of research activities, finding immediate use in teaching. At last we have a demonstrated direct link between research and teaching. This needs further emphasis to encourage many of the reporting and administrative activities to be made more visible and accessible online as part of the normal production process. The academic becomes a perfect long tail production engine. We owe a debt to Martin to giving this process an acceptable and impressive name - digital scholarship. These Little OERs also make impressive background materials for public engagement with world community, an increasingly important aspect for all academic endeavours.

Of course discovery of these Little OERs or digital artifacts still remains a problem. Maybe the universal adoption of hashtags in all online publishing platforms might be a step towards a solution provided the content is searchable by Google or more specialised search engines.