Archive for September, 2019

The OER debate

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019


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I am involved in a panel tomorrow on OER and have been asked to address the following question.

Open Educational Resources have sparked a wide range of collaborative projects in the education sector. What are major lessons that archives can learn from the long established success of OERs? What kind of impact could open access archives have on OER and open education?

This is my initial response, is there anything else I should include?

The term OER was defined in 2002, the first example was MIT’s courseware, shortly followed by OpenLearn at the Open University UK. There was a naïve assumption that simply making OER available would mean that they were used by teachers and students. This was not the case. To address this the OPAL initiative defined the concept of OER practices, which explore how OER were designed, used and adapted by teachers and students. The project developed a framework for benchmarking organisations’ maturity of OER, along with an implementation plan to used OER more extensively. OER are part of a broader portfolio of Open Education and the EU has recently published the outputs of this initiative. OER have implications for learning, teaching and research. Students can supplement their official course materials with freely available OER. Theoretically for teachers OER provide examples of good practice and can help them be more innovative in their teaching practice, by adapting existing OER to their teaching context. In terms of research more open practices are challenging traditional modes of publishing. For example making research open access, writing research blogs and disseminating via social media, means that the research is made available to a far larger audience. Researchers are part of a community of peers. Making research available openly means that others can comment on it. I blog on a regular basis at If I tweet a blog post it goes out to a network of over 10, 000 colleagues. For a Springer book on Learning Design I live blogged draft chapters, which people then commented on; the final book was much stronger as a result. We now see a spectrum of open access research through to formal closed publications. Institutions have yet to take account of/credit for more open approaches and still rely on peer review publication. Some people are making a stand refusing to publish in or review closed journal articles. There is an indication of change as a number of granting authorities are now requiring that the outputs of the research are made openly available.