Sunday, July 22, 2012

OER (or old dog new tricks :-) )

I've been dabbling with the OER "week" in introduction to open education this week. I have to say that I've been a big proponent of OER (from a theoretical standpoint) for quite some time now.  I do believe that it is important for educators (especially those in public institution) to share their contributions for free and feed them forward.  The actual implementation is what I am stumbling a bit on in that it generally takes more time to go through OER resources in order to find something that works best in your course sequence, and at times you don't even find that.

A complaint that came across in OERu's #OCL4ED workshop was that it was more time consuming going through OER to find what might work well in your course, compared to going with some publisher's pre-packaged (and not-free) materials.

That being said, there were a few quite interesting resources in the readings. For example, A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources is a nice (and free) resource that you can use when you want to introduce your fellow colleagues to OER (and to creative commons licensing it seems) without having to spend a lot of time explaining things to them (a "read this first, then ask me questions" type of interaction - since time seems to always be short ;-)  ).

Another thing that really jumped out was that OER seems to be more of an umbrella term; which also encompassed wikipedia and OCW - according to free to learn - whereas my own understanding of OER before #OCL4ED and this module was a bit more limited to objects such as those in MERLOT. This makes me wonder if OER is too broad of a term to be used in the same context as OCW. It reminds me of super-classes and sub-classes when I was an undergrad in computer science.  OER seems to be a super-class, a type of object whose definition encompasses other things. If we treat a super-class like it is a sub-class, then that may lead to confusion.
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