There doesn’t appear to be a one size fits all definition for open education resources (“OER”). For some there is some debate about what constitutes an OER. The least complex description I could find for OER is provided by JISC, in that they suggest (quite neatly) that “Open educational resources (OER) are learning and teaching materials, freely available online for anyone to use. Examples include full courses, course modules, lectures, games, teaching materials and assignments. They can take the form of text, images, audio, video and may even be interactive.” (JISC 2013).
This appears to sum up the elements of OER well, notwithstanding other author’s complaints that it is too simplistic. But in the spirit of trying to keep jargon and complexity to a minimum, I am satisfied that this description does what it says on the tin. The continued debate about the future of HE and the longevity of the traditional physical lecture rattle on and some have become increasingly concerned with the rise of the MOOC. I am not wholly convinced that MOOC’s (of any description) will replace traditional teaching and learning methods, however I think there is support for a blend of both face-to-face and online material which complement one another well. The advantage of OER means that there is a greater potential for widening participation and encouraging a more inclusive environment for non-traditional learners.As a means of understanding the nature of the MOOC, its place in the HE arena and in consideration of UKPSF (UKPSF-A5) I undertook the Coursera E-learning and digital cultures MOOC which was provided by The University of Edinburgh and I found this to be really very useful, in that, I can see both sides of the coin now. I have had the luxury of being able to appreciate the ability of accessing material that has been made open for all learners in the context that it was intended for use.
Recently the JISC held asked Are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), open badges and open educational resources (OER) the future of learning, during a conference in December 2013. They want to explore whether the open education resources provide opportunities for new knowledge and collaboration. Although I didn’t participate in the conference I followed the twitter update and came across some interesting ideas from those who were actively involved.
In particular one tweet came to my attention where the commentator proposed that open badges were only useful if employers recognised them.
I agreed with this comment and would probably extend it to employers being able recognise, understand and appreciate the value in open education with particular reference to MOOC’s. I contacted a couple of people from my industry networks and they were vaguely aware of what a MOOC was but didn’t really see the added value for their businesses in encouraging employee participation. I do tend to think a lot about employability when designing material and content for modules because I am conscious that I want the learners to have the ability to practically apply their knowledge in a supportive environment, however if an employer does not understand or indeed have any aware of OER’s then it could be difficult to translate their importance.
Indeed I also question the quality of some OER and would want to ensure that the learners were clear about making sure that they were accessing material that was truly open and fit for purpose. There is an overwhelming amount of information available on the internet some of which provided little evidence of academic credibility. When I critically reflect on my practice in terms of OER I believe there is significant room for improvement and I have compiled an action plan for the current cohort’s next module.
- Make use of platforms such as slideshare and twitter to facilitate distance learners in accessing information. This might also provide non university students with access to the information (UKPSF V2). In addition this may assist in the University being recognised for providing OER.
- Explore and network within my school attempting to identify if others are involved with or provide their material in OER format (UKPSF A5).
- Utilise Jorum for to gather and share material (UKPSF V2)
A Guide to Open Education Resources (2013) Retrieved from: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/programmerelated/2013/Openeducationalresources.aspx
Judah, D., (5 December 2013) [@djudah] #RCSonline open badge only successful, Retrieved from: https://twitter.com/deborahjudah/status/408544377439399936
MOOCs, Badges and open education resources: online conference, (2013) retrieved from: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/programmerelated/2013/Openeducationalresources.aspx