Re-use of online resources

As I don’t inhabit the world of HE I tend not to worry too much about copyright issues which affect my resources, which are mainly the resources I use in my teaching. I suppose I should see my blog as a resource as well.

Quite simply, I would be happy (flattered, even) if someone reused something I published (is that the right verb?) as an OER. The Creative Commons principle where I can decide what

rights to give other people and where my work is always acknowledged seems fair to me.



3 OER issues and F.E.

by John Baglow

For me, the 3 main issues with OER revolve around what is meant by openness, how open programmes can be sustained and what quality control is possible.


 The OECD talks about materials being “offered freely”? That might mean:

  • no restrictions on who could participate
  • without charge
  • the user, whether a learner or practitioner, would be free to use and reuse the materials as they wished including making changes.
  • there would be no technical barriers to access

George Siemens argued in his online presentation (25 03 12) that the success of OER hinges not so much on the placing of resources online but of making them more-widely accessible.

Issues for my FE college: would we want to make resources available to users? Would that enhance our reputation? Could we then encourage them to join fee-paying courses? Should we share our teaching resources with other practitioners? How useful are shared resources without sharing our experiences of how we use them?

Sustainability   The obvious question about OER is what would sustain the OER over time? It seems to me that Stephen Downes (2007) is right when he says

“the sustainability of OERs – in a fashion that makes them affordable and usable – requires that we think of OERs as only part of a larger picture, one that includes volunteers and incentives, community and partnerships, coproduction and sharing, distributed management and control.”

In other words, OERs are not just materials deposited online by an institution. To be successful they need to be part of an organic network which capitalises on the way that people interact and collaborate online. Jan Hylen (2006) suggests that OER should be provided via user communities. This would enable users to form strong relations with the website. Crucially, the institution can then learn from the community about what works and what doesn’t. He argues that building up such a community would encourage users to return to it.

There may not even be an institution involved. The OER may be

“more of a grass roots activity where individuals contribute with their time, knowledge and resources on a voluntary basis. In this model, production, use and distribution is decentralised, compared to the institutional model where at least production and distribution are centralised“.

Issues for my FE college: If we are not to adopt the status quo option scathingly dismissed by George Siemens, we should explore ways of forming and joining user communities in appropriate subject areas. 

Quality Assurance  

It is hardly surprising that ideas about quality assurance of OER seem to have a lot in common with quality assurance of any product offered online.

  • It may be that the institution’s brand alone is strong enough to reassure users of the materials’ quality.
  • there could be a system of user reviews such as on hotel booking sites
  • or a more integrated peer review system which gives recognition to creators and helps disseminate the materials.

Issues for my FE college: the college has a strong brand regionally, based on its face-to-face teaching. We should pilot the use of OERs which include user reviews and peer review.

Downes, S. (2007). Models for sustainable open educational resources.

EDUCERI  “Giving Knowledge for Free: The Emergence of Open Educational Resources” 2007,3343,en_2649_35845581_38659497_1_1_1_1,00.html

Hylén, J. (2006). Open educational resources: Opportunities and challenges. Proceedings of Open Education, 49-63.

Siemens, G., “Openness and the future of higher education in the age of MOOCs” Webinar, Mon March 25 2013


MOOCs and persistence

1. I’m coming round to the view that some blended use of MOOCish activity might be possible in FE. I’m not sure about the 16-19 students though.
2.George Siemens was searching for the word resilience in his talk. He also called it ‘grit’ (very American!) and persistence. I think students have to be weaned onto resilience. I once read Claxton who argued that girls in school have less resilience because they tend to do things very conscientiously and are afraid of failing. Boys fail early on because they are not so conscientious  but that makes them more resilient.
George Siemens also suggested that students need to be self-motivating and to take responsibility for their own learning if they are to be successful. I suppose that way they become more resilient and can cope with the highs and lows.


Learning objects (or calling a spade a spade)

I think Downes starts off convincingly, when he argues that making some materials available online would simply avoid re-inventing the wheel but it all goes downhill when he seems to reduce materials to ‘learning objects’ and seeks salvation in a lot of techie speak. I don’t think successful teaching and learning are achieved without practitioners  applying their own pedagogy to help decide whether a new development is for them. 

The phrase ‘learning object’ conjures up the idea of a behaviourist pedagogy which leaves no room for learners to engage with the concepts involved.

Reasons for going for open source

Go to Etherpad to help edit this list of  reasons:

Good Reasons for adopting a new way of delivering learning (such as open source programmes):

  • the existing learners learn more effectively
  • it encourages existing learners to go on to more learning
  • it attracts new learners by increasing access
  • it saves money
  • it makes money
  • it encourages learning for its own sake
  • …………..

Dubious reasons for adopting a new way of delivering learning such as open source programmes:

  • technology makes it possible so we do it
  • the idea of free access to learning materials appeals to our sense of democracy
  • sounds cool
  • everyone is talking about it

What open students do

What  open students do

Triumph of form over content! I liked these characteristics of open students. If these are desirable activities then maybe online learning does require a different pedagogy from face-to-face teaching. I need to think about which students in my FE college might benefit from this approach. Not all, that’s for sure

Experiencing open learning

I’ve started the OU OpenLearn module today. There seem to be lots of technical issues but there seem to be several tutors who are busy fire-fighting. I’ve decided to branch out from my OU blog in favour of something which might be a bit more attractiveImage