Guides to checking the QUALITY of OER.
The UK OER Toolkit talks about quality considerations. Institutions will be concerned about the quality of OER released from a reputation perspective. Staff (and students) will feel unsure that their materials will be good enough to share to a community to reuse. In a series of interviews with senior university staff, the quality of OERs were referred to several times:
“How could it be ensured that OER released by a university was high quality and met learner needs?”“The traditional academic quality processes govern the quality of awards, not content.” “How would OERs released remain current and reflect the quality of information required by professional bodies?” (2012-Rolfe-and-Fowler-How_institutional_culture_can_change).
From student perspectives, in interviews with learners in a health and life science faculty, quality was not identified so strongly, but what was highly valued were resources that were easy to access and clear to scan:
“I think it does because the longer I spend finding it, I tend to lose my concentration and think about what I will do next.” “…the thing is, you know, when trudging through books for example, you never really know what you’re going to get without reading the index or the content and you still don’t know what you’re going to get until you’ve re-read that thing. Whereas on the internet or online you can just scan and have a quick look through and pick out so many key words for what you’re actually looking for and get the right research that you need.” (2013 Libor Hurt_Student perceptions of OER).
How is ‘quality’ defined?
There are many features of an OER that may influence the perception of quality – as above, ease of availability and discoverability, accuracy of content, production values, reputation gain. Quality will vary on the stakeholder – those reusing OER might select OER based upon different criteria – accuracy of content, being a ‘stand-alone’ resource or ease of repurposing and remixing.
What are the main features?
As outlined in the UK OER Toolkit, as with any learning resource, authors should consider:
- Reputation of author/institution
- Standard of technical production
- Fitness for purpose
So, how to check your OERs before release? Authors as gatekeepers of quality.
This simple checklist adapted from the Open University SCORE resources (original version CC-BY 2010) is a useful ‘pre-release’ guide. I’ve updated it to include a check on the inclusion of patient and medial data, to consider accessibility by diverse users by releasing in multiple file formats, and to encourage sustainability by releasing OER to at least two different locations.
OU SCORE OER Checklist_Adapted_CCBY_2015 (Download checklist document)
Students as gatekeepers of quality.
It is obvious that we all gather information from the internet to support our learning in a chaotic and unregulated manner. In one of our UKOER projects, a group of students arranged focus groups to understand how fellow students search for, and critically evaluate, web-based materials. They evolved an ‘OER Evaluation Matrix’ which a series of basic checks that a student can make to judge the quality of any multimedia resource – not just those openly licensed.
OEREM_Version1_26Sept2012 (Editable Word Document)
OEREM_Version1_26Sept2012 (PDF File)
OEREM Version 1 by Towlson and Hurt (2012) based on Leigh, Mathers and Towlson (2009)