I did an introduction to Open Education and Open Educational Resources (OER) to the PGCert group at De Montfort University on 22nd September 2011. There were some very interesting discussions around what an open educational resource should be:
A route for sharing ideas; they should be accessible, in different media forms; be accessible to lecturers and students; be easily searchable and found.
The group identified the need for improved digital literacies for staff and students regarding searching, evaluating and using educational resources. What are effective search strategies? Where should we start looking? How do you critically evaluate video and multimedia formats? How do I use and OER, do I reference it? We shall explore working with library staff to plug these gaps.
QUESTIONS THAT AROSE FROM THE GROUP
Q – What will happen to OER as universities become more competitive?
I don’t personally think increased competition will alter individuals and institutions wanting to share learning materials on the internet, because the benefits are so great. Some institutions have placed lectures, podcasts and materials online on a large scale whilst others have chosen to be more selective already. I think OER released will continue to be influenced by the buy in from institutions and also it is still a personal choice as to whether individuals (be they staff or students) are happy to release. What might change is the desire to make resources look more professional for marketing purposes. Institutions might start being more selective so not to give away the family gold. But I think OER are increasingly becoming a vehicle to compete and increasingly becoming unique selling points USPs for universities.
Q – I work across universities, so how do I find out what I can release or not?
This will be a question of understanding the Copyright ownership of the learning materials to be released. This really does vary between institutions, and even within a university different formats of learning materials might have different ownership and lie with the university or individual. This would need to be looked at on a case by case basis. My recommendation would be to find one of the institutions in which you work who already has been releasing OER, and release your teaching materials from that one in the first instance. You can go to the JISC / Academy website to search for projects.
Look at the Pilot Phase (2009 – 2010) and Phase 2 (2010 – 2011) projects. Phase 3 is due to be announced in early October.
Q – How would I search for OER in the UK and the US? Is there a common language?
Searching and finding OER certainly presents a challenge. There is not a common language, just as some technical and medical terminology will vary between UK and US language. I would recommend a pragmatic approach. Have a look at some of the OER repositories I identified in my talk, and start to familiarise yourself with one or two of them. Jorum would be a natural starting point. Also search for your subject-specific material by going directly to the JISC / Academy OER Projects page.
Q – How do I get funding to produce OER?
The JISC and Higher Education Academy certainly have funding to support OER release in strategic areas. Look at their websites and sign up to the funding news.
Q – How do we share learning materials in DMU already?
We have DORA our research publication archive – this is an open resource so also accessible to visitors external to DMU.
We have our video library on which staff can upload video content. This is not an open resource and is only available for DMU staff and students.
There are some instructions for use on the DMU Learning Exchange:
As part of the TIGER project which released OER to support interprofessional learning, an OER repository was developed. The plan is to extend this into a more general open learning object repository for sharing beyond DMU.
Q – I’ve heard much about the University of Nottingham recently. Are they working in OER?
Yes! Nottingham have championed several open education projects. I worked in the School of Nursing several years ago, and the technology group then (the SONET) group were releasing learning objects openly on the web around 10 years ago. Nottingham have also developed tools and software to assist open education:
Xerte – this is a great piece of software for producing learning objects. You can import all sorts of assets – text, photographs, video, audio and publish a fully navigable electronic resource.
Xpert – the Xerte community can chose to share their files if they wish, and Xpert searches these items. Depending on the licence, you may find a Xerte file that you can then adapt and use for your own purposes.
Read about all the Nottingham projects at:
Overview of Xerte, Xpert, U-Now and Open Nottingham
Access the growing number of open resources from the School of Nursing
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