Week 9 – Activity 11: The advantages and disadvantages of big and little OER

Timing: 3 hours

Answers:

Big OER

Benefits

  • Can reach a large audience, and thus boost the institutions presence (think MIT CW).
  • Quality of OER can be maintained through internal regulators.
  • The big name reputation, such as the OU or MIT, can carry more weight in influencing the OER industry.
  • A larger budget can result in higher quality. This is especially beneficial for learner-targeted materials where instruction is needed – think of creating online tasks with animations and automatically marking.
  • Greater chance of being taken seriously, such as OpenStax textbooks being adopted by formal learning organisations.
  • Can have a broader effect on the OER industry as a whole, forcing other institutions to follow suit or be left behind.

Drawbacks

  • Significantly higher costs, both financial and through effort, especially if the broadcast approach is taken (Weller, 2011b:03)
  • Lack of traditional publishing means. Lack of ‘open’ journals and other avenues to spread materials.
  • Quality can fluctuate largely due to a lack of protocol and journal-based standard.
  • Funding options can remain a challenge. Being sustainable requires the selection and adoption of a carefully chosen approach.
  • For sharing, gaining access to open materials, such as those used in MOOCs or through iTunes you, can be a challenge. Especially in different non-propriety formats.

Small OER

Benefits

  • Do not need to take extra time, can be as simple as moving to an open and shareable format as appose to in-company notes (Weller, 2011b:06)
  • “Unlikely to attract large audiences, but all of them are capable of gathering niche audiences, which would collectively fulfil a large element of university’s public engagement function”(Weller, 2011b:05)
  • Allows for bottom up innovation, as is the nature of internet-based innovations (Weller, 2011b:06)
  • As a result, many academic staff could collectively take this type of approach and thus result in a large constant flow of open materials (“it gave me confidence to get on and try it”) (Weller, 2011b:07)
  • The idea of sharing and getting involved in OER as being fun, boosting interest, making social connections, engaging with the community, and boosting the ego/esteem of contributors (Weller, 2011b:03)
  • Low cost to nothing depending on how it is handled by staff/individuals – i.e. moving documents to an open format, or recording a lecture for YouTube upload is practically free.
  • High reuse potential, due to the materials being available in a more ‘casual’ environment, as appose to through EdX or other more closed systems.

Drawbacks

  • Smaller audience reach, ‘niche audiences’ (Weller, 2011b:05)
  • Requires a pre-existing network is an important factor in seeding their (the OERs) uptake (Weller, 2011b:07)
  • If other networks as used, such as SlideShare to spread material, cost will be lower, but so will the institutions presence (Weller, 2011b:03).
  • Lacks the institutional fame that might make resources appear reliable.
  • Smaller budget impacts the options for high quality and accessible resources (i.e. multiple formats are unlikely to be shared within organisations)

 

References:

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