Category: Week 8

Week 8 – Activity 8: An OER course

Activity 8: An OER course

Timing: 8 hours


Imagine you are constructing a course in digital skills for an identified group of learners (e.g. undergraduates, new employees, teachers, mature learners, military personnel, etc.). It is a short, online course aimed at providing these learners with a set of resources for developing ‘digital skills’. It runs for five weeks, with a different subject each week, accounting for about six hours study per week.

  • Devise a broad outline of the topics to be covered every week. Don’t deliberate too much on this; it should be a coherent set of topics but you don’t actually have to deliver it.
  • Now see how much of your desired content could be accommodated by using OER repositories. Search the following repositories and make a quick evaluation for each week of your course of the type of content that is available.
  • Create a table similar to the one below for your evaluation. In the final column judge whether the resources are good, medium or bad in terms of suiting your needs.
Week Topic Resources Suitability (G/M/B)

Alternatively, you can input your evaluation into the form below.


Target: High school teachers learning basic digital skills. With the aim of them passing on this knowledge to students.


Week Topic Resources Suitability (G/M/B)
1 MS Office:

Basic overview of MS Office tools applicable to teachers: Word and PowerPoint.

How to do basic Word formatting and PDF export:


Useful for an overview of content taught during the week. However far to general and non-detailed to provide quality learning on it’s own.

For teachers: Medium:

Full course, which is arranged in a section-by-section layout allowing for easy navigation. No worksheets or activities. Based on MS Office 2000.

Word: Good:

Extensive overview of many word functions laid out in a categorized manner, allowing for the selection of specific parts of the course.

Introduction Word course on business letter composition: Medium:

Introduction courses to creating a business letter. Students could learn multiple functions of word through this process. however, it could take longer than 6 weeks so segments will need to be chosen.

Overview of the basics of Powerpoint: Good

Broad overview of the features. Useful for introduction. Includes a look into speaker notes.

2 Online searching:

Using keywords; doing research.

Keyword choice: Good:

Video providing a basic overview of how to search using Google. Focusing on keyword choice.

Doing research: Bad (for this purpose):

For younger learners it is beneficial. Child-like layout, teaching concepts that adults could learn in a more succinct manner.

More on searching skills: Bad (for this purpose):

For younger learners it is beneficial. It also includes explanations around what is the WWW, which could contextualize the information in a clearer manner. Child-like layout, teaching concepts that adults could learn in a more succinct manner.

3 Using blogging for learning:

Learning the basics and how it can enhance cross-disciplinary learning.

Integrating tech to enhance liberal learning: Medium:

Journal article, which would be good for students to read, but given the course length is not so much applicable.

Blog basics: Bad:

An advertising like blog post, encouraging people towards monetization. Not applicable.

4 Avoiding Plagiarism:

What is plagiarism and learning to cite.

Citation: Medium:

Will require some modification, but can be used as a tool to provide more details on specifics of citation.

Introduction: Medium:

Can be used as this week’s introduction. Provides an overview of the key areas of citation.

Citation basics: Medium:

Could be used after the above. Also a video, but more comprehensive.

Plagiarism: Good:

A video and ‘cheat sheet’ combined to provide useful tips and things to look out for when citing, as to avoid plagiarism.

5 Research Skills (authenticity of materials) Evaluating resources: Good:

Multiple videos looking at various aspects of research skills, from web pages, to blogs, to explaining what search engines won’t find.


I was particularly impressed with the variety of resources provided by Merlot. The user evaluation and details provided add a level of authenticity or trust into the results. I would imagine going forward that one of the better ways to deal with OER quality and search is through user tagging and rating. OpenStax resources were even more impressive in their quality and thus showing the potential of OER. Unfortunately due to the specifics I chose in my course outline I couldn’t find any of their materials to incorporate at this stage.



Week 8 – Activity 7: Exploring OER issues

Timing: 5 hours

Last week you created a list of three priorities you determined for open education. This activity builds on that work, but is based on further research in the area of OER.

  • Read this JISC report on OER or the OER Research Hub evidence report.
  • Based on your reading, write a blog post of around 500 words, setting out what you perceive as the three key issues in OER, and how these are being addressed.For instance, if you feel that accreditation of informal learning is a key issue then you should state why this is significant and link to some of the ways it is being addressed; for example through Mozilla badges or the Peer 2 Peer University.
  • Look at the blogs of some fellow students and read the issues they have highlighted. Comment on at least one other post.
OER understanding badge icon Badge: Completing this activity will make you eligible for the OER understanding badge, as explained in Week 7. You will need to blog your solution to this activity, and then send an email to, providing a link to your blog post. As explained in Week 7, you will need to register on the Credly system to gain your badge. Acquiring the badge is entirely optional.


Improving Access

Why is this significant:

  • Current students enrolled in OER courses tend to have had prior eduction (pg.17).
  • 88.4% indicated the opportunity to study at no cost was significant (pg.18)
  • OER can increase access to education for informal learners with disabilities (pg.18)
  • Language practice is also another benefit – possible due to non-English natives being excluded on language policy grounds at many formal institutions. (pg. 18)
  • Students who try OER courses are more likely to try one again (83.2%), and therefore the introduction to OER courses at lower academic levels could be beneficial in fostering life-long OER acceptance (pg.29).

How it is being addressed:

  • Using OER as an entry point to trying out a university course (pg. 17).
  • A longitudinal study is required to determine if this trialling of formal content prior to, or supplanting formal study has any effect on student rendition, and such a research piece is now being done at the OU (pg.18)
  • OER can be used as a bridge to higher education (pg.30).

Financing, and passing on reduced cost benefits

Why is this significant:

  • Universities can save by moving to OER textbooks, however currently these saving are often ‘lost’ and therefore making it difficult to certify such a claim. (pg. 23)
  • There is a disparity between OER content online, such as open journal, and OER textbooks. This leads to cost saving difficulties . (pg.24)

How it is being addressed:

If one looks at UNISA, in their OER strategy plan, they have noted the cost benefits as the following:

  • allowing emergence of new models of accreditation, through engagement with the Open Education Resource Universitas (OERu) model, open badges, and other open models, which could serve to expand Unisa’s reach without increasing cost. (pg.7)
  • The integration of openly-licensed materials into courses can supplement or replace materials produced by Unisa. This will accelerate materials development time frames and reduce development costs.(pg.13)
  • Curriculum resources can potentially reach large numbers of learners for negligible marginal cost, supporting both informal and formal learning, enabling cost-effective competition against emerging models of delivery such as massive open online courses (MOOCs) (pg.13)


Why is this significant:

  • OER can be understood as recruitment tools, which act in a complimentary way to formal higher ed (pg. 29)
  • OER’s have been identified as bridges to more formal education(pg.7), yet we are currently seeing the postgrad students making up the largest category of users (pg. 10).
  • 31.3% of OER users say that their use of OER influences their decision to register for their current course (pg. 30).
  • OER can be used as a bridge to higher education (pg.30).
  • “Other significant barriers to OER identified by faculty and administration are fears of change; confusion over copyright issues and the use and reuse of OER; concerns regarding the effort required for implementation of OER initiatives; and the possibility of conflict with commercial publishers and other special interest groups. The greatest barriers to participation in open assessment and accreditation practices are identified as the lack of availability of committed staff members to support such activities, and the potential costs of redeveloping courses as OER. Lack of support for OER-based courses from senior management is also a great concern. These “barriers” can be countered by incentives such as the low cost of entry and use of OER; minimal or non-existing licensing requirements; ability to localize and update the content and make other changes”  Diane et al. (2013:46)

How it is being addressed:

  • Studies, such as done by Diane et al. (2013) are researching how OER can be accredited, along with financial benefits.


Week 8 – Activity 6: Criticisms of learning objects

Timing: 1 hour

Three criticisms of learning objects are given below: you should read/watch at least one of these:


Part of the problem of learning objects was that it often seemed alien to everyday practice, so that getting educators to share their content in learning object repositories proved to be a barrier. Unlike sharing research findings in published journals, or sharing teaching resources informally within an institution, there was no real incentive or established practice for sharing teaching material on this scale. And, as Brian Lamb points out, there was a tendency to over-engineer the systems required, with specific standards that had a language of their own.

You might reflect here on whether you have, or would, share teaching resources using the learning object approach. What do you think would be the main issues for educators and teachers?


Completed. Notes on Wiley paper. Video discussed the rise of blogs as being a primary factor in achieving a similar means to the Learning Objects objective of sharing and collaboration.