Tagged: W8A7

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 h817open@gmail.com, 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.