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Emerging themes: OER issues and dilemmas

Page history last edited by Anna Gruszczynska 9 years, 3 months ago

Below you will find excerpts from conversations during project meetings and responses to reflexive tasks which touch upon OER-related dilemmas that emerged in the context of the project.


1. Excerpt from discussions during the 20 October 2010 project meeting

Some other issues which came up in the context of repurposing:

- What about issues of accreditation/validation? Are there any examples of validated modules which purposefully incorporate OERs? (Related to curriculum design and delivery)

- What if people repurpose a resource available in a repository and do it in the “wrong” way? What is the legal enforcement for creative commons licensing?

- Is there any way to track the uptake of OERs – do we know in what ways OERs are repurposed once they have been deposited? (project team will start a page on the wiki outlining the available options for tracking, both qualitative and quantitative measures)

- Delyth brought up a valid point related to reward and recognition – can OERs be used to enhance academic reputation? Can Creative Commons licensing help with that recognition?

-The tensions of ‘sharing’ materials that might be interpreted as giving away competitive advantage


2. Excerpts from project blog article "The fear factor", posted on 11 November 2011

So, what seems to keep the OER community awake at night (in no particular order of importance or provenance)? For starters, quality of reusable materials seems to be a major concern for a lot of participants on the international discussion forum running as part of Commonwealth of Learning – UNESCO Initiative Taking OER beyond the OER community: Policy and Capacity. What if lack of adequate quality control mechanisms (that is, if we ever manage to agree on what these mechanisms should involve!) means that the end product – a released teaching resource – is unreliable, poor quality and even potentially embarrassing? Within the OER pilot programme, some worried about the adverse impact on personal reputation if materials are poorly repurposed, especially if the resource is used without proper credit or permission. Many feared that their resources are not good enough to be shared openly and that by releasing teaching materials they are making themselves vulnerable to receiving overly critical feedback from their colleagues.


On the other hand, what if there is no feedback, or worse, nobody repurposes the resource and it dies a slow, digital death (after all, as research on the patterns of reuse within the Rice University Connexions repository demonstrates, this was the fate of about one third of the resources)? On a related note, what if there is no recognition for all the hard workwhich went into creating the resource – after all, personal satisfaction doesn’t quite make up for lack of institutional mechanisms of reward and recognition? What if the intended target audience (aka students) chooses not to engage with OERs, even though student engagement is one of the crucial elements of the cascade framework


Peter Sefton at the Australian Digital Futures Institute addresses the above fears (and some more) in his post on “fave two reasons not to release OpenCourseware”. He points out that despite all these fears being possibly legitimate and understandable, the sky hasn’t fallen down yet and what we have to lose are above all missed opportunities.


3. Excerpt from discussions during project meeting on 2 June 2011

Richard:  What sort of reality is it for students, would be for the students who will have a greater expectation of the quality of the education they are receiving whatever that means, do they want high class OERs, or are they are going to be happy with “try this, it’s sort of the thing that might be useful, not exactly what you want, will not exactly teach you Elizabethan poetry, it’s two decades later but it is sort of in that area but it can be useful, we can fob them off with that, how specific and purposeful do we need to be, does the material need to be 
Phil:   Can I just say something, some of this is slightly similar but might be going off the point, one of the dilemmas myself and Craig talked about on the way here and we talked before, is the dilemma of the tutor and that the OER you are recommending is better than you, now, you know, I think now, I can cope with that kind of criticism but if I was new to teaching, no way, well, when I say no way, I don’t know, it’s a massive [? So again when they are talking about the value for money side, there’s all these things, some of the lectures on ItunesU, which I think are brilliant because they are by Harvard lecturers, and he lectures on the same kind of topics as myself but I would say that he knows more than me, I don’t know, whatever, certainly his PowerPoints are nicer than mine. 


4. Excerpts from a focus group undertaken with members of staff at Teesside University

The quotes below address some anxieties around sharing teaching resources openly:

“Is it not risky? Could things not be stolen? I was just thinking about what has been on the news, that new college of humanities, are they not plagiarising? There must be a risk, if your stuff is there as an available resource.” 

“I’ve got stuff now from when I taught in Manchester, which was given to me by a colleague who was there. Sharing resources doesn’t bother me... but something about it being available to anybody, anywhere, is quite strange. You have put quite a lot of time and energy into thinking about how you might deliver and share those resources with students. I don’t know how I would feel about sharing them.” 

“What about staff from other universities? If you are at a different university and thinking, how can we attract postgraduates? If you’ve got a lovely course, well thought out, and the reading list is there... I think it’s a bit barmy, to be honest, to give it away. It’s more about it being copied by other institutions – I think that’s the more dangerous thing. You want to differentiate yourself in the market. How do you defend that? I don’t know.”



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