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Open education

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2.4 OER issues

Figure 4

In 2001 the OER movement began when MIT announced its OpenCourseWare initiative [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . MIT’s goal was to make all the learning materials used by their 1800 courses available via the internet, where the resources could be used and repurposed as desired by others, without charge.

At the time this was revolutionary, since much of the accepted wisdom was that content was a key asset (the adage was that ‘content is king’) and it couldn’t be given away. The OpenCourseWare initiative also addressed some of the issues that were arising with learning objects, since it took existing teaching content and simply released it.

In reality, it wasn’t that simple to release the teaching content, since the material often required reversioning, rights clearance, or some form of adaptation. But nevertheless the initiative didn’t rely on individual educators engaging with complicated standards and adopting a new set of practices. Instead, OpenCourseWare built on existing practice by taking existing course materials and releasing these, rather than developing bespoke learning objects. However, there remain issues that have not been fully resolved, such as ease of reuse for different contexts and purposes. One approach, which is the one taken by The Open University with respect to OpenLearn, has been to produce short open courses based on longer original ones, using the content that most readily repurposes to an open environment.

Following on from the MIT announcement, an OER movement began, with many other universities following suit. In 2006, The Open University launched its own OER initiative, releasing distance education material via the OpenLearn project.

In the next activity you will look at some of these OER projects in more detail.

Activity 7: Exploring OER issues

Timing: Timing: 4–5 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.

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 Open Badges or the Peer 2 Peer University.

If you are content to use Twitter to share your thoughts, Tweet about your blog post, including the hashtags #h817open and #Activity7. Spend no more than 30 minutes browsing others’ responses using these hashtags.