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2.5 Exploring OER

Figure 5

OER are commonly gathered together in repositories. These can be the output of one project or several projects gathered together. For example, the OU’s OpenLearn project gathers all of the OU’s open education material. The Ariadne Harvester project acts as a search engine across many repositories.

In the next activity you will explore the types of content found in OER repositories. 

Activity 8: An OER course

Timing: Timing: 6–8 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. (Spend no more than 30 minutes on this task.)
  • 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.

Judge whether the resources suit your needs well, partially or poorly. (Spend no more than 45 minutes on average exploring each repository, so a maximum of around four hours for this task).

Use the box below to make notes.

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  • Write a blog post, using your evaluation as the basis. Reflect upon whether the use of OER caused you to change what you wanted to teach, and what time saving (if any) would be gained by using OER. (Spend around one hour on this task.)
  • If you are content to use Twitter to share your thoughts, Tweet about your blog post, including the hashtags #h817open and #Activity8 and search these hashtags on Twitter to see what other learners have said. (Spend up to one hour on this task.)

A note on accessibility of OER repositories

Repositories often contain material from a wide variety of authors, and repositories take different approaches to ensuring the accessibility of these resources. Some make accessibility a requirement, while others offer guidelines. The accessibility of resources drawn from a wide range of authors is another factor in the use of OER that you should consider.

John Richardson (Emeritus Professor in Student Learning and Assessment at The Open University) some years ago drew together the accessibility policies of several OER repositories though some of these sites have now changed significantly, or ceased operating (clicking the link should download the document to your device).