Daily Archives: March 7, 2015

OER – Once again, the challenge is too much, not too little

While I had not heard the term “Open Educational Resources (OER), I am familiar with using publicly or open-licensed content. We have actually been having a lot of conversations at work about how to distribute learning both to students and staff in a manner which is consumable. There is so much valuable content available, both in terms of scholarly open-journals, as well as lectures, quick-videos, etc… Our challenge right now is actually to cull through the content and find the content type which best suites the audience and context.

Searching through some of the databases I found a number of useful sources which would make a nice companion for some of the context I already have (e.g. http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/sloan-school-of-management/15-317-organizational-leadership-and-change-summer-2009/part-i/readings/). I was quite impressed with the sheer volume of content and found it a bit overwhelming. I know I only scratched the surface with a few searches.

I can see a lot of value in have relatively easy (and free or cheap) access to content, especially from highly regarded sources. Certainly having content which has been deemed appropriate at a peer-institution helps a lot with having confidence in the source material. However, one possible downside of this is instructors becoming over reliant on others to do their research and themselves losing touch with the source content. Another challenge I see with the copyright rules is making sure the rules are maintained as they are borrowed from one source to another. For instance, those who deliver content to both public (university) and private (professional workshops) need to make sure they are following the rules of the content.


Joseph Drasin

Topics get old quickly, thank goodness for OERs

Before this class, I had never heard of Open Educational Resources (OER) as a term. I was familiar with free ESL materials like Randel’s Cyber Listening Lab or lessons on the BBC website, but had never considered them OER.  Overall the materials on the OER databases seemed to favor K-12 or college level ESL material, so for my work with graduate students the materials were a bit easy. However, I did find ample material focused on college writing that I could use.  For example this worksheet on paragraph organization has both clear descriptions of idea paragraphs but also graphic organizers to assist students.  When I am creating materials, this type of worksheet can take significant time, so it is great it is here as free resource. At least in my field this concept has been around and is viewed as highly valuable.  With so many educator’s abroad, publishers were attempting to get material out to English teacher as quickly as possible.  Of course, the majority of textbooks were really expensive, but even as early as 15 years ago ESL professionals has access to photocopial material (although mostly from British publishers. The trend for ESL materials to increase in cost continues and just like topics like science and math the information can quickly age and become boring for students.  I remember when these textbooks by Tapestry were cutting edge, they included CNN videos and hot topics in the news.  Now of course, despite the publisher’s efforts to address general topics, it is dated.   Regarding copyright, that has always been a factor in selecting materials and delivering content so I feel fairly comfortable with it.