“Open Educational Resources are digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and re-use for teaching, learning and research” (Hylén, 2006)Some of the key players in this movement include MIT with their OpenCourseWare site, or more closer to home, the Open University OpenLearn site. This has been supported by the free Creative Commons licenses, which are critical to the movement - I have blogged an intro the CC licenses here.
Arguably spurred by this, others are getting involved - the movement is supported by Institution's own open content repositories such as OpenLearn (above), Nottingham's U-Now site, and Oxford's OpenSpires Podcasts (amongst others). Jorum is also a significant resource - a central national repository for learning objects, where all funded outputs related to JISC funding should be stored. Then there is the likes of iTunesU, which contains a ton of materials available for learners to study independently, and for teachers to reuse.
But the sharing of educational resources is not a new phenomenon - teaching staff have been sharing PowerPoint presentations and OHPs for many years. Such materials are now considered OpenCourseWare (OCW), Open Content, Open Educational Resources (OER), or even Reusable Learning Objects (RLO).
These historical habits of sharing teaching resources are still present today - such 'informal' sharing has been identified in relation to digital materials, where teaching staff are happy to share locally, on a small scale (see Rolfe, 2012 in Research in Learning Technology). Scaling this is a major threat to the sustainability of the Open Content Movement - for as much funding that has, and will be pumped in to support and develop engagement with Open Content, embedding this as standard practice is vital otherwise participation on large scales will likely fall away when funding activity eventually ceases.
Want to see/learn more?
A key area to learn more about OER would be the OER infokit, and below is a short video to demonstrate how you can search Google for open content.
What's happening locally?
Well, Dawn Nicholson has recently been successful in a bid to run a two year HEA-funded project aimed at creating, evaluating and disseminating Open Educational Resource aimed at Level 5 and 6 learning in Applied Geomorphology. Topics will be finalised early in the Project but are likely to include applications of mass movement and weathering, fluvial systems and hydrology, applied geomorphology in cold environments, soil erosion and arid zone geomorphology, geomorphology in resource management, engineering applications of geomorphology, and risk analysis and hazard assessment.
If you are interested in engaging with the Movement, why not give me (or Dawn) a shout to learn more.
This work by Peter Reed is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.