By Adrian Stagg and Emma Power, USQ
In this coffee course, we’ll be exploring Open Educational Practice (OEP) and how it applies to teaching and learning, and research in higher education. We’ll start the course by looking at the key characteristics of openness, the distinction between free and open, and how open education is enabled.
Just as the choices of coffee (or tea) to have with this course are many, so are the choices for openness.
What kind of open do you want?
It is accepted that much of the content we access online is free, whether for work or personal use.
Within the university environment though, proprietary content (such as textbooks, research data storage, and journal publisher databases) are an accepted part of the institution. University libraries in particular pay hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to vendors to retain access to online resources that support student learning and staff research. The notion that students pay for textbooks, and that the university pays for other content is seen as ‘the cost of education.’
For the last fifteen years that notion has been challenged. Open Educational Resources (OER) aim to reduce barriers to accessing education, whether this be access to texts, access to research (which is often taxpayer-funded), access to learning experiences (such as courses), and access to different ways for learning to be recognised. It acknowledges that education is a fundamental human right, and that educational organisations should be invested in making learning accessible.
Open, therefore, means a different things to different people and organisations. Open Educational Resources are only part of the picture of what is broadly termed Open Educational Practice (OEP). The image below (from the Open Education Consortium) shows many – but not all – of the facets of OEP. Today, however, we’ll just focus on one branch of the tree – OER.
The ingredients of ‘open’
Open Educational Resources (OER) are most often described as ‘digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students, and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning, and research’. There is a lot in this definition, so let’s unpack it.
Digitised: OER leverages the online environment through online sharing platforms (such as repositories and databases) to store and distribute resources. It’s worth noting that whilst OER is most commonly attributed as digital-only resources, but is not always true.
Materials: OER can take many forms from entire courses, modules, assessment, assessment rubrics, data sets, texts, recorded lectures, audio files, multimedia, journal articles, and images.
Offered freely and openly: Free and open have a symbiotic relationship. Free means that there is no charge (a lot of the internet works this way), but open means that it usually has either a Public Domain or Creative Commons licence that allows others to retain, redistribute, revise, remix, or repurpose the resource. It’s essentially upfront permission to use the resource. It’s worth noting that some materials can be free without being open, and it’s possible to monetise open content – which is why OER makes the ‘free and open’ distinction.
The following video from Lumen Learning illustrates a lot of the freedoms associated with OER use in teaching. As you watch this, we’d like you to consider which examples resonate with your practice, as this will lead into today’s activity.
Video [2mins 26sec]: Lumen Learning, Faculty members’ experiences using Open Educational Resources, used under a CC-BY Licence from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFb59_Gk040
It is also worth spending some time today reading over the JISC ‘New to OER?’ page. You’ll notice that it has three portals, allowing you to select an entry point that best suits your needs. The site does mention an updated version, but we’ll use this older one as the portal functionality is more useful to our needs.
Of particular interest as we start this course is one quote from the JISC Infokit: ‘Engagement with OER can be light touch. New staff should be encouraged to source open materials when creating new educational materials (from CC resources or other OER), and to fully reference all other assets in their teaching materials. An academic’s own digital assets such as images, pod casts and video can be released under a CC licence…’
Revisit the tree image of OEP above and consider the ‘light touch’ approach to OER. In the discussion forum below, we’d like you to comment on”
1. Which aspects from the ‘OER Tree’ would be of most interest to you?, and
2. If you were to share any of your teaching or research resources what would you choose?
Emma and I look forward to meeting you all in the discussion, and engaging with you during Open Education Week 2017! You can also join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #OERCoffee.
The text of this work is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. All images and videos retain their respective licences.
Links to resources
- OECD (2007). Giving knowledge for free: the emergence of open educational resources, accessed via: https://www.oecd.org/edu/ceri/38654317.pdf
- An excellent OER repository is www.oercommons.org. Take some time to browse the resources for your discipline area today.
- Open Educational Resources
- JISC (2013). What are open educational resources, accessed via: https://openeducationalresources.pbworks.com/w/page/24836860/What%20are%20Open%20Educational%20Resources