Open Education: From Resources to Practice
Written by Adrian Stagg and Emma Power, University of Southern Queensland
I’ve used the image on the left in a number of my presentations and it never fails to elicit chuckles in the audience when they read through the categories this book store offers. As a former librarian, I’m still not certain what ‘Quality Trash’ is (and it might be better left as a mystery), but it makes one wonder what criteria a book needs to be shelved under that heading.
There are a few topics that are absolutely guaranteed to generate robust and vigorous discussion in teaching and learning – and one of them (at least among my network), is ‘quality’. If you cast back to Susan D’Antoni’s report from yesterday, quality was the fifth highest priority globally (after Awareness raising, communities, capacity development, and sustainability) and cited as a priority in all geographical regions.
Learning Activity 3
Before we try to make sense of the debate around quality standards, measures, and proxies, I’d like you to reflect on what quality in learning and teaching means to you. It’s a big question, so when answering in the comments, pick one indicator and explain why it is important to you.
For example, you might think that strong teacher-student interaction is a sign of quality, or that the resources selected for the course are particularly current or topical. There aren’t any right answers here, we’re establishing some basic perceptions of a very complex concept.
Building on the notion of OER and OEP is how the discussion around quality is framed. In the earlier course, we touched on a number of barriers to OER adoption. One was the perception that institutions would only share resources that could not be commercialised – the adage ‘you get what you pay for‘ was the root of this criticism.
Direct and indirect measures of quality pervade higher education and often the two are conflated. David Wiley, an influential scholar in Open Education, more precisely states that there are direct measures, and indirect proxies for quality in OER. That is, a number of criteria are often used to encourage the perception of quality, but do not always have a direct correlation to it.
Learning Activity 4
Read David Wiley’s short post about OER quality standards, and in the comments below reflect on two aspects of the post:
Firstly, in the context of your own work or practice, do you agree with his perception of measures and proxies? Through the lens of open educational practice (the focus being on learning design that leverages openness, organisational cultures that value and recognise openness), do you think that the measures and proxies refer to OER, OEP, or both?
Secondly, have a look at the date of the post (I’ve deliberately chosen it based on the currency). Is this applicable to discussions at your institution, or has there been significant change?
Following on the learning activity is a much more recent post on the International Council for Distance Education (ICDE) blog by Professor Daniel Burgos. He discusses the role of quality in light of an abundance of OER, and in possibly normalising quality measures used in mainstream educational systems.
Many repositories for open resources – and especially open textbooks – have included a peer-review process for the resources, as a way of supporting lecturers in their choice of learning materials. Here is one example from the BC Campus Open Textbook Collection (scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the reviews).
When discussing OER, there are some clear attributes that can be examined – most of them drawn from other mechanisms that have been used for closed materials. Traditionally, Faculty, Librarians, and Learning Designers have exercised a role as arbiters of quality in various guises; and now the same is true in open education. Whether OER needs to be ‘fenced off’ separately to other resources in the quality debate is still under discussion.
However, open education practitioners need to consider additional facets of quality in their work. The Australian Open Education Licencing Toolkit provides a visual representation of these facets, framed by Legal, Technical, and Accessible concerns. The ‘most open’ resources are those that adhere to the criteria at the top of the list, and the level of openness decreases as you move down the page. We’ll revisit this on Day 4.
It would appear that there is a perception that open practitioners need to demonstrate that their work still meets quality standards in order for OEP to be a viable and sustainable practice. This leads us into the last learning activity for the day.
Learning Activity 5
Today has really only skimmed the surface of quality in OEP, and there are many types of discussions waiting to happen. From the list of three questions below, select one, and post your thoughts in the comments below. I’d encourage you to also engage with other participants, remembering that this is a professional space.
- Do open educational resources need their own version of quality?
- Ultimately, who decides what quality looks like in open educational practice?
- Do you think that mainstream measures of quality (such as peer-review) need to be applied to open resources in order to normalise the practice of using them?
We look forward to speaking with you all in the comments before we move on to a (perhaps) less contentious issue tomorrow – open assessment!
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.