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Survey on the creation, use and reuse of OERs (ORIOLEproject)

August 1, 2011

Via Scoop.itOpen learning news

Chris Pegler’s survey on the creation, use and reuse of open educational resources ( has been extended to the end of August. It takes about 30 minutes to fill in, and some of the questions are quite thought-provoking This is a worthwhile project to contribute to, and the results will help us all to be better informed about perceptions and practices around openness in higher education.
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Honestly, what is the business case for OERs?

July 28, 2011

Via Scoop.itOpen learning news

David Wiley was with us at a meeting of SCORE fellows at the Open University this morning, talking about the role of Creative Commons licences in education. He started by asking us to brainstorm the main differences between book-based publishing and internet-based publishing. From the list we generated, he highlighted these advantages to the latter: – No cost to make copies – No cost to distribute materials – Materials are editable – Copies made electronically are perfect – Distribution is instantaneous All these affordances could revolutionise education; however, they fly in the face of copyright law, thereby preventing us from giving our students the best possible learning experiences. There was general agreement in the room on this point. Then the conversation turned to the trickier question that Amber from JISC recently asked: what is (really) the business case for open educational resources? The benefits of openness may be obvious to us as educators, but what are the grounds for institutions to “buy in” (literally) to the whole idea? This question generated some animated discussion, and some persuasive arguments, the main points of which are summarised below:

1) David told us about an experiment at Brigham Young University where they made the complete set of learning materials openly available for a handful of programmes, in order to test whether enrolment of fee-paying students would drop, as is widely hypothesised. In fact, the findings showed that there was no significant impact on paid enrolment. Actually there was a slight, but statistically insignificant, increase in enrolment in these courses. (Link to David’s paper on this to be added asap.)

2) David also presented a moral argument for publishing learning/ teaching materials as OERs, on the grounds that HE institutions are operating on State funds. (I’m not so sure about that though: while we may be receiving State funds for much of our research, the same can’t always be said for teaching and related activities.)

3) Andy Lane, from the Open University, pointed out that as the OER movement gains momentum, if our institutions don’t openly publish their teaching materials as OERs, someone else will. (The implication being that the “someone else” will benefit from the increased web presence and promotion of their expertise.)

4) Andy also noted that the cost of materials production for large universities in the UK is in the hundreds of millions of pounds, although most universities have not attempted to measure the staff time that is spent on producing materials. Sharing resources between institutions is the obvious way to free staff from the time-consuming work of producing PowerPoint slides, PDFs and other materials, thereby enabling them to spend more time supporting students.

5) One more argument was offered by Antonio Martinez from Leeds, who pointed out that one aspect of added value for fee-paying students is the “student experience”, which includes having the opportunity to meet and communicate with the authors of openly published resources.

And so… it turns out there are some very good reasons for institutions to invest in openness.

Basic Guide to OERs (UNESCO & CoL): a great e-book

July 27, 2011

Via Scoop.itOpen learning news

This looks like an excellent guide to open educational resources for newcomers to the field, and it also contains very useful, detailed information for old hands, such as the appendices giving an overview of OER repositories and search engines around the world. Very clearly written and covers all the essential information about Creative Commons licences, how and where to find OERs, how to publish OERs, as well as a section on making the case for OERs. Great work by author Neil Butcher and editors Asha Kanwar (Commonwealth of Learning) and Stamenka Uvalic´-Trumbic´ (UNESCO).
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Beautifully presented digital collections from JISC

July 26, 2011

Via Scoop.itOpen learning news

Virtual libraries of research and study support materials across all subject areas for higher education. This is a beautifully designed site containing 81 digitised collections with great learning resources in them. Well done to MIMAS and M&M for the gorgeous – and functional – site design! (I especially love the “Inspire me” section…)
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MIT offers template for WordPress wiki for crowdsourced open teaching materials

July 23, 2011

Via Scoop.itOpen learning news

“Using grant money from the National Science Foundation, a group of MIT faculty members have recently launched the Educational Collaboration Space website.” This looks great – MIT is experimenting with a wiki for Maths teachers to share lesson ideas on teaching communication in Maths, and as a by-product, they are making available the WordPress-based wiki template for other communities to gather teacher-created materials. (The actual Maths wiki is still in demo mode at the moment and has no content in it, apart from a few gloriously absurd Jaberwock-style model “discussions”, ( with exchanges such as: “Jim: When there are ghijk that need attention, I think the idea of asking the student to lmnop is a good one. In addition, stuvw ansn swerpp sna stuvw ansn swerpp sna stuvw ansn swerpp sna. “Susan: But wouldn’t that ans asnsop asn? How do you smapi s andn sseips?” Seriously now: the WordPress template looks great. It can be found at – along with instructions for use.
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Zero Tuition College connects self-directed learners with “MAGEs”

June 30, 2011

Via Scoop.itOpen learning news

The Zero Tuition College (ZTC) is a “Free College for Self-Directed Learners”. Their student list contains 27 names – mostly from the USA but including a few from the UK, Canada, Egypt, Switzerland and the Philippines. The list of “MAGEs” (Mentor, Advisor, Guide, and/or Expert ) has 30 names on it – one from Canada and one from Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and the rest from the USA.

So, with more mentors than students, this seems like a pretty good deal for the students – assuming they can find mentors in their areas of interest. At the moment, the students’ areas of interests include Marine Biology, “english grammar”, circus, Queer Studies and Calligraphy. The areas of interest listed by the mentors include equally intriguing but not necessarily compatible pursuits, such as Birth Activism, Puppetry, “HOMESCHOOL MOM ON ONE CHILD” and fiber arts. And one who offers “No majors but many minors”…

A larger pool of both learners and mentors is probably needed to make the idea work. I’ll be watching this one with interest.

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Michael Feldstein on Textbook Publishers and OERs | e-Literate

June 12, 2011

Via Scoop.itOpen learning news
Recently The Chronicle reported ( on the responses from representatives of textbook publishers to the planned allocation of £2 billion of taxpayers’ money in the USA to Creative Commons-licensed OERs.

Michael Feldstein sums up what many of us might have thought at the time: “To my esteemed fellow textbook industry professionals, I reply: Dudes. Seriously?”

With reference to the history of the open source software movement, he goes on to point out that the likelihood that the publishing industry is already engaging in the OER movement is strong, even though their sales executives may not yet have their scripts worked out yet.

Some interesting comments from readers at the bottom of the post, including some of the panelists whose views were quoted in The Chronicle.
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