OER: A return to academic tradition

From WikiEducator

Jump to:navigation, search

OER: A return to academic tradition
If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.
George Bernard Shaw.[1]

Image courtesy of woodleywonderworks
Sir John Daniel, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) suggests that social software and Open Education Resources (OER) is the new miracle of education. The miracle of open educational resources is that sharing and adaptation are now easy because everything is held electronically and when you give knowledge away, you still have it for yourself to use[2].

The notion of sharing knowledge is not a new phenomenon. Since medieval times teachers have shared their knowledge with learners and scholars have shared their research findings to build new knowledge. However, advances associated with the printing press and commercialization of the publishing industry have locked down free sharing of printed knowledge through copyright legislation. While the publishing industry must be commended for their role in widening access to academic knowledge through their distribution channels and their custodianship in promoting quality, the downside is that we cannot freely adapt and share academic content under restrictive copyright regimes. The OER movement constitutes a return to the traditions of the academy, namely that the sole purpose of education is to share knowledge.

Describing OER

The term "Open Educational Resource(s)" (OER) refers to educational resources (lesson plans, quizzes, syllabi, instructional modules, simulations, etc.) that are freely available for use, reuse, adaptation, and sharing. The concept was first used in July 2002 during a UNESCO workshop on open courseware in developing countries (Johnstone, 2005). Most definitions of the term include content, software tools, licenses, and best practices. OER is a burgeoning field of practice and exploration as evidenced by the growing number of research studies including the OECD (2007), OLCOS (2007), and Hewlett Foundation (Atkins, Brown and Hammond, 2007) reports. There is an emerging research community gaining momentum and focusing on investigating the impact of OER on learning and the education environment.[3]

The OER model is based on the following value propositions:

Existing OER approaches can be classified into two broad models:

In this workshop

In this workshop, as proponents of peer-production models, we will "eat our own dog food" and explore the "OER ecosystem” in a live production environment by creating an OER resource collaboratively. We will join the WikiEducator family, one of the world's fastest growing and most productive educational wikis on this journey of discovery. This is made possible through the Learning4Content initiative where you will receive free training in wiki skills in return for a small donation of your knowledge.

During our sessions, we will explore contemporary questions including for example:

WE look forward to meeting you and living out our motto: "Just Try it! Our community will support you."



  1. http://www.quotedb.com/quotes/935
  2. http://www.col.org/colweb/site/pid/4042
  3. http://wikieducator.org/OER_Handbook/educator/Introduction/Defining_OER
Create a book