The Future of OER

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Image courtesy of Amir Fathi

OER are just one part of a rapidly changing education environment that is referred to as open education. (See for example Downes, 2005; Keats and Schmidt, 2007; Schmidt and Surman, 2007)

As the movement gains strength, it poses a number of interesting questions related to sustainability and the role of universities in innovation and society. One key question deals with the missing pieces that will allow OER to move from publishing educational resources to truly changing the way we teach and learn. Susan D'Antoni, head of the Virtual Institute of the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning, summed up the requirements for this to happen as the four A's (2006): accessibility, appropriateness, accreditation, affordability. Others (for example Downes, 2007) have started sketching out their ideas on some of these issues.

The following list provides an introduction to some of the questions the international open education community is looking to address in the next few years.

Though these issues are presented individually, each one affects the other. For example, the factors that determine quality influence how students are assessed. Issues such as affordability can affect every part of the OER life cycle.

The challenges the OER community faces are not an indication that it is on the verge of collapse. Rather, it shows a vibrant, self-conscious community that is in its infancy. Some of these questions are so large and complex it is unlikely that there will be any resolution soon. Nonetheless, in order to ensure the strength and success of the OER community it is important that these questions are carefully - and calmly - considered.

Sources

D'Antoni, S. (2006). http://topics.developmentgateway.org/special/onlineeducation/template21.do
Downes S. (2005). “E-learning 2.0.” eLearn Magazine. Association for Computing Machinery. Retrieved June 24, 2008, from http://www.elearnmag.org/subpage.cfm?section=articles&article=29-1
-. (2007). “Open Source Assessment”, Retrieved June 24, 2008, from http://halfanhour.blogspot.com/2007/06/open-source-assessment.html
-. (2007, March 26). A Review of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement: Achievements, Challenges, and New Opportunities. Stephen's Web. Retrieved May 27, 2008 from http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=39591
Keats D.W., Schmidt J.P. (2007, March). The genesis and emergence of Education 3.0 in higher education and its potential for Africa, First Monday, 12(3). Retrieved May 20, 2008, from http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue12_3/keats/index.html
Schmidt, P. "8 The future of open education." Retrieved March 21, 2008, from http://www.wikieducator.org/UNESCO_OER_Toolkit_Draft#The_future_of_open_education.
Wiley, D. (2007, June 6). For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid! Iterating Towards Openness. Retrieved May 27, 2008, from http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/336

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