Structured content editor for OERs

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A recurring objective of the goal to reduce the cost of education has been concerned with the ability to easily and effectively reuse (and adapt) content rather than continually recreate it. The ability to engage in continuous improvement of content by informal collaboration of multiple contributors or to adapt existing high quality content to local educational needs has long been held as an important educational technology objective, and can be seen to fit very closely with the objectives of OER.

Most the attempts to support the interoperability and reusability of learning content have resulted in various educational technology specifications (eg those produced by the IMS Global Learning Consortium) and de facto "standards" (eg the Sharable Content Object Reference Model, or SCORM, which is an application profile of IMS Specifications, IEEE standards, AICC specifications etc). These have provided many important capabilities related to data and content reuse, however, none of them have yet provided the wider communities of interest with the content formats and tools necessary to achieve the levels of interoperability and reuse being sought. While there is little doubt that the capability of existing educational technology specifications and standards has been hampered by poor implementation in both software tools and infrastructure, a continuing issue is the lack of "True Interoperability" of content resulting from the continued use of unstructured content formats (eg html).

"True Interoperability" may be defined as the ability to edit or otherwise modify learning content with an editor's tool of choice when it may have been created by some other tool by its original author. The purpose of pursuing true interoperability is to allow the most open approach possible to the reuse of content with no requirement for a single tool or set of tools to be used by all content creators or editors.

The inability to easily and adaptively reuse learning content is a pivotal area of difficulty that negatively impacts the adoption of OERs and detracts from the substantial value that OERs can provide. While the sole reason for the existence of OERs is for them to be reused (adopted or adapted) by those other than their original creator, the inability to easily adapt OERs to local requirements is a serious impediment to higher levels of reuse. The main difficulty in maximizing these goals is the lack of simple tools to create, edit, remix and output OER content into different formats for use within differing educational contexts. These tools need to be flexible, intuitive and adaptable to both "teachers" and learners at any stage in their lifelong learning journey.

It is important to note that there will be a continued increase in the inefficiencies, costs and difficulties associated with the inability to easily adapt and reuse OERs until a viable solution is provided, and that this escalation will detract from potential return on OER investment.