Quality of OER
Dear Paul, Thank you for initiating this page for a discussion on what constitute quality of OER. There is definitely a need for developing a framework that OER developers and users can use in their own contexts. Before developing a set of criteria, we must look into an overriding philosophical stand or a several scenarios having its own philosophy of quality. For example, I believe that quality of OER be "fitness for purpose". It should be useful to those for whom it has been developed. So, clarity in respect to the level and context of the OER are important considerations from the point of view of OER users to decide what to use and what not. Similarly, considering the authority (expertise)of the OER developer, and what quality assurance process the material has undergone are also important considerations. Some more specific criteria that I would like you and others to consider are:
1. Validity of the information (correctness of the facts) 2. Relevance to the level and contexts 3. Clarity of presentation 4. Interactivity of the material (with quizzes, written in conversational style) 5. Completeness of the OER (many OER are incomplete) 6. Collaboration with expert community
Looking forward to a vibrant discussion.
What does the openness of OERs necessarily have to do with quality? Are there quality considerations for OERs other than there would be for closed curricula? If so why, and what are they? --SteveFoerster 14:05, 18 January 2013 (UTC)
Dear Steve, Hi, thank you for these two questions. You raise a fundamental concern. Fitness-for-purpose and every characterisation of OER depends upon what it is and supposed to be or do. It is intended to be ‘open’ (and also intended to be ‘educational’). Since it is intended to be open, then we need to understand what we mean by ‘open’ hence the need for the definition of openness with respect to how it is used in the term ‘open educational resource’. Originally ‘open’ was used in a definition of OER to cover the characteristics of ‘open to reuse’ and this was instrumental through attaching Creative Commons licences for expanding sharing and reuse around the world. Now we are looking at inclusivity and accessibility, and how definition of ‘open’ as used in ‘open access’ can influence the development of OER - particularly in assuring quality. As for your closed curricula, these may have quality characteristics worthwhile considering here - for example when we are developing OER we also need to apply these within a lesson or pathway. They need to fitted into a pedagogically sound teaching/learning approach. So QA for courses and for curricula are also of interest. cheers paul
Hmm. "Open" simply means free to redistribute, adapt, and reuse, and it would be a mistake to try to redefine it after the fact, even with desirable elements such as you describe. A term in such widespread usage shouldn't be a moving target, and there shouldn't be the risk that resources that were once considered OERs suddenly no longer are. I realise there's no Grand Politburo that decides things officially when it comes to the term, so we are each free to use the term as we see fit, but in doing so there's quite a bit of confusion that may result. --SteveFoerster 13:11, 21 January 2013 (UTC)
Quality of OER is important to help learners know that what they are spending time on is worth it. It is still open, the guideline will help users to assess that one OER is useful, and the other is better than the one at hand. OER will never be closed due to guidelines to improve the quality and help contributors to understand what makes better OER.
Dear Sanjaya, Addressing a couple of your points here ~~ I agree with the fit-for-purpose definition by Daniel. Fitness-for-purpose is an important and probably a sufficient term for describing the quality of an OER. Within this, the OER must be seen to be fitting by the end-users (internal face validity) and by accrediting agents (external face validity) among others. Indeed all aspects of validity should be explored (construct validity : does the OER do what it says it will do, content validity : is the OER at the appropriate level and difficulty, etc), as well as those of reliability and of utility. Utility here implying the OER needs to be short not taking too much student time, and compact in e-memory so fairly easily transmissible. Utility also includes accessibility - not only in the local language of the user, but also keeping code separate from content so translators can work easily on the localisation of content - exchanging embedded photographs, text and other multimedia content with those most appropriate and fitting to the local culture and context of the end-users. Cheers, paul
Dear Folks, Should we focus on only achieved learning as the measure of quality OER ? or should we include other dimensions to our definition of quality - even if they are impossible or difficult to measure ? Some have suggested that a 700-page glorious OER authored by a great expert with fantastic multimedia captivating the student etc etc is not the point, and rather that the achieved quality of learning is the be-all-and-end-all of the matter. As I see it, our job is not only to achieve learning but to improve learning. This means knowing whether or not introducing voice-over leads to diminished or increased learning scores, and whether a shortened mobile-phone OER achieves better learning or not than video at home. What do you think ? I believe that having a host of categories inside our definition of quality helps us to improve the OER and increase achieved learning. Better yet would be having a full and comprehensive understanding of all components affecting the quality and achieved learning. Your input here please ~ paul
I was away for several days (trying to recruit people for the Academic Volunteers International effort for the OER-u which brings me to my thoughts on OER and quality. As an adult educator with special interest in self-directed learning I have a slightly different view of quality in OER or any educational effort. I measure quality by its accessibility to the learner, its adaptability to the learner's needs, and the ability of the learner to use his/her learning to: improve the quality of life, meet vocational/career goals, document learning so that it can be used to build and enhance credentials (such as an e-portfolio). So for me high quality OER materials are easy for learners to access, easy for learners to evaluate, clearly organized so that learners can not only gain factual knowledge but also learn analytical processes, consolidate complex learning, use new learning in creative ways, and apply/transfer their learning to a variety of situations. High quality OER's therefore have clear guidelines and readily available feedback and provide some kind of tools students can use to make their own judgments about their value.
I do not think it is up to some international body to define quality or value, but I do think it is up to use to help learners develop intellectual criteria to make their own judgments and guide their own learning. Joyce McKnight, Empire State College (US)