(597-SP11) Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER), was born in 2002.  The most current definition as described by Jan Hylen (2006) as “Open Educational Resources are digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and re-use for teaching, learning and research.”  Such examples of materials posted on the internet can be as common as Wikipedia, Connexions and Flikr.com.

Having never thought about the word ‘open’ before this module challenged me to consider the words meaning and use it in the context of ICT.  Stephen Downes (2007) describes two excellent ways to describe ‘open’:

    • Convenient
    • Effective
    • Affordable
    • Sustainable
    • Available to every teacher and learner worldwide


    • Accessible
    • Appropriate
    • Accredited
    • Affordable

One of the many criticisms with the above lists is the definition of ‘affordable’ which is listed twice.  What resources are affordable to me in order to receive an education may not be affordable to those living in developing nations.  This to me is a huge problem and goes beyond connectivity or technology integration.  The OER concept of allowing open resources to one and all (and that could be translated into any language) is appealing to poorer and rural communities therefore should be FREE rather then affordable.

While studying the content from an OER is not “A direct way to earn a degree” (Johnstone, 2005), initiatives such as the China Open Resources for Education (CORE) provides multiple courses adopted from MIT and translated into Mandarin Chinese and is accessible to rural parts of China.  Such initiatives create a way for those who may not have had a chance at higher/further education the opportunity that was not available to them prior to 2002.

Image: bostinnovation.com

Growing up in a world where the internet was a new phenomenon,  one can be ignorant to open resources and especially giving credit when using these resources for educational purposes.  The possibilities and availability of resources to me are endless, and furthermore OER and OCW (OpenCourseWare) is growing at an amazing rate, proving that Technology has a place in the classroom.  Do teachers and learners alike know about OER and OCW?  Do they know how to access them and use them effectively?

Since 2002, OpenCourseWare has grown to produce 1,800 courses with an astonishing 1.6 million visitors.  Teachers are voluntarily opening up their materials (videos, audio, simulations, animations etc.) and knowledge and there is becoming a real education community that extends beyond the American border and effecting countries such as England, Australia, Japan and China.


Core opencourseware (n.d.) Retrieved from core.org.cn

Downes, S. (2007). Models for sustainable open educational resources. Interdisciplinary Journal of Knowledge and Learning Objects, 3, 29-44.

Hylén, J. (2006). Open Educational Resources – Opportunities and challenges. [Online report]. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/5/47/37351085.pdf

Johnstone, S. (2005). Open educational resources serve the world.  Educause Quarterly. 26(3). Retrived from http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Quarterly/EDUCAUSEQuarterlyMagazineVolum/OpenEducationalResourcesServet/157357

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