OpenFiction [Blog]

More from the IIEP-OER forum

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on November 7, 2005

The IIEP-OER forum has wrapped up its second week, and while it’s been a really fascinating conversation thus far, I’m finding it a little frustrating. The concept of OCW is taking its hits for the usual–no interaction, the materials aren’t complete, the materials aren’t formatted for rip-mix-burn. So far as the criticisms go, I’m comfortable waiting for time to tell how successful the model is (and however successful the model turns out to be, I don’t see it as precluding the success of other models). I suppose what frustrates me most is that all of these criticisms are based on assumptions rather than facts, and I’m hoping to get to the point soon where the discussion becomes about what we know rather than what we think we know (which I’m sure applies to me as much as anyone).

Anyway, here’s a question I sent to David* during his turn to talk about COSL’s work:

In all of the projects discussed so far, there seems to be a tension between the desire to provide rich digital learning materials–which usually demand more complex technologies–and the desire to make learning materials as widely available as possible–which often demands much simpler technologies. The projects presented thus far each address both concerns, but with different levels of emphasis on each. Since your group has been involved in a number of projects, I’m wondering if you might share your experiences with these trade-offs (or if you see this as being a trade-off at all).

Now I’m admittedly of the simpler-is-better camp; I think the high-tech online learning projects are great, but they’re really more about developing techniques to support online learning–and I think it’s worth discussing how much OER use happens online–than about openness, and I feel openness is the more pressing concern.

My biggest concern in all of this is not that the OCW concept will suffer from the criticism. My biggest concern is that if we set too high a bar in terms of either format or completeness, instructors in disadvantaged contexts will be discouraged from sharing their own materials. All the lip service in the world about ensuring that developing regions share their content as well as take advantage of the OERs produced elsewhere is just that–lip service–if there is not room in the OER community for the really profound power of sharing ideas across the internet in plain text and simple formats, complete or not.

* David, by the way, got shafted by technology. He was the fourth of four experts and was slated to go on Thursday, but the UNESCO e-mail manager went down on Wednesday, and so David’s turn got pushed back to Friday–which meant Saturday in many other time zones, putting a damper on discussion.

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