OpenFiction [Blog]

A page from my notebook: Two houses

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on June 13, 2006

Literally a page from my work notebook as I’m thinking on paper about the challenges facing the OER community: I continue to be concerned that the OER world is a marriage of somewhat star-crossed lovers (to borrow from the bard), and that the battle between the two houses is not helping the whole.

I see the OER community as roughly divided between those who put the emphasis on “open education”—that is, widening access to educational opportunities—and those who put the emphasis on “educational materials”—that is, those whose emphasis is on promoting the distribution, adaptation and re-use of educational materials. These categories are not mutually exclusive, and most projects in the OER community exhibit characteristics of both, but there seems in the remix/reference discussion to be an element of dogmatic assertion that the remix approach is the “correct” one.

I obviously have my biases in all of this, so I want to lay out some of the fault lines below in part to see where my biases may be getting in the way of clear thinking on the issue. So please, feel free to take exception:

Remix Reference
Open Educational Resources Open Educational Resources
Conceptual model
Rip-Mix-Burn/Wiki Blogosphere
• Learning objects
• Interoperability standards
• Share-alike licenses
• Societal comitments to public education
• Public service/knowledge dissemination missions of universities
• “Open University” models
• Attribution licenses
• Improving educational efficiency and efficacy • Widening educational opportunity
Content development assumptions
• Collaborative development will become more important
• Technology use will become more homogeneous
• Faculty are willing to expend more effort to promote reusability
• Development either individual or collaborative
• Educational technology use is heterogeneous
• Faculty may not be willing to expend extra effort to promote reusability
Reuse assumptions
• Few canonical sources of highly formatted teaching materials widely reused
• “Localizations” and adaptations shared by submission back to canonical systems
• Users of OER are primarily educators creating and using educational materials
• OER reuse is primarily an online and digital activity
• Direct editing and “localizing” will be primary mode of use
• All materials are equally valuable for reuse
• Burden of formatting for reuse falls on original author
• Many sources of lightly formatted materials used more locally
• “Localizations” and adaptations shared by local open publication
• OER reuse is enabled by the web but occurs in a variety of digital and offline/classroom-based contexts
• Users of OER are self-learners, students and educators creating and using educational materials
• Materials will be primarily referenced, and less often reformatted
• Some materials are more valuable for reuse than others
• Burden of reformatting for reuse falls on reuser

So again, these are tendencies and not mutually exclusive categories. Nor am I asserting that the reference view is correct and the remix view incorrect. Both together give the OER movement its power. I just think the balance is off right now, and the imbalance has implications in terms of how the movement develops and who gets to participate.

So my plan is to come back to this table in later posts and explore the implications of these fault lines. But in the mean time, if you don’t agree with the above, let me know about it.


2 Responses

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  1. […] Joseph’s argument privileges remix over other types of OER use. The underlying premise is that if materials do not support the most flexible possible remixing, they have little value. I’ve discussed elements of this view in previous posts, but very quickly there’s no doubt the creation of derivative works plays an important role in the ecology of OER, but there is increasing evidence that OER also serves a valuable resource function to a much wider audience, and that reference value is not impacted by the NC clause. […]

  2. […] To return to the first aspect described from my notebook page, one reason the remix view gets so much traction is it resonates conceptually with two very powerful emerging models for content creation, Apple’s rip-mix-burn philosophy and wikis—especially the oft cited model of Wikipedia. I’m a big fan of both, generally, and see them as keystones of the emerging producer culture. In application to OER, though, I do think these conceptual models present complications, but because they are seductively powerful models and also because they (as is any application of one conceptual model to another field) somewhat imperfect. The lego model for learning objects is another of these less-than-perfect conceptual models. […]

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