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Open Education – 3 priorities

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I am continuing to enjoy my Open Education course from the Open University. This week we have been asked to;

Imagine you are advising a funding organisation that wishes to promote activity and research in the area of open education.Set out the three main priorities they should address, explaining each one and providing a justification for your list.

Open Education, The Open University

OER are defined as teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open Educational Resources include: full courses, course materials, modules, learning objects, open textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.

Definition provided by Wikipedia

So here are my three priorities

Assessment
The question of how to assess is obviously going to be difficult when you have tens of thousands of students enrolled on a course. This is before you even get to the issue of the different types of evaluation. Peer assessment is the most commonly used method of appraisal but that brings with it a whole host of advantages and disadvantages. Clearly it is an efficient way of assessing large quantities of works. Peer assessment also means that students (and professors) are learning from other students whilst evaluating against a set of criteria. However, and this is something I have worried about, can you assure quality? When I have completed an assignment and put time and effort into it, I would expect an objective, knowledgeable assessment and a fair mark. Can we rely on each other to do this? This article from the University of Sussex gives an overview of peer assessment and the pros and cons.

I became quite anxious completing peer assessments on my Greek Mythology Coursera course as I mentioned in a previous post about peer assessment. But then in my EDCMOOC it was a completely different experience, whether this was due to the course, assessment type or peers I can’t say. It also depends on the individual, some people are just better at this sort if thing.

Peer assessment created a huge amount of debate on a Twitterchat me and my fellow EDCMOOCers organised, with some strong views on the subject. The type and quality of peer assessment could make or break an OER so needs to be carefully considered.

Regulation and Quality
How do we regulate the OER “industry”? Can we ensure the quality of the resources? Once a resource has been posted it is there for eternity in some format or another. If mistakes are made then they are there for the world to see and subsequently use. Even if the original author corrects an error it’s too late. The resource has been downloaded and then shared again and again. The issue of quality also relates to the concern about Open Education being taken seriously. I have earned certificates and, although this isn’t my main motivation, I would still like them to be taken seriously, I have worked hard for them after all.

Learner support
How do you ensure 40,000+ students are supported? Within that number there will also be a range of learner types. This is manageable in a class of 30, but thousands? Again I refer to personal experience. In my Greek Mythology course I watched the videos, completed the tests and written assignments and that was it. I needed, nor wanted, anything else. In the EDCMOOC it was a two way system of support, mainly between students. I needed a little more support but also felt like I could offer some. Students learn in different ways and I am not sure how OERs can support or embrace this.

A overriding issue is that of consistency and collaboration with the institutes involved with OERs. Is there an “industry standard”. Do/will they work together to try and conserve credibility and create a reputation of excellence for OERs?

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3 Comments

  1. Paige Cuffe says:

    Hi Nat
    This is a dilemma, should open education and open resources be standardised? It will be interesting to re-visit this when we discuss MOOCs and badging later in the course.

    • Nat Nelson says:

      I think standardising them would probably make them stale. It’s probably more quality we should be concerned about. Again, difficult to regulate, especially as one persons rubbish is another’s gold nugget. Ultimately it’s us, the end users, who will decide. Really enjoying this course. How are you finding it?

  2. Paige Cuffe says:

    I would agree about standardisation concerns, plus the dangers of reducing academic diversity in the process. It might take a while for the relative values of different oer objects/repositories and open education styles and brands to be apparent. Maybe we’ve become so used to metrics that we’re nervous of using our own judgement too?
    Loving this course, I recently said that sometimes when you read someone else’s thoughts you suddenly understand your own – what is brilliant in the conversations of a course like this is that I also suddeny don’t understand my own and feel challenged to change them!

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