Open Ed - Week 11: OERs vs Learning Objects
Some people believe that open educational resources "fix" many of the problems experienced by those who work with learning objects. Why do you think they would say this? Do you agree? Why or why not?
I don't have a lot of personal history with learning objects, so I am not coming at this answer from personal experience. However, from what I have read and viewed this week, it seems that open education is the next iteration of the quest to design and deliver reusable educational resources. In this light, as a next iteration, there is a shift in the general characteristics and focus. Likely, in the process, elements were "fixed", but it is unclear to me if the desire to fix problems with learning objects led to the open education movement. Rather, it seems more likely that advances in technology and experiences with what is possible have helped to foster the changes in the characteristics between learning objections and open education.
The following highlights my take on the characteristics of the two iterations:
|Reusable Educational Resources
|Reusable Educational Resources
||closed / static / defined / specified
||dynamic / free form
||re-use / aggregation by designer
||use / re-use / adapt / share / to be loosely joined and ADAPTED by user
||classroom / formal education / corporate / military
|System / Licenses
||proprietary / copyright / locked down
||outside of walled gardens / more liberal licensing
|Learner focus and interaction
||pushed to learner / receptacle / use / touch don't change
||pulled by learner / seeker / searcher / participant / re-mixer
|Primary design and development consideration
||producer's needs / downstream needs secondary
||heavy / proprietary systems and formats
||light(er) / freely available / common Internet formats and conventions
||high costs (time and expense)
||varies (low to high)
|Extent of use
||high, but in pockets
||Do we know about the extent of use, yet?
As noted by David Wiley, "learning object" means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The chart above provides my interpretation of the general characteristics of both Learning Objects and Open Educational Resources. Again, OERs seem the next iteration toward an original goal of reusable educational resources. While some may see the differences as "fixes", others may not. Here is my take:
What seems "fixed" - or at least seems to work better: In this iteration, OERs expand the notion of reusable educational resources to include adaptation and sharing by the learner. This is accomplished through more liberal licensing (diriviative works / share alike), as well as expanded access outside of traditional proprietary walled gardens. By moving reusable educational resources out of proprietary systems and formats into the realm of the Internet, both producers and users can take advantage of common Internet search and sharing functions, including RSS, which allows learners to pull the content versus having it pushed to them in canned packages of learning content.
What still seems "broken" - or at least requires further evaluation: As we have discussed all semester, there are still uncertain or potentially "broken" aspects of OERs. Even though costs associated with elaborate proprietary systems may be eliminated, OERs are not cost free. Therefore, sustainability continues to be a concern. In addition, availability does not equal use. I'm not sure we have a good handle on either the extent of OER use (by teachers or learners) or the best ways to facilitate use of OERs by users. Further, I think there is a lot to be learned from an instructional design perspective about both open educational practices, as well as OERs as instructional content - see my earlier post for more on that topic (down at the bottom).
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