OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES (OER): WHAT ARE THEY? WHERE ARE THEY? AND WHAT WILL THEY MEAN TO THE SCHOOLS SECTOR?
In June 2012 UNESCO published its "OER Declaration" - a ten-point manifesto designed to promote Open Educational Resources (OER) globally. In September 2013 the European Commission launched its "Opening Up Education" strategy - a central theme of its three strand strategy is "Increased use of Open Educational Resources (OER), ensuring that educational materials produced with public funding are available to all". Sovereign nations across the world have stated their support for OER and some such as the US have committed significant public funds (in January 2011 the US Government announced a $2bn investment for OER creation in the community college sector).
There are 84 OER policies currently (as of December 2013) listed in the global Creative Commons OER Policy Registry. However, only 15 relate to EU member states. More than half of the policy registry concerns US polices. These are of particular interest and relevance since a significant proportion relate to K-12 education whereas, by comparison with the Higher Education sector, there are relatively few OER policies concerning schools in Europe.
Across Europe there has been increased interest in, and discussion of, OER. However, this would appear to be much more common at Higher Education level than at school level, and among E-Learning researchers and a small number of “activists”.
As yet, it appears that OER have failed to capture the imagination of practitioners in the compulsory schooling sector in Europe.
Is this really the case? If so why? How does Europe compare with North America and the rest of the world? How do countries compare? Are OER viewed as a Higher Education phenomenon? What has been the impact of the MOOC hype?
Crucially, why is there so much confusion concerning the amount of OER accessible to schools?
Even the European Commission appears to be uncertain: Its own experts can state on the one hand that “... there may be some complacency arising from a belief that an abundance of digital resources already exist” whilst the same paper quotes research which asserts that the “Abundance of resources ... challenges us to review our role as educators”.
This presentation (and paper) will draw from the author's research for the European Commission and his subsequent “Policy Recommendations (For Schools)” to the Commission to look at the history of (digital) OER in the K-12 sector. It will cite case studies from Europe, North America and globally (including the European Commission's Open Discovery Space and rival commercial offerings) to explore the challenges and opportunities, the competing philosophies, the potential friction between "free" and “commercial” OER and the inadequacies of the current research base.
keywords: open educational resources
, blended learning
, online learning