To encourage the use —and help dispel some myths— of Open Educational Resources, particularly in the Ontario region, government-funded NGO Contact North has published a ten-item OER “Fact Sheet” with actionable and interesting data about OER and its latest developments. OER continues to spread across the mainstream space and tackle the challenges posed by skeptics (and detractors).
Take a look at a summary of Contact North’s (also known as Contact Nord) “Ten Facts About Open Educational Resources (OERs)”
- OER represents more than “free content.” For advocates of digital openness, OER is perhaps one of the best representations, but it really is just one example, of what real freedom of information should be like. OER business models are those that can guarantee their survival without resorting to practices that limit citizen choice of access, use, distribution, modification, or adaptation.
- OER is plentiful, but in the wild. Despite several initiatives to unify, organize, and standardize OER the truth is that finding relevant content still takes some search engine mastery. The Fact Sheet lists a few hubs, and if we were at a point where we could declare a future ruler, OER Commons might be the one. (Although, if this XKCD comic is any the wiser, we’re better off not looking forward to an universal standard.)
- OER is an increasingly relevant component in policymaking. More local, regional, and national governments are realizing the advantages of promoting OER over differently-licensed content in education programs and regulations. Textbook affordability is an issue connected to education costs, as is student debt, and recent discussions are only expected to continue growing.
- Uneven OER quality is reason for concern and perhaps its main adoption barrier. Educational content quality is not an issue exclusive to open content. While peer-review or similar vetting initiatives take form, the last line of defense, and upon whom responsibility ultimately lies, is teachers.
- Creative Commons is the most popular OER license. At least that is the conservative estimate, though this is not to say there are not countless options to credit authors and protect originality, but also to encourage specific uses. CC has seven, which are only one tier of several open license options.
- Open Courseware bundles OER around a syllabus or more encompassing programs. The efforts of several online learning providers, MOOCs in particular, have helped give OER direction. MIT deserves a mention for its Open Courseware initiative. Course developers always have the choice to publish complete courses using open licenses.
- What is the largest single OER repository known? While not explicitly educational in its mission, it is difficult to contest the popularity of Wikimedia Commons, the rich content facility associated to the world’s largest encyclopedia. The Wikimedia Foundation support.