Saturday, 10 December 2011

Does OER benefit affluent students more than it benefits poorer ones?

There is an interest post on the Harvard site with an eye-catching set of graphs which suggest that OER could be having a different effect to that which we expect. Note that this is a debate series so I am sure it is deliberately contentious!  [Read that post]

I was thwarted by the Harvard system which only allows short comments (3 * twitter post size) without warning you that you will have to chunk down your essay :-) So after posting two parts to the start of my comment the system there decided not to talk to me. So here is my response. Comments here - or there - would be welcome. This is very much about the influence of OER, so on topic for ORIOLE. (My full comment on these graphs and the Harvard abstract follow ...)

An interesting argument to open up here. But wondering how you expect (and why you expect) Scenario #2 to happen as you draw it when your example is ready-to-use OER as opposed to wikis (which require considerable on-going resource from educators if they are to be hosted locally). I accept that well-resourced learners are well resourced so could make more use of OER should they choose to do so, and the same for their teachers. However these students already have many competing demands for their attention in terms of learning options. The well-resourced teachers in scenario #2 would have to be willing to change their teaching (which is already at a high level in your example) to reuse someone else's resources. There is no evidence that reuse will happen at a high, transformational, level in this case. Resource reuse is most likely to happen where there is a gap in the provision, or the offered resource is significantly better than what it replaces. Forgetting OER for a moment, we know this about reusable learning objects, and the behaviour of well-resourced educators with relation to these. They repurposed the resources, or made their own versions, or (most often) preferred their own versions but took new ideas or assets from the RLOs. This was part of what they did in refreshing their teaching, so it was not a huge change, just a boost.
You are also ignoring the opportunity that parents and carers can now direct poorer students to OER. One of the reasons that affluent children do better in school is because of the support of learning at home. For poorer students, where parents may not be well-educated, the great thing about OER is that these are OPEN. Not just the schools can get access. Not only registered students. I wonder at this point how open the wikis you refer to were?
This is an important discussion, it addresses over-hype and perhaps unrealistic expectation of OER (although you are sticking with the developed world here and there is another story to tell globally). However I think that your graphs overstate the case and I am struggling with the comparison of what happens with intra-institutional wikis (if that was what you were looking at) being an indicator for what will happen with OER. I'd suggest a scenario #3 with both rising to some extent but not too much for those who already have good learning resources. After all, access to online all the time via a flashy iPad. smartphone, etc. will not only be used to access education. There is quite a competition for attention going on there from Facebook, YouTube (not the formal educational stuff), etc.
Thanks for raising this.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Sharing - a cartoon to stimulate discussion

We created some nifty resources for the ORIOLE retreat back in June and are in the process of creating others from it so keep an eye on the SHOP (all free and open).

This image (click to download/view a larger version) was drawn by Steve Davies and arose from ideas I had about problems people may have in bringing themselves to share resources which they have created. The focus here is on those resources which are not that 'mature', haven't been shown around much, are perhaps unfinished, or work-in-progress. If the user is hoping to build from ideas rather than use 'as is' then sharing work which is not-pristine-but-has-promise can be helpful.
What this cartoon tries to get across is that academics and developers are pretty prolific people. We might  feel protective about our work, but can't personally nurse along every good idea, or every promising start that we generate. If we put them aside in a filing drawer 'for later' when we have time to develop them, that may never happen.

So this cartoon can be used to trigger discussion about sharing 'babies' as OER as well as the fully maure work. Yes, it does sound scary, but perhaps worth considering? If you want to think scary then what happens to all those babies (ideas) left to languish in the filing cabinet ...


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Assisting in the search for OER evidence

The need to locate and evaluate evidence around OER has been a consistent theme at this week's Open Ed 2011 conference in Utah. It was identified at the top of the top 3 noted by Josh Jarrett in his keynote this morning. Let me now plug the Evidence Hub which is in the early stages of playing its role, but is already gathering useful information on OER claims and identifying a wide range of evidence in support of potential solutions to the OER challenges.

Some useful links ...

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

New reports on reuse and UK HE (and OER)

Reuse has often been portrayed as a Holy Grail in terms of sustainable elearning. It is also something that academics already do, when we quote and attribute we are reusing and acknolwdeging reuse. So when we are talking about reuse and open resources we may include this regular reuse but we are also talking about reusing digital resources, reused as a result of online delivery to educator(s) and/or learner(s). What the open license aspect adds is still emerging and all this activity is part of what is still a new approach to teaching.

It is great news that there are reports emerging from the Impact of OER study funded by JISC and led by teams at University of Oxford. There is lots of food for thought and discussion in these so check out

White and Manson, The value of Reuse in Higher Education

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Survey - Last Call extended

I have not done all that I might to publicise the extension to the survey (there are reasons) but it WILL close at the end of August, so if you have not yet tried it, or told friends about it, please do that now.

Here is a link to a PDF showing the questions (think of all the lovely open data this will allow us to share and use and compare ...)

Here is a link to the charities we have nominated to benefit (three of these will get £100 each, nominated by those who complete the survey.

We already have 150 UK respondents so we would love more, but would really really love more from people who are outside the UK to broaden our view.

Please disseminate. Not a lot of time left now.


Monday, 13 June 2011

Oriole Really Re(Useful) Retreat

The ORIOLE RR Retreat took place from 12-14 June. It was a deliberately (perhaps too) unstructured time for people to bring their ideas to the surface and share, travelling along what I am starting to call the Promise/Practice continuum. Some very interesting work and a notable role play led by Helen Beetham. A sampling of the artefacts has been collected together on a posterous site by Simon Thomson (Leeds Met), much of it captured by the resident artist Karen Cropper (OLNET is only her 'day job'). Here is a pic of where it happened.

Working with Helen and Karen on a Blurb book to capture some of the event, including some elements which will be reuable (of course) and the whole thing as an open resource. Naturally.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Survey link now live to end of July - your entry will count (if you missed it before)

In order to try and allow time to collect more international responses to the survey, the link is now back up and will remain live until 31 July.

So please continue to publicise and, if you are UK-based and missed this the first time around please have a go this time. Its the same survey so don't do it twice please. Once is enough. I really appreciate the time those who did it earlier took on this. Some interesting data is emerging. More on this soon. Meanwhile if your own experience is not part of that data please have a go now.



Wednesday, 25 May 2011

UK phase of ORIOLE survey coming to an end ...

UK views (mainly) were collected between 5-26 May. The link is now removed. If you are curious about what questions got asked here is a PDF copy ( Think of how useful it would be to have answers to some of these ...
We'll have some preliminary info to share with you (UK only) at the end of June and a whole load more from July onwards. The data, where possible, will be released as open data to inform research in this area as widely as possible.
Thank you to the 162 who have answered and special thanks to these guys.  Survey is closed for the next week but if you are UK-based and missed it in May it will be back in June as the International Edition (and you can do that one).


Friday, 6 May 2011

Starting off the survey ...

The ORIOLE team, and some friends at Glasgow Caledonian and Oxford Universities (thanks Anoush, Colin, Liz and David) have been agonising and arguing about what questions we would like to know answers to. The questions that we would really like to ask n-zillion people, but don't have the resources for. The small gaps in research into reuse and sharing that we would like to fill. The result is a survey directed at people who use learning and teaching resources in practice. If you are one of these please read on ...

The survey is open from 5-26 May 2011 and should take less than 30 minutes of your time. Access via the START SURVEY button on right. We would really appreciate your input and have offered a 'reward' for completion of the survey. You will be able to nominate three charities from several options, or the same charity up to three times. The top three will each receive a £100 donation on behalf of the survey respondants. So you will be helping us and being charitable too.

Anything wrong about this survey is undoubtedly my fault. It has been inspired by some other memorable surveys in the history of reuse. Notably that by the CD-LOR (Community Dimensions of Learning Object Repositories) project. Data will be shared. For early sight of the results do the survey and indicate that you would like to know more.

JUST A LITTLE WARNING: If you were about to follow the START SURVEY link with trusty iPad or mobile device in hand note that the questions arranged as card sorts show as very large grids on some devices and in some browsers. Apologies and suggestion that you might care to use a more conventional desktop to have a more comfortable experiences.



Friday, 15 April 2011

Launching ... Launching .... she's airborne!

This is very much the beta version of a website for the ORIOLE project. This is a project which, in its first stage, is led by Chris Pegler (Open University) as part of her National Teaching Fellowship project activity. But is a team effort - see people - and we hope will become over time more of a community affair.

During Phase 1 (to end of July 2011) there will be an online survey around reuse and open resources. Results will be shared, so please take part and check back here for further dissemination. There will also be activity at the up-coming Association of National Teaching Fellows symposium at University of Leicester (9-10 May) and a retreat at Woburn (12-13 June).

So, lots of activity in this phase and some interesting learning to share. Watch this space ...