Thing 12 – OER

Thing 12 – OER

February 5, 2019 2 By JR

In hindsight I could have maybe written more in Thing 11, as I didn’t read ahead and made some assumptions about what would appear in Thing 12. I think the Bonus Thing C is more what I was expecting for Thing 12. Anyway, for this Thing, we’ve been asked to:

  • Step 1
    • Explore Open.Ed and the Edinburgh OERs.
  • Step 2

I’m pretty familiar with a number of OER repositories: OER Commons, MERLOT, OpenStax, etc. I don’t think I encountered Open.Ed until after Lorna Campbell’s keynote at OER18 in Bristol. The site contains blog posts and signposts to other OER sites, two of which are new to me 1) Media Hopper, which looks like a home grown media repo for the university and 2) TES Connect, a teaching materials repo, again which seems to be a self hosted repo. It’s interesting to me that there are these home hosted repos for materials as I think a number of universities are looking at how to host their own OER collections. I have a bit of hesitation around this approach, given the history of Learning Objects, but maybe a university will hit the right formula to make this work. They do specify “where can I find OERs from the University of Edinburgh” so that explains why I don’t see a whole list of links I’m used to seeing here. I guess it would be a similar experience to someone from Europe looking at a Canadian university’s OER pages, which likely all prominently feature BC Campus’ open textbook repo.

I couldn’t find an activity for teacher training or for instructional design, but there were some Pokemon posters for teaching statistics I thought were interesting, and would be a good way to lead into a post talking about how the min/maxing principles in the Pokemon games was really interesting for math and computer science lessons. Median poster, I choose you! There was a big FREE download button, and preview details about the files. I was particularly interested in the only review for these OER which said, “Incredibly useful, especially the fact that you provided editable versions.” Getting editable versions of OER has long been a conversation in the community, with much of the community loathing and lamenting PDFs. PDFs are editable, but only if you have the right (usually proprietary) tools, time, and skills. I click into the files for the resource and see the editable versions are PPTX. Ok I can accept that. I don’t recall the last time I had a computer that didn’t have PPT available on it, but I get that that’s not always the case. Another conversation that has been a buzz in the OER community is about which tools to use. I’ve heard people ask, “is an OER really open if it’s made with propriety tools?” which would preclude PPT from being considered an OER even thought it’s commonly editable just because PPT itself is not open source. That, I think was a huge part of David Wiley’s keynote (not that specific example, but one of the key qustions) he asked at the OER18 conference. I’m not going to get into that debate, because I have another pet peeve in this area to air out. The LOGINs!

I pose the question, is it really open if I have to trade my contact information to download it? I will concede the point about needing an account to review, and upload and all of that. But just to download material, do you REALLY need my account? Given all that’s happened with privacy and surveillance in 2018 I’ve come to the conclusion that given away this info, for myself at least, is the same as paying for it. Which then, regardless of which definition of OER you operate under, renders all of these materials into the zone of non-OER. Full stop. There are plenty of examples of repos where you can download materials without requiring a login. I’m legitimately surprised that this was not the case with Edi Uni’s OER.


Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash