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Important Questions About OER for COHERE 2013

David Porter stands behind the power and potential of Open Education Resources (OER). At the same time, BCcampus’ executive director acknowledges there are important issues that need to be examined in order to find the resonant value of OER.  Like most innovative concepts, he believes OER raises as many questions as it answers.

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In the era of ‘open everything’ – admissions, courses, curriculum, research, software, etc., COHERE (Collaboration for Online Higher Education Research Conference 2013) presents an opportunity for practitioners in blended and online learning to discuss some of the current issues with those engaged in open education.

Porter will present, “Identifying the resonant value in open education: how do we localize the promise?” at the conference. You can read the abstract online.

“It’s a high level overview about OER and open textbooks and how that plays out in the ecosystem of higher education,” he said. He acknowledges there’s an expectation that because open textbooks and open resources are available, people with naturally gravitate towards them, use them, and everyone will be happy.

He’s quick to point out, however, that OER is still a new concept. “It’s not a commonly understood concept in the real world of academic teaching,” he said. “We have to find better ways to engage faculty and instructors to help them understand the concept.”

Associate Dean of Extended Education at the University of Manitoba and COHERE Conference Coordinator, Kathleen Matheos, feels the conference is an important opportunity to bring together diverse perspectives from faculty, administrators, and others in the post-secondary system across Canada. “Openness in education is here to stay,” she said. “We’re all using open resources and it’s important to understand the impact, and how it affects the ways we interact with each other moving forward.”

Keynote speaker Dr. Cable Green (Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons) points out the value propositions of OER are: the potential to save money, the power to engage faculty in collaborative practices, and its capacity to build a community of knowledge practitioners in a way that hasn’t been done before.

Porter goes one step further. “If that’s the theory, and the value proposition, I want to know what it’s going to take to actually make that happen,” he said. I’m presenting a number of questions, and looking to identify the enabling structures to get beyond these questions.”

Porter’s inquiry will take a broad view of:

Academic culture

How do we establish a culture of sharing that’s required to make OER a mainstream reality?

Quality

How do we address the quality issues inherent in using resources that someone else has created, and how do we assure a level or standard of quality? And further, what structures do we need to set up that lets people know the quality is high, the technology is in place to make it easy for them to find and use, and the licensing is easy to understand.

Localization

How do we localize something that might have been developed in another jurisdiction, or another context, and make it relevant in the B.C. post-secondary system? There has never been a better opportunity to Canadianize content for use in our classrooms, to use culturally relevant language and culturally relevant examples.

Technology

How do we address the technology issues and the ‘pain for gain’ threshold? Can I find these resources, adopt them, and incorporate them into my teaching practice easily?

Business models and policy implications

What are the implications of going in these directions?

In the context of the 2012 Paris OER Declaration, Porter will discuss the idea that if curriculum resources are paid for with public funds, shouldn’t they be open and re-useable by everyone?

This is the 7th annual conference on blended learning sponsored by COHERE and CSSHE (Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education). It’s being held October 24 – 25, 2013 at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Richmond campus.

 

Notable Quotes

“It’s a high level overview about OER and open textbooks and how that plays out in the ecosystem of higher education.” -David Porter

“It’s not a commonly understood concept in the real world of academic teaching. We have to find better ways to engage faculty and instructors to help them understand the concept.” –David Porter

“We’re all using open resources and it’s important to understand the impact and how it affects the ways we interact with each other moving forward.” –David Porter

“If that’s the theory, and the value proposition, I want to know what it’s going to take to actually make that happen. I’m presenting a number of questions, and looking to identify the enabling structures to get beyond these questions.” –David Porter

“Resonant value arises from the intended audience or recipient of an idea. If the recipient thinks it’s a good idea, it has resonant value.” –David Porter