This is an archive of the 2013 version of ocTEL.

The Saylor / OER Connection

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    James Kerr

    My own instructional style meshes nicely with Saylor’s approach; I agree that there is so much quality content out there openly and publicly available why not just aggregate it? I frequently did this in my courses, not only utilizing OER but also going right to sources such as manufacturers, patent-holders, etc.  My classes were more technical, so it made sense to go right to the source for technical information.  When MIT first started putting their course materials publicly accessible on the web, I considered how they could be integrated into my current practice at the time.

    However, OER is not a panacaea for all things instructional and educational.  First and foremost are the challenges of copyrights and licenses, and verifying that OER are, in fact, open, and when not, securing the rights to use them.  Second, a question of persistence-links change or disappear, and need regular maintenance and monitoring. Third, temperance.  It is very easy to overload students with too many resources.  Keeping the filter context tight, and selecting the most pertinent and/or best examples of the content topic are critical to avoid overload.

    Sue Barnes

    Hi James

    I  agree with your reasons why OER is not a panacea:

    understanding copyrights and licenses is a swamp that needs a lot of effort and determination to find a way through. I would like to think that this will become easier as time goes by or with experience but for me that hasn’t happened yet.

    maintenance and monitoring burdens can persuade that it is less time consuming to create materials from scratch – and at least you feel that you are in control that way.

    it is critical to avoid overload – I find that it is hard not to get carried away when you are putting links to OER together as there is often so much that seems relevant. Perhaps, though the emphasis needs to be on helping the students to choose their own most pertinent and/or best examples from those we collate in preparation for learning beyond what we provide for them.


    James and Sue,
    Thanks for an interesting thread. I totally agree with Sue’s last point about “emphasis needs to be on helping the students to choose their own most pertinent and/or best examples..” If that is kept in mind then we are providing multiple options/building blocks for the learner.


    Hello – some helpful points. I have really started to use OERs yet in my course. Partly because I am only just coming round to appreciate what and how many are available; partly because we don’t really have a policy at my institute; partly because I wonder what students will think if I start relying too much on external content.

    The question about permanence is a good one. It would be really good if the OERs put out with CC licenses could then be made permanent, and, if they are then changed or wanted to be removed by the creator, that this was then made evidence on the OER so people later using it would appreciate that the owner no longer wanted it or had changed it – though this of course is a likely different mine field in itself!

    I would like to see a university course as an example that has started to incorporate more OERs – this would help me and also help my colleagues become persuaded more.



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