Why remix an Open Educational Resource?

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Liam Green-Hughes
7 October 2009

[First published at: http://olnet.org/node/68]

One of the ideas in the world of Open Educational Resources (OERs) that can be a bit strange to grasp at first is the idea of “remixing”. When I first joined the OLnet project and was telling people about it, a mention of remixing would often prompt people to ask “why would I want to do that?”, a perfectly reasonable question as many will have just experienced education as courses they learn from, but wouldn't actually change. Often OERs are just thought of as free courses, but remixing creates a much bigger opportunity. So I thought I would draw on the collective wisdom of the OLnet team and compile a list of twenty reasons to remix an OER.

The list is in no particular order, and by its very nature isn't an extensive exploration of the reasons to remix an OER, so if you think of any more it would be great to hear about them in the comments.

  1. Save yourself time and work by mixing in OERs with your own material to make something richer
  2. Adapt the material to make it more accessible for people with different disabilities
  3. Insert some cultural specific references to make a concept easier to understand
  4. Translate it into another language
  5. Correct any errors or inaccuracies
  6. Keep the OER up to date by adding the latest discoveries or theories
  7. Insert more media or links to other resources
  8. Chop the OER up into smaller chunks that might be easier to learn from, or could be reused elsewhere
  9. Adapt it for a different audience
  10. Use the OER as the basis for a face to face lesson
  11. Change the target educational level
  12. Add input and participation from the people who are going to be using your remixed OER
  13. Use the OER for a wider purpose by adding in other information
  14. Changing the format of the OER to make it work in different computer based learning environments
  15. To improve understanding of what an OER is by thinking about reasons to remix it
  16. Insert a different point of view to that originally given in the material
  17. Adapt it for different teaching situations
  18. A way to experiment with new skills yo have gained (could be technical skills, media skills etc.)
  19. To improve it
  20. Because you can!

As an IT person not an academic I'm more familiar with open source than open educational resources, but the concepts do have a lot in common. With both you can just use the resources, you don't have to remix or contribute, and there is nothing wrong with that. If you do want to contribute though or you might feel an existing resource is near to what you want, you are free to build on it to meet new challenges.

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Giota Alevizou
3:47pm 7 October 2009


I think this is the essence of remixing...You just did it...by syndicating! The point is, like you said in our Olnet meeting, to trace the impact of the content one  or many generate. 

Juliette Culver
4:16pm 7 October 2009


I wrote a blog post a while back that I think is tangentially relevant here in terms of understanding where I think academics are coming from. 

Also worth reading is this interview with Tim O'Reilly on the architecture of participation.

I think maybe that you almost need to look at what sort of remixing and open-source type behaviour is happening naturally (I have to admit that I am  not sure what is) and try and figure out how to make that easier for people to do, and that that is possiblly more important than trying to directly persuade people?

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