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Talk: Open content in education – the instructor benefits of OpenCourseWare

Talk by Preston Parker, Utah State University at AECT conference, 29th October 2009

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Gráinne Conole
29 October 2009

Preseton's role was to get faculty to provide open content within his university

Benefits of OpenCourseWare

  • Institutional benefits – marketing, reputation
  • Benefits to the students – can see material ahead of time
  • What about the instructors – not initially clear, so set up a research study to look at this

How are creators compensated? Traditional methods – people still buy books, supplementary goods, supplementary services and support, recognition and reputation, sponsorship and endorsement, advertising (Google, ABC, CNN)

Qualitative case study on MIT courseware, working with the MIT evaluation team – data sources, annual report – based on surveys, personal interviews conducted by phone, and archived emails – MIT stored

Interested in looking at both the benefits and drawbacks, examples from the data:

Benefits

  • Greater recognition – instructor meeting with dept heads in India
  • Compensation – instructor’s course now being sponsored for public use by private companies
  • Greater audience – instructor gets feedback that others are using his course in ways he hadn’t thought of
  • Easier content dissemination – students and colleagues have easier access to course content, saves time
  • Publication – instructor adds to tenure portfolio that he is doing OCW credit for online course

Drawbacks

  • What’s online not really representative of my material
  • How do I update it?
  • It took longer than I thought
  • Allow posting of materials that are fair use for educators. Current substitution of OCW-generated substitutes are not as rich or clear and materially detract from the educational quality of (at least my) OCW courses

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Mark Pearson
6:05pm 31 October 2009


Here are some thoughts:

  • The OpenCourseWare movement seems stale to me. The requirement to have institutional infrastructure present to ensure copyrights are not offended is burdensome.
  • It is evidently difficult for teachers to update and so the content is rather static. Q: why not an open Moodle course?
  • There is no social framework for feeding back comments and opinions. Facebook is for personal fluff and just does not cut it.
  • Long term sustainability questions. What's the institutional commitment to keeping these resources present and fresh?
  • Is this a typical grant driven programme? When funding dries up the project runs out of steam. What is needed is genuine community involvement.

Other questions

  • Do teachers really care enough about 'copyright issues' to make their courses totally Creative Commons? And if individual teachers cannot make their course material available without an extensive and expensive support structure available to them what long term future does this really have?
  • In practice I would submit that this does compete with Wikipedia in in the minds of teachers.
  • Figures for the growth of CC material on the web are misleading since sites like Flickr default to Creative Commons for all uploaded photos whether the items really fit that definition or not. So for an unknown proportion of photographs on Flickr the uploader does not hold the creative copyright.

Gráinne Conole
6:43pm 31 October 2009


Hi some important points Mark - I agree, I think at the moment the promise of open educational resources has not yet been met. For me the answer is in really getting inside the question "what's in it for me?" - unless teachers can see direct personal benefit and unless its easy to do, its just not going to happen spontaneously.

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