SAT: OER - the clue is in the name.....or is it? (Rachel O'Connor)
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17 December 2014
Review of some Open Educational Resources and the acronyms and specific jargon they contain. From the results of this review I will discuss how this shows how inclusive these resources really are.
OER…the clue is in the name… or is it?
One of the key claims of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement is that it can help to improve social inclusion. For example, the Open University claims that its OER initiative OpenLearn “aims to break the barriers to education by reaching millions of learners around the world”. (Open University, 2014).
However, there are certainly question marks over whether OER is as inclusive as it claims to be. Richter and McPherson (2012 p.203) for example state that “most educational courses implicitly require prerequisite knowledge from learners. Which might or might not be equal in different contexts”. This would imply that Open education is only really open to those who already have an educational understanding and not necessarily learners all around the world.
To reflect on this issue this paper will focus on one element which may be a barrier to OER inclusivity and that is the language used in OER. It will be arguued that the use of acronyms and jargon can be an excluding practice in many professions and using this standpoint as a lens with which to explore the language of OER. As the title of the paper questions; does the language of OER help us to understand what it is about or does not knowing these acronyms or jargon, such as OER itself, exclude us?
Using some small scale research the paper will start to answer the question: How inclusive is the language of OER? It will then consider what this might mean for future research and guidance in this area.
This paper will summarise a small scale case study research carried out in this area. This research is a comparison of two examples of OER courses. Both examples are an introductory course into poetry, one from OpenLearn and one from MIT Opencourseware. Selected sections of these resources have been analysed to reveal how much academic jargon and acronyms are used and whether there are common themes between the two courses. Using these findings social networking mediums have then been utilised (Facebook, Twitter, H818 student forums and emails) to circulate a survey to a sample of people, to find out how many people have understood some of the language examples found.
Reviewing these findings will allow discussion of how inclusive the language of OER is. From these findings recommendations can be made for what developers of OER may wish to consider in the future and also what further research may need to be carried out in this area.
Open University (2014) available at: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/about-openlearn/welcome-openlearn-free-learning-the-open-university [online] (last accessed 15th November 2014)
Richter, T and McPherson, M (2012) Open Educational Resources: education for the world? in Distance Education August 2012 vol.33 no.2 p.201-209
16:27 on 11 January 2015 (Edited 16:27 on 25 January 2015)
Transcript for my H818 conference presentation can be found here:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/q4jzl469570jq3a/OER Presentation Transcript.docx?dl=0
18:41 on 3 February 2015
My Powerpoint presentation can be found here:
14:45 on 12 February 2015