Some Thoughts on the UNESCO OER Recommendation

Iterating Toward Openness

There’s great news out of the recent UNESCO meeting in Paris, where member states unanimously adopted the draft Recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER). Regardless of what other individuals, institutions, or organizations may think or say, UNESCO is the creator of the term “open educational resources” and, as its creator, UNESCO’s definition of OER is the canonical definition. This dramatically simplifies understanding what is and isn’t OER.

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Reducing Friction in OER Adoption

Iterating Toward Openness

Last week I promised I would write a few posts about reducing friction with regard to OER. In last week’s post I talked about how we’re making it ridiculously easy for students, faculty, and others to contribute to the maintenance and improvement of OER.

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When is an OER an OER?

Iterating Toward Openness

tl ;dr – If a resource is licensed in a way that grants you permission to engage in the 5R activities, and grants you those permissions for free, it’s an open educational resource (OER) – no matter where you find it or how it’s being used. For several years I have used a shorthand definition of OER as “free access plus permission to engage in the 5R activities.” Consider the following scenarios: A person downloads an OER to their laptop.

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Thoughts on Continuous Improvement and OER

Iterating Toward Openness

Recently I’ve been doing both more thinking and more roll-up-your-sleeves working on continuous improvement of OER. Once we’ve identified that content, we invite faculty to Shine by contributing their expertise to the improvement of OER. However, we’re just one company.

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Questioning the OER Orthodoxy: Is the Commons the Right Metaphor for our Work with OER?

Iterating Toward Openness

At OpenEd18 I gave a presentation titled “Questioning the OER Orthodoxy: Is the Commons the Right Metaphor for our Work?” After this brief discussion, I asked “what if the commons is the wrong metaphor for our work with OER?” Primary among the reasons we might ask the question is this – much of what is central to the idea of a commons is exactly the opposite in the context OER. OER cannot be overused or overconsumed.

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Of Sunlight, OER, and Lumen

Iterating Toward Openness

Because I can’t stop thinking about open, I’ve been pondering the relationship between solar power and OER. ”, “How can you sell OER if they’re free?”, ”, and “If OER are free, why would anyone pay you?” Let me explain… Sunlight is perhaps the ultimate example of a public good. OER are a lot like sunlight. They’re another prime example of a public good. Sunlight and OER are free.

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Why We Should Expand Our OER Advocacy to Commercial Publishers

Iterating Toward Openness

They understood the outsized influence that billion dollar behemoths like Microsoft would continue to have, and knew that the only way the open source model could “win” would be if proprietary software companies adopted it. This was an extremely contentious position to take in the late 1990s, when many “free software” advocates described Microsoft as “the Great Satan” and felt similarly about all companies who produced proprietary software.). A switch to OER makes that happen.

David, Goliath, and the Future of the U.S. K-12 OER Movement

Doug Levin

K-12 education system by open educational resources (OER) since 2009, although my first exposure to the ideas and leaders of the movement stretch back to the launch of the MIT OpenCourseWare initiative. I’m deeply grateful for the support and collegiality of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation over this time, including for allowing me to attend this year’s annual OER meeting. This is where context matters most for the OER movement.

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As OER Grows Up, Advocates Stress More Than Just Low Cost


But fans of OER are increasingly facing a problem. While OER started off as free online textbooks, it still costs money to produce these materials, and professors often need guidance finding which ones are high quality. So OER advocates are realizing they need to change their pitch. This week on the EdSurge On Air podcast, we're diving into how the OER movement is changing, and we'll check in with a couple of people on the front lines of the movement to hear from them.

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OER: Free Like a Beer, or Free Like a Puppy?


Those in the puppy camp argued, with good reason, that free curricula and OER content were hardly free once the related costs and risks were factored in. So the discovery, vetting, and alignment costs inflicted upon the teachers and districts that would try to embrace free and OER content would remain high. For example, districts and teachers would most value, and would commit to things they paid for, even if at first they tried the product because it was free.

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From here to there: Musings about the path to having good OER for every course on campus

Iterating Toward Openness

I spend most of my time doing fairly tactical thinking and working focused on moving OER adoption forward in the US higher education space. For example, I spend a fair amount of time thinking about the future of learning materials writ large. In this vision of the world, OER replace traditionally copyrighted, expensive textbooks for all primary, secondary, and post-secondary courses. Now, make no mistake – OER is a means, not an end.

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Futuring open education at the University of Mary Washington OER Summit

Bryan Alexander

For example, community college adoption of OER depends on the behavior of institutions that most of their students transfer to. Another: individual faculty are often caught between publishers (so far, everyone here hates sales reps) and their tenure/hiring/promotion/review companies (strong sense of long-serving profs as obstacles). The Departments of Education and Labor announce large, long-term grants to support the creation of OER. future of education OER OERSummi

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38 Community Colleges Share What It Takes to Launch an OER Degree Program


And that’s been the driver behind nonprofit Achieving the Dream ’s (ATD) OER Degree Initiative , where 38 U.S. community colleges are creating full degree programs that utilize open educational resources (OER) from start to finish. The program, which kicked off in 2016 , shared its first set of findings today about what faculty are learning it takes to create an OER degree.

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Futuring open education at the University of Mary Washington OER Summit

Bryan Alexander

For example, community college adoption of OER depends on the behavior of institutions that most of their students transfer to. Another: individual faculty are often caught between publishers (so far, everyone here hates sales reps) and their tenure/hiring/promotion/review companies (strong sense of long-serving profs as obstacles). described two undergraduates’ experiences with OER. This major government push is for both OER and open scholarship.

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OER Pioneer David Wiley Predicts All Community Colleges Will Dump Traditional Textbooks By 2024


David Wiley, a pioneer of open education resources who co-founded Lumen Learning , a for-profit company that supports OER efforts, sees one place where textbooks could actually be vanquished by openly licensed alternatives: community colleges. Eventually you wound up co-founding your own company, Lumen Learning, and you gave up a tenured professor job at Brigham Young University to do it. Can you give an example?

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How an OER Rookie Dove Deep Into a Zero-Cost Textbook Degree Program


The initiative intends to create degree pathways with courses that only use open educational resources, known as OER, so students don’t have to spend money on class materials. College of the Canyons’ history with OER starts before Anagnonson’s dabble, however. Using OER in those courses, she added, “really started out of necessity.” Anagnoson says she considered using OER before her course was lumped into the Z-degree.

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Lumen Scores $3.75M — and OER Gets a Foot in the Traditional Publishing Door


Open Educational Resources (OER) have yet to cozy up with the more orthodox academics and pushy print publishers of the world. The most recent example occurred this week, when OER company Lumen Learning announced a partnership with one of the country’s largest textbook distributors, Follet Corporation. based company’s $3.75 On its own, the OER company partners with nearly 150 campuses.

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In Search of OER’s Future and Edtech’s Missing Evidence at SXSW EDU


Here’s more of what we heard and saw on Monday at SXSW EDU: A Sustainable Future for OER Monday marked day one of Open Education Week, and speakers at a panel used the opportunity to discuss the potential for open educational resources as an alternative to increasingly unaffordable textbooks—as well as the challenges and misconceptions that the open movement still faces. Still, sustainable ways to fund OER into the future remains an open question.

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Open Education – Where do I begin?

Tom Murray

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Andy Marcinek , Chief Open Education Advisor at the US Department of Education (ED), to explore how schools can benefit from Open Educational Resources (OERs) and what is being done in this area nationwide. The Office of Education Technology ( @officeofedtech ), has lead the charge on OERs, and has compiled various resources on their GoOpen site. This blog was originally posted on the Future Ready website at [link].

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Personalized learning and sound curriculum—two sides of the same coin

The Christensen Institute

Two weeks ago, Education Next published a blog post I wrote about the need to focus demand and funding for open educational resources (OER) on facilitating personalized learning. Fordham Institute’s Flypaper blog (which Education Next then reposted on its blog) arguing that “[a]dvocates of OER and personalized learning … tend to underestimate the breadth of knowledge necessary for true comprehension,” thereby leaving students with “a narrow and haphazard base of knowledge.”

Why Open Education Resources Matter #GoOpen

The Web20Classroom

It's representatives from the cake batter company. Might not be the best example but that's what happens to educators everyday. The US Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology has placed heavy emphasis on the c reation and use of OER resources in the classroom. This short video does a great job of explaining why OER matters. Below are a few of my favorite OER sites and resources. Edutopia has a deep list of OER Resources.

The Sleight of Hand of “Free” vs “Affordable”

Iterating Toward Openness

In a recent webinar about OER, organized by one of the major textbook publishers, there was a lot of conversation about whether OER are “free” or “affordable.” Before I begin though, just to be clear, allow me to reaffirm that OER are free, plain and simple, full stop, period. That is literally part of the definition of OER. OER = free + permissions.

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Five Top Technology Trends In Special Education


(TNS) — Fueled by technological advances, changing state policies, and a continued push from advocates, ed-tech companies and researchers are crafting new tools and strategies to better serve students with disabilities. Over the past 17 years, millions of schoolchildren have had their foundational reading skills assessed using a digital tool called mCLASS , developed by ed-tech company Amplify.

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Higher Ed’s Biggest Pressure Cookers in 2019


You also see partnerships between institutions and companies. A number of companies, including, Walmart, Lowes and Disney, have announced partnerships with universities. In 2019, interoperability for open education resources (OER) is going to be the big technological opportunity. Given the continued momentum with general-ed courses using OER, the question will be what that allows. OER is here to stay, and 2019 will be around what its presence enables.

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From Silos to Sharing: Why Are Open Educational Resources Still So Hard to Find?


For over a decade, plenty of time and dollars have been poured into encouraging the use of open educational resources (OER). In 2007 the Hewlett Foundation’s funding helped create OER Commons. Department of Education spearheaded the #GoOpen movement, a collection of efforts to spur educators, publishers and technologists to make OER more available and easily accessible. From my experience, the answers usually are: OER resources are in silos.

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Of Openness, Ecosystems, and Type I and Type II Error

Iterating Toward Openness

Andrew Rickard has written a thoughtful essay on OER, open pedagogy, and commercial interests. Decision rules that preclude commercial interests from being involved in OER will ensure that no company ever profits from OER created by volunteers and nonprofits, but will also ensure that no company ever contributes, improves, or provides support for OER. The same logic applies to OER, but as a community we continue to cut off our nose to spite our face.

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More on the Cost Trap and Inclusive Access

Iterating Toward Openness

Back in 2012 – 2013] I was impressed (like many others I’m sure) with how Wiley was able to frame the cost-savings argument around open textbooks to build broader interest for OERs. For example, in 2015 I wrote that “My ultimate goal is this: I want to (1) radically improve the quality of education as judged by learners, and (2) radically improve access to education. I fear it is OER wanting it both ways. We are focused on the advantages of OER-enabled pedagogy.

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Stereotyping, Behavior, and Belonging in the Open Education Community

Iterating Toward Openness

Think for a minute about all the people and companies that have created really amazing commercial offerings based on Linux, Apache, MYSQL, PHP, Ruby, Node, React, or WordPress. The reason you’ve never heard anyone claim that tax status disqualifies companies from participating in or benefiting from open source is that Article 6 of the Open Source Definition – No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor – explicitly prohibits us from doing so.

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Why new technologies often don’t help students

The Christensen Institute

Companies do a great job showing off the improved bells and whistles of their shiny new products. For example, as Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee explain in their book, The Second Machine Age , when factory managers first replaced the steam engines used to power manufacturing equipment with electric motors, the new technology had little impact on productivity. LPS is a promising example of the substantial gains that can come from using edtech innovations to redesign instruction.

The Evolving Economics of Educational Materials and Open Educational Resources: Toward Closer Alignment with the Core Values of Education

Iterating Toward Openness

Educational materials published under an open license are called open educational resources (OER). When digital educational materials become OER, they are converted back into public goods. Because of their close alignment with the core values of education, adopting OER in place of traditionally copyrighted educational resources provides unique opportunities and benefits to faculty and students. Other examples of rivalrous goods include my car, my socks, and my chewing gum.

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How a University Took on the Textbook Industry


And some credit it for helping kick-start a trend—now known as open educational resources, or OER—that has sent shockwaves through the traditional publishing industry. Some economists say OpenStax and other OER producers helped to halt the decades-long rise of textbook prices , which now set the average undergraduate back between $1,200 and $1,440 each school year, according to the College Board. Some professors have aesthetic objections to OER materials.

Open, Value-Added Services, Interaction, and Learning

Iterating Toward Openness

There was a lot of discussion at OpenEd17 about the relationship between OER and value-added services like platforms. Examples of Value-Added Services in the Context of Open. Both the wider internet and the narrower education space are filled with companies and organizations that provide value-added services around openly licensed software and content. They do not have the technical expertise, the time, or the institutional support to engage meaningfully with OER.

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Unlocking stackable global credentials

The Christensen Institute

As the demand for higher education dramatically accelerates, so also the supply of modular educational resources is increasing through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) like Coursera and EdX, open educational resources (OER) like Khan Academy, and massive adaptive apps like Duolingo. For example, engineers have lots of freedom to improve the design inside a light bulb, as long as they build the stem so that it can fit the established light bulb socket specifications.

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George Siemens and David Wiley Join Forces for a MOOC About Open Education


George Siemens, professor and education technology researcher at the University of Texas at Arlington, and David Wiley, co-founder and chief academic officer at OER company Lumen Learning, will lead the free course that aims to introduce graduate students (though anyone with internet access can take the classes) to open education, and how the field has evolved. Siemens: We’ll discuss the OER and licensing dynamics. How could you talk about OER without talking about equity?

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Innovation In E-learning In The Last 10 Years


The new E-learning technologies keep on evolving, and a lot of companies are investing in it to yield efficient employees. Open Education Resources (OER). A good example of this would be the usage of OERs by Sky Customer Service to train their employees. E-learning has seen a broad positive shift in the last couple of years. Furthermore, universities and school are also inclined towards diversifying their facilities through online courses.

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