Using a structured approach to authoring OER content: An evaluation of two cases

Banks, Frank (2010). Using a structured approach to authoring OER content: An evaluation of two cases. In: OER10, 22-14 Mar 2010, Cambridge.

URL: http://www.ucel.ac.uk/oer10/index.html

Abstract

The Teacher Education in Sub Saharan Africa (TESSA) OER materials are a response to the teacher crisis in many developing countries, with millions of unqualified teachers entering the classroom ( See www.tessafrica.net ). The TESSA teacher professional development materials were developed by a collaboration of eighteen institutions and are currently being used by about 300 000 teachers across nine African countries. To ensure that the resources were appropriate and relevant, these OERs followed an agreed common template for construction with the intention to facilitate versioning for the different school contexts, in four languages.

OpenLearn ( See www.open.ac.uk/openlearn ) is an OER site containing over 10 000 hours of learning materials from the UK Open University. With well over five million unique visitors, its purpose was to showcase the Universities materials, to attract new students and to investigate new possibilities in the creation of new course content. It too was created around a template as shown by the OpenLearn module ‘Creating Open Educational Resources’ (http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=3636 .

The Open University took a leading role in the development of both TESSA and OpenLearn. Using these as case studies, this paper analyses the systemic organisational benefits and constraints of a structured template approach to OER content production. It seems that such an approach is successful – both the TESSA and OpenLearn OER sites have won prestigious awards. However, this structured methodology for OER content production is considered particularly in relation to:

• The level of support needed by authors new to creating OERs
• The cost-benefits of production;
• The speed of creation and re-creation;
• The way cultural norms impact on notions of ‘ownership’, ‘sharing’ and ‘adapting’ the work of others;

It is suggested that making the construction template more explicit would encourage greater contribution to Open Educational Resources (OERs).

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