The networking effects of OER

Lane, Andrew; McAndrew, Patrick and Santos, Andreia (2009). The networking effects of OER. In: 23rd ICDE World Conference 2009, 7-10 Jun 2009, The Netherlands.



Open Educational Resources (OER) give an openly available set of content and tools that in principle provide a basis for formal and informal communication and collaboration between groups of individuals around teaching and/or learning. In practice, most communication and collaboration around OER appears to be asynchronous, loosely connected and not sustained. The success of social networking sites is also based upon content and tools to enable and support communication and collaboration. However, that success is seemingly based upon more immediate, closely connected and sustained activities. In both cases much is made of the online, virtual aspects of networking and less about its relationship to offline, real world networking. This paper reviews the experiences with the OpenLearn site from the UK Open University which combines open content within a learning environment that offers tools for communication. Drawing upon the action research findings from its first two years of operation this paper describes examples of individual learners and institutions communicating and collaborating online and considers the influences of offline networks. It examines the motivations behind the communication and collaboration and suggests an emerging typology for such effects depending on who is involved and what the drivers (and restraints) are for their activities.

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