Open educational resources and teaching in the 21st century: questions concerning authority

Ferreira, Giselle M. d. S. (2009). Open educational resources and teaching in the 21st century: questions concerning authority. In: 23rd ICDE World Conference on Open Learning and Distance Education (M-2009), 07-10 Jun 2009, Maastricht, Netherlands.



As a source of materials for education the Web is, to a large extent, shifting ground. Open Educational Resources (OER) provided by Higher Education Institutions constitute, at least in principle, a reliable category of Web-based resources given their association with traditional forms of expert authority. Nevertheless, OER embody different aspects of academic thinking and practice, competing, in an unlevelled field, with other sources that may provide a much more immediate appeal in that they afford quick and easy consumption of information delivered in a piecemeal, often uncritical, fashion.

This paper draws upon a piece of research in the area of ‘online informal learning’ to illustrate issues arising from the availability of open content and, in particular, OER. This research suggests a number of aspects related to the impact of open content on assumed boundaries between teacher/learner, formal/informal learning, training/education, content/presentation and, crucially, in how the blurring of these boundaries may have an impact on the location of ‘value’ within views of education in which marketing and business discourses predominate. The paper argues that, despite the need for critical debate on issues regarding validation, current arguments focusing on ‘expertise’ risk diluting its significance in subtle yet fundamental ways.

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