Benefits and Drawbacks of big and little OER approaches:
More people can access OER because if provides free OER materials which can remove barriers to learning. Big OER reaches far and provides the potential to bring in new students to study at higher levels. Users are familiar with the big names and reputation therefore have confidence in using their OER materials. Provides an open network for communication and a repository of easy to access OER, many of which are created as by-products of existing or replaced courses. Blogs and other social media tools can be used to share, produce new ideas and contexts and reduce the need for more formal reviews of materials and this involves the user to a bigger degree thus valuing them.
The current financial markets state could affect financial backing either through sponsorship, donations and fees from formal academic courses. This could mean that big OER cannot continue to be free. Licensing affects openness and big OER could restrict licensing and restrict OER reuse. Our world is evolving quickly and big OER may not be able to keep up with the context that users are interested in. This may affect the monopoly these big institutions have at the moment with regards to what they offer.
Big OER will also have an effect on researchers, publishers and broadcasters as OER makes more textbooks and articles free with users preferring to use digital books, articles and shared videos. OER does not have the same status of peer reviewed publications.
Employers don’t always recognise use of OER as an alternative to formal higher education.
Produced by the individual as the by-product of the everyday activity of educators, researchers and teachers opening up the use and re-use of presentations, articles, blog post etc. It can be used to create/promote a digital scholarship approach through more a collaborative approach. Produces a higher re-use potential and a different distribution route. Less need of financial support as it is cheaper and easier to produce. Like big OER it uses mobile technologies allowing for flexibility of use within the licensing of the materials. May make the network/repository more suited to the unpredictable audience who use it. Less use of project based approach and more use of looking at context needed by the users. Can work with big OER to help the sustainability issue.
Little OER may not be as reputable as those from Big OER. There may not be as strict adherence to licensing. Issues around responsibility and objectives for little OER will be bigger. It is harder to measure the quality and effectiveness of little OER and therefore its true benefits.
I see both little and big OER being important if we are to work towards the sustainability of OER approaches and materials. I am interested in watching this develop over the coming years especially within my own establishment/organisation. Making users more aware of the potential opportunities for using OER is important and employers need to consider the promotion of digital scholarships through use of OER and recognise its worth in the workplace and its potential for changing current and influencing future practice.
Weller, M. (2011a) Academic Output as Collateral Damage [online], slidecast. Available at http://www.slideshare.net/ mweller/ academic-output-as-collateral-damage (last accessed 9 April 2016).
Weller, M. (2012) ‘The openness–creativity cycle in education’, Special issue on Open Educational Resources, JIME, Spring 2012 [online]. Available at http://jime.open.ac.uk/ article/ view/ 2012-02 (last accessed 9 April 2016).
Wiley, D. (2007) On the Sustainability of Open Educational Resource Initiatives in Higher Education, Paris, OECD. Also available online at http://www.oecd.org/ edu/ ceri/ 38645447.pdf (last accessed 9 April 2016).