Week 7: OERs – Integrating OERs into learning and teaching

This blog post relates to my study of Open Educational Resources as part of my Emerging Technologies for Learning Program of study at the University of Manitoba. Our instructor has highlighted eight steps to OER integration as described by the OER Handbook.   The eight steps are:

  1. Assess the validity and reliability of the OER.
  2. Determine placement within the curriculum, if not already done. Note that some OER integration may be abandoned at this point if the OER relates poorly to the rest of the curriculum.
  3. Check for license compatibility. (See License Incompatibility in Licensing for more details).
  4. Eliminate extraneous content within the OER (assuming the license permits derivatives).
  5. Identify areas of localization (see Adapt OER).
  6. Remix with other educational materials, if applicable (see Adapt OER).
  7. Determine the logistics of using the OER within the lesson. For example, you may need to print handouts for learners. In other cases special software may be needed.
  8. Devise a method of evaluation or whether the currently planned evaluation needs adjustment (see Evaluation for more details).

We are asked to consider what these steps mean for our context.

Assess the validity and reliability of the OER

A natural first step is to consider whether a given OER fits with your overall strategy or goals for your artefact.  Does is convey the message(s) that you wish to share with your readership?  Is the OER coming from a trusted source, with suitable rigour in terms of critical analysis?  This step is essentially the first pass filter of weeding out inappropriate OERs.

Determine placement within the curriculum, if not already done. Note that some OER integration may be abandoned at this point if the OER relates poorly to the rest of the curriculum.

Assuming that a given OER is valid and from a trusted source, where does it fit with the over design of your OER.  While abandonment may be necessary if the OER does not neatly fit, it may also be the case that the overall design may need alteration instead, if the OER is a particularly noteworthy addition to your artefact.

Check for license compatibility. (See License Incompatibility in Licensing for more details).

This step in my mind should be second in this sequence – I’d eliminate an OER on the basis of an incompatible copyright licence before even considering it’s place in my final artefact.  I’d pay particular attention to the permissions of the licence.  Does the OER require adaption or derivative works to fit with my context?  This will help inform what type of licence is necessary to use the given OER.

Eliminate extraneous content within the OER (assuming the license permits derivatives).

I see this step and the former (licence compatibility) working hand-in-hand.  What possible changes might this OER need, and permissions do you have?  Alternatively, you can direct your students to portions of the work, without having to redesign it yourself.

Identify areas of localization (see Adapt OER).

Again depending on whether you have permissions to adapt the OER, you will want to identify aspects of the OER that do not fit with your context.  You could take a copy of the OER and make direct changes to it if the licence permits.  Alternately, you could remix the OER with other material, or your own.  See next step.

Remix with other educational materials, if applicable (see Adapt OER).

If you do not have permissions to alter the OER, you can still include it, along with other materials to help localise the content.  For instance, provide your own examples or analogies that accompany the OER, or use elements of another OER with more appropriate examples.

Determine the logistics of using the OER within the lesson. For example, you may need to print handouts for learners. In other cases special software may be needed.

This is an important step.  In my context, consideration of our complex blended environment is important as we have all of distance, face-to-face and international students in many of our courses.  Devising OERs that can be utilised by such diverse cohorts is important.

Devise a method of evaluation or whether the currently planned evaluation needs adjustment (see Evaluation for more details).

The process of creating an OER should be based on a cyclic development process that includes feedbacks that allow for continuous improvements.  Without this, an OER becomes dated and eventually superseded.  To keep an OER up to date, and relevant will require continuous review and refinement.  Wikipedia is a good model for this where the content is constantly reviewed and improved.

Our instructor also asked us to consider any additional steps to include.  Before embarking on the integration, you would want to carefully consider the format and technology used to publish your resulting OER.  This may also influence your choices of OER for integration with your artefact.  For example, if you are planning to support mobile platforms through epubs, and you are incorporating an OER from a website that does not permit redistribution (only linking), then this could prove problematic.

Many of these steps are co-dependent, especially around the licencing so allowing for some flexibility in your processes for integration will make for a more effective process.

 

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