I’m starting a new research and writing project today that examines the current state of open educational resources.

My interest isn’t simply identifying where the repositories of OER lie or what they contain. Nor am I just looking at adoption or usage (although yes, the research will address all these things.) See, I’m particularly keen to investigate the formats that these openly licensed materials are in, and by an extension whether they’re being remixed.

I have my suspicions about what I’ll find in regards to the latter. That is, we’re seeing a lot of PDFs (ugh) and not seeing much remixing. And so I want to ask “Why?”

What are the barriers – to use, re-use, and remixing? Time constraints? Technological constraints? Copyright confusions? Are OERs missing important elements (e.g. There are lots of textbook chapters that are openly licensed, but few open test banks) that make proprietary resources more “useful,” even if they’re more expensive and more restrictive? If so, what are those "features"?

Why do we opt to use OER? To save money? To facilitate sharing? How does technology (platforms, repositories, devices, formats) support or restrict or influence this? (What are, for example, the implications of hosting your OER on Google-owned YouTube? What are the results of publishing OER in PDFs?)

And finally in the spirit of openness, let me be clear: this research is funded by FunnyMonkey, an education-focused Drupal shop in Portland, Oregon. Much like the research I undertook for Mozilla earlier this year, I’ve agreed to do this work because I am philosophically aligned with the organization and the project. The focus here is on open source technology, openly-licensed content, and open access to scholarship and research (i.e., all that I do for FunnyMonkey I will blog about here on Hack Education, where my writing is also openly-licensed). So stay tuned for a series of OER-related posts over the next six weeks or so...

If you’re interested in chatting with me about this project, feel free to drop me a line -- particularly if you use OER in your classroom!

Image credits: Ivy Dawned

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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