Reflections on the OER Session at Wise 2010


The Open Education Models session at Wise 2010 had speakers from MIT, the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), and the Indira Gandhi National Open University. Much of the usual information was presented, including definitions of and philosophies behind OER, the history of OER, and lists of OER projects globally. Where my interest was sparked was talk on OER’s alignment to potential new teaching and learning practices, primarily highlighted by COL’s Vice President, Asha Singh Kanwar. She discussed a few studies that sheds light on this—although drawn from the distance learning literature and not the OER research lit (for example, she mentioned Bernard et al’s relevant conclusions from an analysis of 232 empirical studies on distance learning).

An interesting question from the audience was from a South African social entrepreneur, who asked: Who isn’t getting access to OER? MIT’s Executive Director answered that access is much about awareness and technology, and that there are initiatives helping with this—namely Lucifer Chu’s Oops project in Taiwan, which translated MIT’s OCW into Chinese. To me, access and adoption is also very much about what research is beginning to show us: The important role that champions (whether students or teachers) play in engaging others in OER, the importance of teacher professional development in OER localization and use, and awareness building on how OER is not only about access to resources, but about sharing of pedagogical practices and knowledge.

December 01, 2010