Friday, 29 March 2013

Issues surrounding OER


Open Education Resources and open education have become more popularised over the last decade and offer the potential to bring education and participation to a much wider audience. However, issues have and continue to surround OER.


The implementation of suitable pedagogies for online learning has always been problematic, not just for OER but also for online learning in general. In a study by Price and Kirkwood (2010, p.772) it is revealed that there is often too much focus on technological considerations leading to the ‘omission of pedagogical considerations.’ This has severe implications for the development of OER as without effective learning, this can lead to learners with a ‘passive, un-engaging experience leading to surface learning.’ (Stiles, 2000, p.1)

More recent developments now exist to aid in addressing problems with implementing suitable pedagogies within OER. For example, activity theory developed by Engestrom (1987, cited in Attwell and Pumilia, 2007, p.215) provides an Activity Triangle Model that could be useful for educators in understanding the concepts behind Open Content and OER as well as content creation.


The design, development, implementation and maintenance of OER can be a costly and time consuming process. According to Downes (2001) this can involve having to utilise a variety of resources including, for example, subject matter experts, technical specialists and graphic/interface designers. Other costs may be incurred through having to resolve copyright and intellectual property difficulties. This seems to cause tension within institutions as they ‘cannot afford to invest significant amounts of time and money in giving away their resources for free.’ (Albright, 2005, p.6)

To address these issues it would perhaps be worth looking to development models used by the open source movement. This sees ‘communities’ of developers sharing workload, and in turn improving the scalability and transferability of the development process. As well as faculty members being involved in the development process, academics across different institutions could also be involved, for example. Often with this type of open development model, projects meet their goals without individuals receiving payment; ‘in place of money, people will find other incentives to merit involvement in projects.’ (Wiley, 2007, p.6)


Quality lies at the heart of the educational process, regardless of context. Most educational establishments define their own policies when setting out quality standards. This however is also driven by governing bodies like the Quality Assurance Agency for higher education and Education Scotland.

Issues start to arise when trying to define quality within OER, given its ever changing open nature and the context within which OER are being utilised. Some also argue that by applying formal quality processes, this would constrain the development and use of OER. 

To address these issues, initiatives have emerged that employ peer review and reputation management strategies that provide users with a guide to the quality of materials. Other ideas have included providing a ‘star rating’ system - not unlike that of Amazon. A report from 2011 from the European Foundation for Quality in eLearning (EFQUEL, 2011) in Mainstreaming Open Educational Practice recognises that there are problems associated with quality in OER. This report defines an Open Education Policy, which ‘allows for quality improvement in education through external validation, as all resources and also practices are shared and possibility for feedback is opened.’


OER has become very popular over the past decade; however issues continue to surround OER. This document has identified specific areas in OER such as pedagogy, sustainability and quality and has suggested what can be done to help address issues in these areas.


Albright, P. (2005) UNESCO (IIEP): Final forum report. 2008-09-01. [Online] Available at: (Accessed 25 Mar 2013).

Attwell, G. Pumilia, P. M. (2007) The New Pedagogy of Open Content: Bringing Together Production, Knowledge, Development, and Learning. [Online] Available at: (Accessed 25 Mar 2013).

Camilleri, A. F. Ehlers, U.D. (2011) The European Foundation for Quality in eLearning: Mainstreaming Open Educational Practice: Recommendations for Policy. [Online] Available at: (Accessed 27 Mar 2013).

Downes, S. (2001) Learning Objects: Resources for distance education worldwide. [Online] Available at: (Accessed 26 Mar 2013).

Price, L. Kirkwood, A. (2010). Technology enhanced learning – where’s the evidence? In: Curriculum, technology & transformation for an unknown future. Proceedings ascilite Sydney 2010, 5-8 December 2010, Sydney, Australia. [Online] Available at: (Accessed 24 Mar 2013).

Stiles, M. J. (2000) Effective Learning and the Virtual Learning Environment. [Online] Available at: (Accessed 24 Mar 2013).

Wiley, D. (2007) On the Sustainability of Open Educational Resource Initiatives in Higher Education. [Online] Available at: (Accessed 26 Mar 2013).

Monday, 18 March 2013

Openness in Education

This is my visual representation of Openness in Education. An enjoyable task in that I was able to take lots from these readings. The challenge was what to leave out!

You can view the above live at this link

Enjoy! :-)

Friday, 15 March 2013

OpenLearn introduction


I work as a faculty depute head at a college in Glasgow, I am however currently seconded as eLearning and VLE manager. I am a trained teacher and GTCS registered. My background is in network engineering, open source systems (UNIX/Linux) and computer forensics.

I have been responsible for pushing forward and supporting the elearning agenda within the college since 2006. When it comes to technology and teaching, I always like finding out about new stuff - hence the reason I am here :-)

I have really enjoyed H817 so far. I think it will be really interesting to see how placing the H817 formal group alongside informal learners will work out.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

TMA time

I've just completed the first TMA for the course. I always end in the same situation with TMAs in that I over-read them, analyse them too much and end up getting bogged down a bit. In the end however I was fairly happy with the work that I submitted, so here's hoping that everything goes OK.

I was asked to provide a report on innovative elearning for an organisation and choose three technologies. I went for: Audiovisual technology for learner feedback, Assessment for learning with VLE's and Using Facebook to extend and enhance learning and teaching.

I utilise assessment for learning with VLE's and Facebook quite heavily already in the classroom. I had to pick one from my own practice, so I opted for Facebook because it's probably the most innovative technology I use (well, the learners use).

So that's block 1 over-with now and the next section of the course entails involvement in a MOOC. As well as the tutor group, other informal learners will be involved, so it will be interesting to see how that goes.

Monday, 4 March 2013

The problem with Pedagogy

As I have been reading through papers on my course, I have been reflecting on the problems that continue to persist with using technology in learning and teaching. The Price and Kirkwood paper from 2010 tries to make sense of evidence that can be used as a basis for evaluating technology enhanced learning, however, goes on to say that evidence is still lacking in this area - this is one of the things that annoyed me about the H800 course.

What I did find especially interesting is that the paper concludes with saying that teaching in HE is very much driven by research, and learning and teaching is almost secondary and that academics may lack the necessary pedagogical skills as it is not a requirement for them to be teacher trained.

Last June I delivered a workshop to around 20 teaching staff on using technology for learning and teaching. This was a range of staff from new to experienced. The focus for the workshop was on pedagogy and how to map it to appropriate technology i.e. blogs for reflective learning. What struck me during this session was that staff were struggling to understand what pedagogy actually was, just one mention of the word and heads were sinking!

This issue is raised again with Sharples et al. (2012) where it is mentioned that '...impediments relate to pedagogy rather than with technology...'

I think this is quite worrying. How are we expected to promote technology enhanced learning if teachers are lacking the fundamentals?

Price, L. and Kirkwood, A. (2010) ‘Technology enhanced learning – where’s the evidence?’ in Steel, C.H., Keppell, M.J., Gerbic, P. and Housego, S. (eds) Curriculum, Technology and Transformation for an Unknown Future, Proceedings ASCILITE Sydney 2010, 5–8 December 2010, Sydney, Australia; also available online at conferences/ sydney10/ procs/ Price-concise.pdf[Tip: hold ⌘ and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]  (accessed 22 June 2012).

Sharples, M., McAndrew, P., Weller, M., Ferguson, R., FitzGerald, E., Hirst, T., Mor, Y., Gaved, M. and Whitelock, D. (2012) Innovating Pedagogy 2012: Open University Innovation Report No. 1, Milton Keynes, The Open University; also available online at blogs/ innovating/ (accessed 13 August 2012).

Friday, 1 March 2013


I have become so immersed in H817 that I have hardly had time to think about my blog. I seem to be engaging much more with this course than the previous H800, even though I engaged pretty well with that!

I have been involved in a couple of group tasks over weeks 3 and 4. In the first task I was split into a group of 5, which I very much enjoyed as we all worked well together and had productive Elluminate sessions. This group task focused on learning theories, our group was tasked with investigating Behaviourism. I seems that behaviourism gets a bit of a bum rap these days in light of newer trends in learning and being more social and participative. It was good however to dig in a bit deeper and examine what was probably at one time the only theory for 'classic' teaching. I did however have the image of Jason Bourne stuck in my head along with an American drawl saying...
'b e h a v i o u r  m o d i f i c a t i o n'.

This weeks group task has been quite full on. The whole group has had to work together this time to produce a report that chooses and recommends a particular learning technology. Maybe playing it a bit safe, I put forward ePortfolios, however the group chose screencasting for feedback. I gathered together a bunch of references from the OU library for people to use. We are now at the end of the week and others are knocking the final report into shape before we present it.

Overall it has been an interesting and fun experience, it's probably been the first time I have worked collaboratively online with such a large group, the tutor seems to be happy with the work that has been produced (so far). A few of the group members have echoed my sentiments also - you don't have to contribute to everything, as long as you contribute.