Frustrations with OER (or am I just LAZY?)

reusable or not
I’ve spent a couple of hours so far evaluating resources for my mythical 5 week digital skills course.  Here are some of my frustrations:

  • What looks to be a good resource is ruined by some contextual information that means I can’t use it.  (It’s no good using Australian Endnote Tutorial if it will confuse students by telling them they can get the software for free)endnote
  • Huge search results from some search engines with few apparent methods of refining the search.  No I am not going to go through 215 of them!
  • Working out if the resource will fit into my overall plan for the 5 sessions?  It’s about level, start point, end point, pace, amount of time. Not all of them say what time it will take, nor any useful upfront summary.
  • If something is not quite right and its a fancy flash or video resource then there is nothing I can easily do to tweak it. (Unless I invest potentially huge amounts of time.)  Counter-intuitively I’ve been happier to find editable Word, Powerpoints and text resources that I know I could edit and re-purpose.
  • For software I know that the best sources will be the websites of commercial providers (eg Evernote), so I’ve not bothered looking on the search engines.   I know there will be good resources on YouTube but I’d be nervous about seeking permissions to use them.
  • Searches can give false leads.  You can think you have a match then identify that the words you put in make up one paragraph of a 50 page document.
  • If you start off with a plan of what you want to achieve you’ll be tempted to adapt your timescales and objectives to match what you can find, rather than stick to your guns.
  • If I were to put together all these different resources I have found from the different sites there would be no sense of consistent look/feel.  I can see why Nottingham and others have embraced Xerte, and OU have a standard look/feel for OpenLearn.
  • I may only wish to use a small bit of a larger resource.  My fear would be that students would get carried away/confused and do more than I wanted them to. I may be able to edit out the bits I want but that is going to require me to grapple with different tools.
  • Where software is concerned I may find a good resource but it may not be for the right version of the software.

Enough for today!   I’ll have another bash tomorrow and see if I get a bit more success.

Image adapted from Craftivist Collective,Graph from Wiley, D. (2004) The Reusability Paradox

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5 Responses to Frustrations with OER (or am I just LAZY?)

  1. You’re not being lazy Nuala. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was my intention with this activity to make you frustrated, I did want people to experience the reality of working with OERs. In week 1 we will have made laudable comments about the value of OERs, but the practicality is sometimes different and I wanted people to experience some of the issues. All of the things you list are real issues for OERs (granularity, branding, searching, suitability, etc). So, it may not feel like it now, but this frustrating few hours has probably given you a better insight into OER issues than reading 20 papers.

    • NualaD says:

      Thanks Martin, I think that’s why I referred to it as “good frustration”. You are right, a really good learning activity, thanks for putting it in. As an empowered learner though I may not spend much more time on it though! 🙂

      • Yes “good frustration” is about right. It would be interesting to compare how you would’ve fared using ‘little OER’ resources eg youtube. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you do that, just considering it for next year…

  2. Liz says:

    Amount of time invested. – It can be scary out in the digital world, there is an overwhelming amount of material to choose from and, frankly I find the whole digital rights thing has been carried to such ridiculous lengths as to stiffle creativity. That said, if you are planning on teaching the course again or even re-using parts of it in other places isn’t worth the investment of search, creation and tweaking? At some point you have to accept that not everyone can use or see the format of your creation, you just try and make it as accessible as you can by using formats that are the most “standard” at the time.

    Searching -If you didn’t have the internet you’d having been looking for those videos in some library, finding a few and viewing them on a film projector, or seaching and reading hundreds of printed journals for those few paragraphs. For a one time class I can understand not wanting to spend massive amounts of time in prep but isn’t it also about the long term investment?

    • NualaD says:

      Hi Liz, good points – there’s always value in getting ideas on approaches even if the materials can’t be used; standard formats are good (especially content separated from design); I need to gen up on copyright ….I am sure this is coming. N

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