UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Third International Seminar. OER: Institutional Challenges – Report (I)

By Ismael Peña-López
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #38, November 2006


Notes from the UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Third International Seminar. OER: Institutional Challenges)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Open Educational Resources: institutional challenges
David Wiley, Instructional Technology Department, Utah State University


  • Analog -> Digital
  • Tethered -> Mobile
  • Isolated -> Connected
  • Generic -> Personal
  • Consuming -> Creating
  • Closed -> Open

How the educational model is being challenged?

  • Content is changing: the University no more the one and only content holder
  • Expertise is changing: more and more accessible (out of the University) experts
  • Credentialing is changing: certifications can be worth more than a university degree [personal note: this brings me/us directly back to (open) ePortfolios, personal digital repositories, personal research portals, etc.]
  • So, the monopoly is being broken apart

The problem is that institutions do not understand “online”, they’re digital immigrants, not natives.

And it’s also about respect: if you do customize your courses if you have to impart them in other cultures different than yours, why not doing the same when moving to “digital cultures”? This customizing requires “open”, to enable creation, connection, personalization… So, it’s not because it’s politically correct, but educationally/instructionally correct.

Open Educational Resources: educational aspects
C. Sidney Burrus, Senior Strategist at Connexions, Rice University

[Traditional] Publishing disconnects the author with his audience (mainly students and other teachers), and they become shutouts.

Two phases to major technological change:

  • Phase one: new technology does old job better
  • Phase two: new technology invents new application that could not have been predicted

All content is in XML, including “strange” content: Mahts, MathML; Chemistry, CML; Music, MusicXML; etc. This enhances editing, searching, aggregating, localizing…

New Intellectual Property issues:

  • Get it right from the start
  • Make content safe to share


Connexions online

  • Free
  • Forever

Generate mission support revenue

  • Revenue from low-cost textbook production
  • Community College Initiative
  • University Press Initiative
  • K-12 Textbook Initiative
  • Supporting developing world & financially disadvantaged

Information is free, books are not

All content, compulsory, is licensed under a Creative Commons “attribution” license. So, you can commercialize Connexions content and make money out of it. The reason? If the market does work, only people adding value to the content can actually charge money on it. Otherwise, people will just download the content and print it.

Case Study 1. Open University UK. Open Educational Resources and the Future of Open Universities
Niall Sclater, Director of Virtual Learning Environment Project, Open University UK

Open University model is not based or aimed to publishing, but to online displaying. Thus, web support is the focus, powered by a Moodle installation, with quizzes and activities, etc. Lots of other open source tools do complete Moodle features i.e. for instant messaging.

Sometimes (and growing) content becomes activity, and activity becomes content. Everything that happens in the virtual environment can be reused and converted into content. ePorfolios, thus, are somehow created on the run.

Podcasting, for instance, is communication (interactivity, activity) but, as it remains, it becomes immediately content. And this applies whether the podcast is a teacher’s or a student’s.

Questions ahead

  • Can distance universities survive in a World where content is free?
  • Should we put more emphasis on supporting students to reuse content developed elsewhere and less on developing our own resources?
  • Can we build self-sustaining communities around open resources where learners and teachers discuss and enhance the content?

UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Third International Seminar. OER: Institutional Challenges (2006)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2006) “UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Third International Seminar. OER: Institutional Challenges – Report (I)” In ICTlogy, #38, November 2006. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from https://ictlogy.net/review/?p=485

ICTlogy Review

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