Open Educational Resources: the reality of shared knowledge

Notes from the conference Open Educational Resources: the reality of shared knowledge, held at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya within the framework of the Open Ed 2010 — Open Education Conference. Barcelona, Spain, 4 November 2010.

Open Educational Resources: the reality of shared knowledge

Brian Lamb.

A shift has happened one we can attend an event and everyone has a camera with which they are taking their own pictures, besides the official photographer. Everyone becomes a creator.

on the other hand, the Internet brings any kind of content to our homes, so not only the idea of the creator becomes drastically changed, but also the idea of space becomes irrelevant.

Feedback is enabled between (creative) people anytime, anywhere. The sole condition: openness. There are plenty of technologies that enable feedback at a very low financial cost, low risk, low maintenance and low costs of organization.

Openness can be understood in many ways:

  • Having access to the content.
  • Having access to the code of the content (relevant when multimedia).
  • Being able to change or contribute to the content.
  • Having the possibility to take the content away and embed or syndicate it elsewhere.
  • Not only about open content, but also about open structures.
  • Having the ability to create new platforms or sites very quickly, with most flexibility, with low technological thresholds.
  • Understanding the process how things are achieved, and not only accessing the final outcomes.
  • Having access to the source, data of the content.

But it is not about how the Web is changing Education, but how Education is changing the Web.

And part of this “educating the Web” includes the debate around Net Neutrality, with which Education has a close relationship.

Repositories of Open Educational Content: cases and paradigms.
Ma Antònia Huertas.

Historically, the question has been how to get quality educational content that is available, reliable and that can be reused.

Nowadays availability might not be more an issue, maybe not the possibility of reusing, but reliability is still an unsolved matter.

Some of the “answers” to the question are:

  • Distributed open repositories.
  • Tools for the user to search, create, catalogue, publish.
  • Services and interfaces for interaction.
  • Open standards.
Case 1: MeRLí.

MeRLí is a catalogue of digital educational resources developed by the Education Department of the Generalitat de Catalunya [Catalan Government]. Its aim is to thel p the educational community in cataloguing, indexing and searching learning materials.

Search engines are a norm amongst repositories, and it does an intensive usage of metadata that describe the content of the educational resources.

The community — though quite a passive one — is also a core component of the repository.

Content belongs to an educational curriculum, features its life cycle (creation, validation, modification history).

Case 2: is also a Catalan repository, but this time featuring only audiovisual content and with quite a restrictive source of content, mainly academic institutions.

The repository has over 7,000 learning objects integrated according to curricula, an own search engine and a certified process of acceptance of the learning content in the repository.

Case 3: Agrega

Unlike the previous two, Proyecto Agrega is a federation of institutional educational repositories around Spain, mainly belonging to regional governments. The good thing of Agrega is that it renders the individual repositories interoperable and integrable, so that searching or browsing becomes easier and more transparent for the end user.

The platform, notwithstanding, enables specific users to create and upload new content to the repository. The problem is that though the technology is a very advanced one, the community of active users (i.e. creators) is so small that the repository is almost empty — that is, besides what is syndicated from third parties’ repositories.

The critical elements of repositories are the users, not the technology. The weak links of the chain are the submitters, the managers, the curators and the end-users.

Open Educational Practices and Resources. Revisiting the OLCOS Roadmap 2012
César Córcoles.

If you cannot see the slides please visit <a href=""></a>

The roadmap made (2007) several recommendations so that educational institutions could open their resources and apply them to their mainstream activities. What has happened with the recommendations of the OLCOS Roadmap for 2012?

Promote open education partnerships: there have been advances, but arguably not enough. Still closeness is the norm. Same with open educational resources.

Support the development and use of state-of-the art open access resources has quite often been translated on investing on lots of technology and little on training and usage. A bias towards sexy technology.

Public-private partnerships: still very difficult to achieve, especially because the public sector (e.g. Universities) are not in line with the pace of times. This has also been a barrier to switching away from teacher-centred knowledge transfer.

Sharing and reusing has also not been accomplished. Maybe because, most times, people rather create their own content instead of looking what is out of their own institution walls.

Of course, intellectual property and copyright have, definitely, been a huge barrier for the adoption of open educational resources and practices. Indeed the topic has neither been seriously or constructively addressed nor has the industry made any approach or move towards understanding.

Teachers are having hard times using open educational practices to help learners acquire competences for the knowledge society, partly because these competences are rapidly changing, and thus it is difficult to tell which content applies to what (changing) competences.

A key factor is the shift from the “know how” to the “know who”, and open educational practices should be able to support collaborative learning processes and learning communities. This should certainly be a very important reason for institutions to support openness.

From the students’ point of view, openness should be translated into ePortfolios, accessible to third parties.

César here presents the making of Curriculum de estándares web Opera, the Spanish (and Catalan) version of the Opera Web Standards Curriculum, which was published with an open license and, thus, enabled its translation and reusage for educational purposes. The content has proven successful not only for educational purposes, but for a broad community of people interested in the field of Web Standards and that has found in the new version a resource for their own purposes.

Open Education for Secondary Education
Aníbal de la Torre.

The part of the “Preacher 2.0”: it’s not about technology, but methodology; open knowledge, the power of networks and the versatility of blogs, etc.

We are witnessing the convergence of our personnae and our environment, in part through mobility, augmented reality, etc.

The starting point, before exiting or circumventing institutions, is to operate a switch and make people (teachers, students) to work not in the framework of the textbook, but in the framework of tasks, of projects.

The profile of the (Aníbal’s) students is secondary education students that need studying from home: elite sportsmen, housewifes, etc. Thus, lots of new content has been created to adapt them to the new methodologies deployed to meet the needs of these students (circa 30,000). The repository will feature circa 2,000 learning objects by the end of the course 2010-2011.

An important realization is that, when the student is put in the centre of the educational methodology, the learning material becomes not irrelevant but an accessory: by no means the educational material is an important part of the equation. Indeed, the material is frequently updated and complemented with other materials and educational resources: the learning material is no more the central monolith around which the educational process goes around.

If the content is not the centre — though still important, of course — it is because the new centre is the student and working based on tasks and projects.

Taking 30,000 students as the base, it has been calculated that the average cost per student of providing them with all the open educational content they need is 1.50 €.

Some issues/problems:

  • Openness requires team-working. Individualism is not an option. And team-working requires hard work and commitment.
  • Assessment is extremely slow. While people have feedback of their actions almost immediately in their daily (digital) lives, the educational system provides them with feedback once a year at the end of the course. This has to be addressed.
  • Copyright still a hard barrier to overcome.
  • Openness has to be an institutional decision.
  • Public funding should absolutely imply openness.
  • Educational environments should have their own open licenses or legal frameworks to ease openness, authorship recognition, etc.
  • We should measure how users are doing, not how products are doing. Assessment of people, not products.
  • We have to explore how to assess learning performance with the same tools that learning takes place. E.g. we cannot teach with Internet in the classroom and make exams without it.
  • Encourage group- or team-work.
  • Learning by doing enables changing tasks, contents, syllabuses, etc. extremely easy.

More Information


Web 2.0 and Education Seminar (VI): Brian Lamb: It’s all coming apart

Brian Lamb, Department of Emerging Technologies & Digital Content, University of British Columbia (Canada)
Brian Lamb: It’s all coming apart

Originality is overrated: Glenn Gould, William Shakespeare, Rick Prelinger… in one way or another have faced the fact of originality… or if there’s none.

Being open is not a matter of altruism, but a good practice for your self and your own efficiency.

Use information as a flow, not like a thing, Stephen Downes in managing information overload.

The power of positive narcissism: you discover interesting content, people by just tracking back your content, what it’s been told about you, etc.

There’s a problem with that lot of different licenses, confusing the user/creator. And people not using them properly…

As long as you use open formats, they can be reused, or used in several ways/platforms. Also, updating is automatic everywhere that is linking/embedding/feeding from your RSS output. Open APIs is just another way of opening your content, but by opening a function that will retrieve a content.

More than media literacy: data literacy.

Need to solve everything, every schizophrenia now? The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still have the ability to act (F. Scott Fitzgerald). There’re some (lots of them) things that can actually be done just without entering in any contradiction or going against mainstream.

More info


UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Fourth International Seminar. Web 2.0 for Education (2007)

Open Education 2006 (VI): Mash-Ups, Sakai-OCW-eduCommons and OER suporting tools

Here come my notes on the Open Education 2006: Community, Culture, and Content that we are attending:

Thursday, September 28, 2006
Concurrent sessions

DIY Educators Gone Wild: Where are the Instructional Mash-Ups?
Brian Lamb, University of British Columbia
Teacher as DJ (David Wiley)

The Sakai-OCW-eduCommons Project
Joseph Hardin, University of Michigan

Bringing it all online: discussion tool, tests & quizzes tool, online class support, etc. But how to make it easy for the faculty?

OCW Tool: support for tagging in Sakai, IP status for Creative Commons, OCW repository.

Steps: choose materials, tags, check copyright, create course pages, OCW Review, Export.

Taking the Tools to the Content: Learner Support for OER
David Wiley, Shelley Henson, Justin Ball, COSL/Utah State University


Making Open Content Support Learning or MOCSL is a set of small tools designed specifically to advance the state of the art in supporting end users’ abilities to find educational resources, reuse educational resources, and close the feedback loop between end users and content authors.

OsmoseRSS: aggregator with social component, such as tags, resource sharing, etc. You can create groups to add content that is already generated: from, flickr, 43 things, etc. See also establish relations between websites. See also

Send2Wiki: such a website content and send it to somewhere it can be manipulated

Pheromone: create trails through websites (different ones) so sort of online resource is created

Annorate: lets anotate and rate web pages

RelStore: compare tags and sites

OCW Finder: finds OCW OER.

The simplest the tools, the simplest the interface, the simplest its purpose… the most people will participate.


Web 2.0 for Development related posts (2006)