Day 5: The OER Ecosystem
By Morgan Staudinger and Madi Smith
Welcome to the last day of the course! We all made it to Friday. Today we will bring everything we learned though out the week.
The OER Ecosystem
Open educational resources have gained popularity and demonstrated their early potential to improve student outcomes through rigorously developed and customizable materials at a low cost. As a result, it has become increasingly important to consider the long-term viability of the ecosystem of content and organizations, institutions, and people who create, share, and use OER. Today we are going to summarize the ideas of the report “Seeking a sustainable OER ecosystem” by Nathan Huttner, Lee Green, and Rachel Cowher.
The OER Commons has been created as a repository to store openly licensed content. As the OER Commons has grown, a collection of institutions that contribute to and draw on the Commons has evolved around it. Those entities play an essential role in realizing the potential value of OER because content alone cannot change student outcomes. Rather, it is the institutions that spur adoption, quality implementation, and educator engagement that bring the content to life. Looking ahead, sustaining the combination of underlying content and the stakeholders that develop and use that content – referred to jointly as the “OER ecosystem” – is essential to ensuring that new and revised content continues to flow into the Commons and institutions can effectively use it to improve teaching and learning.
Two Possible Visions
Unfortunately, there is no one true path to creating a sustainable OER ecosystem. A sustainable ecosystem is likely to be produced by a combination of two visions for why and how ecosystem actors will replenish the OER Commons. One relies on values-driven users and advocates motivated to serve as OER stewards, and the other relies on the economic incentives of users, organizations, and government. These two visions are not at all incompatible, but sometimes create tension because OER is free to users, and, like other rigorous content, time-consuming and often expensive to produce. Specialists who make high-quality educational content therefore need to be incentivized, either through payment or other means to contribute their content to the OER Commons. See the figure below on the difference between these two ecosystems ideas:
We are having an Open Textbook Library Workshop on April 4th at 11 A.M. in Miller Nichols Library, Room 121.
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