Week 7: OERs – Integrating OERs into learning and teaching

This blog post relates to my study of Open Educational Resources as part of my Emerging Technologies for Learning Program of study at the University of Manitoba. Our instructor has highlighted eight steps to OER integration as described by the OER Handbook.   The eight steps are:

  1. Assess the validity and reliability of the OER.
  2. Determine placement within the curriculum, if not already done. Note that some OER integration may be abandoned at this point if the OER relates poorly to the rest of the curriculum.
  3. Check for license compatibility. (See License Incompatibility in Licensing for more details).
  4. Eliminate extraneous content within the OER (assuming the license permits derivatives).
  5. Identify areas of localization (see Adapt OER).
  6. Remix with other educational materials, if applicable (see Adapt OER).
  7. Determine the logistics of using the OER within the lesson. For example, you may need to print handouts for learners. In other cases special software may be needed.
  8. Devise a method of evaluation or whether the currently planned evaluation needs adjustment (see Evaluation for more details).

We are asked to consider what these steps mean for our context.

Assess the validity and reliability of the OER

A natural first step is to consider whether a given OER fits with your overall strategy or goals for your artefact.  Does is convey the message(s) that you wish to share with your readership?  Is the OER coming from a trusted source, with suitable rigour in terms of critical analysis?  This step is essentially the first pass filter of weeding out inappropriate OERs.

Determine placement within the curriculum, if not already done. Note that some OER integration may be abandoned at this point if the OER relates poorly to the rest of the curriculum.

Assuming that a given OER is valid and from a trusted source, where does it fit with the over design of your OER.  While abandonment may be necessary if the OER does not neatly fit, it may also be the case that the overall design may need alteration instead, if the OER is a particularly noteworthy addition to your artefact.

Check for license compatibility. (See License Incompatibility in Licensing for more details).

This step in my mind should be second in this sequence – I’d eliminate an OER on the basis of an incompatible copyright licence before even considering it’s place in my final artefact.  I’d pay particular attention to the permissions of the licence.  Does the OER require adaption or derivative works to fit with my context?  This will help inform what type of licence is necessary to use the given OER.

Eliminate extraneous content within the OER (assuming the license permits derivatives).

I see this step and the former (licence compatibility) working hand-in-hand.  What possible changes might this OER need, and permissions do you have?  Alternatively, you can direct your students to portions of the work, without having to redesign it yourself.

Identify areas of localization (see Adapt OER).

Again depending on whether you have permissions to adapt the OER, you will want to identify aspects of the OER that do not fit with your context.  You could take a copy of the OER and make direct changes to it if the licence permits.  Alternately, you could remix the OER with other material, or your own.  See next step.

Remix with other educational materials, if applicable (see Adapt OER).

If you do not have permissions to alter the OER, you can still include it, along with other materials to help localise the content.  For instance, provide your own examples or analogies that accompany the OER, or use elements of another OER with more appropriate examples.

Determine the logistics of using the OER within the lesson. For example, you may need to print handouts for learners. In other cases special software may be needed.

This is an important step.  In my context, consideration of our complex blended environment is important as we have all of distance, face-to-face and international students in many of our courses.  Devising OERs that can be utilised by such diverse cohorts is important.

Devise a method of evaluation or whether the currently planned evaluation needs adjustment (see Evaluation for more details).

The process of creating an OER should be based on a cyclic development process that includes feedbacks that allow for continuous improvements.  Without this, an OER becomes dated and eventually superseded.  To keep an OER up to date, and relevant will require continuous review and refinement.  Wikipedia is a good model for this where the content is constantly reviewed and improved.

Our instructor also asked us to consider any additional steps to include.  Before embarking on the integration, you would want to carefully consider the format and technology used to publish your resulting OER.  This may also influence your choices of OER for integration with your artefact.  For example, if you are planning to support mobile platforms through epubs, and you are incorporating an OER from a website that does not permit redistribution (only linking), then this could prove problematic.

Many of these steps are co-dependent, especially around the licencing so allowing for some flexibility in your processes for integration will make for a more effective process.

 

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3 thoughts on “Week 7: OERs – Integrating OERs into learning and teaching

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  1. Well said, these steps are often interconnected and I would suggest that the OER designer freely move about between the steps according to his or her preference. Like you mentioned you might switch and give attention to the third step before coming to the second. The third step does affect the localization and ability to adapt an OER to suit your preferences, so in reading your blog I would take this into account when working on my own project.

    The role of someone navigating through these steps reminds me of the role of an Instructional Designer does. Needs assessments, evaluations, content creation or adaptation, all skills to be honed and transferable to a variety of roles within the field of education. Keeping processes flexible and not relying on a certain order of doing things, in my opinion, gives the designer a better chance of meeting the learners’ needs. You summed this up perfectly with special importance to understanding the licensing implications from the get-go.

    I agree with your idea, that even if we are not permitted to incorporate certain resources, these could still be substituted with your own examples. I imagine that these ideas should still be somewhat unique to the original resource that was initially considered.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Jonathan

  2. Thanks for the detailed summary of what is required in each step. Your additional information and other examples of what might be included in the steps that I have read from others speaks directly to planning. In the K12 world there is now a resurgence of focus on planning. Ideas like Planning with the End in Mind, Planning for Deeper Understanding and Understanding by Design all speak to the importance of appropriate planning. The 8 steps obviously speak to this as well.

    I think your additional step related to the consideration of technologies and methods for publishing is extremely important. It is especially important when we consider audience and issues related to internationalization, localization and accessibility.

    Stu

  3. Your outline of the steps of using OER is a lesson in itself! Filtering is a big process when searching for suitable OER for one’s teaching. Reputable repositories with rigorous criteria to upload/host OERs would be ideal so that educators could go to such sites and know that what they were getting had standards.
    Sometimes so much time is spent choosing OERs and one finally thinks that the findings will work, and perhaps there isn’t much available for given topics that it is hard to abandon OER in the hopes that there will be even a small piece that will be suitable. So we make it work even if it would have been in the best interest to abandon the OER.
    I would recommend working on a team when developing and adapting OER. This tends to provide quality assurance in that the team holds each other accountable to all the members in such aspects as copyright and standards. This is not always possible but definitely an asset when possible.
    Thanks for sharing Damien!

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