OER issues Activity 7

This week’s task for #817open

Based on your reading, write a blog post , setting out what you perceive as the three key issues in OER, and how these are being addressed.

The term Open Educational Resources – OER – is only a few years old although some visionaries had already predicted its coming. In this video Isaac Asimov explains how he sees the future concerning education. He envisages a huge library that people can have access to, from their own home, at their own pace learning without being forced to learn the same thing at the same time in the same way.

Asimov’s envisagement was quite audacious for the 70’s but , in a way, it still is. At least for the less economically capable nations.

The first two issues I consider relevant are somehow interrelated as they both depend on the applicability of financial resources (should I coin it as ER?) and have a great impact on the way the OER are used, reused and made available.


Contrary to its denomination, free, these open resources are all but free for those who conceive them. The funding, the services to create and distribute a resource are cost dependant (Downes, 2007:32). Governments along with foundations and organizations have started OER projects but their maintenance and enhancement costs sum up to the initial amount of the project implementation (Atkins, Brown & Hammond, 2007:24).

Additional approaches to sustainability need to be explored

(Atkins, Brown & Hammond, 2007:24)


If we consider developed countries the issue of accessibility doesn’t represent a problem but as we move to less priviliged ones, the situation becomes quite different.
In his study performed in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Mathias Hattaka (EJISDC, 2009) points out various inhibiting factors for reuse of OER being accessibility one of them.
1.On the one hand we have poor IT literacy of most users which prevents them from conducting an adequate research. So what we have here is not lack of open content material but inability to select from the available material.
2. On the other hand there are defficient technical resources, namely, lack of computers and poor bandwidth preventing both students and teachers to access the digital world. Even if we consider the case of a teacher having access to a computer at work he will have to use printouts as the students don’t have access to any.


Along with the possibility of building OER came the issue of copyright and how to cope with authoral rights as the contents are open.

Hewlett Foundation has wisely supported Creative Commons
to help mitigate the constraints of “all rights reserved” copyright.

>(Atkins, Brown & Hammond, 2007:27)

And in fact Creative Commons was the solution to actively enable users to access materials without the concern of copyright issues. By creating several license possibilities the author is capable of choosing the one that best suits his needs and allow the sharing of his material under the restrictions he decides. There are some issues concerning CC Noncomercial license (Erik Moller, 2005) as it could actually be compared to a plain copyright model.


WESTERN INTERSTATE COMMISSION FOR HIGHER EDUCATION, COLORADO, USA. Available: http://learn.creativecommons.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/oerforumfinalreport.pdf

Atkins, D.E., Brown, J.S. & Hammond, A.L. (2007). A Review of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement: Achievements, Challenges, and New Opportunities. California: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Available at: http://www.hewlett.org/uploads/files/Hewlett_OER_report.pdf [Accessed 11.3.2013].

Downes, Stephen (2007). Models for sustainable Open Educational Resources.

Downes, Stephen (2001). Learning Objects: Resources for distance education worldwidehttp://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/32/378

UNESCO. (2002). Forum on the impact of open courseware for higher education in developing countries: Final report. Available from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001285/128515e.pdf [Accessed 11.3.2013].


One thought on “OER issues Activity 7

  1. I see your point concerning IT literacy. It does take skill to succesfully navigate the internet and find relevant material. Even in Denmark where net access is very good, you find people who do have much experience surfing the net. Even at my university where we have five quite different facculties, we see a difference in the use om computers and internet between e.g. the humanities and health sciences on one side and engineering and science on the other side. But as net based activities play an increasing role in our courses, this difference is fading out.


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