What is Open Content?

The movement toward open content reflects a growing shift in the way scholars in many parts of the world are conceptualizing education to a view that is more about the process of learning than the information conveyed. Information is everywhere; the challenge is to make effective use of it. Open content uses Creative Commons and other forms of alternative licensing to encourage not only the sharing of information, but the sharing of pedagogies and experiences as well. Part of the appeal of open content is that it is a response to both the rising costs of traditionally published resources and the lack of educational resources in some regions. As this open, customizable content — and insights about how to teach and learn with it — is increasingly made available for free over the Internet, people are learning not only the material, but also the skills related to finding, evaluating, interpreting, and repurposing the resources. Recent data from Edcetera indicate that open educational resources make up three quarters of the content in most MOOCs; paid content, such as required textbooks, is less than 10%. These data reflect a notable transformation in the culture surrounding open content that will continue to impact how we think about content production, sharing, and learning.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Open Educational Resources are indeed a major shift in the way we work and learn. Creating, using, re-mixing and sharing big or small OERs is relevant not only to academics but also to learners that are now able to create and share resources (via social networks for example) for their own learning and that of others.- francoise.blin francoise.blin Feb 14, 2015
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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • There is a tension between the OERs movement and philosophy on one hand, and institutional practices and policies on the others. While many Irish institutions have talked a lot or are still talking about MOOCs, I don't think that there has been an in-depth debate about Openness in education, and what it actually means. Even the term Open Education is used to convey different meanings and approaches to education.- francoise.blin francoise.blin Feb 14, 2015
  • There is also a tension between the wish or need to secure income and the free distribution of OERs created within an institution. It obviously links to Open Licensing. - francoise.blin francoise.blin Feb 14, 2015
  • But the most significant omission in the above description in my view relates to cultural and contextual factors and OERs characteristics that make them re-usable or not across various communities. The big issue, in my view, is the extent to which OERs can be adapted to cater for different audiences, different learning cultures and different languages. - francoise.blin francoise.blin Feb 14, 2015
  • And of course, issues of sustainability, which go far beyond financial sustainability, need to be fully addressed.- francoise.blin francoise.blin Feb 14, 2015

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on third-level education in Ireland?

  • OERs could help achieve economies of scales as well as allowing for a reconceptualisation of our way of designing programmes and teaching and learnign materials across the country, and for an increased meaningful collaboration between institutions. However, I often wonder about the competitive-collaborative model that our national funders seem to favour while pushing for the open sharing of the outcomes of projects.- francoise.blin francoise.blin Feb 14, 2015
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • There are many international projects in this area. Most EU funded projects (e.g. funded under the auspices of the defunct lifelong learning programme) lead to the dissemination of various OERs. The Open University in the UK have a number of significant projects in this area, including in the area of languages, which is my domain. - francoise.blin francoise.blin Feb 14, 2015
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