Monday, April 16, 2018

OER @ eLCC 2018

eLCC was bubbling over with excitement about Open Education Resource (OER) legislation in Colorado, and the conference itself featured more than six OER presenters.

My focus when attending OER presentations was on determining the current state of OER from the perspectives of individual educators who were using OER in their classrooms, and from the perspectives of administrators in charge of college-wide efforts to bring OER to their students.

Broadly speaking, it was clear from each presenter that the OER ecosystem remains underdeveloped; the technologies that support the distribution of OER remain underdeveloped, and there seems to remain a dearth of available, quality content.

Complaints abounded surrounding OER repositories like Merlot, and, in the end, it seems that Google remains the number one resource for educators who are looking to incorporate OER into their classrooms. This lack of a quality repository helps ensure that it remains difficult to find coherent sets of OER; for instance, finding multiple OER reading materials whose content aligns with a course's learning goals, and then finding OER assessments that test those learning goals, seems to be impossible in most cases.

As commonly noted by eLCC OER presenters, much of the OER content that can be found suffers from accessibility issues, or isn't responsive, is difficult to edit, or doesn't work one LMS or another. Further, all OER presenters at eLCC warned that externally hosted OER can disappear on a moment's notice, and that very little OER currently receives any updates.

In the end, my conclusion is that the best place to begin to focus any new OER initiative is locally, at each institution; by implementing a Learning Object Repository initiative. Until a university is able to figure out how to support the sharing of resources inside the context of their own establishment, inside a shared LMS, any attempts to utilize the much broader and messier world of OER will fall flat, or at least fail to advance the ecosystem in a meaningful way.

My hope is to shift the conversation to LOR mastery, to help people tackle a more manageable problem in a simpler and smaller context before they charge after the beast that is OER.