Open Education Resources: Unstoppable or Unsustainable?

After several years of experimenting with various types of Open Education Resources (OER), is there a formula for success towards making sure that an OER service has a sustainable future? This is a key question raised at Online Educa Berlin this year. A particular plenary session on Open Education Resources assembles a group of expert practitioners to discuss the potential of OER in more detail. Among them are representatives from universities, the corporate sector, OECD, the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, CERI, France; as well as the UK’s the Joint Information Systems Committee JISC.

Opening the last conference day, the plenary Open Education Resources: Unstoppable or Unsustainable? will shed light on various aspects of deployment, growth and the economic underpinnings of different OER models. With Connexions, originated by Rice University professor, Richard Baraniuk, in 1999, and Jorum, a free online repository service for teaching and support staff in the UK, two extensive examples will be the subject of discussion. As some OER services are successful whereas others seem to fail after a certain time despite the quality of content offered, sustainability strategies will be an issue of great importance in this context.


According to the presenters, the ability of a project to continue its operations depends on various factors like choosing the right funding model – including models such as institutional funding, membership models, governmental models and voluntary support models – figuring out appropriate incentive systems and forging a suitable staff to run such projects. Entitling his contribution “Sustainable Open Education Resources – The Connexions Model”, Richard Baraniuk, for example, says that one of the things that has helped grow the vision of Connexions is that it has a full-time staff (including an executive director) of about 15 that develops software and standards, works on content and keeps the servers running. His vision to create a free, global online education system is rooted in a funding model and also tethered to Rice University.


Prof Francesc Pedró from the OECD Centre for Educational Research and Innovation will give a fuller picture of the influencing factors in his presentation, referring to a study he recently conducted – Giving Knowledge for Free: The OECD Report on OER in Higher Education. In his capacity as senior policy analyst at the OECD Centre, he is the principal administrator of the New Millennium Learners Project. Rachel Bruce and Dr Jackie Carter will concentrate in particular on the attitude towards sharing content, taking into account that the commitment of the community is at the core of every OER service. At the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), Rachel Bruce is responsible for digital preservation, repositories, resources, discovery and portals, and shared infrastructure services. Jackie Carter, as one of the Jorum co-directors, has extensive experience in the fields of collaborative e-learning services. She is particularly interested in the question of how to best provide access to shared resources that can enhance productivity in learning and teaching.


Artur Dyro from Young Digital Planet SA, a Polish educational software publisher and e-learning technology and content developer, will open the field for an interesting discussion about open content and its effects on publishers, taking into account economical threats and chances of the concomitance of free and fee-required content.


Right after the plenary on Open Education Resources, an expert session entitled “Publishing Meets E-Learning” will also address the latest developments in the field of user-generated and open content but will especially take a closer look on their impact on the publishing industry. How will Open Education Resources affect the e-learning industry and content providers? How to deliver high-quality education based on high-quality content to an increasing number of human beings at affordable cost? How can industry players benefit from the latest trends? These are just some of the questions which will be discussed in this session chaired by Dr Richard Straub, IBM and European Learning Industry Group.


The plenary Open Education Resources: Unstoppable or Unsustainable? will take place on Friday, December 5, from 09:15 – 11:00.


Prof Francesc Pedró, OECD, Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, CERI, France
Giving Knowledge For Free: The OECD Report on OER in Higher Education


Rachel Bruce, Programme Director – Information Environment, JISC, and Dr Jackie Carter, Co-Director, JORUM, UK
Sharing Nationally: Is It Any of Your Business?


Artur Dyro, Managing Director, Young Digital Planet SA, Poland
Open Content – A Threat or a Chance for Commercial Publishers?


Dr Richard Baraniuk, Rice University, USA
Sustainable Open Education Resources – The Connexions Model


The expert session “Publishing Meets E-Learning“ will take place on Friday, December 5, from 11:45 – 13:15.


Link: Giving Knowledge for Free,3343,en_2649_35845581_38659497_1_1_1_1,00.html

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