This week we have been exploring OERs and open practice in the context of learning design. As is often the case this experience has seen people get excited by what is out there, get frustrated by what they cannot find, be blown away by fabulous resources and disappointed by others, but most of all get confused by the whole area of copyright, licencing, attribution, what you can use and how. This is a journey we have experienced ourselves many times, you are not alone.
Online resources that you might use for learning are variable and there is a huge difference in what is available in different disciplines, but what is out there is growing all the time – everyday there is more, and it is only going to increase and improve. Attribution is important, much as citation is in more traditional academic practice, so if you hold yourself to the same standards online as you would in print you should be fine. Licensing and copyright are important to get right if you are going to use resources in published materials or online courses, but arguably less so in lower risk scenarios. More straight forwardly, if in doubt about the status of something you want to use, you can always link to a resource and use it that way.
The web is the most amazing treasure trove– when I can easily get students to read last letter of Mary Queen of Scots, or walk through the streets of Pompeii, teach themselves Yoruba, or watch and read multiple explanations for maths concepts and test themselves on what they have learned (all things that were inconceivable when I was an undergraduate) then I just have to be glad it exists and is there for everyone to use (and yes I know not all of those examples were technically OER). As more people engage in “open practices”, whether this is using or producing OER, making articles open access, using and producing open sources systems and code, or just putting the odd cc licensed image in a presentation, the ease with which we can use online resources and the options for implementing them in learning designs are only going to expand. It is still complicated, but I do believe it is improving, making me exceedingly glad to be designing learning now, and excited about what we’ll be doing in the future.
(with thanks to Dr Strangelove and David White for the title)