What is Open Content?

The movement toward open content reflects a growing shift in the way academics in many parts of the world are conceptualizing education to a view that is more about the process of learning than the information conveyed in their courses. Information is everywhere; the challenge is to make effective use of it. Open content embraces 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 also a response to both the rising costs of traditionally published resources and the lack of educational resources in some regions. It presents a cost-effective alternative to textbooks and other materials. As customizable educational content — and insights about how to teach and learn with it — is increasingly made available for free over the Internet, students are learning not only the material, but also skills related to finding, evaluating, interpreting, and repurposing the resources they are studying in partnership with their teachers. There are two sides to understanding open content — on the one side are institutions that are allowing content to be shared. On the other are those institutions that wish to make use of open content. Understanding the frame of reference and context for an open content project is more and more dependent on knowing which of those groups an institution belongs, as the challenges and issues are quite different.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below, most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point Please include urls whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks)

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated like - Larry Larry Feb 7, 2012

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

  • Many in education are looking to replace costly textbooks with open resources - perhaps have educators create online textbooks (a la FlexBooks). This can be seen as a way to reduce costs in one area of the budget (textbooks) to move it to another area (technology). Many teachers already use only a chapter here and there of the textbook they have, and the supplement with collected/created materials. [[user:jean.tower|1330026602* Not only are textbooks in Africa cost-prohibitive, their procurement and distribution are inefficient, wasteful and cumbersome. As a result, there is a dire shortage of textbooks in many African schooling settings. The relevance of open education resources is that they potentially make resources cost-effectively and efficientlyaccessible to many more learners and teachers - shafika.isaacs shafika.isaacs Mar 4, 2012

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • An important consideration is who will create these materials and when? Not every teacher is a curriculum developer or author. - jean.tower jean.tower Feb 23, 2012
  • New roles are emerging in schools as well as the skillset of a teacher--curator, course web designer, data and infographs. Perhaps, it's time that the sun sets on the role of a curriculum director and create a new job description that includes some to the skills mentioned. Curriculum directors are good folks, just need to 'rethink/redesign' the role. With the collapse of the economy, the financial institutions have changed, why hasn't schools or the roles of teachers? - michael.lambert michael.lambert Mar 3, 2012
  • Despite the growth of OERs in Africa, less is known about their use by teachers and learners and even less about the educational outcomes as a result of this- shafika.isaacs shafika.isaacs Mar 4, 2012

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • POTENTIALLY greatter accessibility to learning resources for teachers and learners in ways that are way beyond that offered by text books; with this comes the POTENTIAL for improved learning opportunities and outcomes - shafika.isaacs shafika.isaacs Mar 4, 2012
  • Improves the delivery of open and distance learning - shafika.isaacs shafika.isaacs Mar 4, 2012

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • The Library of Congress offers classroom materials and professional development to help teachers effectively use primary sources from the Library's digital collections in their teaching. http://www.loc.gov/teachers/ - bwatwood bwatwood Feb 24, 2012
  • OER Africa and the work of the Southern African Institute for Distance Education

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