The Open Education is a very important movement, one which should be on every policy maker’s agenda but as yet sidelined due to its open nature which many times are incompatible with today’s structures and educators.
This movement includes Open Educational Resources (OER) which may be simply defined as freely available and modifiable educational resources. The ‘OER Roadmap ’ publication (Geser, 2007) is an essential information guide about OERs for individuals and institutions interested in providing or using open content. Almost ten year’s ago, this report emphasised the need to foster open practices of teaching and learning that are informed by a competency-based educational framework. This is still relevant today where the key attributes of OER include:
- Access to open content (including metadata) which is provided free of charge for educational institutions, content services, and the end-users such as teachers, students and lifelong learners;
- That the content is liberally licensed for re-use in educational activities, favourably free from restrictions to modify, combine and repurpose the content; consequently, that the content should ideally be designed for easy re-use in that open content standards and formats are being employed;
- That for educational systems/tools software is used for which the source code is available (i.e. Open Source software) and that there are open Application Programming Interfaces (open APIs) and authorisations to re-use Web-based services as well as resources (e.g. for educational content RSS feeds).
Various factors should nowadays be enabling the use of OER in our educational system. Most notably, the urgency of the lifelong learning agenda in Europe and beyond makes OER initiatives targeted at driving participation particularly welcome. Moreover Web 2.0 applications are fertile ground where OER initiatives provides opportunities to offer potentially more effective OER which educators may co author. Thirdly,authors and institutions tend to shy away from OER due to the attachment to self created content. Nowadays, it may be easy to provide OER while retaining some copyrights, the set of Creative Commons licenses allows for doing so in an internationally standardised way.
As educators, the ideal is that we create, share, and re purpose educational material. Nowadays the technology together with its access are ready available. It is up to the policy makers and decision makers to move towards an OER enabled educational environment. With minimal support and training, the teacher in the class will realise that as part of a community which is in favour of such resources, his practice will flourish.