OER – The Game Changer
I wonder if Einstein was not examining the patent applications related to the work in transmission of electrical signals and electrical-mechanical synchronization of time, would he have still been able to develop the Theory of Relativity.
I believe that either it would have taken him longer time to put his theory together or he won’t have been able to do it at all. It is basically because he was evaluating such applications that they broadened his imagination of nature of light and fundamental connection between space and time.
This is exactly the premise of the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) in teaching & learning: don’t re-invent but create on top of what experts have already done – Stand on the Shoulder of Giants. OER are digital educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license (Creative Commons, CC). They allow you to download the work of others, reuse it, revise it, remix it with your work, your examples and re-distribute it. So, in essence, you create a structure of your online course, select the relevant learning materials in desired formats, mix and match the materials, put the materials together according to the course structure and your course is ready for your students. But it gets better further – you can commercialize or make money from these OER based courses. In 3 of the 6 licenses under CC, you can sell the content ‘legally’.
Let me take an example here – all the courses listed on this Stanford University site are under CC-BY license which means that you can sell them as is and can also ‘localize’ them – cut the video into parts or do voice over, change text of the documents or add image to them, create transcript, etc – according to the need of your students.
Availability of OER
There is no shortage of learning material under OER to choose from. Currently, more than 1 billion works are available under OER and 10 million are being added every month. From the financing perspective, billions of dollars are being given in grants to create and put more learning materials under OER. For example, Obama Administration has made grants of over $2 billion available for creation of OER materials for career training programs. You can find OER material from thousands of sources on the Internet (e.g. From MIT CourseWare, Rice University’s Connexions, YouTube, iTunes University, TED Talks, Wikipedia, etc.). My favorite site is http://search.creativecommons.org/
OER are opening up endless opportunities for Entrepreneurs to improve access and quality of education (Coursera, Udacity, Udemy, Students Network Circle, etc.). Top Education Institutions are embracing new ways of teaching and learning and in some case leading it (EdX, OpenCourseWare, and many more).
Focusing on India, there is a huge demand of skill development courses due to acute shortage of skilled workforce. In parallel, there is a shortage of 1.4 million trained teachers. Now, using OER, one can create excellent courses in a very short period of time. This expands the opportunity to create courses to especially subject matter experts who are already working in the companies. These experts can use their practical knowledge to find and put together learning material from OER. And since OER can be commercialized without worrying about royalty, these experts can charge fees for their courses.
Progia has not only created OER based courses which NIESBUD, Ministry of MSME, is offering to learners all across India in partnership with us, but we have developed an online platform – Open LearnWare to deliver these courses. The course creators use Open LearnWare to organize the OER material, localize it to meet the needs of their students, give every student an individual access to the learning material and use it for teaching. It allows trainers to assemble courses based on OER, create and manage their courses and students all online reliably and securely.
Here is a sample course: ‘Introduction to Computer Science’ created using only OER material and organized on Open LearnWare.’
Invitation to Partner with Us
For any questions you may have for us regarding OER and its effective use, you may call us anytime at our OER hotline number +91-9911407507.