Yesterday we finally had a chance to gather our project team in one room and start discussing OER-related issues face-to-face. It is fascinating to see the diversity of perspectives on OERs and to watch the project taking shape. As is usually the case, the meeting produced way more questions than answers but hopefully by the end of the project we will be able to address these questions more thoroughly, at the moment we will just share them and open up for discussion.
Through the day, we kept returning to the concept of “repurposing” OERs – that is, an open-ended process of transforming a teaching resource so that it can be shared with others through an online repository and then ideally enhanced by feedback from people using the resource. One of our partners from Blackburn College came up with a very useful suggestion that maybe we could start viewing OERs more as a “sharing” rather than as a “taking” process. Another way of understanding the concept of repurposing is to think in terms of a shift from “owned” to “borrowed” material, and we discussed the ways in which most teaching is actually borrowed as it builds on ideas from mentors, students etc. Some fascinating questions which came up during the meeting were as follows:
– What about issues of accreditation/validation? Are there any examples of validated modules which purposefully incorporate OERs?
– What if people repurpose a resource available in a repository and do it in the “wrong” way?
– Is there any way to track the uptake of OERs – do we know in what ways OERs are repurposed once they have been deposited?
– Can OERs be used to enhance academic reputation? Can Creative Commons licensing help with that recognition?
– If we understand OERs as an add-on (i.e. part of formative but not really summative assessment, or maybe even something completely optional), why would the students choose to engage with OERs?
Finally, we looked at ways in which different institutions approach the concept of sharing and ways in which the OER programme attempts to stimulate a cultural change. One of our colleagues introduced the concept of “punctum” (Latin term meaning puncture or wound, used by Roland Barthes in Camera Lucida, to describe how he feels touched by certain photographs, because of incidental details which trigger emotionally charged personal associations) which he uses in teaching critical film theory. Could we conceptualise OERs in a similar way, as potentially disruptive yet enriching pedagogical tools?