OER Literacies?

In my earlier post (Libraries, Institutions, and Open Educational Resources: possible connections?) I mentioned one of the ways libraries might be involved in Open Education would be through extending some of what they already do in connection to information literacy to encompass supporting students in selecting and evaluating OERs. There is an assumption here that for teachers and learners there is a (not yet fully articulated) support skill which is a mixture of something from  pedagogy/course design and something from information literacy.

When we design courses or develop as self-regulated learners we select and use resources based not only on their subject and content but also on how they fit with or could be easily adapted to our environment, context, and learning style. I’m suggesting that there is a skillset here that’s part of the discovery and selection process which supports Open Education in the same way that information literacy supports research. Some of this is probably covered by traditional student support/ or course design courses through services offered by teaching and learning support services but I’m wondering if with OERs the scale of discovery, evaluation and selection begins to require a form of information literacy and be an area in which libraries collaborate with teaching and learning centres in supporting students.

What do I think OER literacy looks like? well as a start I think it looks at some of these questions.

Evaluating the resource

  • Where does the resource come from?
  • Is it coherent?
  • Who produced it?
  • Does it have use appropriate sources?
  • How current is it?
  • What cultural context does it assume?
  • What legal jurisdiction does it assume?
  • Is it specific to any given accreditation process?

What can I do with resource?

  • Are there any licence restrictions?
  • Is the resource format suitable for adaptation?

Resources assumed to use the resource

  • Does it want access to particular digital resources (course readings)?
  • Does it want access to particular software
  • Does it want access to particular tools/ infrastructure?

Type of interaction assumed by the resource

  • Does it assume any particular type of interaction (group work?)
  • Does it assume any form of online interaction/ community?

Some of this information is the sort of question heavyweight elearning metadata standards tried to capture and to universally abstract into metadata. This isn’t the place to comment on those efforts but it is to say that there is a need to ask that type of question of a resource when we go to use it. And perhaps some of that process needs to be part of how users of OERs may need to be supported.

Caveat: Beyond the research I looked into for my earlier post and some work on course design I’ve not yet had an opportunity to explore this idea much or for that matter or do any specific research to see if anyone else has begun to look at this area. If you know of any work – please feel free to comment :-)

It does strike me that some of this is the flip side Open Educational Practice that the OPAL project is looking at. OPAL project http://qualityoer.pbworks.com/FrontPage OEP cloudscape http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloudscape/view/2019

3 thoughts on “OER Literacies?

  1. Hi John

    Interesting post but tbh aren’t these questions that you should be thinking of when using any online resource – not just OERs? I’m a bit hesitant about yet another name around, imho, skills that fit into existing information literacy frameworks. However, I think what the OER movement can do is highlight issues, particularly around ownership and maybe make people think more about where/when/how they use (and share) resources and in what contexts.


  2. Hi Sheila

    I guess that’s part of what I’m trying to explore. I’m not intentionally trying to coin a new term but consider how traditional Info Lit skills need to be adapted. A lot of the questions are, as you say, the same as issues that come up in regular Info Lit but I think there’s a set of questions around the educational side of things that most information literacy classes or guidelines on assessing materials wouldn’t consider. I’m wondering about helping students/ lecturers consider implicit things like [approaches to learning] and the contextual assumptions about activities. On the one hand this might happen subconsciously but if there’s a need for Info Lit classes I’m not sure that can be assumed.

    I think it parallels the question of why (functionally) we would want educational metadata / course design metadata as well as bibliographic metadata. The issues which that additional information is trying to address match up to the type of question which people may need to be asking themselves as they use OERs.

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