I’m betting we’ve only begun exploring the unique – perhaps stranger? – things that OER can do for education. It’s an addictive idea: resources are pulled together in the public domain, free to use and re-purpose. What we’ve discovered is that there are hard and fast benefits from doing so, to the tune of…. one billion dollars saved by students annualy.
It’s interesting that OER can indeed save so much money, that it’s endorsed by Dr. Evil, and stuff like that. Can OER do even more? I believe this is where things become interesting and even more compelling.
OER relies on the efforts of the collective. Some efforts may be what Clay Shirky calls cognitive surplus. Some is a form of crowd-sourcing that some wish to describe as expert-sourcing (crowd-sourcing minus the rank amateur). Either way, a type of social organization and harnessing of effort is needed. Once critial mass has gained enough steam to create, this group effort may continue creating, mutiplying resources. I think this is where things get interesting.
What is possible that OER may contribute? If the cost is zero and the supply is theoretically infinite, the number of opportunities are massive. Personalized learning may benefit. Adaptive learning requires a staggering amount of content to feed its algorithms and dish up material to learners. Likewise, differentiated learning requires enough variations of material to present different choices and paths to diverse learners. OER can feed these hungry machines because of the massive potential to create and output content, thus enabling hew opportunities to personalize learning.
Likewise OER may feed into the incredibly numerous factors that affect learning outcomes, like those that comprise much of John Hattie’s Visible Learning Ranking, in effect becoming a curated library of best-of topical resources based on research. Such a ranking could inform the creation and archiving of OER, such that any topic has a ready-made rich collection of ranked resources, scores deep categorically.
Stranger things have happened…