I’m spending time surfing the open courseware sites tonight. I decided to spend this time because I’ve not had much of a chance over the semester to do so because I’ve been very focused on class work. Now that I’ve got a brief break its time to get back to the thing that drew me here to Utah State –> open content / open courseware / oer’s (jargony o words).
I thought I would spend the time tonight looking specifically at readability. It is readability that I’m looking at for my study in the spring with the Power of Positive Parenting. While that has definitely been an item of interest tonight, it hasn’t ended up being the sole focus of my web surfing. What has happened instead is that I am developing a list of questions.
- Who is open content for? Okay, lets say its for all of us, but in looking at the content, the majority of it is for those of us who have access. In my opinion, we should be focusing on relevant content for those who need access.
- What about standards? What I mean is that I go to one open courseware site and see a really groovy course title, go into the course, and find myself terribly disappointed by the fact that there was just a list of topics covered in the face to face class, a list of readings that i have to go way out of my way to access, but nothing I could chew on. Whereas I go to another site, see a groovy course title, find complete lecture notes and readings linked directly from the site that end up being more than a meal. Do we need standards about what should be called open courseware? Or, if not standards, do we need to redefine what open courseware is? It seems as though the broad spectrum of what is available under that particular o word is too broad. Somehow, we need to make expectations of what is contained in each course at the forefront clear (color code it?), and give people the ability to search based on if they are just window shopping for content or are interested in a big meal.
- Along that same lines, reusability. I understand that an open courseware course is a collaboration of learning objects, and I’ve read that “to make learning objects maximally reusable, learning objects should contain as little context as possible.” I think we can still apply the reusability paradox to open courseware, but I think the curve is different. Rather than an inverse relationship between reusability and pedagogical effectiveness, I think that the paradox looks like a normal distribution. I posit if we don’t have enough context it can’t be reused and paradoxically if there is too much context, reusing becomes too cumbersome. So, if we want these valuable resources to be disseminated, what is the balance?