OpenEd: Week 5 – Examples of OE Projects

Wow! No readings this week: only (!) browsing six websites. It seemed easy, but it wasn’t :-). A great help went from my friends in LTEver (OpenEd Community) for providing evaluation grids, concept maps and, above all, a constant presence and support. Many thanks!

So, let’s answer to the questions…

1) What do these representative open education projects have in common?

I could easily answer that they all are projects that aim to offer open contents for education, mainly for higher and adult learning, almost totally available only in English, chiefly directed to single learners engaged in informal learning and mostly released under a CC license.

But, I want to point out another trait: five out of six projects are funded, at different levels, by Hewlett Foundation! The sixth, of course, is from UNESCO…

I guess this fact should make us reflect… Are OER initiative uniquely possibile (and economically sustainable) if supported by generous foundations? Maybe I’m anticipating week 8… but I was struck with it..

2) What differentiates them?

I found substantial differences that I tried to classify into these main categories:

Project Main target Licensing Main granularity of content Source of content User Editing / remixing Community Technical
MIT OCW HE CC BY-NC-SA Course Institutional Download. Broad use of PDF makes remixig difficult No Dedicated website, download as IMS package. RSS available
OU OpenLearn HE CC BY-NC-SA Course Institutional Relatively easy.
Download in XML format and re-Upload (in LabSpace).
Partial. Forum connected to courses Moodle based. Other tools available: Concept Mapping and Webcasting.
RSS available
UNESCO Open Training Lifelong learning Variable Course Mainly Institutional but open to individual contributions Variable No Dedicated website, links to external resources. RSS available
NROC HE – High Schools Copyright Course Institutional Not possible. No download. Only online training No Dedicated website. Multimedia online lessons
Connexions All CC BY All Everyone, collaborative Easy, “derived copies” specific feature Partial. Discussion forums and peer-rewieving Repository-based site with internal authoring system for contributors
Carnegie-Mellon OLI HE CC BY-NC-SA All Institutional Not possible. No download No Dedicated website.
Multimedia online lessons

It’s worth also noting that only UNESCO and Connexions contain non-English materials.

3) In the context of open education projects, what does “quality” mean?

Quality is a key point for every informational resource and, all the more reason, for educational ones. In my opinion, quality for OER is mainy connected to reliability, accuracy, ease of use, reuse and remix, good instructional design, clear licensing policy.

For reliability and accuracy, I realize that some initiatives (for example, OCW) resolved the problem at the root: they do not allow external contribution! Their materials are so “guaranteed” by their trademark: as we trust MIT as we can easily trust OCW! Though, this enforce a producer-consumer model (as stated by Karen). Other systems, open to everyone’s contributions (like Connexions) are more exposed to the “Wikipedia syndrome”: how to assure quality without institutional control?

The other quality parameters are only partially connected with institutional source of the materials. We can surely find very good resources authored by single teachers. An example from Italy: take a look to the Sloop project (you can also dowload the final booklet of the project)

Anyway, the voice of the users is fundamental: a “folksnomy quality control” similar to the “Amazon model”. Comments, stories from real use, reccomendation from other users. In one word: a community around content. This can be a real-world metrics for quality…

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4 Responses to “OpenEd: Week 5 – Examples of OE Projects”

  1. 1 David Wiley Ott 11th, 2007 at 22:41

    Another nice comparison matrix! We really need to get everyone together to create a super matrix of all the OER projects we know about…

  2. 2 Pierfranco Ravotto Nov 1st, 2007 at 17:48

    Hi Antonio

    many thanks to have presented the SLOOP project. As you know in the SLOOP project we have developed freeLOms ( It’s a “free LO management system”, but we should have called it “OER management system” as it has designed to contain any kind of digital learning resources from an image to a lesson to a whole course.

    I really agree with your idea of a “folksnomy quality control”. In the SLOOP final booklet you have cited we (Giovanni Fulantelli and me) write: “At the moment the SLOOP freeLOms is a tool mainly addressingteachers. A future development – SLOOP 2.0 and freeLOms 2.0 – could directly involve young people, the digital natives.
    Perhaps it is a dream that a student, instead of tagging only photos and videos and downloading music, would tag didactic resources adding her/his personal tag to those of the teacher; or that a student would access resources not because of the teacher’s instructions but because other students have tagged them as useful.
    Is this just a dream? Or could it be the future?”.

    All the best


  1. 1 OpenEd: week 8 or the sustainability… at Anto’stuff Pingback on Ott 22nd, 2007 at 16:56
  2. 2 iterating toward openness » Blog Archive » Open Ed Spottings Week 8 Pingback on Ott 26th, 2007 at 23:45

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