Block 2, Activity 11: The advantages and disadvantages of big and little OER
The Openness Creativity Cycle (2012) , written by Martin Weller, suggests that there is a feedback loop for scholars operating in a digital and networked environment. When scholars practise ‘open scholarship’ they produce open educational resources which contribute to an iterative creative process that benefits themselves and others.
Many OERs are developed through large scale institutional projects, such as The Open University’s OpenLearn, and this ‘big OER’ approach has advantages. The cumulative expertise, access to resources, brand impact, global reach and so on.
However there are issues regarding the funding and sustainability of this form of OER. Weller’s ‘little OER’ offers a different way to think about OERs and Open Educational Practises (OEP) more broadly.
If scholars engage in OEPs then public engagement and outputs from university academics takes on a different form to the traditional. The motivation of open scholars to engage in collaborative work with colleagues means a ‘long tale’ (Anderson 2006) of outputs is created almost forever available through the internet. The input/start up costs are low but through the web and social media tools the outputs can be of high quality and accessible to an almost infinite audience.
OEPs in the form of ‘little OERs’ also contribute to the academics’ development of their ideas and research. This can contribute to more traditional university outputs such as journal articles or books (which of course could be published in an open format too!). An issue must be how to make others aware of the resources created in a web saturated with content. Crucially, within universities, a culture needs to evolve that values academics working in this way to enable the approach to flourish and for the feedback loops to operate.