Landing : Athabascau University

In support of OER in MOOCs or OOCs

By Rory McGreal December 9, 2013 - 11:44am

Whether there are elites or not, society wants people to be educated. Tthe Marxist approach has always been to educate the masses not confine accessibility to education to small elites. Socialist countries have always focused on training for skills to support the socialist economy, and this does not mean that this requires neglecting the arts. Both can be supported. And both are needed. Mass education is good for ALL. Yes capitalists want skilled workers, but so do socialists.

AU is already there in delivering MOOCs. We have been delivering mass courses for some time, if you consider that +500 = mass. Some of our courses have thousands of students.


Faculty can use a commercial textbook in an OOC, although it would be preferable to use an open textbook if one is available. Some MOOCs refer to a textbook that students must buy.

Journal articles on the open internet are more problematic as fair dealing and AU licences would require us to confine the use of articles to our registered students. But the number of open access journals is growing rapidly and this may very well not be as much of a problem in the near future. And, the Canadian Supreme Court has ruled that linking to any content does NOT violate copyright.

Very few of our faculty and those in other universities write their own courses. They assemble them using textbooks created by others, articles written by others and possibly applications and tools designed by others. It is NOT the responsibility of faculty to write courses. The responsibility is to assemble appropriate materials to ensure a bona fide learning experience. A very few faculty write it all themselves and in some subject areas, this is appropriate.

I would suggest to faculty in order to save costs for students and/or the university and give themselves the ability to mix and remix and adapt the content to their needs that they search for OER before choosing commercial content and if it is appropriate and acceptable to use OER in their courses. This will benefit us all. And of course, if you cannot do so, you can't do it. Faculty have to make this decision.  Also, consider linking. Many, if not most, scholarly websites are reasonably robust and you can link to them as part of a course. I know many faculty are already doing this.  For those interested, in searching there is a great search engine at the Commonwealth of Learning and there you will find publications listing many other OER search engines and website links.


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