OER Quality Standards

The topic of OER quality standards came up at #OpenEd12 today. It makes me a little crazy. Why, why why, do we continue to focus on indirect proxies for quality when we’re capable of measuring quality directly?

Direct Measure of OER Quality Indirect Proxies for Quality
  • Degree to which the OER facilitates student learning
  • Academic credentials of the author / creator
  • Degree of interactivity
  • Amount of multimedia
  • Amount of editorial effort put into materials
  • Length / number of words / rigor
  • DPI of embedded artwork
  • &c.

At the end of the day, would you rather have (1) an OER that successfully facilitates student learning, or (2) an OER written by a top author that is 700 pages long and chock full or gorgeous artwork, simulations, and video? OER can be everything in the indirect column and fail on the direct column. So why do we continue to care and focus on indirect proxies for quality when we could go straight for the direct measures of quality? And why do we continue to think about quality as “static” when we have the capability to engage in continuous quality improvement? Why are we willing to work with materials that aren’t constantly getting better, as OER can when used in a principled way?

4 thoughts on “OER Quality Standards”

  1. Why do we continue to care and focus on indirect proxies for the quality of teachers (years of experience, degrees earned, etc.) instead of direct measures of how well their students actually learn from them? Well, because it’s hard to measure the direct effects accurately.

    So I think I understand where the proxies come from. But I do agree that while acknowledging the enormity of the task, we should not shy away from trying to get more and more direct data to make decisions about all kinds of learning facilitators.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. It’s more than just the proxies. It’s the huge deception behind the “so called” quality materials. Most of the quality is skin deep. And the interactivity of multimedia is a complete joke. It’s much more important that the students can go in, remix the materials, and teachers can play a real role in crafting what the students do. Being able to download the textbook and do something/anything with it can only be done with the right licensing.

    It’s the same discussion we had a few years ago around Wikipedia vs. Britannica. And where is Britannica now? Maybe we can get OERs to the same place over a period of time.

  3. I think there’s a mix here – I completely agree that by default, the quality of a teaching resource is almost completely based on how well it supports/scaffolds learners to get from A to B. BUT…. OER by definition is more than a teaching resource. Therefore the extend to which it meets it’s new objectives (open access, reusability, accessibility, etc) is different.

    Furthermore, teaching resources are so context-dependant, what you constitute as being ‘quality’ may not fit in with what I think is ‘quality’. So perhaps a quality OER would perhaps be 90% accurate for my context, as well as being easily edited to cater 100% to my learners.

    Thanks, very interesting discussion.


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