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?