Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Evaluating #OER and Quality Control for #OER as Textbooks

The OER report published in February 2007 by Atkins, Brown and Hammond (2007) at the request of the Hewlett Foundation shows the evolution of OER movement. By proposing Open Participatory Learning Infrastructure (OPLI), it envisions to nurture a culture of learning in which both intellectual capital (content) and human capital (talent) spiral upward, together.

Continuous Improvement of OER from Community-driven Effort

Web 2.0 technologies have significantly enhanced OER progress. Dohn (2009, p. 345) summarizes how :

  • Collaboration and/or distributed authorship;

  • Active, open-access, “bottom-up” participation and interactive multi-way communication;

  • Continuous production, reproduction, and transformation of material in use and reuse across contexts;

  • Openness of content, distributed ownership;

  • Lack of finality, “awareness-in-practice” of the “open-endedness” of the activity;

The “open-endedness” enables continuous improvement by community-driven effort for OER. In the process, peer review is a crucial element. Peer review is commonly used in the Scientific paper publication process or literature review. Open textbooks require new models for ensuring the quality of the texts themselves. These models may include peer reviews, instructor reviews, and student reviews.

Achieve and the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) released a new tool for users to rate the quality of open education resources (OER). The tool will allow educators to rate the quality of these resources, enable educators to align content to the Common Core Standards directly within OER Commons.

Overview of Achieve OER Evaluation Rubrics

Quality Control of OER as “Digital Textbook” – Management Approaches

From SETDA publication : Out of Print – Re-imagine K-12 Digital Textbook :

The process for quality control of content in the print-based, 50-year old system however, begs for alternative models to ensure the positive qualities of digital content are allowed to flourish and those obvious lesser qualities are brought to the forefront. Even if a state or district is considering digital content, this process is improved just by the nature of the materials being digital.

Once the Common Core State Standards are in place, in most states the burden for reviewing content for math and English language arts, the subjects covered by the standards, could be shared among multiple states that are still reviewing content at the state level. Distributing the work that way can eliminate duplicative efforts and streamline the review process. In turn, those efficiencies would enable updates to content to take place more frequently. With digital content, revision cycles could be greatly shortened. One major commercial publisher, for example, expects to be able to follow an annual cycle with updates to its digital curriculum.

Open content, like open source software, is continually revisable by community members. The version made available for download could be as fresh as that day’s date. That would allow the teacher to work with the IT staff or with students directly to obtain the latest version of the material at the start of each new semester. The review process itself could also be shortened by virtue of having reviewers focus only on the changed content, since everything else would have been previously reviewed.

In situations where districts or schools need assurances that revisions are being done in accordance with specific policies or practices, they can “lock down” modifications to prevent further editing. This is a practice followed by Wireless Generation’s FreeReading, which delivers a free open source reading program for grades K-3. Certain activities are locked and others may be created and freely revised by its community of teachers and other users.

Other approaches to quality control and standards alignment may seem unfamiliar to education policymakers and administrators, but are common for many websites in popular use around the world. For example, states and districts with a repository of digital content can implement a review or star system, akin to what Amazon uses on its e-commerce sites. Teachers who have tried the content can rate it and add notes to help guide others’ choices, in a “crowdsourcing” approach. That’s done with Project Share in Texas, for example.

However, the crowdsourcing approach isn’t universally accepted. Vail School District in Arizona, which has an initiative called “Beyond Textbooks” that’s growing statewide and features a quickly expanding repository of digital content, doesn’t allow teachers to review the submissions they download. According to Director Kevin Carney, Vail has avoided the “crowdsourcing” approach for rating submissions because that could alienate teachers who are willing to share their resources. Currently, his staff reviews submissions to the repository, primarily for intellectual property issues, formatting problems, and adherence to standards.



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1 Response »


  1. Open Content On The Horizon of Education – Part I | Classroom Aid

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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