OER: The Challenges of Repositories

 The problem with the acceptance and demand of OER and the repositories that collect and store them is that they are not widely used between students or educators, at least not yet. Both make use of OER for certain aspects of their teaching and learning journeys but not to an extent that OER can be regarded as essential. The reason for this is that even if students and educators may occasionally find useful learning resources this is not the case in most cases and even if it the resource will require adaptation. These adaptations sometimes are too significant, which means it would take too long to re-purpose them. In this case, it is better to design learning resource from scratch making OER purposeless.

After trying to use repositories like Solvatus, Merlot, MIT, OpenLearn, OpenStax and Saylor to find the right OER to fit the purpose of a specific course, I found a few challenges that would either stop me from being able to create the course or make me rethink and redesign the course. Only in part I would have been able to use certain learning resources for as long as I would have been able to adapt them. I cannot tell exactly the difference between the time that it would have taken me to design the course using resources from scratch and the time to adapt or re-purpose any suitable OER. It is likely that I would have had to adopt the two approaches since to a certain degree I could not find any suitable OER not even if I would have adapted them but I would have been able to find a small per cent and use some saving me some time.

OER are a brilliant philosophical idea but how they can be gathered in a meaningful way is still not very clear. OER repositories do not seem to have adequate ways to help users find what they are looking for or even to give them the idea if they are looking in the right place or doing the right search. This leaves you with wondering if the repositories you are using are specialised not only in the field but in the topic that you are researching; also if  you can be positive that the repository that you have been exploring does not have anything somewhere that could be useful to you. Overall, they feel as black holes that may or may not provide you with what you need. The structure and design of these sites play a very important part in its usability but specialising them even further would be a solution to the lack of demand they are experiencing.

Photograph by Nordwood Themes on Unsplash

Published by M.M.Pérez

Learning tech advocate and researcher, teacher and member of the Open University's MAODE team

One thought on “OER: The Challenges of Repositories

  1. Hi Miriam

    I do agree with your point about trying to find resources. It is a common complaint about repositories. People find locating suitable content difficult. Your other points are good.




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