Recently I’ve participated in a number of discussions around creating open education repositories and initiatives in the Middle East. Beyond the question of finding sizable portions of open Arabic content to seed a new repository, the questions of sustainability (how do we pay for this?), language (who’s Arabic?) and so what?! (What will people do with the content?) always come up shortly after.
Putting the first two bold words aside, let’s focus on the so what?! of OER. As Max Fawcett (Managing Editor at Alberta Venture) points out in the Open Education Open Debate:
Education, after all, isn’t an acquisitive process, an exercise in procuring and storing information. Instead, learning is a social process, one in which people get from point A – ignorance – to point B – enlightenment – through a messy combination of challenge, failure and consolidation. While there might be a few people who can (and should) take advantage of open-source learning models, there are, I suspect, far more who can’t. Information, in the absence of the ability to apply it, isn’t very valuable, as anybody who’s ever tried to fix their own car using only the supplied factory manual understands only too well”.
This reminds me of a comment in Brian Lamb posted in his blog two years ago:
“If we live in an era of information abundance, why is the primary drive around OERs the publication of more content? And what other activities around the open education movement might be an effective use of our energies? What other needs have to be met?”
In the past couple of years we’ve seen online course initiatives like P2PU and the Open High School take steps towards using the open content out there in meaningful ways. But, I would like to hear directly from teachers and students:
With so much free content out there on the Web, what services or apps would you like to see built in conjunction with all that content to help bring more meaning, value, time savings and/or joy to your education?