To the western world, the swan was innately white – it was almost seen as impossible that a swan could be any other colour. Once Willem de Vlamingh discovered the black swan, the notion of the unpredictable, or what constituted a swan became vague. Interesting that discovering a mammal with webbed feet, a beak and one which laid eggs and not live young was somehow less definitive in challenging taxonomies. So whereas we could argue that this could be a discussion over epiphanies and OER, it isn’t – it is a question of what characteristics should an OER have?
Yesterday at the OER3 / OER RI meeting in London we discussed whether it made sense to centrally mandate a characteristic of OERs – greater than say ensuring the resource is licensed openly (which is arguably a given, like all swans hiss). Perhaps discussion of top-down or bottom-up approaches doesn’t work with the notion of “open” – but then what of Tim Berners-Lee’s open data classification?
|?||make your stuff available on the web (whatever format)|
|??||make it available as structured data (e.g. excel instead of image scan of a table)|
|???||non-proprietary format (e.g. csv instead of excel)|
|????||use URLs to identify things, so that people can point at your stuff|
|?????||link your data to other people’s data to provide context|
So we can accept an approach where perhaps there isn’t a black / white / duck-billed cut off point, but instead a structured approach to which we agree some elements offer a more useful OER to an end user, but in not doing so prevent people from creating an OER. As we are developing the Great Writers resource, we are moving towards thinking about how we can enrich content and empower users of the content as simply and efficiently as possible. Sadly, we can’t work out in advance who are users are – we may know for some, but we definitely can’t make OER for all of the people all of the time. Giving too many options to end users may confuse, but giving too few options may lead to a failure of the content to be reused. If options for reuse could be mandated, or an OER star rating for reuse existed, then we could all develop around a “best practice” and it would be easier to consider what forms of reuse we could have on a site. At present we support, downloading, embedding, attributing and social media sharing – which are all relatively useful, but that is “what we think are useful” – is it worth us expending the time on doing so?
So could we consider any of these as a first or second star of OER reuse ratings? I’m loathe to suggest a standard, but I feel that I can offer the following two
|?||The OER can be downloaded|
|??||The OER can be embedded (iframe, object, video / audio).|
I think this is a fair minimum of “Openness” and not too much effort to produce – the other options are considerably more effort.
I would welcome comments and thoughts on this, and how people would like to reuse OER.