Quality OER ?

A comment I read recently on a post made by Tony Bates concerning the highly variable quality of OER material included this snippet:

I had great hopes for the Open Courseware initiative but after wandering through the offerings of quite a few universities and I can’t say I’ve found anything of much use.

I am a little bit heartened by what I’ve seen because it’s helped me realise that the lack of understanding of teaching and learning and the absence good design princples is not limited to my own organisation. In fact we are probably on a par with many esteemed institutes of higher learning. Actually, I don’t think organisations such as MIT have done their teaching reputations much good by releasing crappy sets of powerpoint sides into the wild.

While there are some positives, to some extent the the Open Courseware initiative damages the sector as a whole by reinforcing poor practice and establishing the defacto benchmark for HE teaching resources. [sic]” – Cameron Nichol – 7th Feb 2011

I thought a few things in there were interesting and decided to share it with you all and invite your comment.

These points will be even more worthy of consideration as we move towards using iTunes U and YouTube Edu not only to show the world the lovely new block / brick paving and the refurbished water features we now have around campus, but also to demonstrate some of the learning and teaching that goes on here.

A 50 minute film of someone’s back as they scribble on, and mutter at, a white / black board with a link to a wave infected presentation (is that a bit like nits ?) won’t be good enough to convince students to part with their parent’s cash – or their bank’s for that matter …


  1. This is an interesting discussion, and thanks for bringing this to our attention. I have also found most content available online disappointing, and it is hard for people to identify the 'good' amongst the 'bad' and the 'ugly'. I recently set up an open online spreadsheet at a workshop, so people could structure their thinking on good and bad features of OER. My original intention was to use this just for the workshop, but anyone is free to add to it if they would like. It is here: http://bit.ly/dKhRDF
    Just a note on MIT's OCW. There is some truly fantastic stuff on physics. I particularly like the part where Prof. Lewin turns himself into a human pendulum (Lecture 10 in this series: http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-01-physics-i-classical-mechanics-fall-1999/video-lectures/).

  2. There's some great introductory computing lectures at Stanford too.

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