MOOCs as open driver

(I could pretend this image had some connection to the post, but it doesn’t really, it’s just a pic I took in Banff to make you jealous)

I’m at OEGlobal this week and attended a session from Athabasca University Library this morning. They were talking about how they have gathered together open access resources under the subjects for their uni, and also gathered in open resources from elsewhere. You can access this open access collection at their site. I think more libraries should do this, prioritising open resources so everyone can access them.

But what struck me in their presentation was that MOOCs were quite a significant driver in doing this. For many university libraries collecting open access resources doesn’t really matter as the fee paying students will have access to those resources anyway (if the library can afford to pay for them). And so there is no real driver for educators to focus on OA above other resources. But when people started creating MOOCs, this breaks down – your open learners won’t have that privileged library access, so any resources you use must be open.

This is similar to the manner in which social media drives open access also. What it highlights is that openness in any form begets openness. So while we may sometimes bemoan that MOOCs themselves are not really open (in the sense of openly licensed), they do form part of a larger system, which helps drive openness. I expect you’d all realised this long ago, hadn’t you?


  • Jörg Pareigis

    This is exactly what happened in our open course development project even if in a minor scale. Colleagues started to parallel publish post print versions of their articles in the university’s repository. Good with a more concrete reason for OA publishing…

  • Simon Thomson (@digisim)

    Hi Martin,

    I agree more approaches like this will help us make oer more mainstream.

    We have been doing this as part of our library subject pages since we ran our original oer project in 2009. Our approach was to use OER as part of our “resourcing the curriculum” activity. We encourage academic staff to use 3 kinds of resources (open, purchased and self developed) & pull them together for the best learning experience.

    Our Academic Librarians manage the subject pages & on each subject page are links to subject relevant oer’s or oer repositories.

    Of course some programmes are better than others at using a range of resources, but because these pages are student facing also it means that students have been able to find oer’s in their subject area even if the academic team are not using them.

  • Tony Hirst

    Libraries generally didn’t (don’t?) get the web, and they missed an opportunity around OERs too?

    In the same way that libraries have a role to play in the curation and dissemination of research outputs of their institution, becoming an as-if University re-press, which in the weakest sense takes the form of a research output repository such as ORO, they could always be curating and collecting not only their university’s open teaching outputs for all-comers (as the OMU do in the OU via OpenLearn), but also third party OERs as part of their own collection development. (There is a good argument to be made that subject librarians should be as aware of good OERs (in whatever sense of the word) in their area as they are of other published outputs…)

    I wonder how much has changed since 5 years ago? http://blog.ouseful.info/2009/08/10/open-educational-resources-and-the-university-library-website/

    Is having to support MOOCs is a new driver on library activity? Shouldn’t they have been doing this anyway?

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