While increased access to the internet and computing devices has been instrumental to the growth and institutionalization of the global movement toward open educational resources (OER), technology choices (often made by educational institutions – and their vendors – on behalf of students) can serve to amplify and/or mute key features of openness. Indeed, the often unspoken relationship between OER and educational technology can be fraught with misplaced assumptions, red flags, value conflicts, and licensing complications.
That the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology has an initiative and policy position on OER and not on open source software speaks to some of the broader political and practical challenges facing the field.
Over the last year, I’ve had the chance to explore this important topic further on behalf of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which asked me to look at the issue through the lens of their OER program (past, present, and future). Perhaps of greater general interest, I also took the opportunity to suggest areas for potential new investment in OER-related technology work that could help advance the important work being done in the field.
You can read some of the highlights of this work in my interview (“How can technology advance open educational resources?“) with Angela DeBarger of the Foundation on their site, as well as retrieve an openly-licensed copy of the full report itself, An Assessment of the Technical Infrastructure for Open Educational Resources.
My work on this and related issues remains ongoing, so I welcome feedback, input and continued dialogue.