I would like to argue against the proposition that ‘OER will reduce the digital divide’ for the following reasons:
– Repurposing and use of these resources sometimes requires a relatively high level of technical knowledge.
– Debate over the range of copyright options leads to delay and confusion.
– Reliance on copyright protected third party resources, such as video limits the development of OER.
– The lack of a single search engine or portal for all available resources, means that they are often only used by those in the know.
Many of these obstacles can be overcome however it is too soon to categorically state that ‘OER will reduce the digital divide’.
In the first year report of the Open Universities OpenLearn project , Simon Buchingham-Shum, from the Knowledge Media Institute explains that the project eventually had to make content available as a basic word processable documents so non technical users could repurpose the content. Although this works for this project other projects may not have the time, resources or inclination to do this.
- There is no perfect solution to the problem of copyright in the 21st centaury and the confusing range and implications of options available has stalled and limited the use of many projects.
The OpenLearn report claims that 97% of third party materials offered by facilitators have been unsuccessfully cleared for use, however smaller projects that do not have the backing of the Open University may not be so fortunate.
Although the report claims to include content that ranges from access to postgraduate level, browsing the site I found little content that would be suitable for learners from sectors such as further, secondary or primary education. Although other OER projects may have content which is suitable, it can be a hard slog finding them and changing them so they are appropriate.Wk