Having read McAndew and Farrow (2013) and taken a look at the OpenLearn course in OER
I conclude that the most important challenge OER (open Educational Resources) initiatives face is in the maintenance of the integrity of course content.
OER is innovative as it is a new(ish) initiative in education offering learners the opportunity to engage with each other across large geographical areas by taking advantages of the communication and cooperative opportunities afforded by the internet. Informal learning is integral to OER but can also lead on to and give the learner encouragement to engage in more formal pathways.
OpenLearn consists of well-structured, short courses that give an introduction to materials that, in many cases, can be studied in more depth and with the option of accreditation through registration onto a full course. NcAndrew and Farrow found that there was a large scale uptake of open study leading to learners benefiting from engagement with each other as well as accessing a wider world of follow on study opportunities and bridging gaps in formal provision.
It is essential that the learning opportunities afforded in OER courses are as thoroughly researched and as regularly updated as courses that have been through the university validation process. One way that OpenLearn seems to have achieved this is through the development of courses that are based on the content of validated courses. Courses that are developed in an inverse way pose more of a challenge on account of the financial implications of developing materials from scratch.
I believe that integrity of content is far more of an issue than procedural problems associated with, for example, the use of technology and copyright. These concerns can be addressed through formulas that others have developed but the quality of content is essential for drawing learners in and leaving them with an experience of having made significant learning gains.
McAndrew, P. and Farrow, R. (2013) ‘Open education research: from the practical to the theoretical’ in McGreal, R., Kinuthia, W. and Marshall, S. (eds) Open Educational Resources: Innovation, Research and Practice, Vancouver, Commonwealth of Learning and Athabasca University, pp. 65–78 [Online]. Available at oro.open.ac.uk/ 37756/ 1/ OER-IRP-mcandrew-farrow.pdf (Last accessed 10th February 2018)