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Big and Little OER

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Edited by Owen Barritt, Monday, 22 Apr 2013, 13:41

Big OER - Major institutional project in open education such MIT's Open CourseWare.

Little OER - Smaller individual outputs produced as a by-product of everyday work.

  • Can easy have backing of major institutions with institutional branding.
  • Can be developed strategically, covering major topics.
  • Can pool resources of many stakeholders as necessary
  • Can deliver a common set of resources for all courses/topics if required.
  • Can target large audiences with potential for detailed planning.
  • Can cover large amounts of materials.
  • Costly, requiring backing of institutional budgets or trust funds.
  • One size fits all model across all individuals' work within institution/department.
  • Range of media presented may be limited.
  • Planning required to ensure materials meet requirements of all stakeholders.
  • Larger topics may be less suitable for reuse outside the organisation.
Little OER
  • Generally a by-product of individuals' existing work.
  • Materials can be developed at any time using any available tool in any style.
  • More adapted to long-tail approaches allowing very special interest materials to be produced for small audiences.
  • Materials naturally produced in a range of medias by a range of individuals.
  • Collectively have potential to reach a wider audience than Big OER although individual audiences may be small.
  • Smaller topics may be more suitable for reuse in a range of contexts.
  • Generally unplanned with no guarantees of audience/use.
  • Unlikely to produce much consistency in style between materials.
  • Needs for general topic materials may be sidelined by more specialised topics.
  • Reputation of materials' authors may not be as clear as for major institutions.
  • Generally only cover a very small section of a topic.


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Picture of Alan Clarke

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Hi Owen

In my own experience the context of the original material makes or breaks using it. To reversion material is time consuming but learners will often reject material that is not appropriate to their context. Sometimes it is easier to start from scratch. Although when you find appropriate contextual (or close to your context) material it can save a huge amount of effort.




Picture of Gilly Ferguson

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Thanks Owen I like your list ...