OER infoKit wiki Open Educational Resources infoKit / OER Myths
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OER Myths

Page history last edited by Lou McGill 11 years, 8 months ago


A number of myths perpetuate about Open Educational Resources. This section of the infoKit aims to explain and dispel some of them.


UKOER myths 

The JISC CETIS team have established a page around OER myths for the JISC/Academy Pilot Programmme: OER release.



The sharing myth

JISC has commissioned a number of studies into the 'sharing' of learning and teaching resources (Community Dimensions of Learning Object Repositories CD LOR, Trust in Digital Repositories TRUST DR,   WM-Share,  RepoMMan, Rights and Rewards survey, Sharing e-learning contentGood Intentions report) and also funded a series of projects focussed on 'exchange'of learning resources (Exchange for Learning Programme (X4L). These two terms are often used in relation to OERs but it is useful to clarify what we mean by some of these terms in this context.


When we use the word sharing we usually imply an intent โ€“ where someone, or some organisation, chooses to share something of value with either a specific audience or more widely. This is different to 'exchanging' where both/all parties want, and agree to, share for some mutual benefit.  Whilst often overlooked, the difference between these two actions is significant, particularly in relation to business models and benefits. It could be argued that sharing implies an open model (sharing with all) and exchange a community based model which relies on mutual benefits within a specific community. Some community models (such as International Virtual Medical School - IVIMEDS) began with an exchange model between subscribing institutions but have had to adapt the model to recognise that not all partners can contribute equally in terms of content. The value of having a strong community of practice makes membership attractive with the content not always being the primary consideration.


Terms such as reuse and re-purposing may imply an underlying principle of sharing (sometimes enforced as a condition of funding), but people may not necessarily be consciously intending to share. Some take, some give and some do both, for a range of reasons. It can be useful to consider sharing and exchange as processes relating to OER Release (either conscious or not) but it is the intent behind the various initiatives, activities and services that is important to the resulting approaches that individuals, communities or institutions adopt.


Whilst there may be reluctance on the part of teachers to engage with business terminology, (Sustainability and Revenue Models for Online Academic Resources: an Ithaka report) thinking about the stakeholders in the OER movement in relation to a producer/consumer model can help people to look at things a little differently.



An interesting OER metaphor

This is not intended to compare OERs with commercial products but was developed to illustrate the value in considering the different roles that exist in the production and use/re-use of OERs and to highlight the importance of considering end users (by Lou McGill for Good Intentions: improving the evidence base in support of sharing learning materials Open Educational Repositories: Share, Improve, Reuse | Edinburgh 25-26 March 2009. Keynote ) 


This table uses the example of cows milk and attempts to liken these to roles within OER relase (third column):


Milk Role OERs


Primary producer/Creator 



Primary consumer

Enrolled student


Secondary producer/repurposer

Learning technologist/Course leader

Milk bottlers

Primary supplier

Learning technologist


Secondary supplier

deposit in institutional repository or open deposit

Human family

Secondary consumer

Teacher within or outside institution

Human family and pets

Sharers and re-users

Enroled students of that teacher

Person with milk, Person with cocoa powder, Person with sugar - can make chocolate

Exchange and repurposers

other teachers within or outside institution

Chocolate in shop fridge


deposit in different open repositories

Chocolate eaten

re-users/maybe sharing; )

potentially global learners

Chocolate added to cake mixture

further re-purposing

potentially global teachers


One way of visually representing this analogy:



Main image CC BY-NC-SA Steve took it


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