Saturday, 27 April 2013

Activity 24: Considering Open Learning Literacies

A Checklist of Open Learning Literacies

In previous posts, I have been critical of some of the learning theories that have arisen out of the Open Educational Resource movement, especially Connectivist and Rhizomatic learning theory. For me these theories exclude too many members of our society who cannot or will not be able to access OERs. 

Having said that, there are clearly some qualities that people need if they are to successfully negotiate the world of the OER. Let's go through these qualities one-by-one (there is some cross-over with Jenkins' (2009) eleven new skills learners:

This means both physical and intellectual resources. In order to access OERs users must have the tools to gain that access. This requires either a computer or a smartphone plus internet access. According to Ormond Simpson's Supporting Students for Success in Online and Distance Education (Routledge, 2013) over 20% of people do not have access to the internet at home and the figure for the United States is over 30%. As for the developing world, it is estimated that only 5% of sub-Sarahan Africa has home internet access.

The intellectual resource does not mean the intellectual level of an OER user but the confidence that the user has of their own abilities and intellectual capabilities. The use of OERs does require users to have some confidence in their own abilities.

Again there are two aspects to this:
  • the first is the ability to critically view the OERs that are on offer and to ensure that the OERs are both useful and authoritative.
  • the second is to ensure that if there is a discussion about the use of OERs then users must make sure that they are able to both give and receive positive criticisms.
This is the ability to successfully your way around repositories of OERs.

Successful users of OERs need to be accepting of the viewpoints and perspectives of others. People will see the content of OERs in completely different ways and there must be an acceptance that there is not a 'right' and 'wrong' way of looking at OERs.

As Ken Robinson  says in his well-known TED talk on creativity in education, we should not avoid mistakes when we are learning. The successful use of OERs should experiment with the content they find. This will inevitably mean that they will make mistakes. This should be encouraged.

Because the most successful users of OERs are those who are most comfortable with self-directed, informal learning styles, then it clear that motivation is an important quality. You have to want to engage with these materials in order to get the most out of them. The question remains: What happens to those who lack this motivation?

Thinking Skills

Using OERs does require a particular way of thinking. It asks users to willingly move across forms and disciplines and to accept multiple perspectives and opinions.

Digital Creativity
This means that users of OERs should not just be the passive recipients of learning materials but must also be able to repurpose it and to share what they have created. This requires some technical and creative skills in editing and creating OERs. This can mean anything from being able to edit a word-processed document through to being able to work with video-editing software.

Final Thought...
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the skill sets needed to work OERs. It would be good to hear from other #h817open students and see if we can agree on a common set of open learning literacy standards.


  1. Thank you for taking the "right v wrong" out of education, it stifles creativity, innovation, experimentation, and autonomy. In other words, it stifles progress in most forms. All of us are wrong more than we are right and what's "right" is constantly changing.

  2. Hi Colin
    Happy to see that you have included "Experiment". Not being afraid of making mistakes is quite important for engaging in open learning. Also, the experiment angle is useful when it comes to the willingness to try out different social media tools to see which tool best fits your temper and your learning needs. Trial and error will take you far, whereas reluctance can be a barrier for participation.

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