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Preparing your OER project

Page history last edited by David Porter 12 years, 10 months ago


The skills needed to build and implement an OER initiative

One of the most important questions to answer is who will be responsible for building or contextualizing OER to suit your institution’s needs? The answers may vary.


It could be individual instructors or faculty members, or it may be a specialized development unit within the institution that includes instructional designers, software developers and media specialists.


However the human resources are selected, the focus should be  on identifying the skills required for the job.



What skills do OER developers need?

OER developers can be elementary, basic education or high school teachers, or college or university teachers or academics wanting to develop and/or re- contextualize open educational resources (OER).


As instructional developers they will likely have some introductory skills and knowledge in using technology for developing instruction with an interest in deepening their multimedia technology skills for both high and low bandwidth environments.


They must be strong communicators with a desire to seek out local knowledge and resources to ensure the OER are localized to encourage use, understanding and contextualized learning (Stacey, 2007; Wiley 2007).


The developers will have some or all of the following characteristics or skills:


  • Post-secondary education — OER materials are usually focused on basic education and post secondary education. OER developers need to have at least post secondary education to engage in developing materials in these domains.
  • Understanding of learning theories and pedagogy — A background in learning and knowledge building would assist in creating and altering OER learning materials. 
  • Context awareness — Alterations of OER materials will often be due to context or targeted to a particular situation. Context awareness is essential for altering OER.
  • Self directed — Beginning and completing an OER project requires a large amount of self direction.
  • Proven ability to create learning materials — Learning materials need to be well thought through and acknowledge differing learning styles. Previous experience in this capacity will be required for success in creating and altering OER.
  • Hard workers with understanding of and belief in continuous improvement — OER material development is often poorly paid and requires a great deal of work to create quality. Another issue is that the materials will need to be changed and be altered by other people. This will require the developer to monitor improvements in quality.
  • Social responsibility — People will not develop OER for the money. It requires a generous world-view where work is done for the common good. People who do not fit this description may not have success in this program.
  • Cultural and global issues / sensitivity aware — OER will be targeted to many different people in many different locations from many different cultures. Developing OER to meet the needs of the many while identifying what would have to be altered for context is an important attribute for the OER developer.
  • Localization awareness – Altering learning materials for a new context requires awareness and sensitivity to the local environment.
  • Willingness to learn about copyright, intellectual property and licensing issues – Legal issues within OER are becoming simpler as Creative Commons licenses become better understood. Knowing what OER materials exist and how they can be used is important. A willingness to understand the legal and license issues within this domain is important.
  • Technology savvy – much of the design, production and delivery methods for OER are technology based. Being able to utilize technology will be essential in being successful with OER efforts.



What are the contexts in which developers do their job?

The ideal way for any OER initiative to work is within the existing international OER repositories to provide additional educational resources to encourage OER developers to create, re-use and alter OER materials for new educational contexts.


OER developers will be working in a variety of different settings that will include, but are not limited to;


  • Domain specific – learning materials built for specific course or subject domain
  • National – learning materials are being built for a national curriculum 
  • Open and distance learning – learning materials are being built for a specific purpose, or for a specific rural or cultural region. 



Learning from others: A first step

A smart way to proceed is to explore how others have produced OER. Here are two useful approaches.


  1. Identify the approaches used by existing OER developers who create and reuse OER materials and to determine their areas of challenge and where they see the need for learning materials in instructional domain you have identified.
  2. Identify the technology “tool kits” currently used in OER development and where the future seems to be directed. 


OER providers such as those noted below could be contacted for advice, or to answer question you may have.





Rawthshorne, P. (2007).  Using open educational resources for international curriculum development. Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.  Available: http://www.rawsthorne.org/docs/PeterRawsthorne.OERProgram.pdf




Comments (2)

wayne mackintosh said

at 5:43 pm on Apr 7, 2011

The OER search engine examples don't fit with the objectives of this page. Also the COL knowledge finder will not necessarily return open access / OER resources. Can't search by license type.

wayne mackintosh said

at 5:34 pm on Apr 7, 2011

"Faculty members" is North American -- consider replacing with lecturer / academic or other generic term.

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