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OER and quality

Page history last edited by Jayashree Balaji 12 years, 11 months ago

While creating Open Educational Resources, it is important for developers to follow a method of ensuring a consistent standard of deliverables. This is all the more important and easier to implement when the content is being developed collaboratively.


At the end of this unit you will have understood


  • Why we need to ensure quality
  • The contextual nature of quality assessment
  • How OER projects implement quality assurance 


The process of OER development has multiple contributors, the most important of which are the users of the material. The users determine the 'requirements' of your OER project. Hence it is important for the project to be relevant to the needs and expectations of users, namely meet the list of requirements gathered at the beginning of the project. Since the content is being made available online, the project must ensure that content is accessible to users through the range of technology available to them. The content also must be pedagogically sound and fulfill what is stated in the objectives. The content must be useful and functional and these parameters determine the quality assessment framework for the project.


The OPAL - Open Educational Quality Initiative is an international network to promote innovation and better quality in education and training through the use of OER's (http://oer-quality.org/).  The OPAL makes available guidelines to improve Open Educational Practices in organizations. The guideline is designed as a maturity model which allows one to position their organization according to the degree of maturity for each of the individual dimensions - available from the site, the guide may also be downloaded here.



In the context of learning objects, there are many different angles on which quality can be judged. These include issues such as accuracy of content, depth, pedagogy, conformance to standards, relevance and accessibility. If you think of who would assess this quality, you will realize that it is the learner who determines if indeed he is able to achieve all of the learning objectives that is listed under the learning outcomes of the RLO. It is this constructivist approach to quality assessment, where the learner decides what is quality and how within his own context that makes quality relative and quality assurance is best left to the users, institution or organization generating the OER. 



Read this article on how quality is being implemented in an important source of OER, namely the wiki.


The author emphasises that quality assessment is contextual, and in OER; quality can best be imporved using the community model of collaborative development.


Another interesting paper on quality, quality assurance and improvement is to be found here:

Inglis, A. (2005). Quality Improvement, Quality Assurance, and Benchmarking: Comparing two frameworks for managing quality processes in open and distance learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 6(1). Retrieved on May 24, 2007 from



In this article Inglis has identified three terms (or approaches) that commonly appear in relation to quality in

education : 



quality assurance, and

quality improvement.


A benchmark would involve comparing educational resources to the best that can be found within the relevant context. Benchmarking the quality of OER requires that the comparison stays within context.


Quality assurance is process oriented in that the quality of an educational resource meets some predetermined standard, that the users, organization or institution could determine. Quality assurance makes no assumptions about the quality of some other educational resource, there is no comparison being made here. 


Quality Improvement is concerned with raising the quality of the educational resources. The type of comparison that is made is between the current standard of the educational resources and the standard being aimed for. Quality improvement is concerned with comparing the quality of what is about to be produced with the quality of what has been produced in the past.


Like the wiki, OERs should be in a state of continuous quality improvement. Remember, continually updated content is an important quality assessment parameter.


Take time to view this presentation from Slideshare. Of interest is the quality assessment rubric and its impact on student enrolment. These slides speak of the higher education sector, but can be extended to quality and usefulness in OER.  



Comments (2)

Jayashree Balaji said

at 6:44 pm on Apr 30, 2011

Introduce OPAL (www.oer-quality.org)
Raj has provided a preamble
CHW presentation is good; reflect a key element or two in the text

wayne mackintosh said

at 12:20 am on Apr 28, 2011

Wondering about the "fit" of the no-significant difference phenomenon and QA in distance ed for this model with reference to the slide show. Also wondering about the pedagogical utility of a slide show presentation in the absence of audio. We consider transcribing these interventions for print-based delivery.

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