Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Big OER, little OER

It's funny how you take things for granted... I hadn't realised just how much I use OER in my own practice. What prompted this was a post in another galaxy far, far way, where the question was 'do you, or have you ever used OER in FE?' I thought about this for a while before I realised that I had been using computing resources/notes from the Colleges Open Learning Exchange Group (COLEG) for over 10 years, heck I even produced and vetted support packs for them!! Anyway, I dug a bit deeper to find that COLEG doesn't exist anymore and resources from the now [Scottish] College Development Network now utilise Jorum as well as a European funded resource (in conjunction with SQA) called TranSETT - I've yet to investigate further.

Rambling aside, a quick definition of...
  • Big OER: produced formally in a large scale, for example by big institutions - MIT Open CourseWare or OpenLearn.
  • Little OER: produced by individuals, for example, on a smaller scale, perhaps the by product of already existing resources.
Big OER advantages:
  • Development of institutional relationships/networks
  • Provision of knowledge to the public
  • Wider access (easier to find)
  • Product of substantial investment
  • Good quality
  • Free
Big OER disadvantages:
  • Production high costs
  • Not very re-usable
  • Difficulties incorporating Web 2.0/social technology
Little OER advantages:
  • Re-use/re-purposing of existing resources
  • Can be produced using little effort
  • No planning needed (project management?)
  • Scope for better promotion of sustainability
  • Cheap 
  • Better integration with Web 2.0/social media
Little OER disadvantages:
  • Perhaps too contextualised
  • May require culture change with individuals/small institutions (for production)
  • Resources require updating digitally (re-purposed)
  • problems with legitimate re-use
  • Poor quality/lack of reputation
This list is of course not exhaustive, there are many other pro's and con's of big and little OER. Whilst compiling, I was thinking about overlaps that exist between big and little OER and their co-existence, 'A mixture of the two then is complementary and viable I would argue.' (Weller, 2009)


Weller, M. (2009) Big OER and Little OER. [Online] Available at: http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/no_good_reason/2009/12/the-politics-of-oer.html. (Accessed 8th April 2013)


  1. Ignoring the rest of the post (sorry) I *think* this is the first post I've read where someone has actually referred to using OERs themselves, hurrah!

  2. Very nice list of advantages and disadvantages here. One other thing I was thinking of as a disadvantage for little OER is what is an advantage for big--big can be much easier to find, and little not so much. It depends on where the little are stored, of course, but if it's on blogs, as Weller's "Public Engagement as Collateral Damage" suggests it might be, then that stuff will be much harder to find.

    Also, wondering about "problems with legitimate re-use" with little OER. Not sure what you mean by that. Does it have to do with the licensing of the works?