Contributed by: Daniel Burgos, ICDE OER Chair, Full Professor of Education & Communication Technologies Director of Research Institute for Innovation & Technology in Education (UNIR iTED), UNESCO Chair on eLearning, Vice-chancellor for Knowledge Transfer & Technology (UNIR Research), Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR)
Who is the guardian of quality in Open Educational Resources (OER)? The author? The institution where the author is affiliated to? An external network or association? The users-students? The community, other authors?
What seems clear is that we need an agreement. In OER many issues are at stake yet: accreditation, credit recognition, access, etc. All of them emerge from practice, from the community of practice, from the actual users (i.e. students, teachers, professors, management staff, etc.) We all are very committed to provide an open environment, with the various interpretations of what “open” means.
We discuss, design activities, organize congresses, create content, give lectures, write documents about educational policy, review papers, work with Governments and regional departments, publish books and share out thoughts with blog-posts like this one, to name a few actions. Furthermore, we all look for a pro-active, fruitful, interesting and intellectually spicy environments that supports learning, competence building, and integration, along with personal and group development.
However, open means also controversy. Nobody argues against the good-willing approach to the various pillars of openness: access, content, data, research results, licensing, policy and technology. However, it seems that open quite often means unregulated. And unregulated might mean whatever. And this should not be the case when we deal with OER. We, the community, must be sure that content, access, technology and the other pillars provide the user with the best quality and, above all, with a minimum threshold for quality.
This approach would require a list of requirements and metrics to meet by every OER to ensure that threshold, based on an agreement amongst the various stakeholders. We need to normalize that approach, to make it sensible, reachable and useful.
Furthermore, we need to get an agreement to make the user feel safe and inside a quality framework, every time that this very user takes an OER. OER must be a seal for quality content and quality education and the OER community can reach a consensus about this basic right.