This week I have been studying different models of OER, ranging from large scale institutional efforts, such as OpenLearn created by the Open University (so-called Big OER) to small scale projects by individual academics (little OER). I must admit before studying these I had not even considered the small scale projects and was instead, focused on the glossy, professional offerings of leading universities.
Large scale projects like OpenLearn require substantial funding and commitment from the university involved and there are significant concerns about the sustainability of such projects. Little OER instead does not require this financial commitment as such because it is the idea that open educational resources can emerge from the normal every day activities of academics. Martin Weller, an expert in the field and author of the popular Ed Techie Blog suggests that a number of things can be created by virtue of every day activities. This includes open access research papers that can be placed in repositories and lecture content that can be shared via platforms such as Slideshare and YouTube as well as blog posts such as this. He suggests that these little OER approaches may be another way to consider sustainability in OER.
I do agree wholeheartedly with him about the things that are created when we do our every day tasks. However, I think there are a number of barriers to this every becoming widespread. The first is technical ability. Weller describes how he put together a resource in a relatively short period of time with little technical expertise but I suspect not everyone would find it this easy - it took me 20 minutes on setting up this site to find the blog settings! The second barrier is time; public engagement activities, lectures and research outputs are often factored in to our workload but they literally only just fit and any amount of additional thinking or adjusting can simply be too much. However, the third problem for me is one that Weller also raised at the end his chapter on this topic, which can be read here: