Amongst the many claims of the OER movement there is one aspect in particular which supporters use to illustrate its openness and that is the ability to foster social inclusion. For example, the Open University claims that its OER initiative OpenLearn “aims to break the barriers to education by reaching millions of learners around the world”. (Open University, 2014).
However, there are question marks over these claims. Richter and McPherson (2012 p.203) state that “most educational courses implicitly require prerequisite knowledge from learners. Which might or might not be equal in different contexts”. This would imply that Open education is only really open to those who already have an educational understanding.
My own doubts lie in the confusion I feel when hearing some of the acronyms and jargon used such as OER or MOOC and am doubtful whether I would want to engage with something I don’t understand. I started to wonder whether there could be many other potential learners feeling the same way.
A literature review found very little research in the area of the language of OER which persuaded me this was a topic worth pursuing.
This presentation will question whether language used in OER may be a possible barrier to its inclusivity.
The key question I will begin to answer is whether the language of OER helps us to understand or does not knowing the acronyms or jargon within it exclude us? It will also look at the connections between this and individuals’ engagement with OER courses.
This presentation will summarise some small scale research carried out by myself during my study of my Masters in Education. The research is a comparison of two examples of OER introductory into poetry higher education courses, one from OpenLearn and one from MIT Opencourseware. Selected sections of these resources were analysed to reveal how much academic jargon and acronyms were used and social networking mediums where then employed to circulate a survey to a sample of people, to find out how many people have understood some of the language examples found and to explore their engagement with OER.
From these findings recommendations are made for what developers of OER may wish to consider in the future and also what further research may need to be carried out in this area.
Open University (2014) available at: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/about-openlearn/welcome-openlearn-free-learning-the-open-university [online] (last accessed 15th November 2014)
Richter, T and McPherson, M (2012) Open Educational Resources: education for the world? in Distance Education August 2012 vol.33 no.2 p.201-209
UNESCO and Commonwealth of Learning (COL) 2011 Guidelines for Open Educational Resources (OER) in Higher Education. Available at: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/resources/publications-and-communication-materials/publications/full-list/guidelines-for-open-educational-resources-oer-in-higher-education/ [online] (last accessed 16th November 2014)