Open Educational Resources: “Snuggle for survival!”

Ever since I realised just what was out there, I’ve been fascinated by the wave of sharing that the web seems to have inspired. Apart from the fact that the web exists at all, it is the openness and sharing that I’ve found to be the most awe inspiring aspect of watching the web develop and grow – everything, but everything on there has been put there by a person (or at least initially) for us to use. Some we pay for but the vast quantity we don’t – or at least not directly.

I’ve wondered what has driven this. I’ve contemplated the world of EFL/ ESOL teachers where I’ve worked, where hand crafted materials and resources, even bought resources, have always been viewed slightly selfishly (in my view) by the teacher ‘I invested the time to make it (or buy it) so why should I share it?’ So what has changed?

I’ve thought of a number of possible reasons, just guesses, but potentially useful to follow up sometime:

  1. Hard copy resources could get ruined or lost if used by many. It’s easier to save originals of e-materials then people can do what they like with their version/ copy?
  2. If something is shared further afield it’s less likely to have a direct impact on the ‘competition’. Typical EFL/ ESOL classes can have students moving around between teachers and it can be gutting to find that you have a student saying “I’ve done this before”, especially when it’s your own resource you’re using!
  3. Innate human desire for wide-reaching acknowledgement/ recognition!
  4. Some sites require a commitment to exchange, so you are not just using other’s resources.

Today, as part of the H800 course material, I read “What you need to know about OER (Open Educational Resources)” (Daniel, S. 2012), which outlines a noble global effort, lead by UNESCO, to bring OER to organisations internationally. It seeks to operate and gain ‘agreements’ at government levels.

In the article In the State of The Commons (SOCT. 2015) the opening phrases went some way towards explaining some of my questions:

Collaboration, sharing, and cooperation are a driving force for human evolution” 

“We are hardwired for sharing. Harvard professor on evolutionary dynamics Martin Nowak calls it the essential “snuggle for survival” evidence that sharing is not just a selfless act. Sharing has concurrent and lasting benefits, multiplied for the giver, the receiver, and communities at large.”


The ‘Keepers’ (for want of a better word) of Creative Commons aim for a utopian ideal of an online world that is equal and fair, a lively, diverse and accessible community where positive, unexpected experiences occur. Originally set up to provide a technical and legal framework for shared resources and set up Licensing, the aims have extended beyond the original aim to include supporting collaborative and sharing communities. It seems a logical progression since the collaborators will be using the licences…

Though all this still doesn’t explain the shift in sharing hard copy resources and online. Perhaps is it that the larger pool of resources makes them immediately more useable, if organised well. Or perhaps it is the newness of it that causes need for closer snuggling? If that is the case, it seems to be effective as the article shows steep increase in the uptake of OER:

increase in licensed cc.png

Image taken from:

Checklands (2017) “Rich Pictures”,, [online] Available from: (Accessed 30 March 2017).

Between 2013 –  2014 Weller explored the uptake of OER in a series of three articles. Starting with the bold claim that ‘Openness has won!” he then explores the meaning of openness and what he meant by “it has won”. Some of it seems a bit like back-tracking (especially having read the comments) some of it, to be fair, must simply be part of the fact that this whole area is still very much in its infancy. We genuinely don’t know what’s what, it’s being made up, invented, on a daily basis as it evolves. Weller somehow doesn’t seem to recognise this is STILL early days and at one point in the second article says we are at “tipping point”

In the final article he makes an analogy to an iceberg and divides users into three catagories, with only the first seen (I presume though he doesn’t appear to actually say this):

Primary – main contributors and fully aware of licencing etc

Secondary – main goal is normally teaching. Use CC resources as part of this and contribute occasionally. Partially aware of licencing.

Tertiary – users. Little or not at all aware of licences.

He also mentions David Wiley’s concept of ‘The Dark Reuse”. that is, the users that can’t be monitored or included in data.

There also seems to be a lack of recognition from Weller (possibly a wildly sweeping statement) that the drive by HE for the uptake of OER must be economically driven…an idea to follow up some other time…

For my own part, as a practitioner in both education  and marketing, I have used material for music in videos and images for PPTs Word docs and occasionally websites, ideas from places like SlideShare…I own up to being guilty of not always being of the licenses as I should be. Not always clearly recognising the source as I should. It’s not that I’m trying to pretend its mine, it’s often just sheer laziness (or too much multitasking and work overload – a time saving device, in my own defence?). I’m getting better but really do need to be more mindful altogether!


As part of the course material I was asked to have a look at a number of OER sites and make some notes. It was a useful and interesting exercise but I have to admit all I kept thinking was : OVERLOAD! So much amazing and interesting stuff out there – I could spend ten lifetimes just getting lost in the OER resources! Quite possibly, the net result will be that I’ll steer clear of any of it, just in case I get too tempted!

Notes from the activity – it is useful to break them down a bit and compare. I found the ways in which educators are using MIT to be of particular interest. It also raised some questions I’d like to come back to and explore later:


MIT It was the first

In 2015 it had 2000+ courses

Made up of extracts of real courses: notes, tests, video


I like the choices based on Instructional approaches

RSS feeds

Educators incorporate elements into own lessons

Educators use the courses to help with curriculum development

Linked to I Tunes U

Was there before You tube, Facebook…

200 million reach

OCW – open course Ware

Is there an app?

How is it moderated?

OPEN LEARNING INITIATIVE Aims to address the gap between the drive towards teaching more & more diverse students and the time allocated to do this Some alarm bells?:

Anyone who wants to learn or teach can.

Aims to transform HE?

Has only 27 active courses

Promotes active learning techniches.

Very bold claims made

Unclear how it works to teach – it says set up your own courses but thensays your courses are analysed to be maximised using their instructional design technology. Unclear how this works.

Is there an app?

How is it moderated?

OPEN LEARN Free courses (how many? 100’s or 1000’s?) graded at different levels Good, clear and easy to navigate site.

Nice idea having badges (wonder how any actually collect?)

Good telling you how long the courses/ activities are.

Good having TV & Radio if want more ‘casual’ learning.

I found an interesting course but it was course 3 of 4 and I couldn’t find the others.

The site remembered me – I discovered when I saw a course that looked interesting, clicked and was told had previously completed 5%! Total forgotten….

Could it somehow link to accredited courses?

Who creates the resources?

Why no app?

I TUNES U Lectures, videos, PDFs, MP£s.

Links for universities and other organisations

A bit of a warren finding things, but once there easy to download and access.

Haven’t tried on the computer, not sure if its possible?

It looks like a good platform for teachers but organisation must be registered – not sure how complicated that is

Lesson types rely on students having PDs? Or the school supplying them? All devices or only Apple?

Available on computer?

Do organisations moderate own content? How?

Blogging? Again?

BLOGGING – take 2.

I’m a serial wanna-be blogger. A repeat would be blogger. The web must be awash with the debris of abandoned good intentions, with unused Blog pages being among the largest amount of detritus. If the web was a Word Cloud ‘Unused Blog’ would probably be right up there, big and bold. And, of course, contributing to that would be my own innumerable false starts. These could fall into some clearly defined catagories:

  1. Some were on sites I’ve long since forgotten exist (maybe they don’t anymore). I may have registered out of curiosity to see what was on offer and had a little play around, or I may have registered with a genuine intention to keep up a Blog of some sort.
  2. Some Blogs I set up and began but then fell into non-posting (normally life’s business), by the time I returned had lost the notebook with the login details and so would have to abandon and start again.
  3. No real purpose to the Blogging – or scattered focus. Try to define it into one thing and then want to write about something that doesn’t fit and feeling stuck = period of non-posting!
  4. Not sure who I’m writing it for – whether myself or an audience. In that case, what audience?!

I started the H800 (Open University Masters Module in Distance and Online Education) in February 2017. I wanted to start writing a Blog in October when I went through the registration and application process. But I didn’t.

Then, I wanted to start again when the course began. But I didn’t!

Then, it felt like I’d need to back date everything I’d wanted to write from October, and that seemed like too much, so I didn’t!


Today, among other themes and papers) I read “Characterising the different blogging behaviours of students on an online distance learning course” by Kerawella et al (2008).

There were a lot of things I didn’t like in the article. Assumptions it made and the presumptions it seemed to make (See my questions and thoughts on mindmap).

However, what the article did prompt me to decide to stop worrying about topic, tone, audience, being academic or being formal or informal…and just go for it. I nearly always have an internal dialogue running while I’m reading or note-taking, so this will provide a useful port for these (or at least as many as I can find time to write about).

Also to store extra links of interest to follow up or whatever else. So, I’m taking the plunge (again) with high hopes for ongoing recorded reflections…

The first thing to follow up will be the references in this quote from the article:

Characterising the different blogging behaviours of students on an online distance learning course. Kerawella et al (2008):

“Whilst there have been several studies about how blogging can support learning through, for example, the development of knowledge communities (e.g. Oravec 2003), supporting meaning-making (Fiedler 2003) and enabling the sharing of resources and opinions (Williams and Jacobs 2004), it appears that little attention has been paid to exploring the student experience of blogging. It is recognised that students need to develop blogging skills, such as finding a suitable ‘voice’ for learning (Mortensen and Walker 2002) and writing (Abdullah 2003) in a public space, but what challenges do students face when they are trying to blog? And how do their perceptions of these challenges impact upon the ways in which they use their blog?”

I need to check on the claims made by Oravec, Fielder and William’s and Jacobs because many precepts in the article article seem to be based on ideas drawn from here. In particular the idea that “students need to develop Blogging skills…”

Why? Is my question to this, but then I haven’t read around it yet.

Other questions raised are:

How can they say it was successful when only 15 out of 108 responded. Of those two didn’t participate at all and four only did because they thought they had to?

What impact has it had, positive and negative, that tutors and coursemates are reading the Blogs? This hasn’t been measured or really discussed other than in terms of community.

Tools. It states that students had wide freedom of choices, but the platform itself was prescribed. This could impact of the students’ feelings of ownership.

My mindmap below, based on the reading highlights other concerns or questions I have with some of the points made.


It could yet prove to be that I’ll fall once again into the ‘blogging avoidance’ catagory but I’m hoping there’ll be more of the others going on, with less of the self-consciousness but I’m sure this is almost inevitable to some degree if writing publicly?

Blogging Beginnings…

Start formal studying, start blog. Maybe as a way to explore all the things that come up through the formal study that need a place to ‘park’… A place to informally explore issues and side issues relating to teaching and learning, and to store links worth holding onto and revisiting.