Friday, June 4, 2010

OER interview with Steve Wheeler

The third in my series of interviews on open educational resources is with Steve Wheeler, Associate Professor of Learning Technology at the University of Plymouth. As a strong advocate of OER in the UK  I think his work is familiar to most people working in this field so I'll let the interview speak for itself. We discuss why openness is crucial to the development of higher education, the need for better tagging of resources to aid searchability and the need for a balance between top-down and bottom-up approaches to OER:

Watch the video interview

A couple of useful links for further reading are Steve's blog, Learning with e's, and his collection of presentations, articles and conference papers on SlideShare.

These interviews are part of a national project I'm involved in to encourage the use of OER in Swedish higher education. The project is being run by the Swedish Network for IT in Higher Education (site in Swedish) in cooperation with the National Library of Sweden.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting interview, great work Alastair.

    I don't agree with some of the statistics mentioned by Steve however, when it comes to English as a global language. There is no really good study of how many web pages out there are in English, but most numbers are about 10 years old, or are heavily biased towards the English speaking web. And I've also heard the number that China might soon have more English-speakers than the US, however, having spent several years living in China, I can say that this would depend on an extremely loose definition of English speaker.

    There are certainly a large number of people trying to learn English, and the percentage of people who succeed is bound to go up, but right now the number of people who would be comfortable using academic materials in English, or conducting a conversation in English, is still minuscule.

    It's important to also remember the cultural aspects - we don't want everyone in the world to use the exact same textbooks, all made by great Western universities. Therefore it's great to see things like 6000 hours of lectures in Urdu, from Virtual University of Pakistan, or 12,000 online university courses in China, funded by Chinese MoE.

    What I would love to see is more cultural exchange going both ways - not just producing content in English, and having it translated into lot's of other languages, but recognizing that some of that local content might be very valuable, and translating it into English, or Swedish... To me, OER can also be a great force for intercultural understanding, but not if we all aim to produce the "ideal" course that will teach everyone in the world at the same time.