New Year, New OERs, and New Uses

It’s early 2012 and I am excited to be working on a new project, Manufacturing Pasts, combining my interests in learning technology and open educational resources (OERs) with new frontiers of industrial history, urban history, architectural history, and social history. In the project, we will be taking artefacts of the industrial history of Leicestershire and Rutland, digitising them and turning them into OER suitable for use in Urban History and other modules being taught here at the University of Leicester.

Mack's Garage ghost sign in Leicester. Photo courtesy of Colin Hyde; from My Leicestershire History

I come to this project from Beyond Distance Research Alliance with whom I have worked on several OER projecs including OSTRICH (in which we helped the universities of Bath and Derby to launch their OER repositories) and SPIDER (investigating iTunes U as a channel of OER). I feel that the movement of open educational resources and open research has a sense of inevitability about it, fueled as it is by the combination of digital media and the internet. Research data, historical information, and teaching material should be shared as much as possible so that the benefits of amalgamated knowledge can be fully realised.

One of the great things about the Manufacturing Pasts is that the project has a specific goal for its OER creation: for use in teaching for specific modules in the School of Historical Studies and in the Centre for Urban History. Especially in the early stages of the OER movement, the emphasis was on making as many OERs as possible and just getting them out there on the internet. What people would be using them for and how they would use them was a secondary consideration. Finding out if and how the OERs were used seemed almost an impossible dream. But in this project I have the privilege of working with instructors who already have wishes for the use of these OERs in their teaching. I hope to maximise the OERs’ learning value and make them as attractive, interactive, and useful to our University of Leicester users, and in so doing make them abundantly useful to everyone else.

Oh yes, did I mention we have made a site to curate articles about urban history, industrial history, and OERs which have their origin in the private sector. Please follow our site!

Do you have experience creating or using OER, and if so, do you have any top tips to make sure OERs are useful? Please leave a comment ifyou have any thoughts on this!

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist, University of Leicester


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