By: Rebecca Arnall
In any worthwhile enterprise, accountability is crucial. Open Education Resources, or OER, should be no exception. With the growing mass of resources available through OER, it is becoming more important that a standard of reliability be enforced. While most of the Global Text Project's textbooks have been previously published and/or peer-reviewed, this is not always the case with OER materials. Some questions that need to be addressed are: how can a reader know whether the open education resources they choose are current (is the country of Czechoslovakia in the text?), who has created the resource, and has it been peer-reviewed before publishing?
Though currently no such thing exists, a possible solution is to establish an overarching accreditation system for OER resources. I am not sure exactly how this would happen, yet as more and more OER organizations collaborate with one another, the idea is becoming more of a reality.
One such collaborator is the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER).Teaming up with College Open Textbooks, the organization provides its own accreditation system, complete with over 150 institutions in 16 states (see: CCCOER members list ). Their strategy is: “providing training for instructors adopting open resources, peer reviews of open textbooks, and mentoring online professional networks that provide support to authors who open their resources.” With a continuing emphasis on quality resources and peer-reviews, this organization has created a network of academics that can help identify textbooks and provides guidelines for others to produce reliable resources.
According to a UNESCO forum that was held in May 2010, there was discussion about acquiring some kind of auditing or accrediting systems like this since 2004. Although helpful ideas were presented in these forums, (read the summary report here: UNESCO forum) there has been no implementation.
Of course, there is no easy solution to this situation. Any new development will take time, but it is certainly a problem worth reflecting upon.
Rebecca Arnall is a sophomore at the University of Georgia. She working towards her B.A. in English and is an active member of the Demostenian Literary Society.