Conference presentation: ‘Toward Open Pragmatism’, OE Global 2020 Conference


Although open licensing is a necessary component of open educational resources, the overall openness of a resource is determined by several factors beyond licensing. This paper examines the applicability of the “Open Enough” framework (McNally & Christiansen, 2019) for examining the openness of existing Open CourseWare (OCW). This previously published conceptual framework proposed eight factors that educators should consider when creating a new, or adopting an existing, open course. These factors include Copyright/Open Licensing Frameworks, Accessibility/Usability Formatting, Language, Support Costs, Assessment, Digital Distribution, File Format, and Cultural Considerations. In this study, the researchers aimed to answer the following three research questions. 1. Are these factors robust enough to analyze (or measure) the level of openness in existing OCW? 2. Are additional, or modified, factors necessary? 3. Are certain factors impractical for assessment? For this analysis, the researchers randomly selected five recent open courses from two prominent OCW databases – TU Delft and MIT OpenCourseWare. The researchers came to two broad conclusions following a thorough analysis of the OCW sample. Overall, the framework was an effective tool for analyzing open courseware, though cultural considerations and usability proved to be too subjective and were removed from the framework. The study revealed the level of openness among the sampled courses to be highly inconsistent. Some factors, assessment, for example, were consistently open across the sample while language, material costs and file format often quite closed. The consistent lack of editable materials was particularly surprising and led the researchers to draw some conclusions about what openness should mean for Open CourseWare. The researchers used the data to revise their existing conceptual framework into a more actionable guideline for open educators.

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