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Thursday, November 28 • 11:00 - 11:30
Toward a Critical Approach for OER: A Case Study in Removing the ‘Big Five’ from OER Creation

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While the literature on OER has problematized other important critical concerns (e.g. the use of free labour in the creation of OER or concerns about academic neocolonialism (Almeida 2017; Amiel 2012; Crissinger 2015; Rhoads, Berdan and Toven-Lindsey 2013; Weiland 2015), the role of proprietary software in OER production requires greater scrutiny: commercial software and closed file formats constrain the potential for subsequent OER use and adaptation. This constraint runs contrary to the principle that OER should be adaptable and reusable (Hilton, Wiley, Stein & Johnson, 2010; UNESCO, 2002).

Drawing existing critical approaches to technology, and recent anecdotal experiments by individuals attempting to forego use of technology and services provided the ‘Big Five’ technology companies (Apple, Alphabet/Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft) (Oberhaus 2018; Hill 2019), we ask what are the implications of removing reliance on technology and software from the ‘Big Five’ from OER production through the use of a case study (focusing on the University of Alberta’s Opening Up Copyright Instructional module series (OUC)).

OUC involves the creation of interactive instructional modules on copyright that are provided under an open licence. The modules rely more heavily on software provided by two of the Big Five, since existing authoring and distribution tools include PowerPoint, YouTube and Google Docs. The case study examines how disembedding these tools introduces content distortions, workflow inefficiencies, additional internalized costs, and a lessened content discoverability. It also considers the impact of the dominance of Amazon on the web services market.

While it is possible to remove the Big Five from OER work, it is not without serious challenges. Although open alternatives exist for many of the services of the Big Five, reliance on the open alternatives introduces new challenges, and in particular a learning curve for both the original content creators and any potential adaptors.

avatar for Julia Guy

Julia Guy

University of Alberta
I'm a graduate student currently in my second year of a combined Masters in Library and Information studies and Digital Humanities program and a contributor to the University of Alberta's Opening Up Copyright series.

Kris Joseph

University of Alberta
avatar for Michael McNally

Michael McNally

Associate Professor, University of Alberta
Michael B. McNally is an Assistant Professor at the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta. His research interests include intellectual property and its alternatives including open educational resources, user-generated content, radio spectrum management... Read More →

Thursday November 28, 2019 11:00 - 11:30 CET
BL28 ground floor classroom - Presentations