Externally Sourced Instructional Resources

I read Keith’s blog entry today, and it got me to thinking about why we are so resistant to using each others materials, and what we can do about it. Cooperation and collaboration in producing good quality instructional resources is rare to the point of being unheard of.

I think there is one reason that Keith neglected to mention, and that is the hope of stardom. What I mean by that is in the competitive research world, there are massive egos and the opportunity for blips of stardom (being the top researcher in an area that only interests 14 other people in the world drives many). However, HE teachers, the ones who aren’t really in the research game, look for their chance for stardom in producing a best selling textbook or teaching gimmick. That’s a solo effort (or possibly a duet). As a result, we get inundated with “original” ways of looking at virtually every subject in the world (something Keith alluded to). Because every teacher has their own special way to reach students, and many of them publish their approach in hopes that they will gain niche stardom and all the fame and fortune (usually about ¬£47.50/year) that follows.

As a result, there is no tradition of working together to produce high quality materials.

To use high quality resources that publishers market (and there is some superb quality stuff out there) is unacceptable – either because the cost is too high (the institution won’t fund it), or your colleagues will accuse you of selling your soul to the devil.

OERs are great, but usually mediocre quality. How do we establish a tradition of getting together to produce high quality materials? If they are already out there and freely available, where are they? How can we become co-producers and sharers in a world where no one wants to consume?

We do ourselves and our students a real disservice by not moving in this direction. Since information is abundant, we should be adding to it as a community and sharing our additions with each other. But more importantly, we need to be using what has already been made.

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