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What are the barriers to reusing/remixing OERs?

In the OLnet team we lately started a collaborative process of "reflecting" on Open Educational Resources reuse/remix challenges. In order to understand what these challenges may be we tried to answer to the following main questions:

Why reusing/remixing and Open Educational Resource?

What are the barriers to reusing/remixing OERs?

Liam's blog post summarized the answers that the OLnet team members proposed to the first question. In this Blog Post I just open for discussion and improvements the list of 20 barriers to OERs reuse/remix that the OLnet team identified as answer to the second question. Are this all the possible barriers? Are these the rights ones? We need help to enrich, revise, question and discuss this list with a wider group. If you have any idea, answer, or barrier to add to the list please add it in the comments, this would help enriching this collaborative reflecting exercise.


What are the barriers to reusing/remixing OERs?

1) Internationalization, OERs may be available but in a different language;

2) Cognitive overload: it is difficult to separate the 'content' from the 'context' in a OER, thus it is difficult to decontextualize an OER and re-contextualize it to a different learning context/purpose;

3) Cognitive overload: in terms of trying to elicit the implicit design of an OER and then needing to create a new design;

4) Cognitive overload due to lack of good examples/ best practice:  "remixing" an OER is a difficult concept to grasp, especially as examples of remixing might be difficult to find or something you wouldn't tend to stumble across;

5) Digital divide: lack of access to digital network implies no access to digital resources;

6) Digital divide: lack of digital literacy;

7) Lack of teacher's preparation and training in how to reuse OERs;

8) Distance from main stream teaching and learning practices and policy;

9) Curriculum alignment: OER may not fit specific curriculum, and vice-versa curriculums may not be designed around an OER reuse/remix culture;

10) Plagiarism: to which extent reusing and remixing an OER can be perceived as a form of plagiarism?;

11) Lack of technical support for teachers; institutionalized support i.e. a dedicated educational technologist team is considered important for promoting re-use within different educational instituions/contexts (relates to digital and socio-economic divides)

12) Copyright issues and different copyright jurisdictions: this is mostly about publishing original OERs, but it also relates to the ways in which an OER is 'translated' to different contexts/locations. It also hinders what other items, media objects can be added that are more relevant to a national culture / pedagogical context;

13) Lack of confidence: many teachers/tutors feel reluctant to reuse and publish their reused materials. One possible reason for that is that they feel that they tamper with something that was designed/published for a specific purpose/context; this relates to the conceptual overload mentioned at point 2);

14) Lack of confidence: many teachers/tutors feel reluctant to "mess up" with someone else "good" design;

15) Lack of explicit learning design supporting the representation of resources and dialogue around their use in a particular context; if context/purpose and targetted audience alongside learning outcomes are not very explicit this makes more difficult to repurpose in a different context;

16) Lack of policy embeddedness and accepted institutional practices: OER use and re-use in mainstream educational institutions needs be legitimized by accepted national policies on education;

17) Issues of quality/legitimacy: some OERs are not considered worthy of using/remixing. Some advocates insist on putting ratings / quality and context indicators. That will enable tracing of use and perhaps stimulate re-use;

18) Lack of time: too much effort to put in reusing makes easier and faster to do it yourself from scratch;

19) Lack of tools to help deconstruct and reconstruct;

20) Lack of motivation - why should I, what's in it for me?


Great blog post! It provides unique insight into the barriers of reusing and even more remixing. Lack of motivation, lack of explicit learning designs and lack of confidence are also evident in our survey.

I think the list that you've come up with is a really excellent start and a great way to get debate going. We came up with a similar list at a recent event at Staffordshire University and I was pleased to see there (and on your list) the importance given to knowing learning outcomes of a learning object. I reckon that greater contextualisation (including whether or not it achieved learning outcomes) can really help re-users to know which objects will be of use and worth re-using/re-purposing. Also the point about having technical support is really important. I find I need help with even really basic techy stuff like increasing image quality so I wonder if we should be advising teachers/librarians (as I am) to start off by collaborating much more closely with learning technologist on creating, re-using and re-purposing learning content.

No.20 strikes me as one of the most important. Possibly influenced by a fundamental belief that repurposing OERs will be technically challenging. Not only to OERs need to be easy to reuse and repurpose, they need to be visibly easy to reuse.

A small point - I don't understand why points 2-4 are labelled 'cognitive overload' - they are not problems of individual cognitive capacity. Decontextualising (2) and eliciting (sp) the implicit design of an OER (3) amount to much the same thing, and it's difficult, full stop. Nothing to do with individual cognitive ability. Lack of good examples is also a problem, but again a collective one. Other than this potential confusion it's good to see these ideas being aired and they echo many early findings from the JISC OER pilot projects

Hi Helen,

Good comment - these points do cover a difficult problem of describing OER (or things in general) that may well be impossible to completely solve. There are ways to improve descriptions both of context and content but the variety of each means that a complete description that meets everyone's needs becomes a huge task that can get in the way of simply sharing. I think Anna's labeling of these points as cognitive load issues reflects looking at the problem from a user's point of view - there is so much to understand, too many options, and different places to start. This can all get in the way of getting on with it! More examples, work like your own (thanks for the link), places where people can try things, and a feeling that more and more people have found a good use for OER in learning and teaching should help reduce the feeling that this is a personal barrier.

Thanks also for pointing out the spell checker induced typo - I hope Anna does not mind me making a minor edit to fix it (illicit -> elicit)!