exporting White Elephants

Dear Folks,

The key barrier to wider adoption in Europe continues to be the uncertainty prevailing over whether the resource is appropriate and matching the context or personal need of the user (Andrade, 2011 p171). While translating OER into a foreign culture and local language might be well-intentioned to promote regional learning, if the underlying reasons for their non-adoption within Europe are not resolved, then sending off translated versions is simply exporting the problem – shifting the problem onto those who are least qualified to cope, and in essence exporting white elephants. Richtera & McPherson (2012, p203) report that “responses to a school-level survey in Germany, by Richter & Ehlers (2011, pp4-6) indicate that teachers simply have no idea how to evaluate a given OERs appropriateness and adapt it for their particular situation”. Getting the in-context teachers to adapt the imported resource is overly burdening those teachers who are untrained in OER. The solution lies in motivating the student to discover his or her own resource, and in promoting student-created personalised curricula – which are both very well achieved through using profiling. Peer-to-peer or student-led group learning can then re-distribute these resources which are found best to develop the student’s profile. Their subsequent social tagging of the OER will help to reach a wider user-population. Such self-aid is the most efficient for sustainable social development (Richtera & McPherson, 2012, p215).

all best wishes


Andrade, A., Ehlers, U., Caine, A., Carneiro, R., Conole, G., Kairamo, A., & Holmberg, C. (2011). Beyond OER : Shifting focus to open educational practices (OPAL Report 2011). Essen : Due-Publico. Retrieved from http://duepublico.uni-duisburg-essen.de/servlets/DerivateServlet/Derivate-25907/OPALReport2011-Beyond-OER.pdf

Richtera, T., & McPherson, M. (2012). Open educational resources: education for the world ? Distance Education, 33 (2), 201219.

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