Open Educational Resources: American Ideals, Global Questions

  • Steven Weiland Michigan State University
Keywords: Open Educational Resources, MOOCs, Online Learning, Global Higher Education


Educational relations between societies and cultures that begin with benevolent intentions can come to be seen as threats to national autonomy and local preferences. Indeed, side by side with the growth since the first years of this century of Open Educational Resources (OER) there has been worry about their impact on global educational development. Evaluation and research have lagged behind the steady expansion of access to online resources, leaving estimates of the value of digital innovation to the enthusiasm of OER providers and technology minded educational reformers. The advent of the ΓÇ£Massive Open Online CourseΓÇ¥ (or MOOC) has exacerbated the problem, with attention moving toward a form of OER reflecting the enthusiasm of leading institutions in industrialized nations. The American led movement on behalf of the MOOC requires new questions about the motives, impact, and future of OER. This essay accounts for the history of OER, culminating in the MOOC, including how the latter in particular is an expression of American pedagogical and institutional interests representing belief in the transformative educational powers of the latest communications technologies. Criticism of OER and MOOCs can reflect organizational, operational, and ideological considerations. But it should recognize what they offer when there are few other opportunities for formal learning, and as research demonstrates their uses and impact.

Author Biography

Steven Weiland, Michigan State University
Professor of Higher Education