Thursday, 16 April 2015

Crowdsourcing Quality in Open Education


How can we assure quality in the context of Open Education? This question lies at the heart of the challenge of gaining mainstream acceptance of open content. It perhaps brings to mind the idea of some kind of gatekeeping process that would vet content before it is released for 'consumption' - sort of the way academic peer review is supposed to work. But there are questions over the efficacy and sustainability of the traditional peer review model, even for research publications. 

Traditional peer review is labour intensive, relying on a donation of free labour/time from reviewers (and academic time seems to become an ever scarcer resource). Crucially, it also operates in a 'closed' space, where authors and reviewers are anonymised, and editors pass messages back and forth, eventually resulting in a finished product which may later be cited, and possibly (but not necessarily!) freely distributed, but most likely never revised or updated. 

It appears inadvisable to transplant this model into an open space, where open licenses encourage reuse and modification (rather than simply consumption). Never mind the question of who exactly would be sourcing and providing the labour to peer review these open learning resources. Instead Javiera Atenas and I, in a new post for Open Education Europa, suggest that we must leverage openness itself, taking advantage of open educational practices to improve the quality of open content.

Our post about this is here: 

Crowdsourcing Quality (Or, Why Openness Matters)