Big and Small OER reviewed

Looking at the benefits and drawbacks of big Open Education Resources ( OER) such as those offered by Jorum and Open Learn and small Open Education Resources from such sources as Slideshare  I was struck at how difficult it is to define the differences between big OER and small OER, having said that I think it is still possible to draw some conclusions.

Big OER can reach large audiences in the hundreds of thousands through its branded platforms which in turn is seeded through large-scale investment from various sources, where as in contrast small OER will often only have a smaller audience numbering in the hundreds.

However this smaller audience will often stimulate more feedback from its audience and the resources are often more likely to be reused as access and copyright issues are less restrictive and the technology used is easier to reuse.

The content itself can also vary widely such that small OER may often lack sufficient educational underpinning and be misleading, whilst big OER will have a far stronger framework and clearer learner objectives often culminating in certification for participants.

However content can also be restricted through the organisational and editorial influences of big OER meaning that alternative views might be hindered whilst small OER will allow individual points of view to be aired especially through platforms such as YouTube and Slideshare.

Finally, as Weller (2012) points out, with small OER the focus is very much on the creativity of the content whilst with big OER the creativity is often on the context that facilitates the access to the resource; thus small OER can be very creative but lack an adequate platform allowing an appropriate audience that will reuse and redevelop resources.

In the end both big and small have their benefits and drawbacks and it could be argued that some big OER platforms are made up in parts from small OER providers.


Weller, M. (2012) ‘The openness–creativity cycle in education’, Special issue on Open Educational Resources, JIME, Spring 2012 [online]. Available at (last accessed 3 April 2014).

Weller, M. (2011b) ‘Public engagement as collateral damage’ in The Digital Scholar, London, Bloomsbury Academic. Also available online at (last accessed 4 April 2014).

Weller, M. (2012) ‘The openness–creativity cycle in education’, Special issue on Open Educational Resources, JIME, Spring 2012 [online]. Available at (last accessed 2 April 2014).




One thought on “Big and Small OER reviewed”

  1. I like your conclusion to this, as I was looking at the Big and Little OER’s as separate entities but as you rightly point out a big OER could be made up of a number of smaller OER applications.

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