Open Educational Resources for Professionals: A New Era in the Training and Development of Legislative Counsel

By Dewhurst, Dale; Keyes, John Mark et al. | International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education, May 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Open Educational Resources for Professionals: A New Era in the Training and Development of Legislative Counsel


Dewhurst, Dale, Keyes, John Mark, Zariski, Archie, International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education


Abstract

This paper discusses a current project to develop open educational resources (OER) for legislative counsel in countries of the Commonwealth of Nations. The project is the latest step in a 20-year old distance education program for those professionals. The paper explores best practices for investment in freely available OER for use by professionals and students who are involved in open access and online learning environments. The creation and deployment of the OER raised many of the key issues faced by many current organizations, including the tension between openness and quality, and the relationship of OER to accreditation. Findings describe the importance of chunking information appropriately, tackling the separation of core knowledge from local contexts, and managing integrity while operating in the domain of open source materials.

Résumé

Dans cet article, on discute d'un projet actuel pour développer des ressources pédagogiques ouvertes (RPO) à l'intention des conseillers législatifs dans les pays du Commonwealth des Nations. Pour ces professionnels, ce projet représente la dernière étape d'un programme d'éducation à distance qui existe depuis 20 ans. Cet article explore les meilleures pratiques pour l'investissement dans des RPO largement disponibles à être utilisées par ces professionnels et par les étudiants qui sont impliqués dans le libre- accès et dans l'environnement d'apprentissage en ligne. La création et le déploiement de ces RPO ont soulevé plusieurs des enjeux importants dont sont confrontées plusieurs des organisations actuelles, y compris la tension entre la transparence et la qualité, et la relation des RPO à l'accréditation. Les résultats décrivent l'importance de granulariser l'information de façon appropriée, de s'attaquer à la séparation des connaissances de base des contextes locaux, et de gérer l'intégrité en assurant le fonctionnement dans le domaine des documents de sources ouvertes.

Introduction

Professional education in law has traditionally been anything but "open", featuring highly restrictive student selection practices and an esoteric subject matter locked up in law libraries or expensive databases. Recently the open access to law movement has succeeded in opening up many sources of law (statutes, court decisions) to the public, but teaching about the law remains largely behind closed doors.

One group of legal specialists, legislative counsel and others who draft legislation, has been disadvantaged recently because little attention is provided to education that focuses on legislation, its creation and interpretation (Dewhurst, Levert & Zariski, 2012). Whether studying law or other legal professions, there is a growing need to ensure access and equity in the pursuit of knowledge, in this case in support of those whose task is to create effective legislation and to support open access to educational materials (Guri-Rosenblit, 2009). To compound the challenges associated with the education of legal specialists, the learning needs of this group often vary. Some legal practitioners may already have practical experience with interpreting and developing legislation and seek to solidify their knowledge or to justify professional advancement; others may desire a credential as part of a new career direction; and yet others may have occasional duties with respect to the practice of law that requires specialized knowledge to solve particular problems. Moreover, for members of this legal sub- community, relevant courses and programs have been few and often geographically dispersed (for example, in London, Canberra, Ottawa and Barbados), thus generating a need for distance and online education strategies.

An emerging trend to provide greater access to educational materials is the utilization of OER. OER have been described as "teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions" (UNESCO, 2012, p. …

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