OER Synthesis and Evaluation / Pilot Phase Barriers and Enablers
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Pilot Phase Barriers and Enablers

Page history last edited by Lou McGill 9 years, 4 months ago

There was an understanding that the Pilot Programme would highlight and facilitate investigation of some of the barriers to releasing and using OERs. These barriers were expected to be similar to those impacting on the sharing of learning resources which has been well documented in the following reports: (CD LOR, TRUST DR, Sharing e-learning content, Good Intentions report).

 

It is helpful to look at the literature on 'sharing of learning resources' as this has documented many of the barriers experienced by institutions, communities and individuals, and most have highlighted legal and cultural issues in particular. Several point to the notion of 'perceived barriers' - anticpated barriers that are not as real as imagined or that are minimised by new developments, such as the introduction and widescale adoption of Creative Commons Licences, or the increasing simpler publishing choices offered by social software/Web 2.0.

 

One of the most significant barriers to sharing has been that individuals are not necessarily interested or committed to sharing in the first place. Many of the government funded initiatives have at their heart a perception that sharing would prevent duplication and support efficiencies and cost effectiveness. Whilst this is clearly a laudable and sensible goal, busy teachers may need persuading and supporting to devote time to such activities. This is linked to understanding and appreciating the benefits to them as individuals, as well as those to the learners, institutions, and wider global community.

 

Whilst many of the Pilot Programme Projects had to devote considerable time and effort articulating the benefits of OER release to individual teachers, a refreshing openness to sharing has emerged from project outputs. Several evaluation activities with staff revealed positive responses and reasons for releasing OERs, ranging from altruistic reasons such as helping global teachers and learners, supporting institutional benefits such as improved quality of resources and marketisation, personal recognition and enhancing resources available to their own students.

 

These evaluation activities did also reveal several barriers to OER release ranging from the anticipated lack of time to a slightly more surprising widespread lack of awareness about OERs in general. Many comments reflect concerns around sustainability and continued institutional commitment to support OER release after project funding ended. However it should be noted that the considerable efforts of the teams to ensure sustainability are highly likely to negate these fears.

 

It has been noted that teachers often prefer an element of choice in who they share with so providing options for 'degrees of openess' may encourage more people to make their resources openly available. (Good Intentions report). This has been discussed in depth in the OCEP Project final report from the University of Coventry who adopted a phased release model. This model presented many technical challenges for the project team but responded to the need of staff to open some content only within the University.

 

Barriers/Enables identified by projects directly

Critical enablers

  • There must be a real demand, whether because the material is specialist or because it fills a more general need where there is a gap in the market for off the shelf resources.
  • There must be extrinsic and/or intrinsic rewards for engaging with OERs. For example, evidence that it enhances the student learning experience in the discipline; professional recognition and credit for release, repurposing, re-use.
  • It is more sustainable in the long term to support others in repurposing and releasing OERs than to do the work centrally (however note some projects' experiences that this was impractical due to poor support at partner institutions) (in some institutions existing repository teams may have capacity to offer central support)
  • Including OER across institutional strategies and policies
  • Support from senior managers in institutions and departments
  • In some institutions mandates may enable initial take-up as it removes ambiguity
  • Establishing clarity around institutional priorities in relation to benefits and stakeholders
  • Peer activity and exemplars encourages others
  • Build on previous work and existing expertise
  • Build on existing networks e.g. SCs, learning and teaching champions, e-learning enthusiasts
  • Full support of institutions involved is critical – consortium agreements were painful to achieve but useful to leverage support when required
  • Embrace a variety of media, formats and file types, and a range of options for hosting, syndication etc – at the moment we don't know what works, we only know that users are themselves various!
  • Establish common protocols for describing objects; make use of existing protocols and schemas where appropriate
  • Having a community of users and opportunities to discuss underlying pedagogic rationale/guidance/context
  • Having a subject/discipline approach: cross-institutional collaboration; the ‘greater good’ outcomes are to the fore; community in existence; open, collegiate way of working suits academic culture
  • Having a thematic approach (where relevant): provides a coherence and profile to the OER resource set; provides a rich set of fully contextualised resources, ready for reuse; supports deep collaboration and detailed reflection
  • Having a generic approach (such as cross disciplinary skills) can appeal to managers looking for cost benefits
  • Taking a community repository approach (where relevant): shared ownership, collaborative development; peer review and commenting, ongoing dialogue oriented on improvement; opportunities to showcase personal teaching portfolio to colleagues; risks of defamatory or poor quality repurposing reduced; appealing interface with similar functionality to familiar social sites

 

Critical barriers

  • Trust: academics may not trust the quality, IPR status or usability of online resources.
  • Trust: academics may feel resources they release will be negatively reviewed or repurposed in poor or misleading ways
  • Culture of individual expertise: Academics have a general preference for using their own teaching resources. Departmental cultures can reinforce this.
  • Discovery and evaluation of online resources can be very time-consuming, which time could be spent on their own content development.
  • Lack of a coherent strategy on OER at institutional level, meaning release is often an ad-hoc, inefficient, piecemeal process
  • Lack of clear institutional policies on IPR, leaving staff feeling exposed
  • Until a critical mass of users and of valuable materials for re-use both exist, there is unlikely to be huge enthusiasm for reuse
  • Disciplinary silos are barriers to full sharing and exploration of diverse pedagogic approaches
  • Difficulty, complexity and expense of clearing third party copyright
  • Issues of cost - mainly academic staff time
  • 'Protecting the crown jewels': pressures to marketise content
  • Concerns about reputation if released resources were not of 'publication' quality and presentation
  • Current economic climate is leading to reductions in staffing levels which is likely to impact on support required for OER development
  • Lack of time and pressure on academic workload is an ongoing problem

 

Barriers/Enablers relating to different stakeholder groups

It is useful to look at barriers to releasing OERs from the point of view of different stakeholders and also to highlight some enablers to help people overcome the barriers or perceived barriers. Linking these to the benefits can also be useful to help people see the value in extending the effort to overcome some of the barriers. This table is not meant to be exhaustive but provides 5 of the most significant barriers for each stakeholder group. The table is informed by the activities, models and approaches adopted by the Pilot Projects

 

Stakeholder

Barrier

Enabler

Possible Benefits

Teachers/academic staff

Not all teaching staff are aware of the benefits of releasing or using OERs

Information and support (e.g. from the Jorum Community Bay)


Awareness activities - workshops, guidance

Enhanced reputation


Improved quality


Peer feedback and new contacts

 

Time is a significant issue particularly when re-purposing existing materials

Institutional support and acknowledgment of time needed to re-purpose materials


Technical support and guidance from central teams


Take advantage of disruptions that are occuring anyway, eg. programme review, or introduction of new technology


Recognition schemes for teachers

Improved quality and checks re legality of content

 

Skills/competencies - a whole range of new skills may be needed (technical and pedagogical).

Training and/or extra support from central teams


Information and support from the Jorum Community Bay


Incorporating OER release into accredited teacher training

Additional skills and experience for staff


Balanced skillsets across institution

 

Quality - many staff are concerned about quality in relation to technical issues (eg. recording quality) as well as opening their learning materials to outside scrutiny - some are concerned that someone may repurpose their content to a low standard and will reflect badly on them

Reassurance, training and support for Institutional managers and support teams


Staged release - degrees of openness


Ensure clear attribution information is available in the licence

Increased quality of learning materials across instituion.


Enhanced reputation

 

Legal issues - still a significant real and perceived barrier. Existing materials may contain materials that can't be released openly.

Information, training and support.


Creative Commons Licences


Takedown policies

Increased knowledge.


Clarity re attribution and potential use options.


Creator can control types of use.

Learning support

Technical challenges - particularly choices around content packaging, branding, version control

Dialogue across the institution and decisions supported by strategic and policy documents


Advice and support from JISC CETIS and institutions with existing experience

Clear guidelines across the institution


Increased awareness and understanding

 

Quality issues - central teams often have to package content on behalf of teaching teams with a range of quality issues (technical and pedagocigal)

Institutional commitment to quality


Guidelines for course teams to support production of high quality content

Increased quality of learning materials


Enhanced reputation

 

Metadata and retrieval - assigning appropriate metadata is still a challenging issue although utilising social software/web 2.0 services can help with retrieval.

Staged metadata creation through clear and efficient workflows


Tagging

Enhanced retrieval of content for all stakeholders

 

Hosting - where to deposit the content which in turn is affected by issues such as version control, branding, etc.

Decisions and guidance on where to deposit


Mandating deposit within Institutional repository


Mandating deposit within national repositories such as JorumOpen


Ensuring that items are retrievable from range of sources


Use of Web 2.0 facilities to support retrieval - RSS feeds

Clarity for depositors


Enhanced retrieval

 

Legal issues - trying to package or release content that contains material that can't be released for legal reasons - due to previous licencing restrictions or use of materials not owned by the teacher. Some institutions may have a very 'risk averse' approach.

Clear support and guidance across all faculties and teaching teams


Releasing smaller chunks of content that doesn't depend on illegal content


Developing new, legal, material may be easier than repurposing

Reduction in amount of illegal material being used in teaching


Informed staff


Time saving once staff are informed and trained

 

Legal issues - liability for behaviour of user community in institutionally hosted sites

Clear statements of policy (netiquette, licences, etc) in sites


Add dynamic features to national repositories such as Jorum

Greater user interaction

Management

Understanding the value and benefits of openly releasing their learning and teaching materials when concerned about competitors and ensuring student enrollment figures

Convincing senior managers of the benefits for institutions


Getting key senior champions on board


Including OER release in strategic and policy decisions and documents

Marketisation opportunities - showcase of courses and high quality content


Enhanced reputation


Increased enrollments

 

Institution wide approach - HE institutions may not have culture or mechanisms to support institution wide dialogue which is needed for OER initiatives

Develop new partnerships within institutions


Create mechanisms for cross faculty communication, practice sharing


Case studies to share across the institution to illustrate approaches and benefits


Mandates

Joined up approaches

 

Competition - institutions may find it difficult to consider revealing their course content if it undermines a particular strength

Point to evidence that OER release encourages enrollment and offers marketing opportunities


Selective release - small amounts of very high quality content

Quality materials showcased


Increased enrollment


Higher profile globally

 

Managing resources - existing mechanisms for managing learning and teaching materials (such as closed VLE systems) may mean that institutions do not know what they have, or what quality or legal issues may arise if they are made more open

Linking VLEs to institutional repositories


Taking an institution-wide approach to support faculties/departments


Providing guidelines on deposit, metadata, formats, etc.

Increased visibility of all learning resources (and therefore likely positive impact on quality)


Opportunities to share across departments


Reduction in duplication for generic materials

 

Uneven development due to subject discipline focus and cultures - some departments may be more inclined to openness and some may have been more experimental with new technologies

Developing case studies of good practice to share within institution


Developing guidelines that are sensitive to subject discipline differences


Utilise support of Academy Subject Centres and other communities of practice/professional bodies


Utilise examples from outside the institution


Accept that uneven development is likely

Supporting disciplines as appropriate to need


Enables a staged approach and encourages development of champions

Communities of Practice (CoP)

Institutional practices - many teachers are members of an institution which may already have guidelines, policies and restrictions on what and where a teacher can openly release

Sharing good institutional practices with other community members


Sharing good community practices with institutions

Encourage good practice

 

Legal issues - there may be a perception that legal issues are less of a barrier when sharing within communities

Ensure that community members still follow institutional guidelines, particularly when/if the institution owns the copyright

Less content released that contravenes copyright law

 

Ownership - not all teachers own the teaching materials they produce as they may have a contract that gives the institution ownership - this may restrict what teachers can release within communities.

Follow institutional guidelines re quality, legality, branding


Obtain institutional agreement re deposit outside the institutional repository

Clarity re ownership

 

Community/consotia agreements - the complexities of getting all parties to agree to particular aspects (legal, quality, metadata, branding) can be very time consuming

Lightweight agreements that are not restrictive


Clear management, support and guidelines


Obtain support from some central agency (such as Academy Subject Centres, Professional bodies

Increased participation

 

Hosting - communities that cross institutional boundaries need some mechanism for bringing the resources together

Community of Practice sharing places (wiki's, forums, social networking sites, Jorum Community Bay)


Subject repositories/spaces


National repositories such as JorumOpen


Utilising existing CoP mechanisms


Institutional repositories with feeds to other portals/services

Community members know where to go for resources


Resources supported by focus on practice - information, support and dialogue

Learners

Lack of skills

Guidelines


Integrate into courses

Enhanced skills


Peer critique

 

IP rights in student work may not be clear

Establish policies on ownership of student work to support OER

Students as producers


Research-teaching linkage

 

 

Barriers/Enablers to OER Use, Re-use and re-purposing

Stakeholder

Barrier

Enabler

Possible Benefits

Learners

Equity re access - not all OERs are fully open, not all learners have access to computers, or to the internet

Movement toward fully open resources


Ensure materials will be accessible on alternative technologies (mobile)

Genuine access for all

 

Knowing what is available - learners who are not guided or supported by a teacher may not know what is available or how to access it.

Making resources discoverable by tools that learners use regularly - search engines


Using social software to 'advertise' or guide towards content (twitter, facebook)

Increased use of content

 

Support and guidance - learners may need support and guidance to use resources effectively

Provide options to engage with content creator or other content users (peers) - such as discussion forums and opportunities for collaborative learning


Include guidance on use within resources

Encourages peer support and interaction


Encourages dialogue and enhances learning opportunities

 

Quality - not all OERs are high quality - poor experiences with low quality materials may deter future use

User reviews can be helpful to encourage others


Social software services such as Diigo allow users to highlight content and add notes

Quality resources likely to rise to the top of search engine results

 

Lack of feedback on work

Establish systems to enable peer/community critique

Developing critical skills

Teachers

Knowing what is available and how to find it

Utilising peer networks and CoPs to find out what is available in their subject area


Utilising services which pull resources together either physically or as a catalogue


Mandating deposit within national repositories such as Jorum


CoPs and networks support practice and dialogue as well as resources

Improved access

 

Time - concerns about wasting time looking for content and then adapting for their own purpose

Central support teams to help with repurposing


CoP support as above


Providing educational context as 'wrappers' to support users of resources


Using small chunks or individual items to supplement own materials rather than trying to adapt a large package of materials


User reviews which describe how resource has been used by others


Easier retrieval


CoP support as above


Time invested is valid due to positive results

 

Educational context - perception that each context is unique and that it is too difficult to adapt others content

Make generic content open to support several courses (eg. introduction to statistics)


Allow for context specific aspects to be easily added/taken away

Flexible use of content as appropriate

 

 

 

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