OER Synthesis and Evaluation / Pilot Phase Recommendations
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Pilot Phase Recommendations

Page history last edited by Lou McGill 13 years, 8 months ago

These are the recommendations of the support and synthesis team, having studied the recommendations made by the separate projects carefully but without seeking to represent them all. We have focused on recommendations that: are supported by more than one project; offer a clear path of action; and have a real chance of being taken up by the national bodies to whom we are addressing this report.


We know that projects will continue to work with the institutions and communities where they have influence, to ensure their recommendations are taken forward and their experiences built upon. See also;


Recommendations to funders

  • Recognise that timescales for the pilot projects left much to be done, and fund further work to: release further content; continue sharing practice with other communities and organisations; act as advocates for OER approach; raise profile and credibility of CC licenses; participate in further studies/evaluation (see recommendations on further study below)
  • JorumOpen should develop more of a community around open resources, with commentary, sharing of practice, teaching tips etc: this will need significant funding, at least in the early stages (see recommendations on JO development below). A long-term funding commitment to JO would be needed to support this.
  • Synthesise and test guidance materials for OER processes to produce an authorised national version, which can be adapted for different organisations and communities.
  • Ensure any future funded projects build on the work already done, for example by requiring this in terms of funding, and by supporting ongoing synthesis of lessons learned.
  • Investigate national agreements with publishers for re-use of materials in OERs; similarly, investigate generic release arrangements for materials such as maps and databases.
  • Some projects have argued for a national/international OER portal (or index) that would allow users to find material in multiple repositories and allow contributors to upload common core metadata once only.
  • Explore and articulate of links between teaching and research in OER (open scholarship agenda).
  • Review incentives to share, which are currently fairly weak, and make recommendations.
  • Continue to develop communities of practice in the disciplines by working with the Subject Centres; support OER champions in institutions and subject networks; provide training to these and other critical staff, able to cascade expertise to their institutions.
  • Consider involving learning technologists more directly in future funding rounds, recognising their pivotal role in coordinating OER development and use (e.g. work with ALT).
  • Consider funding targetted development projects that develop OERs to meet specialised topic requirements or meet another identified need: these can become showcases for what is possible in collaborative OER development.
  • HEFCE needs to provide clear guidance to institutions and an expectation that they will clarify policy on OER (as below), with examples of what this looks like in practice.
  • Support more interdisciplinary and/or cross-institutional initiatives – learning and change take place more rapidly where there is cross-over.
  • Require Creative Commons licensing and commitment to OER (where appropriate) in all future funded projects and award schemes (e.g. teaching fellowships).
  • Work with third-party service providers e.g. Google and Apple to ensure education-facing services e.g. YouTunesEdu and i-tunes-u meet the needs of innovators.
  • Communicate outcomes of the programme widely and deeply, focusing on senior staff in institutions, and delivering a coherent message across all levels.
  • In communicating outcomes of pilot programme, establish links with other agendas within HE (OER agenda is not yet persuasive on its own) e.g. sustainability, social justice, widening participation, public interest.
  • Investigate how OER use and release can be embedded into teaching qualifications and CPD.


Recommendations for further investigation

There are many avenues of investigation which could be pursued. One project in particular insisted that further work should be informed by a high level, critical/theoretical position on OERs and their potential to transform learning.

  • Investigate the lifecycle of open resources i.e. how quickly they date, how often they are repurposed and reused.
  • Track download, adoption into practice, adaptation and re-release of resources, ensuring mechanisms such as common tags are in place to support this: possibly a narrow-deep, shallow-broad approach investigating selected resources in depth, but also investigating general practices around OERs in selected communities?
  • Investigate how staff involved in projects are working with OERs one year into the future – whether they are still releasing and using OERs, whether they have cascaded skills to others, whether their roles have changed.
  • Investigate whether and how OER use supports particular kinds of educational collaboration, and what value this has.
  • Investigate the possibility of mapping OERs to benchmark statements and/or learning outcomes, and any impact on take-up.
  • Investigate impact of OERs on student learning, both OERs they access personally, and OERs specifically mandated or integrated by teaching staff into the learning experience.
  • Investigate how availability and access to OERs impacts on the teaching-learning relationship.
  • Investigate how self-studying users of OERs set their own learning goals, find relevant materials, and persist in study; what are the outcomes and how could these be accredited or recognised?
  • Investigate how learner-generated work can contribute to the body of open materials and how this impacts on the roles and outcomes of learners.
  • Continue to develop standards and infrastructure to support a distributed model of OER repositories.
  • Follow-up study on the different approaches to metadata and content description and their relative effectiveness.
  • Follow-up study on the different approaches to hosting and repository development and their impact.
  • Consider developing a suitable licence agreement for depositing source code in OER repositories (i.e. investigate open source/open content cross-over).


Recommendations for institutions

  • Develop ways of recognising staff who use and produce OERs, e.g. through ‘buy out’ of time from other activities, recognition in staff performance review mechanisms; recognise and reward departments/units as well as individuals.
  • Refine existing quality process and consider developing new quality guidelines, recognising that course materials may be accessed by different users in different contexts.
  • Clarify and if necessary rewrite IPR policy to acknowledge the new digital realities and to better support processes of licensing and clearing IPR.
  • Provide central clearance for third-party copyright.
  • Ensure that academic staff feel protected by these systems and are clear about the limits of their liability as well as their responsibilities for due diligence.
  • Clarify also the situation wrt ownership of student work that may be included in OER materials.
  • Adopt clear CC licences for all materials produced, as a default assumption.
  • Explore and enhance the role learning technologists could play in OER work, e.g. as coordinators of expertise, as sources of advice about (re)developing for online delivery.
  • Review the support needed to release OER – perhaps by using or developing an OER workflow model – and ensure this is available to staff at appropriate points.
  • Provide staff development in the technical, legal and pedagogic aspects of OER. Consider incorporating into accredited teaching qualifications. For long-standing staff, promote OER as an opportunity to enhance scholarship and reflect on learning and teaching issues.
  • Provide ongoing support for multimedia developers, graphics officers and learning technologists to assist with digitisation and release.
  • Develop an institutional benefits model, relevant to institutional aims and objectives, e.g. by considering branding, marketing, development costs, and sustainability of course materials over time.
  • Embed OER considerations into a range of institutional strategies and policies.


Recommendations to users of open content

  • Use what guidance is available, including generic guidance on OERs, subject-specific (e.g. pedagogy, user needs, resource-type), and insitution-specific (e.g. IPR, licencing, workflows, using local repositories).
  • Seek out the support you need; don't try to go it alone.
  • Engagement with OER can be light touch: learn to source open materials, and to fully reference all other assets in teaching materials; release digital assets such as images, podcasts, presentations and video under a CC licence to web 2.0 sites.
  • See digitisation, open release, and development of content as opportunities to think differently about teaching and learning.


Recommendations to developers, contributors and managers of open content

  • Develop content with licensing, IPR clearance, accessibility and reusability in mind, don't try to retrofit later.
  • Repurposing is maximised where resources are of relatively low granular size, simple, and not integrated into learning tasks or activities.
  • Re-use by teaching staff is maximised where resources are repurposable, as above, but where these resources are also enhanced with pedagogic information, e.g. by being aggregated into more complex pedagogic units, through educational metadata, or by adding pedagogical description or comment/review.
  • Re-use by learners *may* be maximised by integrating resources into units of learning (e.g. sessions) with clear learning outcomes, but navigation should allow dipping in and out and easy movement back and forth.
  • For materials to be re-used or repurposed it is important to ensure interoperable standards are adhered to, and that software formats are freely and widely available and genuinely editable.
  • Be clear how much time it is worth investing in clearing a particular piece of content: if this is exceeded, abandon it or consider redeveloping from scratch.
  • Consider how community features can add value and sustainability to content e.g. commenting, reviewing, following, rating etc, and consider how that value can be shared 'beyond the garden gate'.
  • But be aware that review, commenting etc require time to be invested, either by a core team or by a community with commitment and time to spare, and that resources can still be effectively reused without them.
  • Have robust take-down policies and ensure they are exercised: ensure due diligence in the clearance process can be demonstrated (keep records!), even if not every asset has been fully and finally cleared.
  • Ensure resources are, as far as possible, not complicated or labour intensive to implement
  • Consider adopting unicode (utf-8) to support international use of web-based resources
  • Use cloud-based services to host your resources but make sure you have originals locally; use institutional repositories as a way of raising profile of OERs as part of general content management agenda.
  • Use metadata to make resources visible to common search engines: use consistent project tags to support cross searching.
  • Raise google rankings: syndicate to other repositories/services; aggregate (RSS) and feed via blogs and forums; optimise pages for search engine results; consider keyword density and link density.
  • Ensure resources meet W3C accessibility guidelines.
  • Beta-test resources, interfaces and hosting solutions to ensure positive user experience.


Specific recommendations on JorumOpen

The JorumOpen team are taking these recommendations forward - where possible and appropriate - to enhance users' engagement with and experience of the JO repository.

  • Develop clear take-down policy, and practice around it.
  • Improve bulk upload processes – improve use of aggregators so syndicated resources can be uploaded and searched by keyword, module code etc.
  • Streamline upload process and support range of different external interfaces (e.g. institutional) so upload can be embedded into everyday practice.
  • Provide templates and concise guidance on the whole process including: IPR and copyright clearance; metadata and tagging - which could be adapted by e.g. institutions and subject centres.
  • Track collective behaviours (eg tagging, sourcing, depositing) to allow context-sensitive recommendations to other users and depositors.
  • Add user profile pages and community facilities e.g. comment/review to support user engagement.
  • Consider kitemarking or star-rating resources (not agreed by all).
  • Consider 'hallmarking' resources e.g. with unique identifier, CC licence, date of upload
  • Provide sub-admin accounts to allow editing of records by authorised contributors after upload.
  • Work on role-based authentication.
  • Improve user access to syndicated resources e.g. subject repositories and other significant sources of high quality, relevant OERs.
  • Consider mirroring resources on other sites (referatory model rather than repository model).
  • Encourage external linking to JO resources, especially from those who contribute and download, to ensure better Google (etc) rankings.
  • Make better use of keywords e.g. sharing common searches with depositors to guide their use of keywords; use of dynamic tagging via thesaurus.
  • Better tracking information - at least download stats as well as views.
  • Full support for content packaging, resolving problems of how uploaded content packages display.
  • Refine resource discovery and presentation for subjects which are not discovered well by JACS codes.
  • Provide option for materials to be owned by and associated with a project as well as a person (e.g. RAs may be very temporarily employed on a project, personnel may change).


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