OER Synthesis and Evaluation / Institutional Strand Institutional Issues
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Institutional Strand Institutional Issues

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

This strand raised many issues affecting institutions in their project blogs throughout the programme and a significant amount of sharing ideas, practice, solutions and frustrations occurred in both the blogs and in programme meetings.








To what extent do existing policies and strategies support the opening of learning resources?

Several projects adopted an approach of utilising existing policy and strategy documents, particularly in relation to quality, institutional repositories and learning & teaching, although others developed new OER specific policy documents. One institution had already embraced the idea of openness:


BERLiIN (University of Nottingham)

  • It was against this background of established commitment to open access and senior support for a culture of openness that Nottingham made a bid for funding from JISC and the Higher Education Academy (HEA) to investigate the issues raised in the wider adoption and development of OER.UNow, Xerte, etc
  • Nottingham has a long-standing commitment to open access, and the release of learning materials openly directly supports the University‘s internationalisation strategic objective ;knowledge without borders.‘ Direct links to University strategic drivers are crucial for ongoing sustainable development and support and therefore the BERLiN project team identified key stakeholders within schools to support the strategic drivers and explore ways of engaging the wider academic community..
  • This strategy also allowed individual academics within schools to engage with the project with the full backing of school management, removing any uncertainty over release of material not being officially sanctioned.
  • Community mechanisms surrounding the OERs – newsletters, RSS Feeds, Community events
  • Focus group outcomes – re strategy, IPR challenges, benefits to academic community
  • review of current OER procedures at Nottingham
  • Podcast of Vice-Chancellor talking about U-Now and Open Learning at Nottingham
  • BERLiN Project Final report


Which policy changes are needed to promote open content practices?

OCEP University of Coventry)

  • communities within the institution sharing ideas and practice re OERs
  • policy document emerging
  • OCEP Project final report
  • The university takes a positive stance on OERs. The question is how far this is reflected in faculty policies, (subject) departments and individual practice. The recent decision to appoint Associate Heads of Department for Learning and Teaching in all subject areas should be helpful in that it creates a cadre of people who should be able to promote change. However the bulk of curriculum development is still carried out at the individual level, module by module, and for many hard-pressed staff a retreat into the tried and trusted is a safety net. The widespread use of OERs needs to be encouraged by learning and teaching policy which places a high value on pedagogic innovation rather than low-risk traditional teaching.
  • The “softer” and potentially bigger issues of building curriculum development and pedagogic practices which embrace a culture of openness will take much more time and will need to be embedded within a broad collection of existing processes, for example course development and review.
  • The development of delivery bases beyond Coventry (for example the new London Campus) can be exploited as a stimulus to greater use of OERs.
  • Future policy and processes should concentrate on ways of incentivising our best learning and teaching staff to develop open resources ab initio rather the current situation in which we “chase the game” by converting existing resources
  • Openness not only increases the range of resources available to teachers and learners but can also raise their quality
  • The use of open resources should be encouraged in the curriculum design process; the question should be “why should we develop new resources?” rather than “why should we use open ones?”
  • Both subject and institutional repositories are important; whilst institutional repositories are now part of the accepted ICT infrastructure of most HE institutions, subject repositories will need continual external nurturing if they are to survive
  • The effective use of open resources needs to be included in courses provided for new HE teaching staff and the HEA should take account of this in relevant standards
  • Whilst cost considerations are always important, the widespread use of open resources has the potential to invigorate learning and teaching through the sharing of the best pedagogic practice and bring new ideas into institutional development, departmental teaching practices and course design
  • OCEP Project final report

Openspires (University of Oxford)

  • The OpenSpires project is aligned with the Oxford University Computing Services learning technology strategy in ensuring that open content is available to learners to consume and adapt as they choose.

OpenSTAFFS (Staffordshire University)

  • The importance of Executive level commitment cannot be overstated. There is no doubt that the inclusion of OpenStaffs in the Executive portfolio of projects has contributed greatly to the project’s success in acquiring OERs for deposit, in raising the profile of the OER concept across the University and in leaving the project in a position where the use of OERs at Staffordshire has a sustainable future.
  • Re-organisation of info services – big impact on project due to changing roles and lost chance of recruiting repository mananger
  • Exposing colleagues to such things as YouTube.edu, OpenLearn, ItunesU, etc has proved an effective method of engaging colleagues and has been a platform for generating ideas about future resources.
  • new business models and partnerships
  • policies created to support OER release
  • clarity on ownership of teaching materials for staff. Work with unions on implications of open content
  • University mandate and need for robust business plans and policies to sustain an open approach

OTTER (University of Leicester)

  • has developed a draft OER policy and draft procedures for put-up and take-down of OERs to enable continuity and sustainability of the OER initiative.
  • support from top management from the start of the project, and has benefited from the guidance of Steering Group members holding key management positions in the institution.
  • OER issues are still new to many senior managers. This lack of awareness may delay OER development
  • set of standards, processes and policies within the institution
  • OER policy

Unicycle (Leeds Metropolitan University)


Impact of institutional branding and marketisation

Openspires (University of Oxford)

  • marketing/branding – document for design and implementation of media management for audio and video activities
  • linking OERs to (highly regarded) research which drives pedagogy

OCEP University of Coventry)

  • marketisation has led to increased engagement with releasing content through web 2.0 mechanisms – so institution more engaged with opening content as a result.
  • OCEP Project final report

OTTER (University of Leicester)

  • strong push from marketing dept to heavily brand OERs

OpenSTAFFS (Staffordshire University)

  • concerns over quality issues and perceptions of outside world

How are learning resources currently managed and made available within institutions?

OCEP (University of Coventry)

  • existing repository CURVE – progressive release from VLE to repository (https) for university to fully open (http) (complex to manage without compromising the store one policy)
  • OCEP Project final report

Unicycle (Leeds Metropolitan University)

  • Current use of VLE (Blackboard). A move to share more materials on the OER repository and “powerlink” resources to the VLE.


Who is identified as responsible for legality, accessibility, re-usabillity and quality of open content?

OCEP (University of Coventry)

  • existing quality processes, including peer review, and course/module approval

OCEP Project final *report

OpenSTAFFS (Staffordshire University)

  • raising issues/questions around roles & responsibilities for different aspects of the work

Unicycle (Leeds Metropolitan University)


In what ways do institutional practices (need to) change?

How is transformation best approached?

What processes support institutional policy change?

How do existing management and departmental structures and staff roles need to be transformed to facilitate the opening of existing content?


  • Many staff felt that it would be good to incorporate resource creation into Learning and Teaching in Higher Education practice (LTHE – HEA accredited postgraduate programme designed to meet the needs of those new to teaching). This would make OER sustainable in the long term. The costs of producing OER would then just be a part of training with getting staff to think about copyright and IPR from the very beginning: “a basic educational need which has now been highlighted as necessary anyway”.
  • staff development requirements and curricula needs for staff training/education

Unicycle (Leeds Metropolitan University)


Which existing institutional strategies does the opening of learning resources impact upon?

Unicycle (Leeds Metropolitan University)

  • Assessment, Learning & Teaching strategy (OER implementation as a priority)


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