OER Synthesis and Evaluation / Institutional Strand Pedagogy and End Use Issues
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Institutional Strand Pedagogy and End Use Issues

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

Although not a key focus of the pilot programme all projects concerned themselves to some extent with aspects of use, re-use and re-purposing. In particular attention was paid to enhancing discoverability through syndicated feeds, web 2.0 publicity routes, search engines and enhanced metadata and resource description. Tracking use and usability were also areas that some projects investigated, and although this generated much discussion throughout the programme it was not addressed in detail in final reports. Those that utilised web 2.0 services generally made good use of features to count visits and downloads, but only one project in this strand established a survey at the point of use.


A few projects felt that the real demand for OERs was not yet understood, particularly by learners, but several have collected evidence of use by both students and teachers. A few projects exhibited a sophisticated view of the range of potential uses and users. The efforts to ensure that materials could be surfaced through a wide range of sources, from the institutional systems through to community and web 2.0 services, reflected that project teams expected to have to work hard to encourage use. Most of the early staff surveys revealed very low use (or no use at all) of OERs by the majority of staff, but it is worth noting that once teams started to prepare materials for release there was clear evidence of staff reusing third party content. The problem with this content was that it was not rights cleared, but it may indicate that given access to relevant OERs acdemic staff may be inclined to use them. Project activities to raise awareness and encourage use are expected to have a longer term impact.


Two of the projects had significant prior experience of releasing OERs and had already collected evidence of use by students and very postitive feedback. It is interesting to note that in both cases these tended to be granular podcasts and videos released through the open web, utilising services outside the institution. The use of services that enable feedback by users was noted as an important encouragement to stimulate further release.


Which types of OER are used by different stakeholders?

Do different audiences need OERs presented in different ways?

BERLIN (University of Nottingham)

  • In terms of external discoverability, Google remains for many the primary route for searching the web.
  • OER sites need to address multiple audiences simultaneously: students and teaching staff; international, national and regional; low and high bandwidths; and so on. This can create challenges in how best to present the material on a single site. However, given that many OER materials are available from multiple repositories such as OER Commons, Open Courseware Consortium and OpenJorum, it should be possible for the same content to be aimed at multiple audiences simultaneously, assuming each OER has a different target audience. The use of RSS is one such mechanism
  • building connections between end-users and contributors, especially where relationships between the two are fluid, will help foster a culture of openness and support ongoing sustainability.
  • OER materials should encourage use and repurpose: expect and encourage end-users to edit, adapt and recreate. Some OER sites assume a producer-centric model of publishing: materials are provided with little opportunity for end-users to influence what becomes available.
  • The school-based model removes the need to build brand awareness around a repository, which is potentially difficult and requires significant effort. Secondly, making resources available in the places that students, prospective students and academics would naturally look for them – or indeed, be more likely to stumble across them – may facilitate an increase in use and re-use.
  • evaluation was conducted by potential end-users to give insight into the fitness for purpose of U-Now and the resources available. The evaluation highlighted some areas for improvement and also a number of positive elements, in particular that the site is clean‘, uncluttered‘, ;fresh‘, and ;clear‘ [design], with the content logically grouped and organised.
  • Usability evaluation of U-now by OER Africa
  • Making resources discoverable presentation

OCEP (University of Coventry)

  • Making something open is easy; making it useful to others is much more difficult.
  • Learning and teaching resources are often complex, interlinked and contextually bound. This does not mean that they should not be open; it does mean that they need to be explained.
  • Teachers like recognition for their work; we need to feed back to them how their open content is being used.
  • Few resources make much sense released “as is”. Some accompanying information (the wrapper) is often needed to help users understand what the pedagogic intent and use of the resources might be.
  • The business case for using OERs is understood in general terms but case studies are needed.
  • Students’ attitudes to the use of OERs in their courses need researching. Some teaching staff are apt to believe that students equate value with using resources which are unique to their courses, something which can only be achieved if the lecturer creates all their own resources.
  • Using OERs may enable us to concentrate on other aspects of teaching and learning, for example collaborative activities, social learning, learning from peer assessment, making use of the wider range of resources made available by universities and other agencies.
  • Can use of OERs reduce dependency on textbooks?


  • At the outset it was envisaged that the content released as part of OpenSpires would appeal to: academics at Oxford who may wish to re-use material as part of their own teaching materials, students at Oxford who may wish to listen again to a lecture, academics and students at other institutions (UK and international), teachers interested in the teaching methods at Oxford or perhaps wishing to show their 6th form students some of the subjects covered at Oxford, and members of the general public who are interested self-educators.

OTTER (University of Leicester)

  • OERs have been produced in repurposable formats as far as possible, to enable end users to modify them for different contexts and different pedagogical aims. Having two, highly skilled, dedicated learning technologists enabled this.
  • Tracking is the main activity in providing evidence of use. OTTER’s Plone site was enabled with Google Analytics, which tracks access to the repository from global sources. In addition to the OERs being placed in JorumOpen, each OER has its own Web page which includes a small abstract. This helps increase its visibility by being Google-searchable via the words on the abstract page. Google Analytics informs us of the number of visits and page views from different geographical locations. In addition, some OERs were made available to view before download on a second web server at the university; this server has a local tool for analysis of visits which provides more detailed tracking information.
  • satisfaction survey at the point of download to assess the value and usefulness of OERs
  • OER user satisfaction survey
  • Stakeholder views on Open Educational Resources: research report


Can we see a pattern in relation to level of granularity and use, re-use, re-purposing?

How far are use patterns influenced by: the subject discipline and/or topic area; type of resources made available?

OpenSpires (University of Coventry)

  • Material needs to be placed as near as possible to the subject communities to drive reuse.
  • Subject communities in the future could add much value to the open material if there are feedback pathways available for them to use. This may include annotations, ratings, proofing, pathways, transcripts, comments, references and packaged learning objects.
  • The OpenSpires model of syndicating content onwards through RSS, allows subject and skills communities to harvest a selection of OER material and present it in within or near their preferred systems (blogs/wikis/portals/VLE). Bringing material closer to the learner and a peer support network can mean further contextual value can be added and pathways through the material created at the appropriate level.


How is pedagogy manifested in open content, if at all?

OCEP (University of Coventry)

  • The question of whether or not “pedagogy in” matters is not a useful one. For some users it might, for others it may not. However it seems sensible to give some indication of the context and way in which a resource has been used successfully by originators both to promote reflection on the part of originators on how their resources might be beneficially exploited and to help better describe the resource. The distinction between “pedagogy in” and guidance on how materials are currently used is not a useful one.
  • diverse range of content and range of levels of wrapping (All content to have a pedagogical wrapper)
  • project has reignited re-use/re-purposing debate within institution

OpenExeter (University of Exeter)

  • Pedagogical wrappers - using cloudworks but in very early stages at end of project

OTTER (University of Leicester)

  • How do we best ensure that OERs are self-contained / free standing


In what ways, if at all, do learning and teaching practices (need to) change when OERs are widely available?

have staff been able to integrate their own and others oers into their teaching?

BERLIN (University of Nottingham)

  • new module frameworks

OpenExeter (University of Exeter)

  • pedagogic approaches as a driver – evidence from Cloudworks?
  • building an OER mentality into curriculum design & delivery – pedagogic conversations – cloudworks?

Openspires (University of Oxford)

Unicycle (Leeds Metropolitan University)


What skills/literacies do staff and students need to adapt to using and creating content in an open way?

OpenExeter (University of Exeter)

  • staff development requirements and curricula needs for staff training/education

Openspires (University of Oxford)

  • Need for regular training sessions to increase open content literacy plus increase podcasting expertise around the University. In response to a survey question asking what assistance contributors required, 83% said technical help, so equipping more people within the institution with the appropriate skills is necessary to ensure sustainability.
  • training as a standard offering of the IT Learning Programme

OpenSTAFFS (Staffordshire University)

  • staff IPR literacies – guidance

OTTER (University of Leicester)

  • has invited partner SAIDE to share their experiences and emerging procedures for building up OER literacy amongst educators in developing countries. This will be done in collaboration with ELKS, another JISC-funded project at Leicester

Unicycle (Leeds Metropolitan University)

  • staff development materials made available through repository


How can student-created content be made openly available for sharing, peer review and collaboration?

BERLiN (University of Nottingham)

OTTER (University of Leicester)


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