OER Synthesis and Evaluation / UKOER Impact Model
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UKOER Impact Model

Page history last edited by Lou McGill 12 years, 11 months ago

UKOER programme synthesis and evaluation (phase two) –  Impact Model


During the synthesis and evaluation of  Phase 2 of the JISC Open Educational  programme (UKOER2), we are working with the OER project  teams collating evidence of benefits, sustainability and impact of OER release. We have devised an instrument to assess impact – the OER Impact Model (below).


From the literature we know that OER release is influenced by the nature of the resources and the practices around OER creation, release and reuse. Resources release and the practices around them can be considered individually (ie the practices of an individual learner or teacher releasing or reusing resources) or socially (ie the practices of groups or collectives releasing or reusing resources).


The release of OERs and practices around these is situated within the wider educational context of Further and Higher Education. Within this broad context individual and social practices influence the release of different types of OERs, and the release of these resources, in turn, affect the institutionally based practices associated with them. Further, we recognise that these practices and resources exist within a wider societal context in which open practices and resources are evolving rapidly. These aspects of OER release are integrated in the UKOER Impact Model, as follows.



Individual impact (the left hand side of the model) is being explored by other parts of this landscape are being explored by other funded projects, for example the OER Impact Study, led by the TALL group at the University of OxfordOER Impact Study, and Open Resources: Impact on Learners and Educators (ORIOLE), led by the UK’s Open University). Through our evaluation of the whole JISC UKOER programme, we are focusing on examining the right hand side of the model, taking a social focus. 


A recent discussion with OER practitioners identified a range of emerging challenges and issues within these broad educational and societal contexts:


Emerging challenges and issues within a societal context

  • Reduced security in academic employment may make OER release more attractive as a way of enhancing personal reputation and profile. Weaker affiliation with an institution makes ‘public’ scholarship a more attractive career path. Academic blogs, rich media papers, open research data, pre-publication versions, and personal content legacies are all becoming part of the apparatus of scholarship and professionalism in academia. This change presents opportunities for the creation and reuse of OERs (see Martin Weller’s blog for more ideas around digital scholarship http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/no_good_reason/digital-scholarship/)
  • Associated with this reduced security in employment, professional identity is in constant flux, presenting individuals caught between different cultures with challenges. This is an issue for the sector in general. However it also seems to be an opportunity to drive forward changes in professional practice.
  • There are further issues aligned with sharing practices.  For example open sharing in communities tends to involve some gatekeeping (e.g. log-in with a personal identifier). However release of open resources ‘in the wild’ lacks the history and community ownership that allow for sustained reuse.
  • Universities are using OERs to re-position themselves as sites of public knowledge, showcasing open knowledge to a wider public audience. However, universities may be missing opportunities for public engagement, through which people can contribute to knowledge building, rather than being only recipients of knowledge.


Emerging challenges and issues within  educational contexts


  • Old vs new conceptualisations of the university The idea of the borderless university (ie a university without any boundaries) conflicts between conventional ways of managing knowledge and the new opportunities. See for example iTunesU where these conflicts are being played out.
  • Financial constraints mean institutions are less willing to invest in learning and teaching innovation. Paradoxically, new funding constraints might mean that new practices and resource types will have a new relevance across the sector. In non-elite institutions it is likely to be necessary to demonstrate that all activities offer value for  money, and that the ‘student experience’ is distinctively different from that at comparable universities.
  • Reputation enhancement versus marketisation Reputation enhancement is becoming a key driver for universities – for example  iTuneU is becoming an important marketing tool. However, there are a lot of institutions where the only OERs that are visible to the outside world are informational or marketing in focus. Since the focus on learning and teaching production is very different from focus on institutional reputation.we should question - is this sustainable in learning and teaching terms?  Course marketisation offers a possible link between production of OERs for learning and teaching and production of OERs for institutional reputation. If every course has an OER profile in order to give students positive choices about their learning, then both strategies come into play. At present none of the institutions represented in the programme have a policy of tasters/trailers for all courses, but there is a move towards this view. They give potential students a view of the kind of experience they can expect, they raise the profile of the module, and they can be particularly powerful if they showcase work by students themselves.
  • The needs of different stakeholders can be at odds with one another. For example, resources for learners may not be useful to the public in general. Also resources may be made accessible to students in all contexts by including pedagogic support, but this makes them less accessible to teachers who want to repurpose them in different pedagogic contexts. How students are engaging with OERs may be a different issue from how staff are: embedding into the student experience of learning is not the same set of strategies to embedding into the curriculum. So while for staff recognition and reward is probably key, student motivation to reuse OERs is much more about quality and relevance of the resources.
  • Professional learning - Staff and student literacies are important across all sectoral boundaries. Of particular interest is the notion of students as producers of content. However, there is evidence that student literacies are strongly influenced by the practices and expectations of staff.


One clear message from this initial study is that ‘uncertainty’ is a signature of our current society and of the education sector as a whole. The impact of the UKOER2 programme on resources and practices will help inform future directions for the sector.



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