OER Synthesis and Evaluation / Phase2 Cross sector issues
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Phase2 Cross sector issues

Page history last edited by Lou McGill 12 years, 7 months ago

A place to record those issues arising re cross sector working. This will be very helpful to feed into the Open practice across sectors session in the jisc online conf in november....


Project final reports

from Cascade strand practice change page

Barriers operating particularly in the FE sector include:

- Even greater pressures on staff time than in HE

- A lack of staff training and technical assistance (OERCafe)

 - Typically, no in-house repository or content management system

- Confidence gap: FE staff who understand 'shared resources' to be the high production-value, nationally branded and quality assured materials previously produced by Becta are unlikely to feel confident in the quality and value of their own materials.

- Credulity gap: staff who do not find resources of a high quality when seeking OERs, and who do not trust their provenance or the motives for releasing them, are unlikely to be motivated to release OERs themselves.


The main barrier at the individual level limiting generation of OERs by staff working in the HE in FE sector is lack of confidence. In order for OERs to take off in the HE in FE sector it may be necessary to promote greater cross-institution collaboration. This would build on the culture of sharing resources which already exists within FE colleges. However, it is unlikely that such collaboration would emerge “bottom-up” given the pressures on staff in the sector. (OER Cafe final report)


from cascade differences between HE and FE page

Under barriers and motives for OER release we have noted that some barriers appear to be particularly relevant for FE colleges, or manifest in particular ways in that sector. OERCafe noted that three of the most significant were:

- OER not being separately resourced as a topic for staff development (though it can be incorporated into general training around e.g. use of the VLE)

- lack of time to explore existing resources, to re-purpose, to develop new resources, to make existing resources open;

- lack of technical support for VLE development, which is increasingly likely to be an open source platform such as Moodle, DSpace, Google Apps: 'such systems normally rely on in-house IT development capabilities which are unlikely to be available to colleges... In particular, colleges are unlikely to have the resources to implement a dedicated repository system. Colleges are, therefore, much more likely to rely on external repository systems such as JorumOpen to manage their OERs'.


However, Ripple noted that because their FE partner had no history of uploading materials to Jorum, it was helpful to develop an intermediate stage in the process, with release to a limited-access collection of land-use materials followed by automated transfer to Jorum. This ties in with findings from UK OER stage 1 that intermediate steps towards open access 'in the wild' are often essential, and that a subject-based turnstile system in which trust is built within a relatively small community of users is often the most effective. Either way, it seems that FE colleges lag behind HEIs in developing the technical expertise and person-power for repository management and routine upload to external repositories.


Without ignoring the differences between colleges in the FE sector, which are often significant, there seem to be some general cultural differences between HE and FE providers. The C-SAP online presentation on OER development in the HE in FE context summarises some of the inhibiting factors in FE culture as:

- High teaching workloads and little time to engage in research

- Lack of flexibility in terms of curriculum, prescriptive nature of learning outcomes etc.

- Issues around professional identity – caught in between two distinct cultures of HE and FE

To these, the OERCafe final report adds:

- lack of confidence, arising from many factors (explored in more detail below)

- higher teaching workload, and less time available to develop specialist teaching materials for HE students.


The same two projects also note distinctive contributions that FE culture can bring to the OER endavour. From C-SAP:

High level of pastoral support for students

- Emphasis on teaching and student satisfaction

- Greater link between teaching and research

And from OERCafe:

Greater willingness to take account of OER generation in development and performance review

- opportunities to develop open resources in specific subject areas e.g. 'where course populations are low and delivery costs are high (for example horticulture, beauty therapy, some health-related courses)'


The OERCafe project found a lack of confidence among FE lecturers in the value and originality of their materials. At the interim programme meeting it was speculated that for HE lecturers, the internal model of a shared resource is a ppt they would produce for a research conference: not as highly polished as a paper but confidently and fairly routinely produced for sharing with colleagues. For FE lecturers however the internal model is more like the centrally-produced learning and teaching materials championed by Becta - nationally recognised and quality assured, professionally produced. This does not lend itself to routine production and distribution. Additionally, HE teachers in FE colleges rarely see themselves as owning the curriculum. For them, HE work can be a minor element of their teaching workload and professional identity.


EDOR final report


"HE colleagues were felt to have a level of autonomy that HE in FE staff did not have, partly evidenced by differing FE staff contracts: this latter issue can also lead to a limited ability to develop HE professional identities and practice styles concomitant with HE practice. In those institutions that were very FE-focussed, HE could be seen as „bolt-on‟ by college management.

HE in FE staff also struggled with the idea of „professionalism‟, finding that again, this was expected of them but was not mirrored in how they were treated by their FE employers. It was highlighted that line management of HE in FE staff has a tendency to be the remit of staff with no experience of HE: this might lead to engagement with HE being „problematised‟ and commitment and support of HE provision as inconsistent. It was felt that Governmental Drivers for the HE in FE community were also different, something that maybe those in HE did not understand or know about.

As a result, HE in FE staff might feel that they had a duality of roles that was difficult to express, both in terms of their day-to-day experience, approaches to quality and pedagogy and that the support and funding was not always there to help them manage this."



1. Accessibility by staff- support in terms of technical access, plus reuse/repurposing takes time.

2. What is the „cultural‟ acceptance of OER by senior managers, middle managers and support staff?

3. Where do FE colleges stand with respect to their policies towards the making or repurposing of OER?

4. In terms of CPD for HE in FE staff, this might include material that has accreditation via HE institutions but might also occur through the personal recognition pathway: this again links to issue of duality of roles, support and funding for staff to engage with professional development.


Benefits of creating and using staff/CPD oer in HE in FE

IT helps HE in FE staff get their work into the public domain – much of which is of high quality

It empowers staff

It might help HE in FE staff think about publishing in the widest sense

It encourages HE in FE staff to engage with a wider academic community

It encourages innovation and adoption of new ideas and approaches

It reduces travelling

It provides supports for and links between taught/face to face sessions

It frees up time and potentially saves money in the longer term

It enables engagement with a community of practice

It enables the sharing of ideas and knowledge relating to standards and expectations


barriers to creating and using staff/CPD OER in HE in FE?

o There is often a lack of confidence with the technology

o There may be a lack of confidence in the quality of staff‟s own work

o There may be worry over copyright and what it might mean for use and dissemination

o There is often an assumption that OER are effective teaching materials in a stand-alone sense. This may not be the case, and accompanying metadata needs to clarify original and potential purposes

o The use of OERs may add to a potential disconnect with face-to-face facilitation that is already occurring in the sector

o There is an administrative bureaucracy that seems to surround the dissemination of OER

o It can be seen as difficult to find what you need on Jorum and other platforms

o Publicity and understanding of OER: staff are often unaware of the potential advantages

o Lack of institutional support: including lack of resource (staff time, money, technical support), lack of recognition and lack of encouragement to engage


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