OER Synthesis and Evaluation / Collections: Practice Change
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Collections: Practice Change

Page history last edited by isobel.falconer@... 9 years, 8 months ago

A page to collate Practice Change issues as evidenced in the Collections Strand.  This is a section of the Phase2 Collections strand synthesis


Unless otherwise stated, all references are to project final reports


This list allows you to jump to the appropriate section of the page




What are the main motivations for, and barriers to creating static or dynamic collections of OERs?


  • Capacity building (Delores; Triton): eg. 
    • the project has provided the opportunity for members of the team to develop their expertise, particularly in relation to understanding the desired characteristics and content of open educational resources generally, but especially in relation to engineering design. Also, members of the project team have developed particular skills relating to the use, application and development of the core software applications used to support the OER delivery, namely WordPress, sux0r and Waypoint, and an increased familiarity with the use of XML. (Delores);
    • capacity building in OER characteristics is implicit in the comment, : currently more contributions are made by Oxford but this is due to more active administrative support within the Oxford Politics Department. Cambridge has been encouraged to replicate this administrative structure to ensure a similar level of engagement (Triton)
  • Viewing OERs as providing a learning experience may be a more sustainable motivation among teachers, than viewing them as providing information (Oerbital community portal)  
  • Belief in making knowledge openly available: eg. OF (GEES) user survey, Those with experience of sharing resources cited belief in open education and a desire to enhance their students’ learning as the main motivators for doing so (OF (GEES) final report); Triton aim to make OERs more accessible

  • Enhancing pedagogy: eg. OF (GEES) user survey (quote above)


  • Time: eg. 
    • Among the perceived disadvantages and barriers [emerging from the user survey] were variable quality of submissions, the time necessary to develop and repurpose resources, and lack of knowledge of copyright/IPR issues (OF (GEES)); 
    • academics were clear that they need to be able to find relevant materials quickly in the context of a busy teaching schedule (C-SAP)
    • twice as many respondents (60.6%) who searched regularly for online resources chose to do so only when they had a specific need as opposed to those (30.3%) who undertook searches regardless of whether there was an immediate need. This finding stresses the relevance of the collections project, which offers research methods resources with an emphasis on principles of quality assurance and discoverability (C-SAP user survey report)
  • Lack of awareness (OF (GEES); C-SAP; Oerbital community portal): et
    • responses indicate quite a low level of awareness of copyrightissues and indicate that there is still a lot of work to be done to remove barriers in sharingcontent in order to change academic practice which to a large extent relies on tacitassumptions about copyright and licensing with regard to educational resources (C-SAP user survey)
  • Lack of confidence in IPR status, including being able to guarantee that one's own teaching resources do not breach copyright: eg. C-SAP expert group in final report; OF (GEES) user survey, eg. Both focus groups expressed a reservation about sharing materials online because, although they assumed that copyright was not an issue when using materials for educational purposes, participants expressed a concern that sharing materials online could breach copyright(C-SAP)
  • Institutional ownership of copyright in teaching materials (C-SAP) 
  • Variable quality of OERs (OF (GEES); C-SAP user survey)  
  • Competitive environment inhibits sharing (C-SAP expert group; Oerbital community portal; Delores) 


  • Branding and marketing promote release of a limited number of OERs, but not full open access: eg. Oerbital community portal

  • Trust in a known community promotes sharing among colleagues but not more widely: eg. Teacher desire for controlled release rather than open release with CC license (C-SAP blog);

    • The [creative commons] concept did not generate universal support and some participants expressed a preference for sharing resources in the context of personal relationships (such as with colleagues taking over a course or those having similar research interests) rather than making things openly available though Creative Commons licenses (Notes from the C-SAP Expert Workshop: the value of small numbers)
    • Almost two thirds of survey respondents indicated that they shared resources in some way (Figure 16), typically at a local level (i.e. departmental or institutional) or with colleagues, and by fairly traditional means, e.g. via email and VLEs, or through personal contact(OF (GEES))


 How are different means of raising the profile of OERs within disciplines and engaging communities of users in adapting and repurposing resources effective?

Community building

Projects provided a focus for developing a community of academics around OER release and reuse, drawing them in through surveys, focus groups, workshops, blog and wiki discussions, eg. 

  • active engagement with social sciences community (C-SAP project), especially via a survey of use of online teaching resources and a workshop on reuse, which elicited user needs as well as seeding a community around the blog-based OER collection. (‘Creating and finding research methods OERs in the social sciences: The role for a community of practice’ C-SAP Paper submitted to Journal of Interactive Media in Education)

  • community building (OF (GEES)) through i) a consultation survey which yielded useful information about how practitioners discover and use web-based fieldwork resources, and their attitudes to sharing and reusing teaching materials, and ii) an ‘expert seminar’ in which fieldwork practitioners specifically targeted for their expertise tested and appraised a prototype of the FERC map. (OF (GEES) final report)

  • prominent invitation to contribute open fieldwork resources (OF (GEES), on Fieldwork Education Resources Collection (FERC) page, and backed this up with clear guidance notes.  FERC home page  Guidance for fieldwork OEROerbital OER checklist

  • creation of an expert group which formed the core of the incipient community, eg.

    • OF (GEES) formed an expert seminar with 12 experts to review and appraise the FERC, to discuss some of the practicalities of launching fieldwork resources as OER, and to explore options for sustaining the FERC beyond the current term of JISC funding (OF (GEES) final report)

    • C-SAP expert group to review resources and from whom to elicit current OER issues and practices (C-SAP final report, appendix 2)

    • Oerbital "discipline consultants" for selection of resources and community discussions Oerbital community portal

  • Potential negative judgement by the community is a barrier to open release:A concern was also raised that making materials openly available might open oneself up to negative judgement from colleagues because of the perception of putting oneself forward as a self-appointed expert without adequate peer review. These views illustrate how the topic of licensing touches on sensitive issues of professional identity “ (C-SAP expert group in final report)

  • building trust and knowing the creator of an OER is a critical issue in OER uptake and use:"The preliminary results of the survey on online teaching resources (in particular the responses related to the research methods collections) indicate a strong preference of users for solutions found on well-established social networking websites. Thus, users would like to have access to a highly personalised, high quality research methods collection, with the opportunity to receive recommendations based on their existing collection as well as regular updates about relevant new resources. "(C-SAP final report),  C-SAP blog; Triton; OF (GEES)

Community barriers to releasing, adapting and repurposing

  • Academic identity issues from C-SAP expert group
    • Student expectations of what constitutes academically respectable sources (ie. print), fostered by prevailing assessment methods in schools and HEIs 
    • Student expectations that research active teachers will used examples from their own research in teaching - and teacher agreement that this such research-teaching links are part of their academic identity:  
    • Potential  negative judgement from colleagues because of the perception of putting oneself forward as a self-appointed expert without adequate peer review

Modelling practice,

  • Team working:

    • Oerbital project found the addition to their project plan of. learning technologists working in partnership with academics to adapt and enhance resources for OER release essential: “use the skills of the learning technologists with the [discipline consultants] to blend currently released materials identified by our collection project to be able to expose issues surrounding their enhancement.”(Oerbital final report)  

    • Triton found it difficult to incentivise academics to write posts for the blog; so initiatives:

      • dedicated content officer;
      • awareness raising using student ambassadors (Triton)
  • OER champions: Oerbital project discipline consultants champions a resource that is to be enhanced (repurposed,, reused, developed) modelling the reuse process (Oerbital)

  • Vicarious learning of community centred on C-SAP website, who will see others writing reviews and using and appraising OERs; seeded with invited reviews which are semi-structured and cover suggested teaching uses for the resource and practical information such how to cite C-SAP reviews

Support for practice change 

  • Guidance notes, eg.

    • take guidance to the practitioner: distribution of guidance notes for fieldwork OER (OF (GEES) where practitioners are, e.g. via conferences, publications, and through professional associations such as the Royal Geographical Society Guidance for fieldwork OER.

    • providing advice on citing digital resources, to overcome barrier of low knowledge (low digital literacy) (Oerbital OER checklist)

  • Support for provision of consistent metadata, eg.

  • Easy-to-use tools, eg.

    • as developed by Delores project 

    • Picture picker, developed by Triton project: "It’s not easy to get a picture into a WordPress post – at minimum - a file has to be uploaded. The Picture picker allows a user to search flickr for pictures (CC-BY license only) and then add to the blog post directly. No uploading required." (Triton final report) Picture finder plugin  Picture finder advanced plugin

  • Increase robustness of technology. Lack of robust technology was found to be a major barrier to use of digital resources (including OER) in lectures in C-SAP user testing 

  • Awareness raising around licencing and copyright:

    • Uncertainty around these inhibits users from using freely available resources (Delores)

    • "55% of survey respondents agreed with the statement that, ‘I don't really pay attention to the licensing of the resources as I only intend to use them for educational purposes’ and a further 12% agreed that ‘I don't think it is necessary to ask for permission as the resource is online’ In the case of the Focus group participants, although they assumed that copyright was not an issue when using materials for educational purposes, participants expressed a concern that sharing materials online could breach copyright." ( C-SAP final report) 

Architecture of OERs released

  • Providing OERs with appropriate extendable architecture - currently few have this  – which leaves deconstruction into “microchunks” for re-use rather than enhancement as the only option.Many existing OERs don’t even allow micro-chunking (Oerbital user discussion)

Building on/developing current practices

  • Use of google. Several projects found that users were accustomed to, and preferred to, use Google to locate freely available digital resources, "user-testing revealed a widespread frustration with all the OER repositories used and considered Google to be a more effective tool for searching for materials....The importance of Google and other popular commercial sites cannot be underestimated; both in terms of the resources they produce and the expectations that they provide the user" (C-SAP final report); EALFCO final report
  • Use of interfaces appropriate to the discipline, eg. OF(GEES) developed a map-based interface, based on the google maps API, for searching resources, involving the fieldwork community in its development OF (GEES) map interface

  • engage with users to understand the pedagogic context within which resources will be used, eg. “Dave articulated the value of incorporating online resources in methods teaching as supplementary materials but stressed the need for face-to-face teaching for communicating core academic values can be used" (C-SAP final report)

  • responding to elicited user needs eg. C-SAP user survey showed short videos popular, so C-SAP developed a video collection and the website highlights “video of the week” C-SAP blog re video of the week C-SAP methods collection showing video of the week 

  • association of collection of politics resources with timely discipline-relevant blog postings and an automatic news feed (Triton project)  Politics Inspires blog (associated with Triton collection) 

Increasing critical mass of resources by inclusion of non-OERs

Several projected adopted strategies for including some "grey OERs" or "non OERs" (ie. freely available resources but without clear CC licensing), while clearly labelling them as such and providing guidance on their use and potential development into OERs. Without inclusion of such resources, collections lacked the critical mass that would engage users

  • extend otherwise very limited range of collection by inclusion of  resources that are publicly accessible over the web, and clearly indicate with traffic light system any restrictions on their use (OF (GEES)) example page showing traffic light system

  • locate and work with existing repositories that were clearly set up with the aim of sharing, but not couched in formal CC license terms, and negotiate and support  their authors to attach appropriate licences and conform to OER standards, eg. Delores project has worked with SEED Curriculum;  CDEN-Ryerson University in this way 

  • "a continuing barrier to the greater use of OER is the ability of potential users to know what is available and quickly and easily to find material that is appropriate, at the relevant level and of high quality." (from C-SAP final report, re lack of critical mass of discipline-relevant pure OER resources) 

  • "When searching the repositories I found a good many high quality, freely available but non-OER resources (as defined by a creative commons copyright attribution). I feel that these will also be of great value to academics, and many are of a professional standard" (Oerbital expert group interview in final report )

  • EALFCO blog post about OERs vs NOERs 

Social software




How are different means of engaging stakeholders (eg professinal bodies, learned societies) effective?  

Formal engagement with key stakeholders

  • Recruitment of expert consultants from key stakeholder groups, eg.

  • Consultation with key stakeholders, eg.

    • OF (GEES) consultation with JISC EDINA, JISC Geospatial working group, Ordnance Survey, and the Enhancing Fieldwork Learning NTF project;

    • Triton consultation with university politics and international relations department, student users, other UKOER projects; Wordpress developer community

  • Steering group, eg. Triton set up steering group with members from its key stakeholder university department

Non-formal engagement 

  • placing support and guidance in stakeholder domain, eg. OF (GEES) distributing guidance notes through conferences and professional associations (eg. Royal Geographical Society)

  • timeliness of associated blog postings "this focus on timeliness, as well as people, networks, and open-access learning objects will be what makes the blog unique for the target audience" (Triton final report) 



What policies enable contribution of OERs to cross-institutional collections  


  • Competition: Current government HE policy, which encourages competition between HEIs, mitigates against a culture of sharing. . (Delores and Oerbital project final reports; discussions on Oerbital community portal)


  • Recognition and reward for sharing learning and teaching materials by:

    • institutional schemes;

    • UK academic authorities in the same way they are encouraging sharing research data (via funding conditions and REF) (Oerbital, Delores final reports)

  • Licencing and copyright policies, eg.

    • Clear licensing information, and policies to increase awareness of licensing and copyright requirements reduces barriers to sharing and raises incentives to use OER repositories rather than google, "In the case of the Focus group participants, although they assumed that copyright was not an issue when using materials for educational purposes, participants expressed a concern that sharing materials online could breach copyright." (C-SAP  final report) 


What makes discipline-based collections usable across institutions? 

Adaptability to pedagogic context

Projects provided in a variety of ways, eg.

  • briefings on collections website by reviewers to show how resources might be adapted and developed to different contexts (C-SAP final report) C-SAP reviews page
  • prepare materials with an OER framework in mind, ie. for disaggregation into components all with clear licencing information (Oerbital final report) 

Licencing information 

Licencing information needs to be clearly attached to all components embedded within resources (Delores, C-SAP final reports)


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