OER Synthesis and Evaluation / CASCADE: Recommendations
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CASCADE: Recommendations

Page history last edited by Helen Beetham 10 years, 3 months ago

These recommendations are collated and summarised from project final reports, so may not be in exactly the form they appear in those reports. Some recommendations are not included where they were local to the institutions or departments involved. Final reports should be separately consulted for the full range of recommendations made by project teams.


Programme and project management


General recommendations on programme/project management:

1. It is imperative that funded projects receive senior management support, committed for the duration of the project and identified in the Letter of Agreement. (ADM)


2. Effective collaborative projects take time to start up... [We] believe that the bidding phase should be longer, or the development of committed project partnerships should be considered part of the implementation phase of the project. (ADM)


3. This project replicated the programme approach by offering a reporting framework to the departments involved – via templates and evaluation support. 'The reporting and evaluation process was important in itself, allowing the partners to reflect on and consider the key lessons, implications, successes and challenges which could be shared through the report.' (ADM) 


Recommendations for future funding:

 4. Focus on embedding, benefits realisation and impact, while at the same time developing a stronger research / evidence base.

Move the OER agenda away from the 'how to' of OER production and development towards the 'how true' of OER impact on learning. (CSAP)


5. Focus funding on proven uses: facilitating learning and enhancing the student experience, enhancing teaching through the cross-departmental and institutional sharing of ideas and practices, maintaining contact with alumni and promotion and marketing of courses. (ADM)

Embarking on an OER programme within the context of an established need, such as improved learning design, is more likely to trigger enthusiasm and engagement... Stakeholders need to see the potential benefits, e.g. lower costs of design or delivery, or opportunities for enhanced reputations globally. (RIPPLE) 

Changes in practice and attitude are more easily achieved with supporting evidence... It is probably time to consider moving away from offering funding for OER production and evaluation, in favour of the generation of evidence through structured research projects into various aspects of OERs. (OSTRICH) 


6. Focus on proven change mechanisms:

Future OER funding calls should request more evidence of how structured workflows will be embedded as part of potential projects. Sustainability can only be achieved once processes are baked in to everyday activities. (Ripple) 


7. Support inter-institutional, cross-sectoral work:

Support sharing of ideas across institutional and departmental boundaries e.g. in areas such as sustainable development (ADM)

Promote the use of OERs in the HE in FE sector, e.g. by seeking ways to overcome the confidence and 'publication barrier' and by promoting easy-to-use technical solutions (OERCaFE)

Explore willingness to engage in dialogue across institutions (ADM) 


8. Amplify value of existing programme resources and expertise:

The Ripple programme of workshops could be repackaged as a staff development course, an online/distance learning course or set of materials tailored for professional development, or perhaps as part of academic induction schemes. (Links with the OMAC strand)

Review and consolidate OER legal toolkits and OER courses for future OER funding projects (see the OER InfoKit and JISC Legal pages)

Offer a national service of expert advisors, e.g. via SCORE, CETIS, OSSWatch.



Further research (specifically)

Research evidence (such as tracking statistics on OERs and data on how academics and students use OERs) is what academic contributors relate to as they consider further involvement in OER initiatives, and is also what senior managers request in order to make strategic decisions about resourcing future OER work. (OSTRICH)

Examples from OSTRICH:

  • relationship between supply and demand or need for OERs
  • cascade processes in organisational change
  • measuring the true cost and value of OERs
  • OER-based curriculum design (fund a series of projects that combine the lessons learned from the JISC Curriculum Design and Delivery projects with those from the OER Programme. The focus would be on embedding and sustaining an OER culture through curriculum design and delivery). 
  • Longitudinal studies of OER use (CSAP)


Evolve different terms to describe 'OER', which lacks widespread recognition (CSAP)

ADM similarly calls for clarity about definitions and benefits of OER: 'a critical debate about open educational practise [including] definitions and purpose.'




1. Develop open, shareable tools that support download and management of OERs e.g. zotero (CSAP)



2. Support integration of Jorum with library catalogues (CSAP)

3. Change repository software to include the OER licence as an option on submission (Ripple)

Explore ways in which existing repositories... can be developed to support more explicitly open access. (ADM)

4. There is potential to develop the Drupal repository (http://go.bath.ac.uk/oer-rep) to create an electronic workflow with built-in version control, signoff processes and workflow support, similar to the system used by the Open Courseware Consortium. (OSTRICH)



In contrast to the pilot phase, most technical recommendations concern the development of virtual learning environments to support 'more open' access to high quality content.

5. Experience of the use of Moodle 2 as a host system for OERs should be made more widely available (OERCaFE)

6. Open source software used at an institutional level, such as a VLE or journal repository, offers real opportunity to engage senior stakeholders with the broad concepts of community-led resource development. (RIPPLE)

7. Streamlining the release of ‘OER candidate’ materials to a suitable repository via an embedded option within the VLE could encourage potential contributors to release their content openly, rather than publish it to the VLE only. (OSTRICH)
Explore ways in which existing ... VLEs can be developed to support more explicitly open access. (ADM)


Learning and teaching

1. Raise awareness of what's available

Do more to raise awareness among departments and teaching teams of the benefits of OERs to learning and teaching (e.g. CSAP)

Support the digital and information skills of both staff and students – ensure they share relevant expertise and engage critically with materials (CSAP and ADM)



2. Align with existing culture

Align the development of open educational practice with underpinning values and philosophy of the course/dept/institution (ADM)

Utilise the strengths of the discipline when designing open materials and practices e.g. ADM practitioners have strengths in communication design.


3. Embed into curriculum design

Promote creativity in learning and teaching around use of OERs (CSAP)

Promote OERs as built-in rather than bolt-on (CSAP)

Investigate 'anarchogogy' as a principle of design for learning (CSAP)

Include OERs in summative as well as formatively assessed work (CSAP)

Streamlining the release of ‘OER candidate’ materials to a suitable repository via an embedded option within the VLE could encourage potential contributors to release their content openly, rather than publish it to the VLE only. (OSTRICH)


4. Engage students

Focus on students as critical commentators and creative producers of open content relevant to their learning (ADM, CSAP)

Study how students' digital and information literacy impact on their ability to use open content (ADM, CSAP)

Follow where students lead e.g. trends in using personal technologies for recording lectures and learning events: 'existing student practices can help inform the rationale and process for developing open educational practice in the department'. (ADM)


5. Enhance quality of materials for learning and teaching

Investigate what types of material are particularly shareable e.g. generic, specialist, threatened etc. (CSAP)

Provide technical and other support to staff developing materials for the VLE first: then they will have the confidence to release more widely.

Explore what types of teaching and learning resources are best suited to OER creation and use.

Explore opportunities to develop ‘purpose built’ open educational resources to avoid issues inherent in retrospectively re-purposing of materials. (all ADM)




Both subject-based projects recommended working through academic managers, course leaders and other academic champions

CSAP also recommended engaging with publishers and employers

Continued efforts needed to involve students in the face of indifference and misconceptions e.g. that OERs are lower rate, 'a cop-out' etc

Investigate the conditions under which staff are prepared to innovate their teaching and/or release content openly for others to use



The most open of CC licenses can be a barrier to involvement by certain academics and challenging for institutional policy makers. JISC may need to reconsider this as a recommendation in future OER funding calls. (Ripple)


Institutional (sustainability)

Projects that were involved in developing and implementing workflow models recommended that other institutions should also adopt them (OSTRICH, RIPPLE). Projects that were involved in a more reflexive, discursive approach to enhancing practice similarly recommended that these approaches should be adopted.

1. Develop a credible business/benefit case for OER
Clear institutional business cases for the use of OERs need to be developed; these will not necessarily be the same as the macro business case or mirror the individual benefit/cost relationship. Such business cases need to be rooted in the particular context of HE in FE. (OERCaFE)
Investigate how and whether institutions can value OER release as a form of publication or research impact (CSAP)

Build on existing motivations to develop open education practice – for example, individual lecturers’ enthusiasm to enhance online professional profiles. (ADM)


2. Take an incremental approach and pick low-hanging fruit first:

Explore ‘tiered’ approaches to releasing resources developing staff confidence in the creation of resources by the controlled release and sharing of materials through the institutional platforms. (ADM)
new material with generic internal reuse [via the VLE] is a good set of material to release early and test workflow and repository frameworks. (RIPPLE)

3. Reward and recognise OER contributions:

Staff need time to innovate and embed open practices creatively (ADM)

The development of open educational practice should be considered as part of staff professional practice. (ADM)

Rewards and recognition structures already in place at an institution can be expanded, to include requesting an OER component through the licensing of any online outputs (RIPPLE - though NB other mechanisms of reward are described by other projects - see e.g. HE and FE differences)

4. Nurture your experts

ADM recommended that the following institutional support needs to be in place: technical support, technical infrastructure, quality processes, IP/copyright support (both via library and specialist legal team). Also opportunities for dialogue between academic and information technology staff, and programme support.

Resources of expertise developed through funded initiatives need to be embedded and sustained. (ADM) 

5. Embed OER strategically
Embed OER considerations into strategies e.g. technology enhanced learning strategy:
'A clear OER policy statement will help sustain burgeoning open educational practice in the department / institution.' (ADM)

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