OER Synthesis and Evaluation / Release-Conclusions
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Page history last edited by Lou McGill 11 years, 3 months ago

Part of the Phase2 Release strand synthesis


Release strand recommendations

REL 01 Learning from WOeRK

For Plymouth University

a)     To fully implement the CPD shell framework, now supported by 360 credits-worth of OER developed to support learning in the workplace.

b)    To explore opportunities for reuse and repurposing of LfW OERs in other areas of the curriculum, such as undergraduate work-based learning activity and the Plymouth Award.

c)     To more widely publicise the availability of the project OER to employers and professional bodies. This publicity should include promoting the OER on mentoring for those supporting students on placement and the resources on establishing a social enterprise to the third sector.

d)    To incorporate project OER into programme and module web pages, offering ‘taster’ material to potential learners, including international students.

e)     To consider wider engagement with OER, including providing an opportunity for teaching staff to demonstrate scholarly activity and share good practice.

f)     To draw on the Learning from WOeRK project experience and processes to support the development of institutional quality assurance systems for Plymouth University OER.

g)    To note the value and flexibility in employing consultants / part-time staff in time-bound projects, with appropriate oversight from senior academic staff and project managers.

h)     To explore the opportunities for developing new partnerships and business models for knowledge exchange, based on open content with paid-for services around that content, such as customisation, bespoke training and organisational development.

i)      To explore the opportunities for involving community groups and third sector bodies in the use of OER and in the development of further OER content.


For the wider community

a)     To access, use, reuse and repurpose the OER developed by the Learning from WOeRK project, which address and support important work place topics, of direct relevance to work-based learners.

b)    The value of a core team providing technical, IPR and other support for OER academic developers.

c)     The value and flexibility of engaging experienced consultants and part-time staff in time-bound projects, when appropriately supported and managed.

d)       To explore the opportunities for developing new partnerships and business models for knowledge exchange, based on open content with paid-for services around that content, such as customisation, bespoke training and organisational development.

e)     To explore the opportunities for involving community groups and third sector bodies in the use of OER and in the development of further OER content.



a)   To review the length of funding period where there is a requirement to design, develop, publish and seek robust learner evaluation of OER.

b)   The need for some additional clarification on the restrictions of Non-Commercial (NC) licenses, particularly given the new funding regime with its emphasis on HEIs increasing their income from non-government sources.

c)   For the Synthesis and Evaluation team to consider wider use of the quality review framework developed by the Project Evaluator and IPR consultant.



  • Repositories need to strike a balance between resources and the communication/networking facilities available to encourage community building and exchange of ideas to ensure site is kept ‘alive


  • Websites, workshops, conferences, e-bulletins etc are effective media for disseminating information on SWAPBox but social media has much greater potential to encourage dialogue.


  • Technology should be straightforward and easy to understand so as to be accessible to a wide range of users, from ‘technophiles’ to ‘technophobes’.  Guidance materials on key features/aspects also facilitate this accessibility.   


  • The routine collection and analysis of user feedback helps project partners understand the concerns of different users as the project progresses.  


  • Early and ongoing engagement with facilitates the capture of rich feedback which can feed into the iterative development of the project 


  • The Subject Community is clearly interested in the concept of e-Learning, open education repositories and OERs but will need to be encouraged further to be proactive in contributing resources and sharing their views with the rest of the community on how they have used/reused materials. 


  • The importance of sharing learning designs rather than ‘just’ materials is key to future success and development.   


  • The evidence suggests that there is real value in focusing and developing OERs on subject-specific communities. While IPR/copyright guidance is important this can also be off-putting to users and therefore, the approach should be as light touch as possible. Users need to be able to communicate with each other on repositories to ensure a sense of community and ‘ownership’ in order to encourage sustainability beyond the formal length of a project.  This has been seen in HumBox and we expect the same to be true for SWAPBox, too.   


  • Before developing new OERs – check that they do not exist already. If they do then subject to the licence, it may be sensible to build on these rather than starting again.
  • Develop resources for openness from the start rather than leaving this for a later date.
  • Involve stakeholders in the development and evaluation of OERs and their repository.
  • Use recognised processes and quality models to develop OERs
  • Ensue that when creating OERs that the copyright process is well structured.
  • The use of a bespoke repository for OERs is useful but should be clearly linked from other areas such as JORUM Open.
  • The sector needs to better understand how OERs are actually used by all stakeholders.
  • When developing OERs, consider if stakeholders require additional information to help them understand how to use them in specified contexts.
  • Materials should be developed in such a way which allows them to be easily repurposed.
  • Ensure that those developing course materials are fully aware of sites which allow them to easily find and use copyright cleared material (e.g. Xpert)
  • Provide more lead time prior to the announcement of a successful bid to the bid actually starting to allow for HR processes.
  • Institutions need a clear policy in place which ensures staff understand copyright ownership of course materials and how the institution intends to release them.
  • Do not underestimate the time which will be needed by staff who create and release OERs. Provide support structures such suitably skilled copyright officers and Learning technologists.


  • That more attention should be directed at mobile and tablet platforms in OER, as these prove to be of increasing relevance for students; they are also very relevant for global areas that lack the internet infrastructure we often take for granted and that rely heavily on mobile education (for e.g. Southern Africa, rural areas of India and China);
  • That the use of EPUB and OpenTextbook formats deserve to be investigated in more depth;
  • A list of recommended OER authoring tools for general use could be created, e.g. macros/plugins for wordprocessors or common CMS’s that export OER in several open formats simultaneously;
  • That instruction and guidance for the use and re-purposing of OERs should be included in the mandatory training given to new probationary teaching staff to ensure that this becomes part of the normal workflow and so ensure sustainability.
  • That Open Educational Practices in general should be supported;
  • That the HE Academy and JISC continue their relationship with the OER community of practice;


General Recommendations

  • Sharing educational resources around a subject theme such as haemoglobin disorders is important and has generated much interest and collab oration, but allowing such activity to become a self-sustaining initiative is a longer-term goal.
  • On-line and off-line marketing techniques are equally important – the use of social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Posterous and YouTube, as well as conventional off-line networking, conference dissemination and press releases. Such activity needs to be on a regular basis to maintain momentum.
  • Cultural transformation doesn’t just require staff engagement and having a policy in place. Institutions need to look at incentives and staff motivation, not just to be involved in OER but other scholarly activities as universities face the future. Creative solutions need to be provided to provide staff with time; these could include spontaneous events such a reading weeks where an output has to be demonstrated; this could include a more creative approach to timetabling to keep space clear; for our institution the use of wider technology solutions for example on-line assessment would also reduce the burden of more traditional academic practices.
  • OER is a useful vehicle for academic staff to explore copyright, and a clear conclusion, is that academics wishing to not just produce but also use OER, they need to have access to relevant expertise for consultation. Determining the Creative Commons licence of a resource is not enough, and the authenticity of each and every author also needs to be verified. Layers of copyright within a single resource can also be complex and time consuming to understand.


Recommendations for theWider Community

  • Institutions considering introducing OER policy and transforming practice should refer to OOER Institutional Policy Toolkit as a starting point, and learn from other organisations which approaches worked or did not work. Transformation takes time and requires engagement from staff at all levels.
  • Hospitals, community organisations, industry should consider OER as a vehicle for networking with academic institutions, and possibly don’t appreciate the relevance or usefulness of assets that they own. From these practices, dialogue about research, collaboration, employability can all follow.


Recommendations for HEA/JISC

  • Enhance the transparency and discoverability of essential OER Toolkits – the OOER materials, information on how to search for OER, information on an OER pipeline and how to manage the OER process. Whilst I could take time searching past OER projects, these are scattered across the internet and not easily found.
  • JORUM is a vital service, and should be viewed as the “one stop OER shop” in the UK. However as a searchable repository it is very limited. It is not clear whether you can search using Boolean terms. The tags and meta-data put on by authors is inconsistent and clearer guidelines regarding what meta-data to include would benefit depositors and downloader’s.
  • Resources on JORUM from the two amalgamated services are now covered by two types of licence, and this will confuse users going in expecting materials to be OER covered by Creative Commons.
  • SEO can promote discoverability of resources on the internet, and has the potential to enhance not just the “reach” but the “impact” of materials. The use of Posterous is central to these activities as is a strategic approach to social networking rather than assuming an ad hoc approach.
  • The notion of learner involvement in OER, from our initial student feedback, would give rise to new opportunities to tap into their overwhelmingly strong beliefs that resources should be shared, and universities should engage in these activities. Exploration of how students find and use OER themselves would be interesting, as would, how can students and learners produce materials themselves?
  • The notion of what is quality, what types and granularities of resources are the most flexible, are on-going areas of research.



REL 06 DeSTRESS project

  • Some of the submitted content is in the form of booklets. It would be useful to be able to make these available in suitable formats for mobile devices, e.g. ePub. It would be efficient and would aid discovery if the funders promoted an iTunesU, Apple Bookstore or similar front end for the UKOER projects – with common templates or style guides - rather than each project investigating this possibility separately.
  • A member of the project team is now submitting an OERIII bid to specifically tailor and expand the question bank resources. We would recommend that funding be made available to support this bid as it will support improvements to the DeSTRESS materials while also enhancing user access to several other OER materials. This project will publish within a single interface six existing computer-aided assessment packages that have been developed at five universities. In this way, literally thousands of versatile question styles will be brought together to comprise a comprehensive database spanning GCSE to level 2 undergraduate, but with a major focus on A level and service mathematics and statistics courses for first-year university students. Building on an excellent interface developed in the current JISC/HEFCE Depository for Statistical Resources for Social Sciences (DeSTRESS) project, a trial version of the web application called MathsE.G. will be developed further to include OER questions from Mathletics, Numbas, Dewis, MELA and CALMAT (originally developed at Glasgow Caledonian University but released as OER under the FETLAR project) and the MathAssess QTIv2.1 compliant system. Teachers will also be able to generate bespoke assessments themselves by selecting specific (or randomly-chosen) questions for their own students via an easy-to-use interface. Since all the component systems offer very full feedback, Maths E.G. will therefore form an invaluable learning resource for a very diverse range of students from social sciences and business studies, through to STEM disciplines and on into numeracy, maths and stats for professionals such as health professionals or PGCE students. There will be several forms of the Maths E.G. namely: student and staff interfaces for formative assessment and staff interfaces for stand-alone and VLE-integrated summative assessment.
  • The project team would like to continue to develop OER materials that add to, and enhance, those that have been created. We will therefore be seeking further funding for projects that will enable the team to expand and extend the resources that are now being made available to academics teaching quantitative aspects of social sciences. Ideally we would recommend that the timeframe for this type of project is longer; 18 – 24 months would provide the team with time to focus more closely on alternative methods of development, gaining additional feedback, expanding the testing phase and ensuring that the necessary links between the resources are fully incorporated.

REL 07 SPACE project

Resource-specific recommendations:

  • The performing arts community that will use this resource would benefit from a ‘light touch’ mechanism through which they can be encouraged to share models that have been created locally. This might be via the NSA, or via the project website. Some of these models could be incorporated into the standard library in any later versions of the resource.
  • This resource should be developed and adapted further to support inclusion for students with disabilities; disabled students and those who teach them should be fully involved in the concept design and testing processes.
  • The potential for this resource should be more fully explored with key industry players. For example, lighting companies might be interested in the ability to directly link lighting designs developed on the SPACE resource to their particular lighting board; theatres might be happy to share the performance dimensions to enable touring productions to more effectively plan for the venue size.

General recommendations:

  • When planning and scoping a complex, multi-stakeholder OER project, ensure sufficient time and resource is allocated to the project management and stakeholder engagement element of the programme
  • Engage with learners as co-designers and co-developers of OERs. This approach:
    • ensures curriculum relevance of the resource
    • increases the focus on useability
    • increases the sense of learners’ ownership and stake in the resource, encouraging wider take up of the OER upon release
    • develops learners’ critical thinking skills and knowledge
  • Leverage the potential for subject centres, networks and similar pre-existing forums to act as client groups during the development of OERs. This approach:
    • raises the profile of the resource amongst the community – even at the early stages of development
    • ensures curriculum alignment
    • increases engagement with, and ownership of, the resource amongst the stakeholder community
  • Continue to raise awareness of what an OER is (i.e. the benefits, the constraints etc), so that teachers and students are fully aware of the implications of working with such resources.

REL 08 Learning Legacies project

General recommendations

  • A need to align the agendas of commercial organisations with educational organisations for the use and reuse of OER resources
  • Licences for creative commons need to be given time and space before they can be agreed with third parties and attention to this at the beginning of a project is crucial
  • Email communication between partner institutions has worked well and provided an effective method of communication.


Recommendations for the wider community

  • Use of a dynamic repository as well as links to practice community websites aids dissemination of the resources
  • The use of twitter and facebook to spread the message of OER is to be encouraged


Recommendations for the HEA/JISC.

  • Follow on projects need to take account of the difficulties in persuading third parties of the usefulness and significance of OER and Creative Commons licences
  • The JORUM repository still has accessibility and technical issues which mediate against its widespread use by the public



General recommendations

  • It would be useful to encourage/mandate the study of OER creation and related practice into all initial qualifications for teachers in higher education
  • Similarly, it is essential that a basic IPR awareness module is included in all into all initial qualifications for teachers in higher education – this is long overdue and crucial for effective OER activity

Recommendations for the wider community

  • Measures to encourage greater awareness, uptake and use of OERs are needed so that businesses and public organisations can make use of them and even contribute their own

Recommendations for the HEA/JISC

  • Continue funding OER related projects – it is having a visible effect
  • Connect OER activity explicitly to cultural change and collaborative learning design skills to support more flexible and blended learning opportunities


 REL 10 OSIER project

1.1    Recommendations for the wider community

These recommendations are directed at the OSIER project constituency, but could be more widely applicable. A project such as OSIER that is based extensively on the repurposing of existing resources as OERs will experience difficulties where the resources need extensive modification to meet OER requirements relating to IPR and licensing, and to usability and accessibility.  As is also the case with accessibility standards, OER guidelines commonly result in improved resources whatever their intended use.

Recommendation: OER standards for online resources should be commonly available and understood within the teacher training/CPD ESD/GC community.

Recommendation: OER standards should be followed as closely as possible for all online resources, even if these are not intended initially to be released as OERs.

1.2    Recommendations for the HEA/JISC

Project sustainability is a key part of the funding requirements within UK OER.  However, there is a risk that potentially successful projects will only just have reached maturity by the end of their funding period, and that subsequent support will be very limited.  This makes it difficult to allow a project like OSIER to attract more users and grow in a self-sustaining way.  The repository site is also vulnerable.  Whilst accepting that the UK OER programme cannot provide support to a growing body of OER repositories, it seems that little consideration has been given to the medium-term future of repositories created within UK OER.  Jorum does not appear to evolved into a multi-purpose super-repository, and several UK OER projects have clearly demonstrated the value of bespoke repositories.  Is a distributed rather than a centralised model more appropriate?

Recommendation: HEA/JISC should consider ways in which project legacies can be guaranteed, including examination of minimal-cost systems support and improved cross-repository searching.

Recommendation: HEA/JISC should examine the future direction of the Jorum project, given the proliferation of other OER repositories both within and outside UKOER.

The apparent failure of Jorum to establish a way in which sites such as OSIER can automatically send new resources to Jorum detracts from the value of Jorum, and places a significant extra workload on resource donors and/or site administrators.

Recommendation: Jorum should be set up to receive automated feeds (for instance using RSS) from OER repository sites, rather than demanding manual transfer or duplicate resources as at present.


Preamble: For many projects like OSIER in UK OER 2, and most if not all projects in UK OER 1, there has been an emphasis on resource creation and distribution.  At the same time, the culture of OER use appears poorly developed across many sectors, in comparison with OER production and dissemination.  This does not contribute to a dynamically growing culture of OER use and re-purposing.

Recommendation:  HEA/JISC should consider a greater shift of emphasis in future parts of the programme from OER availability to OER use, particularly by supporting research into both the stimuli for and barriers to OER use by individual users as well as institutions.



  • The adoption of an independent ‘critical friend to review partner contributions and feedback is seen as good practice worthy of wider adoption by others
  • A sector wide approach with a partnership of HEIs has meant that it was possible to build ORBEE iteratively through consensus building.  Additionally, it has produced outputs and outcomes that will be relevant to both the built environment transferrable to other discipline sectors
  • The creation of a learning design and significant work on the ‘productionising OERs’ was critical to the successful orientation of project partners and to ensure materials optimised for situated workplace audience.  However, materials created also meet the needs of full-time learners particularly within current HE operating context.  All require a variety of media and approaches to fully engage with the OER materials which was the aspiration of the learning design and subsequent guidance produced. 
  • It would have been interesting to see whether a single OER web repository developed centrally by HEA/JISC would have been feasible and more cost effective.  Much resource has been input into creating and deploying the ORBEE website (which is mirrored in other projects).  Perhaps JORUM and HEA/JISC would consider this option for future projects?  Clearly, this would require some tailoring of JORUM but may provide more latitude to focus on the pedagogy and productionising of OER. 


7.1 General recommendations

  • NeLR is aptly placed to take a more strategic role to enable content meeting good practice requirements to be shared locally within the NHS, and then shared more widely
  • MEDEV Risk-kit and the NHS eLearning Readiness toolkit should be utilised in NHS sector
  • Guidance on open content sharing needs to be at an appropriate level and adapted for the specific sector (i.e. guidance for HE needs to be adapted for the NHS sector)
  • NHS SHA e-Learning Content Clubs provide valuable communities of practice for exchanging and debating good practice and should be fostered
  • Incentives for sharing resources in the NHS are needed at a time when financial pressures on NHS organisations are increasing
  • NHS consent is adapted to explicitly include informed consent for use in teaching (in accordance with GMC guidelines) and consent is stored in the patient record. In consenting for teaching resources, reference to OER as similar in nature to releasing a publication and a requirement for Level 3 consent be highlighted
  • The NeLR upgrades from Athens Agent to allow more sophisticated authentication patterns
  • Continue to develop and facilitate links between repositories to encourage sharing of OER
  • NeLR upgrades from Athens Agent to allow more advanced authentication protocols
  • Development and encouragement to use a Consent Commons within the NHS
  •  Training needs in the NHS with regards to digital professionalism have been identified and need to be addressed

7.2 Recommendations for the wider community

  • Teaching staff are educated in the use of ‘openly licenced’ resources to facilitate uptake of and contribution to shared materials
  • A ‘search first, then create’ approach should be encouraged
  • Development of sample policy statements for use in NHS
  • Co-ordination and direction within the NHS on who leads with OER and open licensing policies is necessary
  • OER approaches are in-line with flexible and transparent education, guidance and training that is anticipated to be included and central to the DH Technology-enhanced Learning Framework
  • Future NHS strategy/frameworks embrace and champion an open sharing approach.
  • Marketing how OER provide value for money (reusable, customisable, none duplicated) in face of budget cuts
  • NeLR requires its version of Intralibrary to be updated to take advantage of OAI-PMH ingest which would enable a range of repositories to interface. A proof of concept has been successfully implemented in ACERep
  • Documentation of more case studies with which to highlight issues and barriers, and where successes occur
  • Review and analysis of national and international developments in OER in the context of health education
  • There is a need for ‘training the trainers’ to role model good practice, and dissemination of tools such as Risk-kit should be focussed on those responsible for education and training (such as the PG Certificate Clinical/Medical Education leads)
  • Personal individual ambition for content sharing should be negotiated, supported and rewarded by employers

7.3 Recommendations for the HEA/JISC

  • Funding of more JISC/HEA cross NHS-HE sector projects in future to support the ~20% of all
  • HE students learning and working in health and social care provision in the UK
  • Dissemination of open approaches and the Risk-kit in NHS environments
  • Considering funding some longer-term projects that can look more closely at embedding, and/or follow-up evaluation of the OER programme to assess value-for-money
  • An emphasis on influencing the processes for new content (as existing content has rarely been developed with the right awareness of copyright and consent)
  • Jorum develops an open API for search and deposit
  • NHS-HE connectivity and cross-sector sharing of ideas and content is continued
  • Methods to aid OER incorporated in curriculum delivery are continued
  • Jorum continues to engage closely with related projects and stakeholders. It should, where appropriate, engage at Executive Board level with OER projects to aid two-way mutual understanding
  • An updated and robust debate should be had on the viability of the business case for monetising content within NHS and HE markets to resolve and clarify tensions
  • Development of ‘take down’ technologies for ‘removing’ OER from public consumption
  • Establishment of JorumPlus or equivalent for sharing sensitive materials (medic-restrict)
  • Development of a Consent Commons (or similar) to hallmark content which has been collected ethically
  • Reward and recognition strategies are increased to promote engagement in OER
  • Mechanisms for tracking use of learning resources are developed




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