OER Synthesis and Evaluation / OER-USE
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Page history last edited by Lou McGill 11 years, 2 months ago

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OER use

There is a clear need to clarify which groups (learners, registered students, educators) are using OER and how (formal, informal, etc.) these resources are being used/re-purposed. Having an understanding of how these different stakeholders use, re-use or re-purpose learning resources helps those releasing OER to make key decisions about their release models and approaches.


Terminology around OER is not universally meaningful or recognisable and we may sometimes be asking people the wrong questions. Where staff report no engagement with OER they often describe using third party materials in their teaching. The JISC funded study OER: The value of reuse in education, found that most sharing and reuse happens informally and below the surface. Use and reuse of OER, strictly defined as content that is openly licensed and consciously reused as such, is a small sub-set of the whole. Practice below the surface may actually become harder to research as awareness of open content spreads, because there is a greater awareness that online content may be 'risky' or inappropriate to use.


The Open Practices Briefing paper discusses some of the complexities around OER use by students, communities and academics. 



Re-use and re-purposing of OER requires them to be discoverable, technically accessible, pedagogically accessible and carrying appropriate open licences.


Assuming that OER are discoverable and accessible in technical and legal terms, there remain tensions around re-use in pedagogical terms. Where OER have been released for very specific groups or for a particular context they are not always accessible or easily adapted for re-use. Examples of the ways on which this can affect use and re-use include:

  • OER to support specific courses which reflect course structures and are difficult to re-use in other contexts
  • OER which include references to specific laws or regulations that  are not relevant in other countries
  • OER which include specific pedagogic approaches or language that might not be relevant in other context
  • OER primarily developed for use within one institution but made open more widely may be less usable in other contexts than anticipated



One of the key questions for those who aim to release OER is whether to include pedagogic content (such as contextual information about how and when to use the resources) or to allow the user to define/add pedagogic context at the point of use. There is evidence that making OER available as small 'chunks' can enhance re-use and re-purposing by other teachers but that learners prefer some sort of guidance through materials that have a meaningful pedagogic structure.


Student use of OER

The most obvious benefit of OER is that students are free to study in a wide range of settings. This can help overcome problems with access, or can mean that learning in the field, the workplace, or on placement is enhanced by access to relevant content.  Use of open educational content, whether guided by teaching staff or self-directed, exposes learners to a wider range of ideas, media, representations, and conceptual approaches than a closed course can provide. We have found evidence of students being troubled by this variety: they worry that they will be penalised if they use material not approved by their lecturer or will 'waste time' covering material that is not central to their assessments. This demonstrates that open approaches need careful introduction to students.


Releasing sample OER as an aspect of course marketisation – a growing trend – allows students to make meaningful choices between learning opportunities, both when they are choosing what and where to study and when they are choosing options within their programme.





Open Practices Briefing paper


All pages on this wiki with the tag - OER-use

All pages on this wiki with the tag - repurposing

All pages on this wiki with the tag - re-use



OER Use and Reuse

Learning and Teaching considerations

UKOER Guildes - Pedagogic aspects - quality, trust, curriculum needs and development

UKOER Guides - OER use, re-use and re-purposing





Date: February 2013

Author: Lou McGill


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