OER Synthesis and Evaluation / ukoerphasesprocesses for sustainability
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ukoerphasesprocesses for sustainability

Page history last edited by Lou McGill 7 years, 11 months ago


Comparison across UKOER phases



Pilot phase

Phase 2

Phase 3

Changes in institutional policies

 The short duration of the pilot programme has meant that projects have had to develop models with sustainability in mind, but with a short implementation time. Embedding OER release and use into institutional strategy and policy has been seen as crucial in supporting sustainability, but devolved institutional models, where teaching staff take the lead in developing OERs, have been identified by several projects as an ideal model to aim for. This model is harder to achieve as it involves significant change in practice and all projects needed strong central teams to move things forward in the early stages of development.


As already identified throughout this report we have sought to embed all aspects of OER creation, submission, retrieval and use as part of the fabric of the institution. What we have been able to implement is an institutional approach which embeds the content collection, quality checking and ownership of the process within already established networks within the institution. Alongside this we encouraged ownership of OER development and use from within the Faculties and areas at a “grass roots” level.' Unicycle Project Final report

Two approaches emerged in relation to institutional policies - those who chose to adapt exisiting policies (which emerged as a strong preference for pilot phase institutional strand projects) and those that chose to develop new policies. The difference here lies in the nature of the policy. Adapting exisiting IPR or learning, teaching and assessment policies, where they already exist, can be important for gaining buy-in of interested stakeholders, and can indicate a sense of more gentle (and less threatening) change than a new policy. In contract the development of a new special OER policy can act as a powerful signal that the institution is committed to the concept and to providing appropriate resource to support implementation. Projects adopted both approaches based on the needs of their particular institution.

Continuing the ground work laid by the predecessor UKOER phase 1 project (OER Dutch) the project team also continued to promote the idea of Open Educational Resources on an institutional level at UCL, and advocated the introduction of a faculty- or institution-wide policy on OERs, which would complement UCL’s advanced Open Access policy for research outputs well. DHOER


Bath’s intellectual property policy guidance document now includes reference to OERs, as a direct result of OSTRICH. Bath also created a “Deed of Licence” which academic staff are required to sign to permit the university to release materials as OERs, and consent documents based on JISC and Web2rights templates (available here). (OSTRICH)


Existing institutional policies for IPR, Teaching, learning and assessment, quality and marketing may need to be adapted to incorporate OER and OEP into institution-wide practice

Some institutions have chosen to develop policies specifically on OER or OEP  which can take a long time to develop and usually involve cross-institutional effort - this kind of document gives out clear messages to staff that OER release and use is endorsed and also makes sure that appropriate attention is paid to the institution's reputation and values


Policies that encourage contribution of OER fell into two areas:

1) Recognition and reward schemes, which might be institutional, or might be UK-wide analogous to research funding and the REF. Such policies encourage OER release more generally, but are essential if there are to be sufficiently many OER for collection to be worthwhile.

2) Licensing and copyright policies, especially those that promote clear licensing and awareness of copyright and licensing requirements.

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 collections)

While clear copyright policies are desirable for OER contribution generally, the requirement for copyright information to be attached to the metadata for components of OER is one that is essential for automated collection.
  Generally when these factors are addressed at an institutional level changes to strategy, policy and processes support embedding and, ultimately, sustainability. In some senses it is easier to sustain support mechanisms (such as repositories, quality assurance processes or curriculum design practices) than maintaining and encouraging staff engagement at an institution-wide level. Staff awareness, engagement and support for ongoing staff involvement is seen by most projects as crucial and, as in the pilot phase, staff development and training (capacity building), reward and recognition and maintaining communities of practice emerged as important sustaining activities. Emerging open educational practices, if shared and taken up at institutional or community level are also likely to impact on long term use and sustainability of processes to release OERs.  

Institution support for open practices

 There is evidence that an open sharing approach – addressing issues of release, hosting and re-use in tandem – can be more effective and sustainable, particularly where communities share clear common interests. Even within close-knit communities such as sub-disciplinary consortia, sharing is problematised by the existence of different institutional quality processes, different levels of institutional commitment to OER and to OER production, and different levels of institutional support and expertise. Projects made significant use of conferences, journal articles, twitter, google rankings, blogs, Intute catalogue, British Library, and other public and/or scholarly sites to share and publicise open content. There are clearly implications for sustainability and management if third party sites are extensively used to share open content in UK HE.    
Sustainability has been supported by the development of new teams, partnerships and communities across institutions and subject consortia. These are not entirely new, in that they build on existing connections, relationships and practices, but these communities are engaging with each other in different ways, particularly within institutions. The awareness raising approaches have supported this development and have been built into staff development and guidance materials to ensure sustained practice change.    
Organisational restructuring could provide opportunities to reconsider roles and expertise in relation to OER release but this process can be experienced as a negative process which prevents progress and causes resentment. Institutions with existing repository teams are likely to have already developed a bank of useful expertise and knowledge but it should be recognised that moving from closed repositories to open requires considerable new learning.    
  Projects have identified a range of factors which need an institutional approach or at the very least consideration at an institution-wide level, as they closely link to both high level strategy and policy as well as process and operational management issues. 


Content management factors: (see also Phase2 Development and Release Issues) and the Web2Rights diagnostic tool 'How Open are You?'

  • Open licensing of content: how far is this allowed, assumed, actively supported? (Impact measure – how much learning and teaching content is openly licensed in practice?)

  • Hosting and managing of learning and teaching content: how well does the institution support this and how open are its resources? (Impact measures: investment in institutional repository and other content management systems; open repository?)

  •  Use of web 2.0 services to host and access content: to what extent is this allowed, assumed, actively supported? (Impact measures: how much learning and teaching content is web 2.0 accessible? Is there a contract with i-tunes-U, youtube-edu etc?)

Curriculum factors: (see also: Phase2 Practice change)

  • OER awareness/use: to what extent are OERs seen as an integral part of the digital resource environment? (Impact measures: engagement of library and learning resources with OER issues; institutional guidance to staff/students on use of digital resources includes OERs)

  • Curriculum design: to what extent are OERs integral to curriculum and course design?

Institutional reputation:

  •  Quality systems: how far have these been adapted to support the development and use of OERs? Have any OER-specific quality issues been formalised or noted (e.g. in relation to branding, technical format...)? 

  • Reputation management: to what extent are open educational resources an aspect of marketing and reputation management? (Impact measures: data on downloads etc is actively collected by marketing or similar unit; any evidence of OER use influencing choice of course/institution)

Factors relating to staff (see also: Phase2 Practice change and Phase2 Cultural Considerations)

  • Support to staff: what legal, technical and pedagogic support is available?
  • Staff expertise: what staff development is available that specifically deals with OER issues?

  • Staff reward and recognition: how are staff recognised for making learning and teaching content openly available? Are staff confident that the impact on their reputation will be positive?

  • Staff Roles: how are changing boundaries and new expertise impacting traditional staff roles and responsibilities?

Staff development activities need to focus on raising awareness of benefits, allaying fears of academic staff, ownership and IPR, and technical skills


Integration OEP into digital literacy activities for staff and students helps sustainability


Institution-specific guidance documents will be needed to support staff but an be adapted from the range of content already produced by other institutions (made available through the OER infoKit)


Institutional infrastructure needs to support OEP and embed changing practices


Collaborative and partnership approaches need to take into account different work practices and cultures and compromise may be required


Institutional enablers and barriers 

The approaches adopted by projects were influenced by mutiple and sometimes complex factors including stakeholders and their requirements, sustainability, existing policies and practices, practical issues around technical infrastructure, and staff skills and understanding. Issues such as institutional branding of individual OERs, version control and metadata/resource description all affected decisions around approaches for release.

All projects had to consider institutional factors affecting and supporting OER release, because individuals and subject consortia members were also connected with an educational institution. This was beneficial to projects where institutions were already engaged with the concept of opening educational content, particularly if their own institution had, or were in the process of developing, an institutional repository. Some of the individual and consortia projects encountered more barriers where institutions had not embraced the notion of OERs or had taken a particularly risk averse approach to OER release.




Institutional support for skills and digital literacies of both staff and students was cited as an important enabler but also the need for conceptual frameworks for staff.

teachers in our target groups needed assistance with digital skills and confidence in relation to OER creation and also needed some sort of conceptual and practical framework to operate within. ALTO UK Final Report


Projects developed a range of mechanisms to enable staff to participate and change practice, but saw the provision of long term institutional support through an appropriate infrastructure as crucial to embed these changes in practice and culture.


Time constraints always emerge as a significant barrier for staff struggling to fit new practices into existing duties, but can be even more significant for particular groups such as part-time, hourly paid tutors. Institutional support is required to enable this group to engage, particularly during the more time intensive first stages of opening up practice.


Incorporating OER and OEP into institutional strategies and policies is an important enabler as these act as signals that there is an institutional commitment to support staff. Having clear guidelines and policies around ownership of learning materials has been highlighted across all phases of the programme as important in encouraging and enabling staff to release them openly, and may require changes in policies for some institutions.

Institutions’ policies and attitudes towards the ownership of materials created by their staff are important in facilitating engagement with open practice (FAVOR Final Report)

Collecting across boundaries

 All of the strand approaches have something to offer the wider community with emerging connections between an individual approach with support from both subject communities and institutional processes - these models do not operate in isolation but offer a multifaceted approach to OER release.

Most of the collections strand projects were based in Higher Education Academy subject centres, and sustainability of their work assumed a new urgency during the lifetime of the projects with the proposed closure of the centres. Questions of sustainability were at the heart of many of the decisions that projects made. 


Technical choices for sustainability included the platform for the collection. Three projects used Wordpress because its existing widespread usage and strong community base meant that it would be easy for others to maintain and develop after the end of the project.

"WordPress is a widely used framework, with an established user and developer community. This gives any project confidence that its development will be more sustainable and offer benefits to others" (Triton interim report)

OF (GEES), which developed its own platform with map-based interface put resource into refining the admin interface, so that the collection can be maintained and updated by someone unfamiliar with the OF project after the project funding has ended. (OF (GEES)).  Oerbital, which used MediaWiki, emphasised that its content could be exported or re-located at the end of the project. The Triton project put emphasis, also, on using or developing transferable technologies.

The rest of the site’s customisation has been based around a methodology of transferability. Whenever a need was identified an assessment was made as to how to do this with existing tools.  To use OER phraseology, we have reused and remixed existing plugins and code to save development time initially, but also maintenance time in the future. (Triton)


The Collections projects were creating both static and dynamic collections. In the light of this experience, two projects, C-SAP collections and Delores, argued that in the long run the dynamic collections would be more sustainable and take less resource to maintain.

The project also questioned the relevance of the static/dynamic distinction made by JISC. Though we identified a desire for a refereed resource along the lines of Intute, our focus group recognised that with ever increasing resources such a model would be difficult and expensive to maintain” (C-SAP)


The notion of selecting key materials by hand to form a core selection, and then using these materials to train a filter to recognise material relevant to a community that is then further classified automatically may allow more discriminating search and discovery mechanisms to be achieved than has been the case without excessive expenditure of specialist time and effort.(Delores) 


Projects noted that time was an issue for users. The C-SAP user survey suggested that the majority of teachers look for online resources only when there is an immediate need, and they are in a hurry. So, to embed OER use into practice, ensuring sustainability, meant emphasising quality assurance and discoverability.

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)


For OER to be a success there are many loops and cycles, which have to be completed to a high standard by the academic community itself for a resource to “get into sustained orbit” i.e. be maintained and enhanced continuously  (Oerbital)


Embedding project activities into other institutional activities was a further means of ensuring sustainability. The Triton project, for example, made exit plans from the outset and engaged strongly with the academic department that would be taking over the site and maintaining it after project end.  The Delores project negotiated that further technical development of the Waypoint classification system would be adopted as a potential MSc project next year, ensuring that the work will get done.


Projects such as Delores operated with some exceptional processes to allow external users to access dynamic collections.  They noted that for ongoing sustainability, such processes needed to be mainstreamed. This issue of access by external users is one that pilot phase OER projects also encountered, and one that is likely to limit collaborative development of OER.  


Projects encouraged ongoing technical development through developing open source software and engaging with the relevant technical developer communities.

the methods made available – through descriptions of the methods followedandprovision in the public domain of the technologies – for respectively Delores Selections and Delores Extensions will allow educators in other domains an easier means of providing OERs for their own subject material (Delores)


"Picture picker plugin was promoted / donated to the Open Attribute project (so that its development is supported sustainably" (Triton) 


More generally community engagement was a sustainability strategy adopted by all projects. C-SAP collections and OF (GEES) encouraged ongoing contribution of resources from the community, C-SAP collections produced an awareness-raising DVD, Delores and Oerbital expect their collections to improve through user comments and ratings, and OF (GEES) suggested broadening the community base by extending the range of disciplines covered in the collection.


However, Delores noted also that community-building can present sustainability problems as allowing user comments on a web2.0 site has ongoing maintenance implications.

 Projects benefited from working with a wide range of partners and included these in the scoping, development, evaluation, dissemination, and sharing of OER. This took considerable resourcing. Not least, awareness raising activities were a major focus - not only around OER and OEP but around the different working practices of the institutions and organisations involved. Projects had to invest significant time in visiting individual partners to find out the unique aspects of each partner and what they could bring to the project. 

Institutional challenges of cross-sector working

 There may be a perception that releasing content as an individual, or within a subject consortia poses less of an issue in relation to IPR, which would seem to imply that there was less risk involved. This also raises issues in relation to institutional branding - if an individual produces materials as part of a contract with an educational institution then they need to be very clear about ownership and what institutional policies mandate in relation to open release, particularly if the institution is identifiable on the resource. To a large extent this has probably not been an issue to date as most institutions have not had OER strategies or policies. As more institutions include OER within their institutional documentation individuals may find it more challenging to deposit outside of their institutions. An interesting pattern emerged for some subject consortia members who found that depositing within the institutional repository provided a useful managed place to deposit which could then be referred to from the subject community service and wider portals and services.


Careful nurturing  is needed to maintain commitment levels and interest of partners, and having clear roles and responsibilities helps this


Some external stakeholders struggle to grasp the notion of OER, especially when they come from the private or public sectors and are unsure of the validity of releasing open resources in the longer term (after project funding ends)

   Projects reported challenges with some commercial and international organisations but the inclusion of these in phase 2 activities has raised the issues (particularly in relation to licencing) and encouraged discourse. 


We also learnt the harsh lesson of organisational reality.  Engaging large international organisations can be as problematic, long winded and difficult as imagined. Although many individuals seem to acknowledge and accept the features of Creative Commons licences, there are underlying barriers and suspicions at the organisational level. Disappointingly, it was well into the project, before these attitudes and views were explicitly communicated to us, and for much of the project we were led to believe that there would eventually be agreement. It was perhaps an outcome we might have anticipated with Routledge, although early dialogue was quite promising. The LOCOG and ODA resources took us into the domain of the IOC and its zealous ownership of the ‘O’ word (Olympics). Although we stressed that there was no commercial gain involved in the project and that the resources would not be re-purposed (as they were original reports and would be suitable for research and enquiry-led learning, we also came up against the legal machinery of Locog and the IOC and their reluctance to go beyond established copyright.


Employers (Learning form WOeRK) and the NHS (SCOOTER, ACTOR and PORSCHE) were two other types of organisation which presented different challenges but work with these groups led to significantly increased understanding and some excellent outputs, such as the Consent Commons paper - developed from a need to create a framework for considerations around patient information. Many projects working with non-educational institutions noted the impact of economic conditions as highly likely to impact on some of the progress made, both in relation to time to engage and increasing competitive aspects.


Analysis of policies (see project Final Report Appendix 3) and interviews have also shown new pressures from upcoming changes to the NHS, resulting in uncertainty, and a worry that there will be a strategic move away from sharing and open access and towards a more commercial future (also highlighted in  Section 7).

"All NHS trusts by 2013 have to become foundation trusts. One of the requirements of that is to become income generating, working as a commercial organisation rather than historically how we've worked. So there is a bit of a conflict over the willingness to share something openly versus the need to generate income."  PORSCHE Evaluation Report


 Legal and IPR issues 

 Projects across all three strands agreed that the costs and effort involved in clearing rights for existing materials was not viable, especially where third party rights are involved, and that it would be preferable to concentrate on ensuring that new content should be designed and developed with openness in mind.


Partners dealt with third-party materials by replacement, seeking permission, or removal. For some this took a great deal of time. Partners are now better informed about the use of third party content, though one impact may be to make them less likely to use third party materials in their teaching resources in the future. (S4S final report)


Although IPR and licencing for OER is the area that has probably generated the most documentation and guidance across the programme it remains an area that requires huge resource for projects. Despite being in the 3rd year of the programme projects still underestimate how much time this aspect will take, how challenging it is to deal with at an institutional level or how this can impact on the number of materials actually released with an open licence. 

For most projects the Creative Commons Licenses to a large extent simplified actual release of content, although a concern was expressed that the CC approach may mean open resources are buried in search engine rankings. Some developed written contracts with contributors, and looked at different ways of accrediting individuals and originating institutions.

 One issue emerging during this phase included uncertainties around the meaning of commercial use and the ipact on this relating to CC license choice. John Roberston from JISC CETIS has generated some interesting discussion around this in relation to choice of CC licenses in his technical synthesis blog post) and Amber Thomas, JISC provides an  excellent description of issues realting to licensing for phase 2 of ukoer in the 'Importance of licensing section' of her OER turn blog post.


The notion of degrees of openess emerged during the pilot phase and has carried forward into this phase with the ALTO project developing a UAL comons Licence, based on the Canadian BC Campus licence where staff can choose how open to be. This was intended to build trust between staff from s highly autonomous individual colleges and engage them in first steps to opening resources more widely.



 Most projects adopted a CC-BY-SA licence although several chose to release some or all content as CC-BY-NC-SA - partner institutions or institutional restrictions sometimes affected licence choice
Ownership issues proved to be complex with a range of institutional practices around IPR and a lack of understanding within institutions about who owns the IPR to learning and teaching materials. The experience of the subject strand was that legal implications were not fully considered until institutions were asked to sign a consortium agreement i.e. that verbal permission was fairly readily given, but written permission was more problematic. The individuals strand found that rights to student-produced material are a particularly grey area. The projects helped to tease out these issues and make ownership clearer to all parties which is particularly important in relation to attribution. Generally, they found a need for institutional policy to catch up with the reality of digital media, which are blurring the boundaries between creators and reusers of resources and challenging existing IPR arrangements.  Other issues inlcude the challenges of integrating what projects have learned into daily practice and the need for OER to be incorporated into existing IPR policies or for specific OER IPR policies to be developed. In fact strategic positioning of open licensing within HE instiutions has been noted as very challenging and depends of institutional cultures and structures. However open licences can contribute to sustainability of materials as they surface them within an institution. Projects found that legal advice needed to be tailoered for different institutions, making general advice insufficent in most cases and indicating that ongoing specialist support is highly important.  

Without doubt the most time consuming element for projects in releasing existing content was that of provenance. Particular problems arise in clearing copyright for materials created from multiple sources and in multiple media, when the logistics of just tracing the originators can be daunting.Tracing the origin of content and trying to track down owners and gain permission to release was often unfruitful. Many projects decided to either publish/deposit the resource without the offending item or to abandon publishing the whole resource if pedagogy was adversely affected.


Where there was any risk of copyright infringement... the project team removed the suspect images. Often this did relatively little damage to the pedagogic integrity of the material. In some cases, of course, the approach damaged the resources too much and the decision to release as OER had to be abandoned. (Berlin final report)

 During this phase we have seen the outcomes of the Hargreaves Review of IP which is likely to have a significant impact on the UKOER programme. The proposal to establish a Digital Copyright Exchange (DEC) will make it easier to locate rights holders and seek permissions to use their works. This has not impacted on this phase of work but may do on phase 3.

Clearing third party content for inclusion in OER remains the most significant challenge for projects, from those working with commercial publishers to those wanting to release simple powerpoint presentations from individual academics


Often the time and effort to establish provenance and gain clearance for existing materials means that it would have been easier and more efficient to produce resources from scratch


This remains a major barrier to releasing existing content. Whilst projects continue to find imaginative workarounds for now, this problem may decrease over time as more content released as legitimate OER is re-used in the future.


There are fundamental copyright (and possibly consent) issues relating to content particularly images from texts and other existing third party published content. In many cases authors still own images which are licenced to the publishers – and may be available for onward licensing (or if they are it would still often be easier to commission new content). (PublishOER Interim Report)

All projects were working within an institutional IPR framework, and support from the institution was very variable. Although institutions tend to have a Copyright Officer, these do not necessarily have an understanding of issues around open release, and projects opened up some difficult questions around risk and how the institution was prepared to deal with this issue, with several projects involving institutional lawyers or legal advisors. Some institutions took what they perceived as a 'sensible' approach whilst others were much more risk averse. In some institutions just 'asking the question' about IPR was seen as risky, leading to increased scrutiny of project activities and new barriers being placed in the way of project outcomes. Project activity contributed to institution-wide discussion around IPR and led to many documents offering guidance to staff, which may also be of significant value to similar institutions. However, several projects commented that one-to-one support from an expert (from JISC Legal) was essential, as guidance materials could not cover all the possible scenarios or the nuances of practice in different institutions and subject areas.



Projects were supported during this phase by JISC Legal and the Web2Rights OER IPR Support project. The latter produced a range of support materials including   diagnostic tools, a CC compatability wizard and a Risk calculator. The Risk calculator has emerged as the most used tool across a range of sectors (300-400 visitors a week). These tools and the support offered have had significant impact on project teams, particularly those new to OER. Projects were aware at the start that IPR challenges would be an issue but often had not anticpated how they might solve them.

The SCOOTER project aimed to release OERs under the Creative Commons BY SA Licence, although in reality the decision had to be tailored to each individual resource. In order to fully understand the copyright nuances, the MedDev OOER Copyright Checklist was used to provide a framework to work by. Unfortunately the ToolKit resources went off-line at a critical time the start of the project, but Web2Rights were a wonderful support and provided information not just via their website but by personal communication many times. In fact, in many instances, we would not have proceeded with releasing OER without the work of this team SCOOTER


The OER IPR support team have provided technical support and advice for projects around IPR and licencing and developed a series of excellent practical resources to help projects deal with some of the challenges in this area.

Most Institutional strand projects emphasised the need for a robust 'takedown policy' which was seen by many as an important mechanism to allay fears within the institution around IPR. There are several examples of takedown policies available below.


...takedown notice may aid in the limitation of risk however the issues concerning where the concept of liability lies and the concept of honest mistake needs to be considered. How confident are you in OER, even if it is labelled do you have to show due diligent in tracing down the licence for each element of the OER package?(BROME final report)


The PublishOER Project worked with commercial publisher Elsevier and their final report describes a fascinating process of negotiation, learning and collaboration around overcoming some of the barriers to open release, both technical, legal and cultural. This excerpt highlights how far UK law does not mirror the changing demands of open education.


Institutions across the UK and students around the world are poised to take widespread advantage of the culture of open academic practice and massive open online courses (MOOCs). As independent and open access publishing channels are embraced (e.g. Saylor Foundation, 2012; Apple Computer, 2012), journal and textbook publishers are looking for new business models to maintain profit margins and the investment in high quality products from respected authors. The use and re-use of third party resources in education is complicated by legalities of copyright, performance and consent where the law (under review) is out of date in our technological world, consuming more in transaction costs and legal uncertainty than the resources themselves. Institutions are running legal risks as they seek to fulfil their 'offer' to students. Meanwhile learners are accessing free content from all around the world. Should every institution seek to share their learning resources? Should we all use the content provided by MIT and simply accredit it? Could the cost of, say, a medical degree be reduced by accrediting open learning as part of (or prior to) the course? Can we justify the price of our courses for supporting the 'process' of learning? (PublishOER Final Report)

Integration with curriculum processes

OER quality processes need to be robust and sustainable over the longer term as open content has no natural 'review' cycle, unlike institutional content. Some projects have put additional review points in place in recognition of the 'special' status of resources for open release, while others chose to treat the content as institutional content that does go through this review cycle and this is one reason that projects were so concerned with version control and having one primary place of deposit. Some projects in the individual strand, working closely with user communities, are, instead, relying on user feedback for ongoing review, formalised by the ChemistryFM project as "public peer review". On this model quality control and enhancement becomes an issue of tracking and responding to usage and feedback.

How OERs are integrated into curriculum processes can depend on the way they have been developed or presented. Projects generally produced OERs for a particular subject discipline area, sector or student group and this impacted on intended use. Although many projects also ensured that the OERs were usable in a disaggregated way most of them also produced surrounding pedagogical context that prescribes/suggests how they might be used.

The pedagogical wrap-around materials were developed to provide sufficient background information about the resources. TIGER provided information about how the OER is being used and how it could be used, the aims of the OER, the outcomes, who the target audience is, how previous tutors had set up the learning activities and how they had structured student interaction. Guidance on how the users can reuse and repurpose the OERs was also important since this would allow them to modify materials as needed within their own environment.TIGER


 In the OMAC strand the CPD focus has meant that inclusion of OER release and use has been incorporated/embedded into formal teacher training - an approach advocated by many pilot programme projects.


Another aspect affecting how OERs might be intergrated are the models adopted for curriculum design and delivery, and also the institution's openness to change policies and procedures.  Engaging with OERs and open practices can really challenge, and support transformation of, existing curriculum processes.

In our institution a current initiative to take account of e-learning in quality management and enhancement processes offers an opportunity to address OER production and use. The course approval processes ask questions about resources and library support; a specific question about OER use and sources would mean that new courses must consider OERs. OER considerations could also be incorporated into VLE course approval processes (design for openness, for instance), and into events, CPD workshops and training courses. If not already in place, Creative Commons Licensing could be covered in institutional guidelines on copyright and IPR for teaching materials. CPD4HE


This potential lies around changing attitudes to content, away from viewing content as constitutive of the curriculum and towards viewing it as an artifact of the learning, research and knowledge-sharing process which can be re-inscribed into new learning situations as and when appropriate. Several projects revealed evidence of staff attitudes towards 'their' content changing as they engage in the process of release. OERs can both inform the overall design of a programme of study, or be embedded fully in the learning activities. The OSTRICH project highlights the need to bring together the lessons from the  Curriculum Design and OER programmes to focus on 'embedding and sustaining an OER culture through curriculum design and delivery'.

many elements of OER (e.g. quality assurance, permissions to use third party materials, accessibility, appropriate file formats, logical structure, clear learning outcomes) can be mirrored within an effective learning design process. The DORRE model was developed to explore how these elements can be supported ... within a learning design framework OSTRICH


ADM and C-SAP projects devoted time to developing a shared understanding within the subject community of what an 'open pedagogy' would look like and how it might be supported by open educational resources. The C-SAP project, in a posting on project methodology, presented an outline 'Pedagogical framework for OERs' in which the following aspects are considered:

closed - open | private - public | embedded - free | dependent - independent | prejudiced - neutral | contextualised - decontextualised

messy / dirty - clean |  crude - refined


Many academics routinely search for online content - whether openly licensed or not - to support curriculum delivery. Evidence from ADM and C-SAP is that this use tends to be non-compulsory i.e.  students are offered links to content in support of required learning activities. Projects variously recommended enhancing general awareness of OER among academic staff, developing more useable tools for distinguishing open content from content with more restricted uses, and enhancing the digital literacy of staff and student users, to enhance these practices (see impact on staff and students).

“[WBL] shifts the balance whereby the academic facilitates the learning in a very different way. So OER allow us to continue that shift, because learners sitting wherever – in Wrigleys, in a cafe – can access a range of resources suited to his or her own workplace. It's about democratising education”. (Learning from WOeRK OER developer)

 Establishing and embedding new curriculum development processes and partnerships within institutions supports sustainability, and these can also incorporate input at various stages from external partners


Integrating OER use and release into 'normal' everyday practice is an important way to ensure sustainability. One way to do this is to make sure that there is some recognition and reward for engaging with OER and OEP, and this needs to be supported by acknowledgement in strategy and policy, and through the provision of support mechanisms for staff. Having OEP recognised as part of academic scholarly practice is seen as important and several projects made efforts to include research outcomes into OER outputs.


Interim feedback from Peter Robinson of Oxford in our online evaluation group meetings indicates that their OERs that contain research are indeed generating traffic and data that will count towards the next research assessment exercise. Another way of improving impact is to incorporate research outputs into Open Textbooks and assign ISBN numbers to such publications. This has the rather exciting potential to break down the barriers between the management and curation of research and learning resources both in the digital realm and in the academy – something that was the subject of discussion at the 2012 OER/OCWC conference in Cambridge. ALTO UK Final Report


The collaborative nature of OER creation and release can lead to new mechanisms and procedures for learning resource production, involving several different departments within institutions. Establishing and embedding new curriculum development processes and partnerships within institutions supports sustainability, and these can also incorporate input at various stages from external partners.

Embedding open practices

The Pilot Programme funded three separate strands with an expectation that the models and approaches adopted to release educational content would demonstrate a long term commitment to OER release and would establish appropriate and sustainable business models to support this. Whilst the nature of the three strands - institutional, individual and subject consortia release implies three different models, there was an interesting overlap across the strands in relation to choices of where and how to deposit and manage OERs.

 Ripple found it important to win over key champions at a high level, even before people in technical and professional roles. ADM likewise targeted course leaders as champions and conduits of information. Because the roles involved in open development and release are so diverse, different approaches are needed and different messages must be crafted. The OSTRICH project found that tasks identified in the CORRE and revised CORRE workflows did not map closely to institutional roles. However, the project did map changes in attitudes and practices among a range of different stakeholder groups, corresponding to institutional roles,


Several approaches emerged to support changes in practice of staff and there are a range of outputs for the wider community to use/adapt:

  • Events and workshops around OERs as a concept (increasing awareness)
  • Capacity building across a wide range of roles and departments (technical, curriculum design with OER, IPR, digital literacy, open practice)
  • embedding within teacher training and performance review and appraisal mechanisms 
  • Developing and maintaining Communities of Practice
  • Creating a culture of openness across the institution (encouraging sharing)
  • recognition and reward 
  • support and guidance materials 
  • cross-team collaboration (input from different professionals/services leading to increased understanding)


Activities to support the embedding of open practices can be summarised as:

  • securing senior management support
  • linking to institutional vision, strategy and policies
  • ensuring that institutional infrastructure supports open practices (including adequate resourcing - particularly acknowledgement that time is a significant factor, technologies to support open release)
  • raising awareness of the benefits of open educational practice for all stakeholders
  • supporting staff to reconsider their existing practice and providing staff development opportunities to support practice change
  • providing some reward and recognition - for example linking to performance review or Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
  • new processes to support open practices and articulating new workflows
  • providing new conceptual frameworks to support open practice
  • providing guidance and resources such as toolkits
  • creating new roles or changing existing  roles and responsibilities
  • cascading new practice throughout an organisation - through champions, training and awareness raising events
  • incorporating open practices into digital literacy  activities
  • providing guidance and support to address IPR issues and challenges

Student involvement & sustainability


Linking OER use to student learning opportunities (often through digital literacy activities) has meant that students have developed an awareness of OER and how to make the best of them for their own studies. As student awareness increases the demand for OER to support their learning is likely to increase.


Students have also contributed towards the creation, release, testing and evaluation of resources resulting in OER that closely reflect the needs of students. It is also important that these needs be balanced against other stakeholder requirements, but evidence has shown that student engagement in OER initiatives has helped to raise awareness and increase demand.


Working with students and teachers as co-designers of OER results in final resources that are highly relevant to the curriculum, with a focus on usability. Students respond positively to being included in this way, increasing a sense of ownership of the OER and increased potential for end use.  (ReACTOR Final report)


Involving students as producers and users of OER has been a particular success of the project. It provided a simple framework to allow them to communicate and publish, increasing their digital literacy and introducing them to the benefits of open academic practice. By recruiting graduate students the project was assured of academic-level content from contributors who were closer to the target audience. (Great Writers Final Report)


Where project activities have impacted on exiting courses the implications for long term sustainability are increased. Once student expectations are raised, and positive impact on the student experience is demonstrated, it is unlikely that activities will not continue to be supported. The COMC Project opened-up existing courses and transformed the way students were involved in their own learning, through collaborative content development and connection to far reaching professional networks.


Overall the outcome of the Open Classes project has been an excellent student response. Students have been hugely engaged with the classes and the projects they have undertaken within them. It is right to acknowledge that this may not be the same thing as being highly engaged with the Open Class ethos -  or with OER/OEP per se.  In all three classes students were very engaged with the projects undertaken within them, they achieved good results and recorded high levels of student satisfaction.    (COMC Final Report)

Curation of OER collections


Issues of curation fell into three categories, of: whose role it is to curate the collections and what expertise they need (see also Staff, below, and expertise issues in practice change); what resource is needed for maintenance; and where the collection should be hosted.


Delores felt that curation was likely to fall upon library staff, who would need training to develop the necessary expertise. Necessary expertise was felt to be in wikis (Oerbital); technical development of the interface, mapping data and geo-tagging (OF (GEES)); IPR and licencing knowledge (OF (GEES); and community engagement (OF (GEES). Triton noted scope for a cataloguer to maintain the classification of resources as the collection grows and blog authors potentially add their own terms.


Maintenance of collections requires ongoing resource whether the collections are static or dynamic.  Links to collected resources will need checking, especially if the material collected is not from stable repositories, while dynamic collections require provision for adding/deleting feeds.


Projects were concerned to host their collections where they could be easily re-located (Oerbital), or deposited in a stable central open repository with an rss feed, such as JorumOpen (OF (GEES))


Meeting sector priorities


Users on both the Delores and Oerbital projects expressed the view that current UK government HE policy, which encourages competition between HEIs, mitigates against a culture of sharing:

We know that the Government wants to introduce more competition between universities, so giving material away for free (for which I spent a lot of time and effort, sometimes even money) seems to be counter-intuitive. (Oerbital community portal)


Phase three projects shaped their project plans and activities to address specific issues and priorities for their sector or stakeholder groups. Project final reports provide rich descriptions of the ways they achieved this. The themes for this phase of activity  were as follows:


Theme A : Extend OER through collaborations beyond HE 

Working in partnership with organisations from another sector in order to release and/or collect OER materials that meet their identified needs.


Theme B: Explore OER publishing models


Theme C: Addressing sector challenges 

  • Supporting emerging forms of learning and accreditation (COMC)
  • Involving academics on part-time, hourly-paid contracts (FAVOR, SESAME)
  • Enabling Sustainable practice (PARIS project)


Theme D: Enhancing the student experience

  • Resources to support university applicants. (Great Writers
  • Drawing on student-produced materials (Most projects)

Sustainability of UKOER activities


Important aspect to include in final report

As the programme drew to a close Phil Barker from JISC CETIS posted a message to the UKOER Programme oer-discuss mainilng list asking the following question

But what now? The programme has always aimed at sustainable release of resources, change of culture and practice, not just a short burst of activity leading to a one-off dumping of resources. What will happen over the next few years by way of sustained release and which practices are sustainable? Also, of course, from a CETIS point of view, what technologies can help?

This prompted a a seemingly simple question about continued use of the ukoer tag, which developed into the great ukoer tag debate (see the blog post by Lorna Campbell from JISC CETIS) that highlighted the strength of the UKOER community and raised questions about how that community might continue to work together beyond the funded period. This community existed to some extent before the programme (following JISC funded work on repositories, metadata and learning resources and activities, and also from work done by HE Academy Subject Centres) and is in many ways a natural grouping of individuals with expertise and interest in these areas.  The UKOER programme did help to draw together these communities in a new way, partly through the approach to project support that meant much of this expertise was available to projects throughout the programme via the support teams (JISC Cetis, JISC Legal, Jorum team, SCORE, Evaluation and synthesis team, Web2Rights Team). However, the Community has grown as project members have developed their own areas of expertise, brought new insights and viewpoints and been very open to sharing their own practices. This is quite a significant outcome of the  programme.










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