What do you think are the key elements that an institution should have in place for successful participation in the OERu?

Posted on July 6, 2012

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I am currently processing the detail of the data received from the TOUCANS/ OERu survey into attitudes and perceptions towards the OER university concept within UK higher education institutions.

In this post, I would like to share the answers given by survey respondents to the question, “What do you think are the key elements that an institution should have in place in order to participate successfully in the OERu or similar initiatives?” I have made minor editing changes to the answers for readability (e.g. to fix typos). The numbers given to each response are randomly allocated – each number indicates a different respondent. Bear in mind that these responses are only from people working in UK higher education institutions. (Although the survey has been more widely disseminated, only the UK responses have been selected for the purposes of the TOUCANS research.)

1. A process for moderation and updating of material.

2. I don’t believe that learning happens in any significant way solely by interacting with resources. It is a very ‘last century’ model of e-learning which I thought we had finally left behind us.

3. A collective open mind (near impossible to achieve) and/or (respected internally) champions with vision of a much bigger picture where their home institution is one of many players in same field, i.e. not competitor but part of greater collegiate family.

4. Because I have been working at a traditional institution that is closed to OER and would not consider the concept of the OERu as something that reflects its own ethos, this leaves individual open practitioners/researchers like myself with no choice but to work beyond the institution i.e. leave it. So, to be part of the OERu development team, does this mean that I have to apply for a job at one of your anchor partner institutions? I would like to see avenues for individuals like myself who don’t work at one of your OERu partner institutions be able to contribute to research and development of courses offered at the OERu. I guess I’m more in favour of the P2P model which allows for this. For example, I offered to contribute to the College Composition course at the OERu, outlining issues in typical English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses that would be best avoided based on my experience working and researching in this area and solutions using OER http://tinyurl.com/76w26jm. However, there was only one response to this thread which I initiated and no further discussion from the OERu people ‘in charge’ of developing this course when I tried to engage them on their ethos for teaching EAP, i.e. no entry point for collaboration on this module…and looking at it now in wikieducator it’s not the type of course that I would be happy to see students engaging with because it won’t actually support them with the different discourse types they will encounter across the different subject areas for their HE work. How will they learn to effectively read and write and build up their subject-specific lexis? Not by completing the assessment types outlined for this course on wikieducator imho…

5. A willingness to spend a lot of cash, expose its work to serious quality threats, become involved in endless arguments with other institutions, lose value in terms of the *student* experience (as opposed to *the experience of the accredited customer* and obtain very little in return.

6. Senior management buy-in, policy, strategy (staff training, copyright, open technology). Everything from the top down.

7. I am not sure that I understand this question; OERu is about accrediting OER material (presumably much of it found elsewhere) and so the notion of “sharing development responsibility” has little credibility. However remixing is a possibility, I predict frustration with putting together a whole course based on OER. If it is so granular that you have to assemble bits and pieces then that is more or less what we do now in our normal teaching (give or take whether the source material is ‘open’). My feeling is that students themselves would be signposted to possible relevant learning content, they would then come to us for accreditation when they felt ready. Getting that past our module and programme regs and approvals will be extremely difficult, in my view.

8. We would need a complete staffing and educational practice overhaul to be able to undertake any of this at a large scale. At a small and relatively experimental scale, it could be done but the amount of resources invested in it would be strictly set against the benefits expected, as it happens with anything else that we do. So, only new universities or universities with a growth plan or with transformative and generous staff development policies can actually build the capacity to engage with these initiatives.

9. An effective managed learning environment time and incentives [not necessarily monetary] for staff to develop/convert materials a secure assessment system. not interested in assessing jo’s mum or paid services.

10. Experience of online learning design and support of students from non-conventional backgrounds. This approach is also likely to have to be more flexible than most non-DL offerings currently are. For example students may take a lot of time to complete what a campus-based student would complete within a term/year.

11. Widening participation policies, a commitment to developing learning resources, a learning support team, possibly a PGCAP team.

12. For me a key question which remains unanswered (from what I’ve read) is what reward mechanisms are there for institutions providing OER used in OERu courses but not formally part of the OERu? Are OERu courses exclusively built from ‘CC By’ only resources? Any institution providing OER materials may object if their materials are used in a competitive commercial course without appropriate reward mechanisms for the contributors. This may not be a signficant risk given that resources are already used in traditional HEI settings, however I feel it may encourage more participation if HEI OER providers were seeing some reward for their efforts without direct inclusion.

For acknowledgments, please see https://toucansproject.wordpress.com/acknowledgments/.

Comments and responses to these statements, from within the OERu and without, are most welcome.

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Posted in: TOUCANS survey