What are the main obstacles or challenges that you have encountered in attempting to implement OER initiatives at your institution?

Posted on July 7, 2012


One of the questions in the TOUCANS survey was ‘What are the main obstacles or challenges that you have encountered in attempting to implement OER initiatives at your institution?’ In this post I share the answers given by respondents to this question.

Getting staff to embed open practices as part of daily workflows.

It’s more effort and not as high quality as developing new materials ourselves.

Lack of understanding/knowledge about OER.

OER needs to be sold to an institution from within and without.

Perception of potential commercial disadvantage.


Exposing the university to quality threats in association with an unproven, flaky model perceived as a distant second best.

Far fewer than you would imagine and, indeed, no different to those I faced when trying to implement other educational technology in a f2f institution. Same old stories emerged “giving away the family silver”, “I’m too busy” (aka am unsure/scared/anxious), “how’s this benefit me?”, “What’s the minimum I have to be seen to do”, “What do students get from this”, “Students won’t come to the lecture” (or equivalent) etc., etc.

In the new UK system of academic positions at my university, only those who already run courses (course leaders) have any influence in what courses are offered. Those, who like me now, aren’t course leaders, have no say even though I have run various courses for over 20 years.

All of these are a huge impact to OER uptake, mostly due to lack of knowledge of what an OER is and how it can be used effectively.

Not really a mainstream issue in the Lab. Younger staff are very enthusiastic however and there is an ICT4D strand which would lend itself to an OER approach.

Don’t really have enough experience to answer these questions with confidence, so it’s largely guesswork.

One of the most important factors for the OU [Open University, UK] could be that the teaching staff are paid to tutor the students and this is not part of a wider and more flexible contract where extension to scope may be easier. So examining and marking attract direct costs which would be expected to be in line with the payments currently made to OU tutors which are relatively generous compared with some other DL institutions. It is unlikely that volunteers could be recruited to teach or mark scripts without alienating current tutors as this activity is so similar to current activity.

Senior management buy in, and we are now in the position of needing a university-wide vision for carrying OER forward. This will need support and resources.

Learning and teaching is not really something that is ‘owned’ centrally. As most faculties have a strong research base, there is also a strong sense of ownership and uniqueness of the learning resources, justified or not.

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Posted in: TOUCANS survey