Last week I attended a POERIP project meeting in Granada. We are now one year into the project, so it was good to have the opportunity to reflect on progress to date. We are now ten years on from the start of the OER movement and there are now hundreds of high quality OER repositories worldwide. Despite this, previous research (such as the openlearn initiative in the UK and the EU-funded OPAL project), demonstrates that these resources are not being used extensively by learners and teachers. The OPAL project aimed to address this by focusing on articulation of the practices around the use and management of OER. Through analysis of 60 case studies, OPAL identified a set of practices around: OER strategy and policy, tools and tool practice, staff development and support, and barriers and success factors. These were then translated into a set of guidelines for OER stakeholders (learners, practitioners, institutional managers and policy makers).
The POERUP project follows on nicely from OPAL and is interested in focusing on the policy debate around OER and their associated practices. In particular, we aim to •stimulate uptake of OER by policy through derivation of evidence-based policies. This will include studying end-user–producer communities, a set of country reports and a series of in-depth European case studies (and some selected case studies worldwide). Project outputs will include:
- · An Inventory > 100 OER initiatives
- · 11 country reports
- · 13 mini-reports
- · 7 in-depth case studies
- · 3 EU-wide policy papers
- · 7 options brief packs for EU nations/regions
The draft country reports are now available (http://poerup.referata.com/wiki/Main_Page). In terms of the case studies, these have been identified and a methodology for analysis has been chosen
(Social Network Analysis). Instruments for this are now being developed (survey plus semi-structured interviews).
In terms of the country reports some interesting themes are already emerging. The reports include a detailed description of each country’s educational context, Internet provision and level of e-learning maturity. Firstly, there is a diversity of educational contexts and maturity of Internet provision and use of e-learning. Secondly, there are differences in the level of policy support and funding for OER initiatives. Thirdly, there is diversity from basic OER awareness to OER maturity and embedding. Finally, few countries have national OER initiatives.
More specifically, there is a shift from development to OER practices. The concept of OER sits within the broader notion of open practices, i.e. open learning, teaching and research. Finally, there is evidence of increasing use of social and participatory media to foster OER communities.
My colleague, Ming Nie, has undertaken the UK country report. Gabi Witthaus is currently working on the country report for Australia. Key findings from the UK report include the following. There has been significant funding for OER from the JISC/HEA. This includes three phases of OER programmes, with around 100 OER initiatives. There has also been funding for individual fellowships through SCORE and Olnet funding. There is evidence of institutionally supported initiatives. Finally, the main activity is in England, there is little activity in the other countries. Therefore, in the UK, funding has been mainly from government, i.e. a top-down approach. The funding has primarily concentrated on production/producers, there is little on end-users or impact on learning. Most of the activities are at HE/FE level, there is little school-based work. Most institutions don’t have an OER strategy, however there is lots of activities on cascading and transferring of experience. Most institutions do now have an OER repository and many are exploring putting some of their materials on iTunesU. Finally, OER are being incorporated into a number of e-learning MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).
We will be carrying out a more detailed analysis of the country reports in the coming months, to draw out similarities and differences and to identify barriers and successful factors for the uptake of OER. In conjunction, the case studies will give us rich insights into the nature of OER communities and strategies for fostering them.