Defining Open Educational Practices (OEP)

Ulf group

Last week I attended the kick off meeting for an exciting new EU-funded project, OPAL, from the website:

The Open Educational Quality Initiative will focus on provision of innovative open educational practices and promote quality, innovation and transparency in higher and adult education. Beginning in January 2010, the two-year OPAL Initiative is a partnership between seven organizations including ICDE, UNESCO and ICDE member institution, the Open University UK, and will be coordinated by the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. The project is part funded by the European Commission Education and Training Lifelong Learning Programme.

As you can see the project has a strong consortium with some significant players/representatives from across the EU. It is also an important and timely project given the increasing focus and interest in Open Educational Resources (OER).

For us at the OU it builds nicely on two stands of related work – our work on OER (through the development of the OpenLearn site and more recently the Olnet initiative) and the OU Learning Design Initiative.

At the kick off meeting we trashed out the details of the vision behind the project, with its focus on enhancing quality and innovation through clearer articulation and support of Open Educational Practices (OEP). For me a key first task in the coming months is going to be to try and really unpack what we actually mean by OEP, what are its dimensions, how can we expose existing OEP and from this translate this into a set of useful guidelines to help facilitate better OEP? These are important questions that we will be addressing in work packages 3 and 4 of the project.  We will begin by undertaking a state of the art review of the field and then a more extensive quantitative survey. This will be followed by four in-depth studies exploring how recognised leading institutions in the development and use of OER have instantiated good practice in OEP. These findings will then translate into four guidelines – for learners, educational professionals, managers and policy makers.

So what do we mean by Open Educational Practices (OEP)? The detailed discussions from the kick off meeting are currently being written up and distilled but here is my started for ten to stimulate debate:

Open Educational Practices (OEP) are the set of activities and support around the creation, use and repurposing of Open Educational Resources. It also includes the contextual settings within which these practices occur. Therefore there are three importance dimensions to this:

  1. The stakeholders engaged with creating, using or supporting the use of OER. These can be further sub-divided into two types: those involved in ‘creation and use’ of OER and those involved in ‘policy and management’ aspects of OER. Creators: create the OER, and could be either ‘teachers’ or ‘learners’. Users: Use the OER, and could be either ‘teachers or ‘learners’. Managers: Provide the infrastructure to support the OER (technical and organisational) and the tools/support to create/use OER. Policy makers: embed OER into relevant policy.
  2. The range of mediating artefacts that can be used to create and support the use of OER. These include tools and resources to help guide the creation and use of OER, as well as the technologies to support the hosting and management of them.
  3. The contextual factors which impact on the creation, use or support of OER.

OEP diagram

Does this definition make sense? Can we provide a finer grained set of indicators for each of these three dimensions? What existing research and development work in this area should we be looking at to develop these concepts further?

This is going to be an exciting and challenging project, I look forward to working more with other members of the consortium on this over the next two years. A number of people will be involved from the OU – in particular researchers from the Olnet team (led by Patrick McAndrew), but also drawing on expertise from the OULDI team. Paul Mundin has taken on the role of project manager for the OU aspects of the work.

13 Responses to “Defining Open Educational Practices (OEP)”

  1. Will Pollard will789gb Says:

    I really like the idea of this project but the diagram seems to show the users as subject to far too many pressures. The thing about the web is the ease of people talking directly to each other.

    Also, could you say more about “quality”. My impression is that continental European projects have more interest in this that the UK where it is seen as oppressive. Will quality ideas be a large part of this project? Where to start on some documents about this?

  2. Gráinne Says:

    Hi Will thanks for your thoughts - diagram is very very much my first cut at trying to make sense of this - so don’t take too seriously!! I was really trying to think more of where the stakeholders fit in and what they will be interested in in terms of the OER cycle of creation and use. For example a learner will be interested in knowing where a particular OER is useful and relevant for them. A teacher might want to know if an OER is useful in their teaching or if its one they have created might want to know the extent to which it has been used and what users thought of it. Someone from the management perspective might be interested in how their institutional OER are stored and managed technically. Someone from a policy perspective might want to ensure copyright on institutional materials is clear. Then the middle layer was all about what are the things that can help each of these stakeholders in terms of what they are interested in? Hope this helps a bit more. Re definition of quality again this is something we are going to have to carefully unpack and define in the first few months. We have EFQUEL involved of course as one of the partners who have particular expertise in this respect. For me personally I think quality needs to be a living, dynamic process with the idea of enhancement at its core. Hope these thoughts help!

  3. Will Pollard will789gb Says:

    Thanks for this explanation. I will try to follow as things develop. I am involved in a group of people working on quality. We want to do a website about Deming ideas with an update. So how quality and learning connect continues as a topic. More on this later.

  4. Gráinne Says:

    Sounds very interesting Will and very relevant to the new OPAL project in terms of new approaches to quality - look forward to hearing more.

  5. Easy Scholarships Says:

    Hey Grainne, I agree with Mr. Pollard in that the diagram sort of “complicates” a simple subject!

    Then again; just like you said, you only created it to help us “visualize” what you had explained in the article about OEP and its shareholders, so I can definitely see the point of why you crafted it in the first place!

    How long did it take for you to create the diagram, and what program did you make it with, Grainne?

    Sincerely,

    Thomas Anderson

  6. Gráinne Says:

    Hi I appreciate that the diagram is complicated - but so are practices and trying to articulate them! Some of our latest thoughts on this from the OPAL project can be found here http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloud/view/4554. Including our famouse ‘cube’ model.

  7. Artur Says:

    I reached your blog by searching on google and I really like it. Keep up the good work!

  8. Sandhya Says:

    Dear Grainne,
    Can I use the picture as part of the learning activity?
    Hope its CC BY SA :)

  9. Gráinne Says:

    Sure Sandhya go ahead and use!

  10. Bonita Lifford Says:

    You made certain nice points there. I did a search on the subject and found the majority of people will go along with with your blog.

  11. Zante Wash Says:

    Thanks for posting this informative post.good job can help to educate student?

  12. Rob Farrow Says:

    Hi Grainne,

    Just discovered this post doing some research into OEPs… I don’t agree with the other posters that it’s overly complicated. In terms of institutional culture, particularly, the implications of shifting to OER are profound. There are many different pressures and considerations here…

  13. Gráinne Says:

    Thanks have a look at the OPAL initiative where we have take this work forward and developed a set of guidelines for open educational practices

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