The institutional impact of OpenLearn


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By: Andy Lane
Presented: CETIS/OU OER Workshop 27th February 2009

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The institutional impact of OpenLearn

  1. 1. The institutional impact of OpenLearn Professor Andy Lane Director, OpenLearn This work is licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. To view a copy of this licence, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California 94105, USA.
  2. 2. Why make our content open? <ul><li>A growing momentum behind open content worldwide </li></ul><ul><li>Open content consistent with the University’s commitment to social justice and widening participation in Higher Education </li></ul><ul><li>Can be a way of building markets and reputation </li></ul><ul><li>Can be a test bed for new e-learning developments and offers an opportunity to research and evaluate them </li></ul><ul><li>We can learn more about the University’s business model </li></ul><ul><li>It can be a way of drawing in materials from other organisations </li></ul><ul><li>It can provide the basis for world-wide collaborations over the development and dissemination of supported open learning </li></ul>
  3. 3. Some initial major concerns <ul><li>Giving away the ‘family silver’ – what about the market value of content? </li></ul><ul><li>Inappropriate use of the content – what will others do with it? </li></ul><ul><li>Threatening student recruitment – why will they pay for what they can get free? </li></ul><ul><li>Problems of implementing licensing agreements for courses and programmes – will we lose revenue? </li></ul><ul><li>Long-term sustainability – who pays for making content open? </li></ul>
  4. 4. The OpenLearn stages <ul><li>A feasibility report agreed by VC’s Executive, Academic Board and Council mid 2005 to undertake a pilot project </li></ul><ul><li>Hewlett granted $200k to help cover $700k scoping work in late 2005 for a two year pilot (stage 1) </li></ul><ul><li>$8.9m grant from William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for two year pilot costing $11m in total, 2006-8 (stage 2) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Formation of a programme team to achieve pilot goals and participation in the open content global networks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Joined OpenCourseware Consortium </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Continue with OpenLearn ($1.2m) but embed policy and practices into existing systems and processes and seek more funding, 2008-9 (stage 3) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Major aims of stage 2 <ul><li>Enhanced learning experiences for users of open content (self study content plus open learning environment); </li></ul><ul><li>Greater involvement in higher education by under-represented groups and empowerment for various support networks that work with them; </li></ul><ul><li>Enhanced knowledge and understanding of open content delivery, how it can be effective, and the contribution it can make to further development of e-learning; </li></ul><ul><li>Enhanced understanding of sustainable and scaleable models of open content delivery. </li></ul>
  6. 6. What have we done so far?
  9. 9. Major features of OpenLearn <ul><li>Study units consisting of multiple media assets: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Text assets as XML or PDF </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Audiovisual assets as MP3 files </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Images as jpg files </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Flash animations </li></ul></ul><ul><li>An Open Learning Environment using OSS (Moodle +) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Forums </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning Journals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning Clubs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rating and Tagging </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Video conferencing (FM) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge maps (Compendium) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>FlashVlogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Activity records </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Quality management <ul><li>LearningSpace: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Original material externally peer reviewed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pre-publication internal peer review </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>5 star user ratings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>User reviews </li></ul></ul><ul><li>LabSpace </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Badging of Units as </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Current OU OER, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Archived OU OER, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>User generated contribution, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Project generated contribution </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>5 star user ratings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>User reviews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Post publication external peer review? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Institutional Lenses like Connexions? </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Who are the users? <ul><li>Individual self learners (over 3.7 million browsing visitors and 80,000 registered users) around the world (220 countries) </li></ul><ul><li>Individual and groups of educators around the world </li></ul><ul><li>Lifelong learning groups in the UK wanting informal study </li></ul><ul><li>Educational and other organisations for collaboration and staff development </li></ul>
  12. 12. And what happens to the content? <ul><li>Accessed and used the online by browsers and registered users </li></ul><ul><li>Added to online by registered users </li></ul><ul><li>Referred to from another VLE or website </li></ul><ul><li>Taken away and used elsewhere </li></ul>
  13. 17. The open content takeaway
  14. 19. User behaviour with content <ul><li>Over 2000 FM video conferences booked </li></ul><ul><li>Over 4,000 Compendium downloads, over 400 knowledge map downloads and over 40 uploads </li></ul><ul><li>Over 6000 forum postings </li></ul><ul><li>Over 2000 learning journal entries </li></ul><ul><li>10,000 units printed per week </li></ul><ul><li>10,000 downloads per week </li></ul><ul><li>Growing number of Learning Clubs (new) </li></ul><ul><li>Some translations into Catalan, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese </li></ul><ul><li>In situ editing of units by educators </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration zone for groups to add their own content </li></ul><ul><li>Content now also found on or via YouTube, NetVibes, Flickr, MySpace as we and others spread it around </li></ul>
  15. 20. Supporting widening participation <ul><li>Introducing black and ethnic minority students to learning </li></ul><ul><li>Providing learning to prisoners at 15 prisons </li></ul><ul><li>Developing thinking skills for Openings students </li></ul><ul><li>Partnerships with Unionlearn and NIACE </li></ul>
  16. 21. National and regional partnerships <ul><li>There are partnership activities in all OU regions e.g. </li></ul><ul><li>Sussex Lifelong Learning Project </li></ul><ul><li>University of the Third Age </li></ul><ul><li>Western Vocational Lifelong Learning Network </li></ul><ul><li>OpenLearn micro sites for Wales and Scotland </li></ul>
  17. 22. International partnerships <ul><li>There are a number of international activities we are linked to: </li></ul><ul><li>Working with OCW Consortium, European Association of Distance Teaching Universities </li></ul><ul><li>Informal partnerships with Commonwealth of Learning, UNISUL in Brazil </li></ul><ul><li>TESSA (Teacher Education in Sub Saharan Africa) </li></ul><ul><li>Research led ventures </li></ul>
  18. 23. Business and community engagement <ul><li>OpenLearn is featured on and links through to OU’s Continuing Professional Development website </li></ul><ul><li>Supporting OU R&D work with professional bodies </li></ul><ul><li>Helping transform Plymouth City Council Children’s Services into a Learning Organisation </li></ul><ul><li>Changing relationships with publishers. </li></ul>
  19. 24. Information, advice and guidance <ul><li>Integrated into advice given in new Study with the OU website and prospectuses </li></ul><ul><li>Already approx. 50% of Student Registration and Enquiry Service (SRS) staff refer students to OpenLearn </li></ul><ul><li>Educational and careers advisers in the Regional/National Centres recommend OpenLearn for prospective and continuing students </li></ul>
  20. 25. Marketing <ul><li>Lead generation – 4,500+ prospectus enquiries over 12 months </li></ul><ul><li>Decision support for students </li></ul><ul><li>Conversion tool – 9,000+ registrations to date </li></ul><ul><li>Loyalty mechanism – repeat visitors and business </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing 2.0: Personal, relevant, free, valued, open </li></ul><ul><li>Viral content supporting low-cost/no-cost marketing strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Social media marketing </li></ul>
  21. 26. Reputation <ul><li>Subject of over 30 international traditional press articles and 700 blog posts </li></ul><ul><li>Presented extensively internationally </li></ul><ul><li>OU recognised as leading player in OER movement worldwide alongside MIT, Carnegie Mellon etc </li></ul><ul><li>OU content widely cited in other VLEs e.g. Leeds College of Art and Design, University of Delhi, OpenEcoSystem, NativeEnglishOnline </li></ul><ul><li>Actively promoted to large organisations, opening doors to relationships with Sky, Microsoft etc </li></ul><ul><li>OpenLearn has been recognised by IP experts to be pushing boundaries </li></ul><ul><li>10 award short listings – innovation and public service </li></ul>
  22. 27. Strengthening research bids <ul><li>EduShare. Asia-Link Programme, the European Commission. </li></ul><ul><li>The Project on Open Content for Knowledge Exposition and Teaching (POCKET), JISC. </li></ul><ul><li>Staff improvement in distance education for Caribbean, African and Pacific universities (SideCap). ACP-EU Cooperation Programme in Higher Education (EDULINK). </li></ul><ul><li>ATELIER-D - Achieving Transformation, Enhanced Learning, and Innovation through Educational Resources in Design, JISC. </li></ul><ul><li>iCOPER: Interoperable Content for Performance in a Competency-driven Society, e Content plus . </li></ul><ul><li>ASPECT: Adopting Standards and Specifications for Educational Content, e Content plus. </li></ul>
  23. 28. Conclusions <ul><li>OERs attract people/organizations because they can do something with them </li></ul><ul><li>Many people/organizations want more than just the content - a relationship with other users or the University </li></ul><ul><li>OERs are being assessed against the OU’s own mission and strategic priorities for tangible and intangible benefits </li></ul><ul><li>OpenLearn has been run as an action research project with constant developments and continuous evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>Educators need strong commitment and continued support over long periods to rework or create new resources </li></ul><ul><li>Being involved in networks has been essential </li></ul><ul><li>OER work needs to align with both day to day and longer term activities </li></ul><ul><li>Need to look for new business models … advertising, value added services, disaggregated services? </li></ul>