3692525168910How can we achieve sustainability in OER? ‘The Leeds Manifesto’ 13 May 2010(Drafted by Chris Pegler, SCORE, 14 May 2010)<br />This ‘Leeds Manifesto’ on OER and sustainability sets out some aspirations for changes in culture, tools, expectations, training and policy which – based on the experience of the HEA/JISC-funded Phase 1 projects – will help future OER projects to achieve and demonstrate sustainable and beneficial activity.<br />The emphasis on embedding OER activity set as an objective for the Phase 1 UK OER projects has developed into a clearer expectation of sustainability, particularly on the part of funders. Given the assumed benefits of OER in increasing efficiency in creation and use of digital content, and the current funding constraints, this is an understandable development. However, demonstrating sustainability sets a challenge for OER activity (particularly one year funded projects) which understandably struggle to demonstrate clear sustainability within such a short period. <br />Drawing on the experiences of UK OER projects, the Support Centre for Open Resources in Education (SCORE) organised an event in Leeds (May 13, 2010) to consider what we would like to see set in place to support and make possible sustainable OER activity. The event ‘Making Open the easiest option: OER and sustainability’ considered the viewpoints of different stakeholders in OER (the activity sheet used can be found here). <br />The twelve points identified represent a synthesis of discussion throughout the day and set out our ‘Leeds manifesto on OER sustainability’. It flags up what we felt will be required to support delivery and demonstration of sustainability in OER practice within UK HEIs. These recommendations are grounded in the experiences of the people at this event. We therefore treat this as a draft and welcome comments, as well as revisions and additions. A space for this discussion is available in Cloudworks (www.cloudworks.ac.uk) within the ‘OER and Sustainability’ cloudscape. We hope that our ‘wish list’ for sustainability will help others who are planning, supporting or funding OER activity. The twelve points are listed below, and a commentary/explanation is linked from these. <br /><ul><li>We need to recognise the effort and time required to move to sustainable OER
Wider exposure of academic staff to OER (building awareness of supply) is important
Staff development – ideally accredited by HEA - is key, especially for new academic staff
Sector-wide sharing needs to be encouraged and if possible incentivised.
Evidence of effectiveness in use would be ‘massively’ helpful
We need usable tools (e.g. for dissemination and deposit) which maximise the benefit for minimum effort
The more to OER should be widely recognised as good for UK HE
We need policies/practices which offer clear rewards for ‘open’ behaviour
Institutions need to ‘turn over stones’ even when they fear what lurks beneath
Be confident in your own resources, even when they are ‘dirty’ (not pristine or polished)
Indentify and acknowledge the important risks – and prepare for them
We need to recognise the effort and time required to move to sustainable OERWhy? While we strongly believe that efficiencies and other benefits to offset investment can be shown as part of a business case for sustaining OER, the activity is unlikely to be self-sustaining within the short term. For projects in particular, there is only so much that can be realistically achieved in terms of sustainability within a couple of funding rounds. Moving towards supply and use of OER is a significant change management initiative which needs to be supported consistently and into the long term to realise the rewards that we feel that OER can offer. We would therefore welcome long term commitment from funding councils and JISC confirming that OER will be a ‘line of travel’ for the long term. The Phase 2 funding is a welcome indication of this. Moves towards sustainable supply of OER are already in place within some institutions following Phase 1 (Leeds Met’s UNICYCLE is a good example of embedded practice). Changes towards sustainable use will take longer to evidence and achieve. This is the next, longer, ecological stage in OER activity.
Wider exposure of academic staff to OER (building awareness of supply) is important. Why? We need to acknowledge that many established staff may never actively engage with OER, however this still leaves the majority who could be convinced to change practice if the incentive is there. One of the most effective ways we have found of converting potential users of OER to enthusiastic users is to show academics OER which are relevant to their practice. There are many examples within the programme of exciting sparks of interests and ‘eureka’ moments when previously indifferent staff realise that using OER can significantly save their time. ‘Opening up the VLE’ is an important first step to enable this at the institutional level.
While we talk about academic staff changing their behaviour we also recognise that learning technologists will often support and inform this process.
Staff development – ideally accredited by HEA - is key, especially for new academic staff. Why? Leeds Met. estimates that for most teaching innovations 20% of staff may be impossible to change, up to 50% may try things and could adopt, and 30% are open to change. These proportions may be different for research-focused institutions, but in either case new academics form a large proportion of the most reachable group (activity led by Tom Browne of OpenExeter reinforces this view).
Existing teaching practice does not prepare staff for making or using OER. Both can be addressed through accredited training for new teaching staff. We strongly welcome this element (led by HEA) within the Phase 2 call. Within any training of new and existing staff there should be emphasis on making the experience of using OER creative and original. We anticipate that one way this can be achieved is by emphasising the importance of learning design, rather than content creation, as central to teaching activity. Academics need to be confident that they can place their stamp on resources which have originated elsewhere. This may be through repurposing, but re-contextualisation is a skill which needs to be demonstrated and taught.
We noted that, if new academic staff are the main source of sustainable OER activity, change is likely to be relatively slow.
Sector-wide sharing needs to be encouraged and if possible incentivised. Why? There appears to be a genuine ‘multiplier’ effect where resource sharing occurs across the sector. But for much of the OER activity many of the benefits are ahead of us – through use. Knowing that you can share (e.g. that there are no rights implications or permissions to sort first) opens up opportunities to share. This has impact not only on effective use of costly resources, but also on quality and clarity in resources that we use. We need institutions to realise the potential of OER to spread effort and benefits across the sector. Initially it would be helpful to know where to place OER effort to best effect. We need a strong challenge to the current academic model of creating content as the default model (examples discussed included 47 research methods modules within a single HEI or all HEIs having equivalent – often ineffective – introductions to calculus). Awareness of the unnecessary redundancy effect of creating fresh content as a default can be addressed through development of new staff – but also needs to reach more experienced practitioners too. Perhaps prizes and publicity for the best resources would help here. It may be useful to support reviews by identified reviewers to assist evaluation and engender trust (HUMBOX offers an example here).
Evidence of effectiveness in use would be massively helpful. Why? We don’t yet have enough convincing sector wide examples of effective use of OER to draw on when making the case for its effectiveness or seeking to demonstrate the value of OER. Examples of the broad view are starting to emerge, and examples of use with informal learners are encouraging. But evidence that exists can be difficult to access and interpret. Collection and wider dissemination of these examples would be helpful, but research into current and emerging practice is also necessary. We particularly need examples of added value. We also need evidence of student satisfaction and impact on learning and teaching practice. We need evidence to also record different types of benefits, for different stakeholders, and assess the value.There is, for example, some early evidence from work with FETLAR at Liverpool John Moores that OER can meet the needs of students from more diverse backgrounds. The outreach work presented by Billy Kohkhar (OU), using OpenLearn to pave the way for access to HE is another example.
We need usable tools (e.g. for dissemination and deposit) which maximise the benefit for minimum effort.</li></ul>Why? Do we need to explain?<br /><ul><li>The move to OER should be widely recognised as good for UK HE Why? We note enthusiasm for OER from Sir Alan Langlands (Hefce) and Malcolm Read (JISC), and their ideas that making the step from closed to open content could be viewed as a moral obligation for educators and their institutions. We would like this view to be more widely understood and supported. This is not only about altruism, but also an endorsement of making practice public, perhaps akin to academic ideals about publishing research? </li></ul>We need policies/practices which offer clear rewards for ‘open’ behaviour?Why? There are some inspirational examples within the Phase 1 UK OER programme of how academics can be rewarded by the institution (or be encouraged by the institution to see the practice as inherently rewarding). At Leeds Met. there is the example of embedding OER into formal policy so that academics can select OER activity as one of their six SMART targets for the year as part of annual CDSA (career planning and staff appraisal process). Leading from this, discussions are now starting with the HEA to recognise OER activity as evidence for National Teaching Fellowship awards. The Open Spires experience shows how academics themselves can significantly value opportunities to disseminate their ideas, and the value they place on opportunities for recognition beyond the institution. <br />Institutions need to ‘turn over stones’ even when they fear what lurks beneath Why? This phrase came from MEDEV experiences, but reflects that of many other projects. A barrier to adopting and progressing OER is unwillingness to face the prospect of unpleasantness (e.g. discovering evidence of copyright infringement). The perception may be worse than the reality, but the fear of facing these concerns is holding back more than OER. It holds back any sharing of resources beyond the students in the class. MEDEV would like to see global agreements with publishers where possible, and this would help many projects, if achievable. Support and clear advice on how to set problems to rights is the best solution. Many practitioners do not know how to remedy difficulties that they discover under their ‘stones’, and lack the time/resource to make the necessary changes.A timely example of the consequences of not being open and informed about rights issues was published on the same day as this event in Times Higher. <br /><ul><li>Be confident in our own resources, even when they are ‘dirty’ (not pristine or polished): A reluctance to share can originate from concerns about the quality of the teaching material. Is it good enough? This ties to Andy Beggan’s observations from uNow (Nottingham) experiences that there may be a higher quality standards applied by academic creators to content which is to be given away for free, than content which is put before paying students.
Standards for OER are helpful to users when trying to assess quality or select between options, but these standards need to span many levels and recognise multiple purposes for OER. Raw dirty ‘real’ learning resources are valuable, particularly where repurposing is permitted. Perfectionism is a barrier which places undue emphasis on the content rather than the learning potential
Identify and acknowledge the important risks – and prepare for themWhy? OER activity is not risk-free in terms of litigation risk. We need to identify and address the potential for litigation and manage that risk through appropriate policies. The OOER toolkit work (MEDEV) suggests how to approach this. Their area (medicine) is one with particular risks that suggests the need for development of a ‘Consent Commons’ and additional tracking requirements. But there will be some risk for all discipline areas and appropriate risk management policies need to be identified and used to overcome these.
Prepare for other creators of OER contentWhy? If we expand so that students, or others without OER grounding, can contribute OER, how will they know ‘our’ rules for OER, and will they be willing to follow them? How can we prepare new users who may not be educators or have been actively involved in projects?
Represented at this event were the following institutions/projects.
BERLiN, Nottingham University, CETIS, University of Bolton