Chapter 12 – Case study: Realising the vi-     sion of Open Educational Resources      Chapter 1 2 – Case study: Realising...
and teachers are technically competent, they lack the appropriate academic skills to harness the    potential of OER. Henc...
3.How to build a socio-technical infrastructure to serve as a collective evolving intelligence forthe community? (McAndrew...
Figure 1: The Olnet OER effectiveness lifecycleConole and McAndrew (2010) see OER as ‘social objects’ (Engeström, 2005):  ...
Figure 2: The dynamic and evolving Olnet networkFigure 2 shows how the knowledge and experience gained from one OER cycle ...
ledge only but responsibility is the objective of such an educational vision. The vision of Open    Educational Practice i...
and associated events and support mechanisms (NDLR, Wikiwjs, SCORE,10 Koolielu11 and Tiger    Leap activities).    Policy ...
QA models range from lightweight, user-defined models to strictly controlled hierarchical mod-els. An example of a lightwe...
other community-based models can be seen in the CCCOER/CCOT initiative24 enables educatorsto share reviews of materials an...
An interesting example of a partnership mode is that between OpenLearn and UnisulVirtual,28who chose materials from the ex...
Finally a number of tools have emerged to support visualising OER, both in terms of making theirinherent designs explicit ...
tions with other repositories. Learning materials stored in Estonian Koolielu can also be searchedthrough the European Lea...
ive), Government models (direct funding via Government agencies), and partnership or ex-changes (where the focus is on exc... adopts a different approach to getting teacher engagement. In addition to its core offering,i.e. the digital learn...
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Chapter 12 case study realising the vision of oer

  1. 1. Chapter 12 – Case study: Realising the vi- sion of Open Educational Resources Chapter 1 2 – Case study: Realising the vision of Open Educational Resources.......1 Introduction................................................................................................................1 The Olnet initiative.....................................................................................................2 The O PAL initiative...................................................................................................5Strategies and policiesQuality Assurance m o delsCollaborative and partnership m o delsTools and tool practicesInnovationsSkills develop ment and supportBusiness m o dels and sustainability strategiesBarriers and enablers Enhancing the quality and innovation of O ER.........................................................14 Conclusion................................................................................................................14IntroductionThe previous chapter introduced the vision behind the Open Educational Resource movement anddescribed some of the key OER initiatives. However, it argued that despite the considerable in-vestments in OER work; uptake, use and reuse by teachers and learners have been disappointing(McAndrew, et al., 2009). Ehlers argues that: Although open educational resources (OER) are high on the agenda of social and inclu- sion policies and supported by many stakeholders of the educational sphere, their use in HE and adult education (AE) has not yet reached the critical threshold which is posing an obstacle to the seamless provision of high quality learning resources and practices for cit- izens’ lifelong learning efforts. (Ehlers, 2011)Conole and McAndrew (2010) notice a similar lack of uptake. They argue that finding appropri-ate resources and knowing how to use them is a specialised skill and that although many learners 1
  2. 2. and teachers are technically competent, they lack the appropriate academic skills to harness the potential of OER. Hence it is evident that making OER available is not enough to ensure effective uptake; teachers and learners need guidance and support on how to deconstruct and redesign OER for their own context. This chapter will explore ways in which we might address this issue, draw- ing on current work under two initiatives, Olnet and OPAL. The Olnet initiative Olnet1 was set up to ensure that researchers and users of OER are more closely aligned. It is a partnership between Carnegie Melon University and the Open University. It has a number of strands of activities, including: research projects, a fellowship scheme and the development and facilitation of a technical infrastructure to support dialogue and sharing across a distributed OER community. It builds on the experiences derived from the development and evaluation of the Open University’s OER repository, OpenLearn,2 and the Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiat- ive (McAndrew & Thille, 2009).3 McAndrew et al. (2009) drew a number of conclusions from the evaluation of the use of OpenLearn. Firstly, that the majority of teachers and learners welcome the concept of free resources, but don’t necessarily understand them. Secondly, interestingly users classified materials as interactive, even when they were mainly text-based. Thirdly, interest in downloading materials was high, but evidence of reuse was low. Fourthly, there appeared to be technical (lack of understanding of XML), pedagogical (lack of experience or redesigning) and cultural (not wanting to alter existing perceived ‘good’ content) barriers to reuse. Conole and McAndrew (2010) list a number of research questions around the design and use of OER:•What are the most effective ways to develop OER?•What intellectual property issues have arisen from OER initiatives?•What are the barriers and enablers to the development and use of OER?•What models are different initiatives adopting in terms of the production of OER?•What are sustainable business models for OER?•What accessibility and inclusion issues are arising in associated with OER?•What new pedagogical models are needed to support the use of OER across both formal and informallearning contexts?•What methods are appropriate to evaluate the effectiveness of OER and how can transfer of goodpractice be best achieved? The Olnet initiative is attempting to address these issues. It aims to provide a global technical net- work for researchers, users and producers of OER, alongside a series of face-to-face events. It also aims to better articulate the design and evaluation of OER and to support and foster the trans- fer of good practice through sharing and debate. In the original Olnet proposal, McAndrew and Thille articulate the following research questions: ·How can we build a robust evidence base to support and enhance the design, evaluation and use of OER? With three sub-questions: 1.How to improve the process of OER reuse/design, delivery, evaluation and data analysis? 2.How to make the associated design processes and products more easily shared? 1 2 3 http://oli.web.c 2
  3. 3. 3.How to build a socio-technical infrastructure to serve as a collective evolving intelligence forthe community? (McAndrew & Thille, 2009)The technical infrastructure consists of a set of open, social and participatory tools for aggregat-ing, sharing, debating and improving the quality of OER. The platform builds on an existing setof tools, including a learning design visualisation tool, CompendiumLD (Conole, Brasher, Cross,Weller, Clark, and White, 2008), a social networking site for sharing and discussing learning andteaching ideas, Cloudworks (Conole & Culver, 2009; Conole & Culver, 2010) and a semantic ar-gumentation tool, Cohere (De Liddo & Buckingham Shum, 2010). Examples of research studiesinclude ‘integrating pedagogies and technologies that support individual learning and groupknowledge building’, ‘learning design of OER’, (Conole & McAndrew, 2010) ‘using PedagogicalPatterns to promote the use of OER for collaborative learning’ (Conole, McAndrew, &Dimitriadis, 2010) and creativity and OER.4 In addition the discussions held within the com-munity will feed back into ongoing research.A key concept underpinning Olnet is the notion of an OER effectiveness lifecycle, which consistsof four stages: select, design, use and evaluate (Figure 1). It can be used to describe both small-scale interventions (for example a teacher or learner using an OER) and large-scale interventions(such as the establishment and promotion of an institutional OER repository, like OpenLearn).The figure provides examples of tools (both generic and specialised) and resources associatedwith each stage. In the select stage a user might use a combination of Google, an OER repositorylike OpenLearn and a social networking site like Cloudworks, to find and discuss the relevance ofparticular OER for use in their own context. In the design stage a user might focus on a particularOER and use mapping schema and the learning design tool CompendiumLD, to deconstruct andredesign the OER. In the use stage the user might integrate the redesigned OER with other classresources into a VLE like Moodle. Finally, in the evaluation stage the user might develop and de-ploy a learner survey and then use a range of research analysis tools to analyse the data collected.Harnessing social networking tools like Cloudworks enables an individual to be part of a widerOER community.4 1
  4. 4. Figure 1: The Olnet OER effectiveness lifecycleConole and McAndrew (2010) see OER as ‘social objects’ (Engeström, 2005): We want to emphasis that we see the cycle as reflexive: OER are not the only objects of interest. Any of the design representations or other artefacts generated, or used to analyze, OER design can themselves become ‘social objects’, that is, artefacts shared, deployed, evaluated and improved on by the community. Each stage in the cycle can therefore gen- erate specific outputs such as a design representation or new evaluation instruments, which can be put back into the OLnet community for others to use. So for example a user might query an existing OER repository such as OpenLearn as a means of selecting an OER for use. Another user might develop a new survey instrument for evaluating the use of a science-focused OER which they then make available to the OLnet community, and yet another user might then use that instrument to evaluate their own use of a Science OER. Thus, the very infrastructure that we use to accomplish this process – OLnet – be- comes the object of reflection, hence the same effectiveness cycle applies to OLnet itself at the system level. 2
  5. 5. Figure 2: The dynamic and evolving Olnet networkFigure 2 shows how the knowledge and experience gained from one OER cycle can be shared andreapplied across the network in other cycles. So a design representation in one cycle can bepicked up and used as a starting point for a different OER cycle, or evaluation findings on the useof one OER can be used to inform and shape the design of a different OER. In addition to thistransfer of knowledge and outputs between OER cycles.The OPAL initiativeThe overall aim of OPAL5 is to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning by enhancingthe quantity and quality of Open Educational Resources that can be incorporated into higher edu-cation and further education provision. OPAL is focussing on the articulation of a set of dimen-sions of Open Educational Practices (OEP) around the creation, use and management of OER,with the belief that identification of these practices will lead to better innovation in the pedago-gical use of OER and improvements in the quality of OER designed and used. As described inChapter 10 the project began by reviewing 60 case studies of OER initiatives6 and from these de-rived a set of dimensions of OEP. A full account of this research is available (OPAL, 2010). Thefollowing sections are adapted from this more detailed report.Open Educational Practices are practices where the open refers to opening and enabling access toresources. The vision behind it is to achieve a situation in which resources are no longer the solefocus, but in which the practices within a specific domain are the focus of education. Not know-5 http://www.oer-quality.org6 1
  6. 6. ledge only but responsibility is the objective of such an educational vision. The vision of Open Educational Practice includes a move from a resource-based learning and outcomes-based assess- ment, to a learning process in which social processes, validation and reflection are at the heart of education, and learners become experts in judging, reflection, innovation within a domain and navigation through domain knowledge. A database or repository of Open Educational Resources is not Open Educational Practice. The pure usage of these Open Educational Resources in a traditional closed and top-down, instructive, exam-focussed learning environment is not Open Educational Practice. However, if OER are used to create resources which are more learner-centred and if learners are involved into the creation of content which is taken seriously by the teachers/facilitators, if teachers are moving away from a content-centred teaching to learner-centred teaching, if learning processes are seen as productive processes and learning outcomes are seen as artefacts which are worth sharing and debating, im- proving and reusing, then OER might improve the learning process and then we talk about open educational practices. Open Educational Practices have a “lifecycle” which is influenced by:•National policy makers who are promoting the use of open educational resources.•Leaders of higher educations institution, who might embark on initiating an institution-wide openeducation initiatives in which teachers are asked to create, find, adapt and share OER in an institutionwide OER repository, and in which educational strategies and models are collected and sharedamongst teachers•Teachers who are encouraging learners to produce, share and validate content•Learners who are using open available content to create knowledge landscapes on study topics whichbetter fit their needs than the available text book ‘one size fits all’ style. Eight OEP dimensions were identified from the case studies:•Strategies and policies•QA models•Partnership models•Tools and tool practices•Barriers and success factors•Innovations•Skills development and support•Business models/sustainability strategies. These are discussed below, along with some illustrative examples drawn from the case studies. Strategies and policies At the policy level the most evident dimensions are strategies and policies. Strategies include: i) national-level engagement or support, ii) adopting a national-level initiative to pool expertise, gain critical mass and develop a vibrant community (such as NDLR7 in Ireland, BCCampus8 in Canada, WIkiwjs9 in Holland), and provision of a coherent national focus, through the repository 7 8 9 2
  7. 7. and associated events and support mechanisms (NDLR, Wikiwjs, SCORE,10 Koolielu11 and Tiger Leap activities). Policy makers implement policy around OER through key white papers, see for example the NSF cyberlearning report from the states (Borgeman, et al., 2008), via inclusion in strategy documents (see for example the UK HEFCE elearning strategy), through funding calls (see for example the international work supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and an JISC/HEA funded OER programme in the UK) or through acting as a front to promote OER initiatives (for example the public support of the Dutch education minister for the Wikiwjs initiative) and the support for the OER movement by UNESCO.12 Policies include having in place a national-level policy drive. For example in the UK, the OER programme funded by JISC and the HEA, focused on making a significant amount of existing learning resources freely available online and licensed in such a way to enable them to be used and repurposed worldwide. The focus was on ‘existing’ materials, rather than on the actual cre- ation of OER, which is a significant shift from earlier OER funded initiatives such as those sup- ported by the Hewlett foundation. Three main strategies have emerged at the organisational level:•The extent to which initiatives are bottom-up verses-top down within institutions•Lightweight/user driven vs. institutional structured workflow•The degree to which students are actively involved. Policies in place at the organisation level obviously need to be of a different level of granularity to those at the national level and include:•The need to adhere to the initiatives policies in order to be able to join (CampusContent,13 NDLR),•Requirement to adhere to open source principles and approaches,•Adhering to existing policy practices and standards. For example the CCCOER project points to thewikieducator14 exemplary collections of institutions with OER policies and also to the DLISE reviewof collections best practices),•Linking to national or broader policy agendas For example the OpenER project links to the Lisbonagenda, feeding through Dutch government objectives in this area,•Mainstreaming OER work into institutional business provision. This was a core object of the Open-Learn initiative in the UK. Many other initiatives are seeing the importance of building in sustainabil-ity and embedding into core processes as an essential part of their overall strategy. Quality Assurance models A range of Quality Assurance (QA) models was evident across the case studies. These depended on a number of factors: the type of institution and their learning and teaching culture, the balance of importance of the ‘value’ of teaching (in comparison to research activities in the institution), the degree to which OER activities were seen as research activities in their own right, the level of e-learning maturity of the institution and the extent to which they had engaged with OER work previously. 10 11 1 2 Main_Page 13 14 mplary_Collection_of_institutions_with_OER_policy 1
  8. 8. QA models range from lightweight, user-defined models to strictly controlled hierarchical mod-els. An example of a lightweight and user-driven model came from the Southampton Universitycase study and their Edshare project.15 They provided the option of either open-web sharing or in-stitution-only sharing, according to academics’ wishes. The OER are made available as simple as-sets (such as PowerPoint, word, or PDF files); i.e. standard formats that academics are used toproducing in their everyday practice. In terms of QA and adherence to standards this is very mucha lightweight approach, no adherence to IMS LOM is required. OpenExeter16 is another exampleof quality control driven by academics, although interestingly it does adhere to IMS standards andis SCORM compliant. It is interesting to note that Southampton and Exeter would both viewthemselves as ‘research-focused’ institutions, where the academic view is still privileged; hencesuch lightweight, academic-driven approaches are to be expected. In fact, this does appears to bequite a common approach adopted by many of the case studies; certainly some of the more recent,smaller initiatives.In contrast to these lightweight models, the OpenLearn initiative17 is a good example of a top-down controlled QA model, with clearly articulated quality processes and identified roles (au-thors, editors, technical support, quality assurers, etc.). Again this can be seen as both a con-sequence of the unique position in the UK as a large-scale distance educational institution (whicha well established, Fordish (Thompson, n.d.) production model for course production and present-ation) and due to the fact the project received considerable funding from the Hewlett foundationfor OpenLearn and hence was in a better position to set up more rigorous and complex roles andprocesses.Other case studies can be seen as examples along a spectrum from lightweight to more controlledQA models and a number of examples of the QA practices are evident from across the case stud-ies. These practices include: the use of peer-reviewing as a means of assuring quality (for ex-ample in the GITTA project,18 Estonia school projects), defining criteria for peer-production andopen content (the AVO project19) and more organic and community peer-review based, relativelylinear quality assurance models, where quality assurance checks and processes are embedded intothe workflow for production of OER, and finally, annotation through experts which help the usersthrough the learning materials, multi-level reviews, or reviews against a set of pre-defined criter-ia.An example of a relatively linear quality assurance models is the OpenER project,20 where au-thors are required to produce and submit content, which is then checked, converted andrechecked. EducaNext21 is an example of a more organic, community-based models, where mem-bers are able to comment on published content or run a complete course evaluation. KEL-DAmed22 is another example, which includes annotation by experts, who are then available tohelp the users through the learning materials.CampusContent have multi-level reviews where experts review material and then learners canfurther improve shared understanding of the OER through their own annotations. Podcampus23 isan interesting example of a lightweight QA model, where experts provide the contributions. An-15 http://www.educanext.org22 2
  9. 9. other community-based models can be seen in the CCCOER/CCOT initiative24 enables educatorsto share reviews of materials and also look at and comment on the reviews of others. The CCOTreviews are done against a set of pre-defined criteria. These include sub-dimensions around: ac-curacy, importance or significance, pedagogical effectiveness, completeness of documentation,ease of use for teachers and learners, inspirational/motivational for learners, and robustness as adigital resource. Another interesting model is that adopted by eLibrary,25 which involved multiplestakeholders, who can contribute to both the development and improvement of the resources in avariety of different ways.Collaborative and partnership modelsSome OER initiatives involved more than one organisation and a number of collaborative (non-contract) and partnership (contractual) models have emerged. In some cases these include differ-ent types of academies (universities, technical universities, colleges), in other cases they focus onspecialist areas, each led by a senior academic in that field.The GITTA project involved ten Swiss partner institutions who jointly developed and operatedlearning content for academic education in the field of Geoinformatics. The partners are interdis-ciplinary institutions, different types of academies (universities, technical universities, colleges)as well as multilingual.The TRUE project26 consisted of 14 such specialist areas, each led by a senior academic in thefield. Each specialist leader gathered and collated materials from colleagues in various universit-ies. Resources included: syllabus details, reading lists, lecture slides, seminar/workshop materials,problem sets and worksheets, student handouts, assessment schemes, past assessments and mod-ule/unit handbooks.The AVO project has a dozen organizations and tens of experts involved and operates through thenational network eOppimiskeskus, the Association of Finnish eLearning Centre. is aimedat teachers in Finland and focusing on learning materials that would otherwise not be published –i.e. materials that are not of interest for the commercial publishing companies, materials that arenot likely to have large enough audience in order to make publishing worthwhile from the eco-nomics point of view.LeMill27 is an international web community of teachers and other learning content creators forfinding, authoring and sharing Open Educational Resources. LeMill provides reusable learningcontent resources, descriptions of teaching and learning methods, and descriptions of teachingand learning tools. There are also teaching and learning stories available. Content is available in13 languages.In Canada the BCcampus OER initiative has been implemented in 25 institutions, through amulti-institutional partnership, which involves staff from more that one institution. At the momenthowever these resources are only shared amongst this 25 institutions and are not available moreopenly.The e-library project uses volunteers of national e-libraries to help digitise content and then workwith scientists and students to publish them. Employers also help to create and maintain content.24 http://www.collegeopentextbooks.org25 1
  10. 10. An interesting example of a partnership mode is that between OpenLearn and UnisulVirtual,28who chose materials from the existing platform for translation into Portuguese. Materials wereanalysed by UnisulVirtual tutors and chosen on their suitability in terms of relevance, clarity anddepth.Tools and tool practicesA rich range of tools and tool practices emerged from the case studies, exploiting the full poten-tial of new technologies to support the sharing and critiquing of resources. In some cases institu-tional Learning Management Systems (LMS) have been adapted, in other cases a more special-ised digital repository has been created. More generally Web 2.0 tools (such as wikis, blogs, so-cial networking sites, etc) are being used in a variety of ways to foster and promote a communityof practice around the OER. Not surprisingly in general there is strong support for adopting openpractices. Most projects subscribe to some form of creative commons licensing, in particular useattribution, non-commercial use, and share-alike.The Connexions initiative29 was mentioned across a number of the case studies as a valuable sys-tem for sharing and editing OER. Similarly the EduCommons content management system hasbeen used as an OER platform by a number of projects (for example OpenER). OpenLearn usedthe open source learner management systems Moodle for hosting their OER, whereas others usedcommercially available LMS (for example NDLR used Blackboard). Rather than create a separ-ate platform, UnisulVirtual, choose to use the specially adapted platform OpenLearning created.OpenExeter chose to use their existing Information Technology Infrastructure Library system,whereas U-NOW developed a conventional website. Some used relatively lightweight packagingand distribution of OER (using Word files in ZIP and PDF formats), whereas others adopted anXML-based framework. Gitta for example used eLML (eLesson Markup Language). A number ofthe sites incorporated or developed specialised repository tools to enable different types of search(for example AKLEON, Koolielu and Waramu) or KELDA (an annotated database).Web 2.0 tools were used in a variety of ways. ZUM-Unity used forums and blogs as a means ofexchanging ideas. In contrast, a number of projects chose wiki-based systems – sometimes forstorage and sometimes to promote discussion and community building (for example the Unescowiki, WIkiwjs, ZUM-wiki30 and Skriptenforum,31 eLibrary). MatheVital32 used a repository plus awiki for annotation. More specialised OER such as podcasts have either been distributed via spe-cialised podcasting platforms (as in the case of Podcampu) or via iTunes (for example the OUUKand the OpenSpires project at Oxford University). ELibrary used Voice-Over-IP and instant mes-saging. Other standard available web tools such as Twitter and YouTube have also been used as ameans of distributing information at the various OER initiatives. CCOT used the social network-ing site Ning to promote community engagement. The AVO project includes SOMETU,33 whichis also NIng based and provides a forum for people who are interested in the potential that socialmedia offers for learning. It is described as a tool that ‘not only helps expand one’s knowledgebut promotes business, eDemocracy, citizen activism and leisure activities in the digital age’(Nakki et al., 2011. The Koolielu portal is built on top of Elgg – an open source e-portfolio sys-tem. More recently a number of projects have been using the Cloudworks site as a means of shar-ing and discussing OER issues and practices (for example OpenExeter, Olnet, the Hewlettgrantees and NROC), (see for example Alevizou, Conole, & Galley, 2010). AVO is also exploringthe use of Virtual Worlds (along with mobile devices, blogs, wikis, and other social media tools).28 2
  11. 11. Finally a number of tools have emerged to support visualising OER, both in terms of making theirinherent designs explicit (CompendiumLD) and to support visualisation of argumentation aboutOER issues (Compendium and Cohere).At the educational level, in addition to the above a number of other factors emerged. There weresome good examples of use of voting and recommendations tools to enhance community engage-ment and shared consensus, and syndication formats like RSS and RSS aggregators to distributemetadata and provide access to content. Blogs, wikis and discussion forums have all been used asspaces to discuss OER/OEP and to co-create a shared understanding and there are examples of theuse of social networking sites and file sharing services (such as Flickr, Slideshare and YouTube).Collectively there is evidence that these tools enable peer critiquing and commenting, which isleading to an improved shared collective understanding. Community-based tagging - use of folk-sonomies to create metadata and tagging – has become more important as users have shifted awayfrom pre-defined metadata categories.Adopting open practices is, perhaps not surprisingly, fairly common. The emergence of the Creat-ive Commons license a few years ago was a major break through in terms of providing a meansfor projects to label the level of attribution and the degree of sharing they wanted on the re-sources. Most of the case studies reviewed from the UK, for example, use attribution, non-com-mercial, share-alike. However some projects were not comfortable with the share-alike option,meaning that repurposing of the OER was not possible. More generally in terms of adopting openpractices there are a range of approaches – for example some projects have deliberately chosen touse open source tools (such as Moodle), whereas others have opted for bespoke systems or com-mercially available products. Likewise projects differed in their attitudes to adherence to openstandards ranging from full to no compliance. In the BCcampus project, OER developers have achoice of two licensing options: Creative Commons Share Alike-Attribution Canada Licence orthe BC Commons licence (90% have chosen the latter).InnovationsInnovations evident included the use of tools specifically for the creation and use of OER (Con-nexions, OpenLearn, and eduCommons34 are particularly noteworthy), as well as examples of in-novation in the application of Web 2.0 practices to creation and use of OER (such as use of blogs,wikis, open repositories, RSS feeds, and social book marking).Examples of good practice were seen in a number of cases in the development of communitiesaround OER, such as the NDLR Communities of Practice approach, EducaNext and LeMill. Asdiscussed at the beginning of this chapter, some work has been done more recently to help makethe design of OER more explicit and application of the principles from pedagogical patternsworks, (Conole, et al., 2010) and there is clearly more potential for aligning research understand-ings from the field of pedagogical patterns to the design and use of OER.There were also examples of good practice in terms of support mechanisms that had been put inplace for staff – such as training materials, events, and workshops. See for example the NDLRprogramme of activities, the Campus promo kit and the materials produced by UnisulVirtual. TheAVO project appears to be innovative in terms of trying to harness Web 2.0 practices. Its statedoutcomes are the development of ‘new networks and forums to facilitate web 2.0-learning cul-ture, handbooks and toolkits for teachers, decision-makers and citizens about social media, pat-terns for social networking and open content production, roadshows and online-conferences,hands-on workshops and seminars to train users to apply digital tools to their everyday activities’.Another aspect of AVO that can be considered as innovative is that it collects actors and activistsof OEP in Finland into a nationwide network. Estonian initiatives are taking care of interconnec-34 1
  12. 12. tions with other repositories. Learning materials stored in Estonian Koolielu can also be searchedthrough the European Learning Resource Exchange portal. UnisulVirtual made an online courseavailable via the OpenLearn platform, but complemented this with local tutor support paid for bythe university.Other innovations included: provision of easy mechanisms to exchange both content and informa-tion about related OER activities (EducaNext), effective application of open source principles andlicences (UnisulVirtual and the University of Leicester case study), use of simulation environ-ments to provide learners with very visual, quasi-haptic approach to abstracting data(MatheVital), making lessons available at multiple levels for different types of learners and thegeneration of solution-orientated case studies (Gitta), the creation of new networks of peer learn-ing for experts of different fields (AVO) and student-led initiatives, where students share collec-tions of minutes, notes and scripts which they took in lectures and seminars in universities.Skills development and supportA range of mechanisms has been used to overcome academics’ initial concerns about OER and tohelp with skills development and support. These include: mechanisms to foster and support com-munity engagement, provision of case studies of good practice and exemplars, running of staffdevelopment events and workshops, and provision of specific training materials. For example theCampus promo kit includes marketing materials, guidelines and tutorials on OER, an open text-book adoption worksheet, OER needs assessment survey, policies and models. The NDLR andLeMill both adopt a Community of Practice approach and aim to facilitate the development ofCoP around the OER to provide mutual peer support and in particular the establishment of discip-line-based CoP.Getting staff-buy in and support, and making it relevant to them emerges as a key issue at thislevel, but also important is ensuring that there is a critical mass – of resources and of people - tosupport and sustain these types of initiatives. If this is not possible on an institutional level, part-nership models on national or international level are an alternative approach. Language and cul-ture issues are also barriers to uptake and adoption. This was evident in particular in case studieswhich involved translation of materials such as UnisulVirtual, who had to hire staff to translatethe OER and to discuss them with lecturers, for adaptation and localisation purposes. This hasalso been cited as an issue in Turkey, where the number of new universities has doubled since2003 and there is recognition of the value and role of OER, but only if they are available in Turk-ish. The AVO project aims to strength the production of open content through the development ofhigh quality materials by training and networking key experts.Business models and sustainability strategiesAn ongoing critical discourse against the Open Educational Resources movement is the issue ofhow it can be made sustainable in the longer term and what business models might be appropri-ate. Untangling which models are actually being used in practice is complex, as a number ofmodels might be used in conjunction and projects may change the basis of their business modelover time. For example it is common for projects to start through some funding initiative and thento move to an alternative model once that initial funding finishing.Downes (2007) provides a useful categorisation of funding models for open source type initiat-ives: endowment models (where the project obtains base funding), membership models (where acoalition is invited to contribute a sum), donations models (where requests are made for dona-tions), conversion models (where initial freely made material ultimately leads to some element ofpaying consumer), contributor-pay models (where the contributor pays for the cost of maintainingthe contribution and the provide makes it freely available), sponsorship models (such as commer-cial advertising), institutional models (where the institution assumes responsibility for the initiat- 2
  13. 13. ive), Government models (direct funding via Government agencies), and partnership or ex-changes (where the focus is on exchanging resources).In the case studies reviewed, a mixture of these models is evident. For example the OpenLearninitially fitted the endowment model through funding from the Hewlett foundation, but now issupported internally and hence fits under the institutional model primarily. However because ofthe ongoing range of spin off initiatives and partnerships it could also be considered to fit in witha number of the other models to some degree as well (endowment, conversion, and partnership).All of the case studies under the HEA/JISC OER programme were essentially a mix of endow-ment and institution, as although the are receiving funding for the work there is a requirement thatthere is institutional support and ongoing commitment to the work. The business model of Uni-sulVirtual was one of ‘independent investment’; that is, they did not use public funding money topromote their OER initiative, but used university funds to implement it. Their aim was to main-stream OER into their usual university practices. However, their model of making material avail-able via OpenLearn supported through local paid tutors is an example of institutional investment.BCCampus could be argued to be a mix of a Government model (as it received government aid)but also fits under the partnership model.The lack of clarity of individual business models is perhaps not surprisingly, as in reality projectswill probably adopt a number of strategies in conjunction. For example many initiatives have re-ported that making some of their educational resources freely available has lead to direct revenuereturns in terms of learners then signing up for paid courses (hence an example of the conversionmodel). Furthermore many of the pioneering early flagship OER projects now boast a range ofspinout initiatives, consultancy work and related research projects. Encouragingly there seems tobe a general recognition of and commitment to OER work as is evident in the number of institu-tions who are prepared to sign up for some element at least of the institutional model.Barriers and enablersMany of the projects have incorporated formal evaluation mechanisms and so have been able todocument both the barriers and enablers to the uptake and adoption of OER. Some of the barriersand enablers are technical (for example a lack of interoperability between platforms) but othersare more to do with cultural or organisational issues.For example in some instances there is evidence of users accessing OER but not repurposingthem. A commonly cited barrier is academics reluctance to provide resources under a CreativeCommons share-alike license. And more generally academics have often been slow to see the be-nefit of OER and have been concerned about the investment in time needed for creation and useof OER. A significant issue is the lack of experience of using Web 2.0 technologies and given thatmost OER are delivered and repurposed this way, this is potentially a significant barrier.The Pocket project aimed to explore the issues that inhibit users from downloading, uploadingand repurposing material from OpenLearn. The project identified a number of barriers to trans-formation and made recommendations for improvement (McAndrew & Wilson, 2008).As a means of overcoming barriers caused where Internet access is slow or expensive theeGranary project sets up mirror sites for OER. A good example of a project that has attempted toaddress users’ self-motivation is the Westminster university case study, where they used Multime-dia Training Videos as a means of promoting their OER and exploring the potential that Web 2.0tools have to offer as pedagogical tools. An alternative strategy is to see the OER work as part ofa broader family of e-learning initiatives. MatheVital is perceived as successful because it aug-ments other e-learning activities. 1
  14. 14. adopts a different approach to getting teacher engagement. In addition to its core offering,i.e. the digital learning materials, the portal offers a wide variety of materials for supportingteaching and learning, it organizes competitions and theme days (e.g. European Spring 2010, in-tellectual property rights day with European Competition) and includes links to European sitessuch as eTwinning.The collaborative approach adopted by the e-library project (involving e-library volunteers, stu-dents, scientists and employees) is stated as being a great motivator and helps teach the stake-holders involved to work in teams and gives them experience of using new technologies).Enhancing the quality and innovation of OERPinning down what is meant by ‘quality’ and ‘innovation’ in OEP is complex and difficult toquantify as the practice of developing OER varies from institution to institution, amongst groupsof OER specialists and those new to the area as well as between like-minded individuals with asubject interest agreed on creating an OER. With this in mind it is important to note that OERpractice is an area that may or may not observe national or, indeed, international boundaries. Re-sources may be delivered in multiple languages and potentially crossing a number of differentcultures as well as incorporating a variety of local educational practices. Each OER project has aparticular story to tell about its inception, creation, mechanisms used for ensuing good practiceand possible future developments.Capturing this diverse practice enables us to build a picture of current issues and should lead to agreater understanding of how OER can be created, developed and used in a variety of settings.Lessons of what works and what does not are essential to the further development of qualityOER, as well as their wider adoption in the educational community. Determining the perceivedquality of those existing OER and understanding any innovative methods used to create them canalso help forthcoming developments in the wider area of education where the OER practice mayor may not take place. The evidence from the case studies shows that different communities havedeveloped a diverse collection of OER and have demonstrated a variety of good educationalwork.OEP can take different forms: focuses on geographical coverage, exploitation of different types ofnetworking technologies and mechanisms for sharing, exploration of cultural or language issuessuch as the choice of language medium, as well as the actual scale of OER production, deliveryand support. Innovation can emerge during the development of OER and OEP as a result of per-ceived needs, the individual circumstances of the developers: experience, time frame and avail-able resources. It may be a reaction to these factors or simply transpires as a result of the localconditions and perceived OER status.ConclusionThe description of the Olnet and OPAL initiatives outlined in this chapter show how the OER re-search community is moving beyond the simple creation of OER repositories to much more of afocus on and articulation of research into the use of OER and identification of emergent OERpractices. In particular I think the detailed abstraction of OER practices, undertaken as part of theOPAL initiative has given us valuable insights and a richer understanding of how OER are beingused. This provides a solid foundation for translating this understanding to provide more supportand guidance for teachers and learners to effectively use OER. This may well address the initialissue discussed at the beginning of this chapter; namely the lack of uptake and use of OER by thelearning and teaching community. 2