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Researching Reuse of Open Educational Resources

Patrick McAndrew and Tina Wilson at CALRG09

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Patrick McAndrew
20 May 2009

Open Educational Resource (OER) repositories around the world provide a vast array of freely available OER. (The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) http://web.mit.edu/ was the leader in this field with the OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiative in 2002). With existing OER communities having seven years of experience in the development of OER it is time to evaluate what has worked, why it has worked and how we can maximise on the design and redesign of OER for the benefit of learners and teachers. 

As OER are made freely available it is difficult to gauge how much reuse has been undertaken. As a case in point The Open University’s OpenLearn OER initiative has been very successful in attracting over four million visitors since Oct 25th 2006. Although OER have been available on OpenLearn for download; re-purposing and re-upload, relatively low numbers of new or changed courses have appeared in the OpenLearn LabSpace. 

The need to gather evidence of use and reuse of OER on a much wider scale is identified as a major research project Open Learning Network (OLnet), which started in March 2009. Based on the lessons of experience and evidence, the initial aim of the project is to draw in existing OER and social networked communities to evaluate what types of OER have worked well in terms of learning and teaching. The project will investigate the best ways to develop new OER and redesign existing OER for reuse worldwide. OLnet is funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and starts from a base of having a number of partners, which will be built upon over the three-year period of the project (in conjunction with drawing on existing OER communities).  

This paper will discuss progress in the first few months of the project which includes the development of: OLnet.org; workshops and the first fellowships.  
 

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