WED: 'To implement or not to implement a policy on OER - that is the question' (Oliver Sterland)
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8 January 2015
OER (Open Educational Resources) exist in a variety of guises including: ‘bottom-up’, informal artefacts described as ‘granular’ by Weller (2011); targeted projects which are externally funded by bodies such as JISC; or institutionally supported MOOCS which enjoy internal resourcing.
Research also suggests that different stakeholders within an HE institution may have conflicting motivations with regards to OER. For example, ‘champions’ of OER amongst teaching staff may be concerned with quality enhancement, whilst management teams are more likely to look to the monetization of MOOCs as branding or recruitment tools (Nikoi and Armellini, 2012)
Yet despite diverging priorities, Yang et al. (2008) crucially maintain that the sustainability of OER relies on the adoption of an OER policy by senior management within an institution.
This presents a paradox, since HE directorate is also faced with a series of significant disincentives around OER. Olcott (2012) observes with regards to teaching staff: ‘unfortunately, most of our global colleagues are not waiting in anticipation for the next best OER to enter cyberspace’. There is also considerable uncertainty around copyright amongst academics (Yang, 2008) and the ‘holy grail’ of repurposing OER is by no means a ‘given’. In short, the scale of culture change necessitated by the organised introduction of OER is daunting.
Likewise, the return on investment for directorate is unclear, other than for MOOC-related courses. OER creation, repository curation and additional training are costly, and the OER Research Hub (2012) is ambivalent on both financial return and quality enhancement. Elsewhere, commentators speculate on a potentially divisive ‘participation gap’ which could result from differing technological abilities amongst staff (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012).
So how is that certain institutions seem then to be successfully embracing OER? After all, according to the OER Research Hub map, (OER Research Hub, 2012) the UK has the second highest concentration of OER in the world after the United States.
The conference contributor had previously written a mock, 5-year OER implementation policy for his own institution, Regents University London, as part of the OU H817 course. Through a ‘networked’ approach he now seeks to understand how OER may have gained momentum in other private HEIs based in the UK. Comparison will also be made with the public sector in an attempt to understand whether PEST factors may affect the environment differently. In particular, the contributor is interested to determine whether a ‘bottom-up’ or ‘top-down’ management strategy (or some combination of the two) has been instrumental in successful adoption .
The artefact for presentation at the conference will be in multimedia format using the free online toolkit, Xerte, designed by Nottingham University.