K. Clements1, J. Pawlowski2, N. Manouselis3

1Univeristy of Jyväskylä (FINLAND)
2Ruhr West University of Applied Sciences (GERMANY)
3Agro-Know Technologies (GREECE)
Immense supply of open educational resources (OER) have become available and distributed via Open Educational Resources Repositories (OERRs) in the last decade. Federated OERRs are also built to harvest the metadata of existing repositories to improve access to even higher numbers of OER. This process brings critical masses of OER available to users, at the same time raising an increasing need for quality control of resources. Regardless of the amount of educational resources available, many OERRs are not used up to their full potential. Teachers are not willing to use their time in searching resources, which might not be suitable for their context. Various studies have shown that Quality of OER plays a significant role in the success of the repositories therefore it’s vital to review the quality approaches used in OERRs in order to determine which approaches make the repositories fail and succeed.

Open educational resources repositories use three levels of quality approaches:
1. The Generic Approach of Quality standards (e.g. ISO 9000 standards, European Foundation for Quality Management Excellence Model),
2. Spesific Quality Approaches (e.g. Content development criteria or competency requirements) and
3. Specific Quality Instruments (e.g. user generated quality approaches such as ranking, peer review or recommender systems).

In this study we investigated the use of different levels of quality approaches in OERRs. Previous OERR studies have quantitatively analyzed the repositories size, content growth and distribution. A Recent study reviewed the OERR quality instruments on a numerical level. However, so far there has been no research on the connection of the quality approaches to the success of the repositories which is the main motivation of our study.

This research was conducted with a qualitative multiple case study method not only to list the quality approaches taken but to understand why these approaches had been adopted as well as the experiences of how the approaches have worked for the selected 20 repositories. For this we interviewed 31 OERR managers, developers and user community building experts. 1/3 of the interviews covered Latin American repositories, while rest was based in Europe. One market leader repository was interviewed from USA. Our sampling method of repositories aimed to cover a wide range of different types (national and international) and different sizes of repositories. The contribution of this research is a review of 20 OERRs’ quality approaches and the analysis of their effects on the repositories’ success.

Results of our study show that most repositories rely heavily on the third level of quality approaches: The Specific Quality instruments and specifically user-generated quality approaches. Generic approaches are often forgotten and the uses of standards are rarely seen worthwhile. User-generated quality assurance mechanisms can only make repositories successful if the community around the repository is strong enough to support it. Based on our findings the success of an OERR requires a hired expert review for all content coming in, however this approach is often not a sustainable solution for OERRs due to the lack of funding involved in a long run. Our research benefits developers and managers of OERRs regarding the choices towards their quality assurance approaches.