The Open University (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 4810-4821
ISBN: 978-84-612-7578-6
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
The adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) within teaching practice is currently under researched. Indeed although many OERs are freely available worldwide, little is known about who is actually using OER (Hylen, 2006; Wiley, 2006). The Open University’s OpenLearn initiative has been very successful in attracting over three million visitors to its sites since Oct 25th 2006. OpenLearn’s success is unsurprising perhaps since 13,500 study hours from The Open University course catalogue were transformed into OERs and made available by April 2008. Other universities are now also adding OER content to the OpenLearn LabSpace. However, despite the growing availability of such resources, experience from OpenLearn suggests that the reuse of OER by academics within their teaching remains a challenge.

The aim of this paper therefore is to review the ease or difficulty that academics find in seeking to adopt and reuse Open Educational Resources (OER) within their own teaching practice. The paper investigates the gap that exists between the OER available and the lack of repurposing of such resources. This review is based on working with a small group of academics at Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to consider how they might use, adapt and incorporate OER downloaded from OpenLearn within their own lectures and tutorials.

The project involves six academics from five (distance and campus based) HEIs across Europe and Africa:
• three semi-structured interviews (Preece et al., 1994; Zand, 1994; Fowler, 1993) were conducted face to face when distance was not an issue,
• three personal on-line semi-structured interviews were conducted when the interviewer and interviewee were long distances apart. Debenham (2001) termed this technique the epistolary interview.

The participants’ responses will be analysed in terms of categories to allow them to be compared and contrasted. The first questions are related to their interest in the content itself for their learners:
• Topics and units of interest which are available within OpenLearn,
• Additional material that they would like added.
The participants’ level of interest in reusing the material will be gauged from responses concerned with how the material would be used, presented, adapted, valued and supported. Possible models for reuse are also discussed based on the participants views and the potential of the OER.

For instance, the institutions representatives indicated how they would assess the value of OpenLearn material for learners. Three participants indicated that they would gauge the quality of the material through learner feedback only. The interviewee from the South African university was more specific saying that they would use assignments, interviews and student questionnaires. The participant from the Kenyan university suggested that the academic staff alone would be asked to review the material. Only one participant suggested seeking both lecturer and student feedback and using performance measures. The university in Germany found it difficult to agree how they would assess the value of the material as the university was in the ‘early phases of implementing eLearning’.

The paper focuses on the educator and their perspective of how they would use OER with their learners. This research provides useful and important initial guidance for future research aimed at more widespread adoption of OER.
open educational resources, open education, openlearn units, international, cross.