R. Windle, H. Wharrad, H. Laverty

University of Nottingham (UNITED KINGDOM)
The current wide scale developments in open educational resources (OER) are having a major impact on the delivery of education across a range of sectors. This brings with it many opportunities, but also some challenges. We have been developing, releasing and evaluating openly available resources in the form of learning objects for approximately 10 years (http://sonet.nottingham.ac.uk). In this paper we share our experiences and evaluations of the impact of OER through a series of case studies.
One of greatest benefits of engagement with OER is that it provides an opportunity to work with a wide range of stakeholder groups whose knowledge and expertise are often not utilised fully within formal educational. We have developed a community of practice approach to OER creation that is focused on empowerment and developing shared ownership. Here we will describe the work that we have undertaken in the area of student-generated content and also our work with patient groups and the impact of the resources that have been created.
Similarly OER allows resources that have been created for use within educational institutions to become available to the general population. Here we discuss the use of such resources within the wider community and the impact that they have had.
“I went straight to 'Baby First’ [name of resource]. I have to tell you that the hairs stood up on the back of my neck as I was reading it. At long last, I thought, people who really care!” Parent of a child with a learning disability”
One of the challenges regarding OER is gaining an understanding how materials are being reused. An ongoing feedback mechanism implemented throughout our programme of OER release has enabled us to identify reuse in over 20 countries worldwide and to investigate the patterns by which reuse occurs. These patterns include: simple transfer to a recipient, the establishment of ongoing reuse partnerships, a “ripple effect” as resource reuse spreads from one institution to another and then to another and cloning where an institution first reuses and then emanates the process of resource creation and reuse. This data is also enabling us to gain a better understanding of the barriers and drivers to OER reuse.
Another challenge is the extent to which OER creators are equipped to design and develop for OER and the quality of the resulting resources. We have analysed 130 multimedia OERs created over a 2 year period and their evaluation with 2,250 learners across 3 HE institutions to address these questions. Analysis of the multimedia OER created revealed a number of distinct pedagogical patterns (Windle et al, 2007) with a clear alignment to the learning needs that resources were aimed at supporting. Learners rated the control of their learning as the most important benefit of the OER resources created, and this was also a key pedagogical driver for many of the tutors involved. Reuse was not seen as driver for resource development by tutors.
Therefore, OER has the potential to engage many stakeholder groups either in the creation of useful learning resources that can be widely reused with a significant degree of impact.