Archive for the 'Reports' Category

Disappearing digital resources

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

One of the most striking aspects of our JISC funded Open-Educational-Resources Impact study was the extent to which using digital resources has become embedded in teaching practice. Digital resources are ‘disappearing into use’ as they become part of the fabric of higher education.

We interviewed strategists, academics and students to find out how they found and used digital resources. It wasn’t surprising to find that students were Googling for anything they could get their hands on but the extent to which academics are doing this as well was unexpected. The difference between the groups was that staff have the expertise required to critically evaluate what they find while the students are nervous about waiting-time using resources which might prove to be off-topic. They are also uncertain of how to cite non-traditional resources or if they should admit to using them as all. This is a good example of where digital literacy and traditional research skills are both essential.

But what about licensing? Well, those whose practice was highly visible on the web and therefore closely tied to the reputation of their institution were keen to use openly licensed materials. E.g. an online distance elearning team or groups that make modules which are rereleased out onto the web. Those in course or programme teams were less focused on licensing because their practice is largely private – within the VLE, in the lecture theatre etc. In day-to-day teaching the technicalities of reuse come second to the potential of a resource to make the student’s learning experience richer.

The OER Impact project analysed the link between the value of use and its impact in teaching and learning. There is a full research report and a shorter ‘accessible’ report available for download from JISC. Or you can watch the short video below to get an overview of our findings.

The video is published under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY)

OER Impact project team-

Technology-Assisted Lifelong Learning:
Mr David White
Ms Marion Manton

Learning Technologies Group:
Dr Elizabeth Masterman
Ms Joanna Wild

OER reuse landscape

Friday, January 21st, 2011

We started our investigation into reuse of OER by reviewing both the relevant research literature and a less formal, but equally important debate, in the blogosphere. The purpose was to:

  • Understand what issues associated with reuse have already been covered in the research and what still needs to be explored; and
  • Identify things that we haven’t thought about but might want to explore in our own research.

Below we give a brief summary of our observations; however, at the end of this post you will find a mindmap with the OER reuse landscape as it has presented itself to us in the literature that we have reviewed. The map has been published and is available for anyone to edit. We envisage it as a living document, so please contribute – for example, by adding new nodes, restructuring the old ones, or adding notes or new references.

Now, some of our general observations:

  • There are many beliefs as well as context-, position-, and perspective-sensitive opinions about the benefits that sharing and reuse might bring to society, education, teaching and learning in general, as well as to specific groups of users.
  • Something, but not enough, is known about who reuses what. Although quantitative data on downloads and hits tell us little about a particular user and their preference for specific types of OER, there is some qualitative evidence that particular user groups have preferences for specific attributes of reusable resources: e.g. teachers tend to prefer materials made out of loosely coupled assets that one can pick-up and incorporate into a new whole (see JISC Synthesis and Evaluation Report).
  • Almost nothing is known about the how and the why of reuse, but we were able to identify some interesting case studies with evidence of reuse and related benefits (e.g. Greaves et. al. 2010) (we are looking for more so please contact us if you have one or know of one).
  • More and more voices are now advocating a shift from the supply-driven concept of OER towards an understanding of their place in current teaching and learning practice, and whether (and how) they might contribute to changes in this practice. In this respect, they suggest discarding the concept of an ‘open resource’ and focusing on the concept of an ‘open person’ instead.
  • The areas defined as most challenging to the successful uptake of OER in educational community are: quality assurance, teaching culture and tradition, and the conflicting agendas of different stakeholders, e.g. institution promotes sharing and reuse of OER but at the same time only excellence in research is being rewarded.
  • Although our research is about reuse, nonetheless we should keep the notion of sharing at the back of our minds, as there seems to be a close link between the former and the latter in several aspects (for more about this, see our mindmap).
  • The OER “umbrella” seems to cover a huge range of resources (as shown on the mindmap), which may not make it a very useful concept from the user’s perspective. Certainly, it makes evaluating the impact of OER on teaching and learning practice very difficult. What we intend to achieve, however, is to broaden our understanding of the area to an extent where it will be possible to make suggestions about where further, in-depth investigations are needed.