Thursday, 3 April 2014

Three key issues in OER and how these are being addressed

McGill et. al.(2013) identify four key issues in the UK that greatly impact on the effectiveness of OER: stakeholder needs, sustainability, policies and practice and finally: practical issues relating to skills and understanding. In reality, they are interdependent having both similar and differing needs. The following resume, unless otherwise stated highights some of the issues as identified by McGill et al. (2013).

1. Stakeholder Needs
These are not homogenous groups, their diversity results in 'multiple approaches to address multiple needs'
  • how they respond to change – blockers or enablers
  • varying roles both as producers, consumers and re-workers of OER materials
  • confidence, knowledge and skills relating to digital learning
  • Practitioner's 'best practice' re: pedagogies conflicting with learner's demands

2. Sustainablility
The key to sustainability lies in the acceptance of OER, other issues include:
  • cost, where new materials may be cheaper to produce than re-working existing resources
  • lack of confidence by institutional stakeholders in the long term value of OER against ROI
  • Guaranteed funding through an effective open business model
  • Recognition by all stakeholders including the professional bodies that can accredit or legitimise a subject area
  • incompatibility with existing cultures and technology platforms
  • lack of commitment by senior level staff

3. Practical issues
There are many practical issues, some generic and some idiosyncratic
  • Lack of time to build up skills set in designing, overseeing and supporting OER
  • Lack of appropriate tools for sharing and customising, reworking resources
  • Lack of policies and procedures to support use of OER in instiutions
  • Lack of integration with current materials and resources
  • Lack of national accreditation

Addressing the Issues
There are no quick fixes or simple solutions. The JISC report considers a range of approaches to ameliorate some of the above obstacles to long-term take up of OER. These include:-

Stakeholder needs
  • OERs are being used as a marketing tool to encourage potential learners to 'try before they buy' through taster sessions.
  • Providing learners with opportunities to be both consumers and producers of content.
  • Enabling academics to co-create materials with 'strangers' both across the globe and across subject areas
  • Ensuring that there is easier access to materials by world-wide market of 'learners'
  • Encouraging stakeholders to develop digital skills
  • Encourage practitioners to explore new pedagogies to enhance OER learning opportunities
  • Provide awareness raising activities focussing on the development, accessibility and scope of OER

Sustainability and Practical needs
  • Promoting an institutional-wide vision incorporating the use of OER (Murphy, 2013)
  • Developing policies in tandem with commercial publishers to create 'open' publications in line with new business models
  • Identify quality standards and processes to build trust and confidence in the creation and reworking of materials
  • Review policies and practicies that might conflict with learning pathways of OERu, to enable appropriate accreditation (Murphy, 2013)
As with most major changes there is likely to be a gradual evolution that will surge ahead once the tipping point has been reached.

(495 words)

Kozinska, K.; Kursun, E.; Wilson, T.; McAndrew, P.; Scanlon, E. and Jones, A. (2010). Are open educational resources the future of e-learning? In: 3rd International Future-Learning Conference: Innovations in
Learning for the Future, 10-14 May 2010, Istanbul, Turkey.

McGill, L., Falconer, I., Dempster, J.A., Littlejohn, A. and Beetham, H. (2013) Journeys to Open Educational Practice: UKOER/SCORE Review Final Report, London, JISC. Also available online at (Accessed 31 March, 2014).

Murphy, A. (2013) Open Educational Practices in Higher Education: Institutional adoption and challenges, ODLAA, Distance Education Summit

Wikieducator (2013) OERu, [Online] Available from: (Accessed April 3rd 2014)

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