Open Educational Resources (OER): Perspectives from the professions

This post was compiled by Philippa Hunter-Jones (University of Liverpool Management School, P.Hunter-Jones@liverpool.ac.uk).

Background

This workshop was designed to make more sense of Open Educational Resources (OERs). OERs are defined by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (2008) as “teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others”. The ethos of sharing, co-creation, improvement, re-purposing and re-modelling of knowledge, lies at the heart of the OER movement. OERs provide an important additional source of downloadable educational materials. They are currently under-utilized in the teaching, learning and assessment strategies of many academic communities, despite being housed in easily accessible platforms including institutional repositories, and wider umbrella repositories including JORUM, Scribd, Slideshare and WikiEducator. Their free and usually digitized nature makes them easy to integrate into module delivery.

Speakers contributing to the workshop have all been actively involved in developing and re-purposing OERs now for a number of years. The HEA has been a particularly strong supporter of this activity. Funding through HEFCE OER Phase Two and Three programmes has led to the development of a number of resources including:

Hunter-Jones, Philippa (2011) An insider’s guide to becoming a business academic : questions, answers and checklists for new business academics. http://research-archive.liv.ac.uk/3533/
Cuthbertson, C. and Hunter-Jones, Philippa (2011) Business education jargon buster. http://research-archive.liv.ac.uk/3593/
Hunter-Jones, Philippa (2013) An insider’s guide to becoming a business academic in the UK: insights for the international academic community. http://research-archive.liv.ac.uk/9363/

Presentations

This workshop, chaired by Lisa Anderson, University of Liverpool, was aimed at people with limited knowledge of Open Educational Resources but who were interested in learning more. It drew together expertise from across the Social Science and STEM disciplines to question what are OERs? before moving into discussions on how to develop and make the most of OER in HE today. Many fascinating discussions emerged throughout the day, not least the march of the MOOC… the Massive Open Online Course… and the implications of this for the future of higher education.

Initially Alex Fenlon from the HEA introduced workshop participants to the meaning and scope of OER, outlining also the work of the HEA in this area and the different projects which have been previously supported.

Philippa Hunter-Jones, University of Liverpool, then provided insights into her recent OER activity. Here she talked about the HEA/JISC OER Phase Three Programme: Promoting UK OER Internationally and introduced the audience to the guide which has resulted from that funding (see http://research-archive.liv.ac.uk/9363/). Philippa’s presentation can be accessed via this link.

The morning concluded with a presentation by Beverly Leeds, University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), into creating reusable OERs for employability. Amongst other things, Beverly introduced the audience to the ‘Revolve’ programme based at UCLAN.

After lunch Adam Mannis and Tanya Novoselova (University of Liverpool) presented an engineering take on OER activity.  Adam and Tanya’s presentation can be accessed via this link.

The audience was introduced to three distinct OER projects: CORE-Materials, CORE-SET and ENGrich. Brandon Crimes, University of Hertfordshire, completed the presentations introducing OER work undertaken by the former HEA Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism (HLST) Subject Network linked to the Olympics 2012 – 2012 Legacies for Learning. Brendan’s presentation can be accessed via this link.

Lynn Vos, HEA Discipline Lead for Marketing, brought the proceedings to a close outlining her role within the HEA and opportunities available to the audience for further support.

Future work

There are a considerable number of OER projects ongoing in this sector. From the workshop we were introduced to three projects linked to Engineering: CORE-MaterialsCORE-SET and ENGrich.
We were also introduced to ongoing work within the University of Central Lancashire in the employability area and OER work undertaken by the former HEA Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism (HLST) Subject Network into 2012 Legacies for Learning.

The OER movement faces a number of challenges. These include, but are not limited to, issues linked to quality, sustainability and acceptance across the wider academic community. Perhaps even more fundamentally a lack of awareness of what these resources are and what they can contribute to the educational environment threatens their widespread adoption. At the University of Liverpool work is underway to develop a university wide collaborative OER group, with cross-faculty representation. It is hoped that such a group will be able to raise the profile of OER at an institutional level contributing more widely to the OER movement at the same time.

Discussion

The outcomes of all publicly funded research projects should be made freely available through OER. What do you think about this statement and why?

To respond please use the ‘leave a reply’ function below.

11 thoughts on “Open Educational Resources (OER): Perspectives from the professions

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  6. Well done! This is a great project.

    Please update your Hewlett OER definition: http://www.hewlett.org/programs/education-program/open-educational-resources

    “OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use *and* re-purposing by others.”

    Hewlett recently changed this from “or” to “and.” This is important. For something to be an OER, everyone must be able to (a) freely re-use the work AND (b) have the legal rights to reuse, revise, remix and redistribute the work (i.e., the legal rights to change the work).

    Cable Green, PhD
    Director of Global Learning
    Creative Commons

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  10. Many thanks for your feedback. The team will be delighted to receive it!

    In terms of the definition, yes, we can happily amend this but notice that on the Hewlett Foundation website it does still carry the ‘or’ rather than ‘and’. Is the change you mention likely to appear on the website soon, or is there another reference we should insert to source the updated definition?

    Thanks again

    Philippa Hunter-Jones
    Senior Lecturer in Marketing
    University of Liverpool

  11. Colleagues interested in OER may like to come along to our free one-day event in March: Changing the Learning Landscape – Open Practice in the Social Sciences http://bit.ly/XRC4di

    Topics covered include:

    - an introduction to open practice and OERs (including MOOCs);

    - a case study of learning to share, sharing to learn;

    - developing open academic practices within social science research methods teaching;

    - new forms of scholarly communication in the social sciences;

    - finding Open Resources in the Social Sciences;

    - student perspectives on the use of Open Practice in social science teaching and learning;

    - accessibility aspects of Open Practice.

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