Open Education Handbook/Impact of OER

Studies have been carried out to gauge the effect of Open Educational Resources (OER) use on teaching and learning. The Jisc OER Impact Study was conducted between November 2010 and June 2011 by a team from the University of Oxford. It concluded in July 2011, the research report concluding that OER's main impact factors are pedagogic, attitudinal, logistical and strategic. The OER Research Hub is also looking at the question 'What is the impact of OER on learning and teaching practices?' and will be releasing reports in forthcoming years. Some argue that OER have so far failed to reach their potential. The paper, Ten Years Later: Why Open Educational Resources Have Not Noticeably Affected Higher Education, and Why We Should Care notes that significant adoption hurdles to OER exist including discoverability, quality control, failure to organise and acquisition.

A recent study by Pirkkalainen, Jokinen & Pawlowski lists the following barriers to OER adoption:

  • Lack of motivation to share resources or information around those resources
  • Lack of time for production and localization of OER
  • Need for Rewards and Acknowledgement
  • Lack of contextual information for the resources – how can be used or modified
  • Open content does not fit the scope of the course / curriculum
  • Lack of trust towards unknown authors or systems where resources retrieved from
  • “Not invented here” notion; hesitation to receiving knowledge someone else has created
  • Hard to assess the quality and relevance

The EU funded Open Educational Ideas project claims: "The main purpose of licensing educational material under open licences is to allow for anyone to use, re-use or re-purpose them. However, despite a strong movement in recent years to publish such material, OER reuse is still not a common practice in Higher Education, schools and enterprises."

OER are being used by K-12 teachers (who teach school education), but this is still an emerging area.

The teachers in some countries have embraced open materials more that those in others, this is often driven by cost and availability of traditional materials. For example in the United States College open textbooks have become more common due to the high cost of textbooks that has to be borne by parents and students.

One interesting project is the initiative by Leicester council in the UK to create guidance for secondary school staff. The OER project is part of the Council’s DigiLit Leicester initiative, designed to support schools in making the most of the city’s current investment in technology, as part of Leicester’s £340 million pound Building Schools for the Future Programme. The project has identified a gap in support and information for teachers relating to the use and creation of Open Educational Resources. An understanding of OER and open licencing will support schools and staff in sharing and accessing resources, and in developing staff and learner digital literacy skills and knowledge.

The team working on the project have previously worked on several initiatives which support the creation and use of use of Open Education Resources by schools across Europe and internationally, including the ORBIT project and the OER4Schools programme, at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.

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