The Evolvement of Open Educational Resources
Ming Nie, University of Leicester, UK
Conference Theme: Impact
Summary: A report on the key findings of the EVOL-OER project which aims to develop a deeper understanding of the reuse of OERs by academics HEIs.
Abstract: This presentation reports on the key findings from a research project called EVOL-OER (www.le.ac.uk/evoloer), funded by SCORE (www8.open.ac.uk/score/). EVOL-OER aims to develop a deeper understanding of the reuse of open educational resources (OERs) by academics in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). UK funding has largely been allocated to projects that focused on the creation of OER repositories and promotion of a sharing culture among academics in HEIs to release their resources as OERs. There is a lack of understanding of how the OERs accumulated in the repositories are being modified and reused over time. Limited research has been conducted to investigate the detail of OER reuse. Based on a study conducted as part of the SONET project (sonet.nottingham.ac.uk/), Windle et al. (2010) identified reuse patterns in terms of how reuse spreads from one institution to another. Wiley (2007) categorised types of pedagogical reuse engaged in by the end users in terms of: as-is, technical adaptations, linguistic adaptations, cultural adaptations, pedagogical adaptations, and annotation as adaptations. The ORIOLE project (orioleproject.blogspot.com/) aims to tackle questions such as motivation and concerns around reuse. These initial investigations into reuse provided a foundation on which the EVOL-OER project is based. EVOL-OER addresses drivers, barriers and strategies adopted by HEI academics for the reuse and adaptation of OERs. It also studies how the reused resources evolve over time. The project aims to develop a series of case studies to capture diverse examples of how original OERs have been reused, repurposed, and further developed. EVOL-OER uses a range of qualitative methods, including semi-structured interviews with reusers, analysis of email exchanges with reusers, and analysis of existing examples and case studies on OER reuse. The reusers are selected from the academics in both UK and overseas HEIs who have had extensive experience in reusing OERs. EVOL-OER project started on the 1st of October 2011. Its key findings and outcomes will be presented at the conference. Initial data obtained from OER reusers show that improving the quality of teaching materials, saving time and scarcity of resources are key drivers for reuse. Changing academic culture and practice, time investment and lack of support are considered key challenges in reuse. Initial evidence also shows that reusers tend to make minimum changes to the original OERs. Their reuse behaviours range from use ‘as is’ to minor changes, such as changing branding, adding acknowledgements, creating an index, removing or replacing activities, and updating content and context. Size, granularity, format of the OER, lack of technical skills and support have so far been reported as the key factors affecting the level of modification. Differences in motivation, challenges and strategies for reuse have been found in different countries. For example, in African countries, lack of access to quality resources is prominent. Limited access to computers and poor internet connections present difficulties and have an impact on the way the reused resources are shared back to the community. This presentation will collate all key project findings and present them in a format that will open up further opportunities for research into OER reuse.