Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Thinking about OER

Thinking about OER sends me to a long list of references.

JISC through CETIS have been hardworking in providing an OER Briefing Document - content to be listed way below.

Meanwhile a few web searches have turned up resources from various places, and I am using this space to collate theme here. My objective is to produce one or more concept maps which give a flavour of the objectives which can be addressed by a successful

The Shuttleworth Foundation in South Africa (clearly folk who do not listen to Radio 4) have been looking at open education, and suggested these high level documents.
  1. Open Sourcing Education: learning and wisdom from iSummit 2007 [1]
  2. Budapest Open Access Initiative declaration [2]
  3. Hewlett's A Review of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement [3]
  4. OECD's Giving Knowledge for Free: The Emergence of Open Educational Resources [4]
  5. OLCOS Roadmap 2012 [5]
They held a workshop, and there was a concept map and a mindmap from a couple of the groups which whilst not all encompassing, can be a starting point for some of the possible perspectives

JISC Briefing document - was originally produced in Word, the content below is more useful as you can follow the links (of which there are 40!). I will get round to making all the links live later on. For now at least you have them available in your web browser.

Briefing Paper on Open Educational Resources
(prepared to support bidders to the Academy/JISC Open Educational Resources funding circular)

This paper details a range of further reading and resources that may be useful to you in preparing a bid to any part of the Open Educational Resources (OER) programme. It is by no means a complete set of resources, neither is it required that bids reference any or all of them.

We have split this document into sections as follows

Briefing Paper on Open Educational Resources 1
What are Open Educational Resources? 1
What are the aims of this Programme? 2
Overviews and General Guidance 2
Intellectual Property Rights. 3
Technical and Data Management Issues 4

What are Open Educational Resources?

What are learning resources?
Whilst purely informational content has a significant role in learning and teaching, it is helpful to consider learning resources by their levels of granularity and to focus on the degree to which information content is embedded within a learning activity:
• Digital assets – normally a single file (e.g. an image, video or audio clip), sometimes called a ‘raw media asset’;
• Information objects – a structured aggregation of digital assets, designed purely to present information;
• Learning objects – an aggregation of one or more digital assets which represents an educationally meaningful stand along unit;
• Learning activities – tasks involving interactions with information to attain a specific learning outcome;
• Learning design – structured sequences of information and activities to promote learning.

What are open learning resources?
The following definitions and examples are taken from a paper prepared by Li Yuan at JISC CETIS concerning the state of open educational resources internationally. This has been a very well received paper, and can be accessed from the CETIS website (

The term Open Educational Resources (OER) was first introduced at a conference hosted by UNESCO in 2000 and was promoted in the context of providing free access to educational resources on a global scale. There is no authoritatively accredited definition for the term OER at present; the most frequently used definition is, “digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research” (OECD, 2007).

Open Educational Resources (OER) initiatives aspire to provide open access to high-quality education resources on a global scale. From large institution-based or institution-supported initiatives to numerous small-scale activities, the number of OER related programmes and projects has been growing quickly within the past few years.

According to OECD (OECD, 2007), there are materials from more than 3000 open access courses (open courseware) currently available from over 300 universities worldwide.

In the United States resources from thousands of courses have been made available by university-based projects, such as MIT OpenCourseWare and Rice University’s Connexions project: ( , )

In China, materials from 750 courses have been made available by 222 university members of the China Open Resources for Education (CORE) consortium.
( )

In Japan, resources from more than 400 courses have been made available by the19 member universities of the Japanese OCW Consortium. ( )

In France, 800 educational resources from around 100 teaching units have been made available by the 11 member universities of the ParisTech OCW project. ( )

In Ireland, universities received government funding to build open access institutional repositories and to develop a federated harvesting and discovery service via a national portal. It is intended that this collaboration will be expanded to embrace all Irish research institutions. ( )

And in the UK, the Open University have released a range of their distance learning materials via the OpenLearn project ( )

What are the aims of this Programme?

The joint JISC/Higher Education Academy Open Educational Resources Pilot programme has been designed to support institutions, consortia and individuals to release open educational resources for use and repurposing worldwide, by assisting the development of appropriate processes and polices to make this process an integral part of the learning material creation workflow.

The pilot year will help us understand the most effective ways of supporting this aim, and is intended as the precursor to a longer programme to promote the embedding of these processes across institutions.

Widely available learning content, and informational content, is fundamentally changing the relationship between students and their institutions as sources of expertise. This presents a challenge to existing models of the production of academic knowledge and the role of the institution in supporting student learning. Coupled to this, HE funding models are changing in response economic pressures, many institutions are re-examining their own business models in response to this.

Our objectives in investing in this area are to promote the sharing and reuse of learning resources, and to provide a reputational benefit to UK higher education through the promotion of high quality learning resources world wide.

We expect to see benefits to the institutions involved and the UK HE sector as a whole in terms of overseas recruitment and academic reputation as a result of the work started by this programme.

Overviews and General Guidance
A number of high-level studies have already been commissioned in this area, along with many projects and guidance notes. This section provides a general overview of the resources available to institutions, consortia and individuals with an interest in Open Educational Resources and the OER Pilot programme.

The Open CourseWare Consortium (OCW) is an international organisation offering guidance to institutions and organisations across the world investigating the open release of learning content. They have provided an online toolkit to support potential projects in exploring the issues related to this form of release.

The Open University’s OpenLearn project has opened access to a wide range of distance learning material via their website. In addition to these learning resources, OpenLearn have also provided advice for educators, which describes the nature of open content and the ways in which it can be used.

Get Started: Educators

“Creating Open Educational Resources” module

Pocket Project
This project is investigating the potential of migrating open content approaches in a range of disciplines across a number of different higher education institutions. The project will run from November 2007 until February 2009 and will be led by the University of Derby. The partner institutions currently working with the University of Derby on the POCKET project are: University of Bolton, Open University and the University of Exeter.

Good Intentions Report
The JISC information environment and e-learning teams have jointly commissioned a report entitled “Good Intentions”, examining various business cases for sharing learning materials. We would strongly recommend reading this as a precursor to identifying and describing your own business case.

Sharing eLearning Content
The JISC Sharing eLearning Content report is a synthesis of and commentary on findings across 30-40 JISC projects in a number of different programmes over the past 3-4 years. The conclusions it draws are aimed at JISC rather than individual institutions, but this is a useful overview of existing work in this area

LRA Infokit
The Learning Resources and Activities Infokit contains further links to previous and current JISC funded resources in this area.

RepRODUCE Programme
The RepRODUCE programme is addressing the repurposing of existing content for use within institutions and for subsequent open release. Helen Beetham has worked with the programme management team to provide resources concerning the evaluation of activity in this area. You may wish to view the slides linked to from:
and the evaluation plan and quality assurance plan linked to from:

Intellectual Property Rights.

JISC have recently published guidance on the various types of open licences suitable for resources released by projects in this call.

The CASPER project was established to support the RepRODUCE programme. It provides a range of online resources, including guidance on clearing background IPR, letter templates and licenses.

The Web2rights project was developed alongside the Users and Innovation programme. It creative an interactive toolkit to facilitate the consideration of relevant issues when using web 2.0 resources in learning.
An animation based on the work of this project has been released.

The JISC Legal service provides guidance to the community on various legal issues, including intellectual property rights.

The JISC IPR consultancy has also provided a range of materials in this area, including guidance specific to web 2.0, and useful background material for those unfamiliar with IPR issues:

The TrustDR project have produced a “development pack” dealing with IPR issues in content sharing:

Further guidance will be made available shortly after the release of the call concerning institutional IPR policies. This document will be updated to include a link.
Technical and Data Management Issues

The JISC CETIS innovation centre is active in most of the technical areas linked to the release of open learning content. The Educational Content Special Interest Group (EC SIG) is a good starting point for engaging with open educational content initiatives and debates. EC SIG contact details and additional resources are available from:

Jorum is a online repository service for teaching and support staff in UK Further and Higher Education Institutions, helping to build a community for the sharing, reuse and repurposing of learning and teaching materials. Jorum is in the process of moving into a new phase that will be engaging with the open educational resources agenda. For further details of Jorum’s current and future direction visit:

A useful briefing paper on sharing learning materials through repositories, written by Andrew Rothery of Worchester University,

Community Dimensions of Learning Object Repositories - Structured Guidelines for setting up LO repositories

I will get round to making all the links live later on. For now at least you have them available in your web browser.

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