OER10: The Openness Agenda

OER10 Conference, Cambridge, UK.

Opening Talk by Dr Malcom Read, JISC Executive Secretary

Live blogging, 10:30 AM

Dr Read starts by discussing the various contexts in which ‘openness’ is used:

  • Open source: software
  • Open standards: interoperability
  • Open Access: research  outputs, research data
  • Open Educational Resources: course material
  • Open Science: open innovation (the research process becoming more open via web 2.0)

OER New Challenges:  need to focus on the discovery and use of OER and also on learning form current experiences (reuse).

HEFCE funding for next year (2011) is  £4million and will incorporate the release of projects in identified priority areas only. Another goal is to improve the findability of OER resources.


OpenLearn Research Report 2006-2008

This is the OpenLearn Research Report of the OpenLearn initiative of the Open University UK. Here we discuss both the user and the provider experience with open educational resources (OER), and we bring to the fore the importance of collaborative activities to foster the use of such resources. A number of case studies are presented.

Explore, map and build workshop

Live blogging:


This morning we are gathered together at the Open University, The Design Observatory, Observation Space, to discuss the connections amongst the various OER projects existing in the university. By ‘we’ I mean representatives from projects such as OLnet, Atelier-D, OpenLearn, SCORM, LDI, iSpot, the TERG research group and the OU Library.

We started by ‘building’ a virtual representation of the projects, using traditional technologies such as pens, paper, glue and magazines! Interestingly, most posters have pictures that evoke meanings such as networks, international scope, multiculturality, technologies and mixed age-groups.

Andreia Santos started by talking about the main three elements of OLnet (Open Learning Network): networking, participatory research and fellowships. OLnet is an international research hub that aims to bring together OER researchers, providers and practitioners with a view to promote a space for the sharing of experiences in designing, using and re-using OER. It offers a website and links to tools such as social networking (Cloudworks), a mapping tool (Cohere) and blogging/discussion forums to support community engagement.

Lucia Rapanotti follows by talking about The Virtual MPhil, a research programme offered by the OU computing department aiming to support a diverse community through online technology, bringing together supervisors and students working at a distance. It involves a number of technologies, such as Second Life and Ning.

Andy Lane talks about OpenLearn as a test-bed, a project to develop OER on big scale (big ‘d’). It exposes the OU content and other people’s content , but it is also a platform in which many things can be done. There is the LabSpace and Learning Space, and overall 20000 download of study units every week. OpenLearn is a test-bed for learners, for students, for educators, for the universities. People can do things with it and they do not have to ask us to do so. Research continues to be an important element to the understanding of how useful these materials are for the community and actually what they ‘do’ with them.

Theo Zamenopoulos talks about Atelier-D: Achieving Transformation, Enhanced Learning and Innovation through Educational Resources and Design. Atelier-D is a design studio (of materials), a place for people to work together in collaboration with tutors and other students. It is a social environment for collaboration. The big question for the project is how to use the technologies to understand the dynamics of a traditional design studio. They use a mix of technologies such as Facebook, Second Life, Compendium, Flickr and Elluminate. They aim to bridge the use of these tools and try and create an infrastructure for the students to work with. How to integrate the complexities of the use of all these technologies is one of the project’s challenge (and of OLnet too, I should add!)

The next project showcased is iSpot; a project interested in wildlife and providing a space for the sharing of ideas within a friendly community. It is a place for informal and mobile learning, in which individuals can use the resources provided to observe wildlife and share information. The research side of iSpot is to observe people in their journey, how they use resources and make connections with them, although they say it is a real challenge!

TERG (Technology and Education Research Group) is a research group in the communication systems department, focusing on the use of technologies for learning and on how to learn with technologies. It involves different people at the OU collaborating and sharing experiences.

More on Explore, Map and Build to follow….

How to…OER

Live blog:11:25AM

New OER initiatives are popping out throughout the world. It is often the case that institutions are looking for answers on how to get started as OER providers, and how to get their staff and students involved in the process. Today I am in a meeting with some Dutch universities, which are either already offering content online or considering joining the OCW movement. The questions they ask and discuss in the meeting are, in my view, very relevant for any institution contemplating offering OER. These are:
What is the best audience for OER, learners or teachers?
What sort of support should an institution provide to its staff to design OER?
Should lecturers be involved in publishing the materials as well as developing them? Or should they only concentrate on designing, and the institution provide the infra-structure for publishing?
How to involve lecturers in designing and providing content?
What criteria to use to guarantee that the material offered is of high quality?
What do lecturers have to know before they get started?
With so much technology available, how to decide on the best media for OER provision?
OpenLearn has answers for many of these questions (perhaps all), but “does one size fit all’? By the way, this is one of the favourite questions of our new VC, Mr Martin Bean. And it is also something that OLnet is interested in finding out, evidence of best practices that can serve as a starting point for discussion around these issues. OLnet welcome ideas, experiences and stories to share with the community.

The Discourses of OERs: how flat is this world?

 This paper was presented at the Open Education Conference, Utah State University, September 2007

 The Discourses of OERs: how flat is this world?

Power point slides

Abstract:  This paper discusses the provision of open educational resources, drawing on the concept of a ‘flat world’ (Friedman, 2005). A discourse analytical perspective (Fairclough, 2000) is used to discuss data from example OER initiatives. We enquire how flattening such initiatives are in terms of widening participation and empowering individuals through the access to knowledge.