Visioning and policy development for OER

This blog post is a co-production of Ben Janssen (OpenEd Consult) and me. Nederlandse versie

In the previous four blogs, we have discussed the value of OER from various perspectives. First, we referred to the 2019 UNESCO Recommendation (UNESCO, 2019) which indicates that Open Educational Resources (OER) can make an important contribution to achieving the Social Development Goals (SDG), in particular Goal 4: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Universal access to quality education is, according to UNESCO, the key to building peace, sustainable social and economic development and intercultural dialogue.

OER can make a significant contribution to improving teaching and learning around the world by making high quality education universally accessible and ensuring that the learning content is state of the art. By encouraging educators and learners around the world to share, reuse and collaborate on learning resources, OER can also contribute to international knowledge exchange, social cohesion and a peaceful, sustainable world for all. In addition, the value of OER is closely linked to public values: those values that we as a society, as institutions, and as individuals consider so important that we make choices and take actions based on them.

In this fifth and final blog in our series, we deal with the development of an institutional vision and policy for OER. A vision for OER can be part of a broader vision on digital learning resources or on education as a whole, but it can also be formulated as a vision on its own. An example of a broader perspective on digital learning resources at national and institutional level was published last year by the Dutch Acceleration Plan. This vision can be a starting point for vision development for an institution or a cross-institutional partnership (for example a subject-related Community of Practice). Ideally, such a vision should fit with a vision on teaching or learning. The vision for digital learning resources then describes the conditions that digital learning resources and the processes involving them must meet.

Guidelines

For policy-making, we refer to a publication Guidelines on the development of open educational resources policies by UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) in which Ben Janssen was one of the authors (Miao et al, 2019). The publication provides detailed guidelines for developing systematic and effective policy regarding OER. Such a policy is important in order to coordinate, strengthen, and guide initiatives within a country or institution. It aims to get actors and institutions at various levels to work together to achieve common goals regarding OER.

The guidelines describe the various steps for developing, implementing, monitoring, evaluating and analysing a context-relevant OER policy. It provides a comprehensive framework for governments and institutions to determine their vision and the scope of their policy, and to develop and implement an appropriate implementable policy plan. The purpose of the guidelines is to help people go through the various steps involved in drawing up an OER policy, involving the various stakeholders in drawing up an implementation plan, and determining the appropriate implementation, monitoring, evaluation and possible adjustment of the policy. Figure 1 shows the steps.

Figure 1. Steps for vision and policy formulation for OER

The guidelines describe the whole process of designing and implementing an OER policy in seven chapters, each representing a distinct phase in the whole process. Each chapter introduces the purpose of the phase, provides background information, and refers to practical examples to illustrate it. At the end of each chapter, specific tasks are formulated for the policy designer that will help formulate the final OER policy.

When designing policy, determining the scale and scope plays a role. At institutional level, policy can be formulated for the entire institution, for part of it (usually a department), or for a subject-related Community of Practice (scale). The scope of a policy at institutional level can focus on themes with which OER overlap. These can be the topics mentioned in our previous blog on added value (for example internationalisation and flexibility) and topics such as professionalisation of staff and educators in dealing with OER, lifelong learning, and contributing to the preservation of public values.

Regardless of the scale and scope of an OER policy, the UNESCO-COL publication distinguishes six building blocks that can be specified for the specific policy context. We have added a seventh building block (safeguarding public values). The seven building blocks are related to the values and obstacles that we described in the previous blog post (see next table).

Main building blocksMain goals
Adoption of an open licensing frameworkEnabling and facilitating the use of open licenses for learning resources
Ensure the development, storage and accessibility of OERMake OER easily findable, accessible and adaptable via digital storage and editing platforms
Safeguard the public values of educationWhen making policy choices, include the potential contributions of OER to safeguarding public values in education
Alignment of quality assurance proceduresEnsure appropriate quality assurance procedures, which stimulate continuous improvement of learning resources
Support capacity building and awareness raisingEnabling users to make full use of the qualities of OER for teaching and learning

Ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the qualities of OER and how they can be used
Encourage sustainable business models and launch financing strategiesEnsuring that the cycle of production and reuse of OER is sustainable over time for the actors involved in its production and reuse
Monitoring and research of the effectiveness of the use of OER and their learning outcomesEnsuring that the progress of the policy is continuously monitored

Ensure that sufficient research is conducted into the effects of using OER and that this research can be taken into account when formulating OER policy

The Guidelines referred to above provide a step-by-step approach to formulating an OER policy. Examples of OER policy are available in the OER World Map. These examples can serve as inspiration.

Further considerations

Finally, we would like to add a few additional considerations. The following considerations are important if a balanced approach to OER is to be created at the institutional level:

  • Formulate the added value of OER for the institution not only from the perspective of quality improvement but also taking other perspectives into account (for example the potential contribution to achieving strategic objectives such as flexibility and the public values angle that we described in the previous blog post).
  • Quality assurance of learning resources focuses on learning resources that are published openly by the institution (for example as a MOOC or in an institutional repository of open courseware).
  • Encourage bottom-up initiatives by clarifying the space that educators have for adopting OER and by ensuring that extra time and support are available. This can be done, for example, by encouraging the reuse and local sharing of learning resources (as a stepping stone to open sharing).
  • Encourage the creation of professional communities that will be responsible for sharing and maintaining shared learning resources. These subject communities are potentially of great value in making OER initiatives more sustainable (see for example (MacKinnon et al, 2016)).

In this series of blogs, we have attempted to give policymakers a handle on formulating an institution’s vision and policy on OER, with the aim of striking a balance between principled arguments (guaranteeing the moral values to which OER can contribute) and pragmatic arguments.  We would like to know whether we have succeeded in this. Feedback is therefore welcome in the comments below this blog or by e-mailing Ben Janssen (benjanssen@xs4all.nl) or me (robert@robertschuwer.nl).

References

MacKinnon, T., Pasfield-Neofitou, S., Manns, H., & Grant, S. (2016). A meta-analysis of open educational communities of practice and sustainability in higher educational policy. Alsic, 19(1). Source

Miao, F., Mishra, S., Orr, D., & Janssen, B. (2019). Guidelines on the development of open educational resources policies. UNESCO Publishing. Source

UNESCO (2019). Recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER). Source


This blog is the final contribution in a series entitled A principled, pragmatic view of institutional OER policy. Previous contributions:

The value of and issues surrounding Open Educational Resources

This blog post is a co-production of Ben Janssen (OpenEd Consult) and me. Nederlandse versie

Vision and policy are intended to promote the use of OER within higher education institutions and to ensure that such use becomes a standing practice. This means that the vision development process must clearly indicate the significance of OER for the institution, the instructors and students, while at the same time removing and answering – or at least reducing – the obstacles and questions that exist or are experienced regarding the adoption of OER.

In this fourth blog in our series, we will discuss the significance of OER. We will discuss the “value” of OER for higher education institutions, in the double sense of the word: as a public value that we consider so high that we believe we should organize it collectively, and as a value in a more economic sense. We will then discuss the issues surrounding OER.

Value of OER

Open Educational Resources are not an end in themselves, but can be seen as a means to other ends. Many publications address the (potential) value directly associated with the characteristics of OER: free (no-cost) access and rights to use, adapt and distribute the materials under certain conditions. This value can be formulated independently of a context. We refer to it as the generic value of OER. Derived from this, OER can also contribute to issues facing higher education. We will then refer to the derived value of OER. We will discuss these two types of value.

Generic value

The generic value of OER can be described from various perspectives. In the discussion and literature, we encounter the following perspectives.

Quality. A frequently used argument in advocacy for large-scale adoption of OER is the quality argument: adoption of OER increases the quality of education. Amongst others, the strategic agenda of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science uses this argument to underpin the policy objectives regarding OER (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, 2019). The justification is  instructors and students will have more and, in terms of type, more varied learning materials at their disposal with OER. This makes it possible to better meet the needs of instructors and students. OER also make rich didactic forms possible that would be difficult or impossible to achieve without OER. Such didactic formats are also referred to as open pedagogy (Jacobi et al, 2019). Studies that support this quality perspective can be found on the website of the Open Education Group. Open sharing of learning resources also leads in many cases to a broader peer review process than the local quality assessment from the process models in the previous blog. This potentially leads to a higher quality of learning resources. See for example (Parker, 2012).

Efficiency. Sharing and reuse of learning resources will ultimately lead to cost savings in the development of learning resources, both institutionally and socially. (Semi-)open publication of learning resources provides a better internal picture (for example, between departments) of what learning resources are already available. The idea is that reusing learning resources will prevent the same learning materials being created in different places. That saves hours of development. Studies of reuse show that especially “expensive” learning materials (such as video) are reused, but that it is also often the idea behind shared learning materials that is reused rather than the learning materials themselves (see, for example, (Baas & Schuwer, 2020a)). This can indirectly contribute to raising the quality of education.

Socially, sharing and reuse of OER contribute to containing the public costs of education, a more even social distribution of high-quality learning resources, and to more equitable access to learning opportunities (Orr, Rimini & Van Damme, 2015; UNESCO, 2019).

OER thus help lower the financial barrier to access for students and thus contribute to greater inclusiveness. And that in turn contributes to realizing UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

Marketing and profiling. OER can function as an instrument with which an institution can reach new target groups and also propagate its social function.  Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in particular are used for this purpose. For Delft University of Technology, for example, this has led to a greater international reputation (TU Delft, 2020). For instructors, open sharing of their educational resources can also be a means of distinguishing themselves, comparable to what even seems to be the most important value for a researcher when publishing a journal paper. In addition to reaching new target groups, OER can also contribute to binding alumni to the institution in lifelong learning programmes.

(Study)benefits. Prospective students can benefit greatly from OER because they can use them to gain a detailed and realistic picture of the content and quality of education at a university and thus be better able to make the right study choice. This could reduce dropout rates in the first year. Studies (for example by the Open Education Group mentioned earlier) indicate that study benefits using OER are at least the same if not better than those using commercial materials.

Research and innovation. Publishing OER provide the opportunity to experiment with digital learning materials outside the (accredited) curriculum. Publishing a MOOC also has the potential to collect data for research, often via surveys of MOOC participants (Valkenburg, 2016). In addition, reusing OER from elsewhere can stimulate innovation within the institution. Consider, for example, the reuse of VR and AR content. Sharing and reusing educational resources in professional communities lowers the threshold for looking into each other’s institutions and learning from each other (Baas & Schuwer, 2020b).

Derived value

OER can contribute to answers and solutions for other issues for and within higher education institutions. We outline some of those issues.

Contributing to flexibilisation. In the recent strategic agenda of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (2019), (more) flexible higher education is one of the ambitions. More flexibility and customization in higher education meets an increasingly diverse student population. Publishing open online courses is a way of realizing low-threshold time- and place-independent offer for working people.

A possible implementation of flexible routes a student could take is described in four scenarios in a publication of the Flexible Education Zone of the Dutch Acceleration Plan. Scheers & Pinchetti (2020) analyze the impact of these scenarios on educational logistics. In all routes, to a greater or lesser extent, a freedom in time and often also in place is given. Availability of a greater variety of content through OER provides more opportunities to set up such routes. The My Diploma scenario, in which the idea of a predetermined educational programme is abandoned and the student assembles his/her own programme, can, in our view, hardly be achieved without OER. This could involve prior orientation to subjects or having to use educational resources for themes that do not occur in a regular programme.

Cooperation regionally and internationally. Other ambitions in the strategic agenda of the Dutch Ministry of Education are to promote regional anchoring and international cooperation and a better connection to the labour market and society. The collaboration ambition addresses, among other things, the issue of increasing work pressure among instructors and researchers. The generic value of the efficiency of OER can contribute to the realization of that ambition. Working within cross-institutional subject communities to develop OER is an excellent way of achieving this in a sustainable manner. In addition, open pedagogy, which we have listed under the generic value of the quality of OER, provides relatively simple opportunities for linking up the classroom with external parties (i.e. the professional field and educational institutions). Finally, publishing research results or learning materials about trends in society via open online courses provides opportunities for making this knowledge more accessible to a wider audience than just peers. This contributes to a better connection to the labour market and society.

Financial issue. The feature that OER are freely accessible to a learner can contribute to a reduced spending on learning materials by students. This financial perspective is the main driver of OER advocacy and adoption in the United States. Anecdotally, we have already heard noises about increasingly large groups of students in the Netherlands for whom the financial burden of studying is too high, leading to delay or dropout. Data we received from The Hague University of Applied Sciences and Saxion University of Applied Sciences show us that this was already the case before the current COVID19 crisis. The data concerned internally conducted surveys among students on use of digital learning materials. Most students still purchase the compulsory literature, but find it expensive.

However, to find out more precisely the extent to which students’ financial situation affects their purchasing behaviour for learning materials, more research is needed. Research in the US has shown that savings for students can be significant. A 2018 study in North Dakota shows that over a 3-year period, an initial investment of $110K led to savings for students of over $1M (Gallion, 2018). Several studies on the website of the Open Education Group also provide similar results.

Recent research by ResearchNed, commissioned by the Interstedelijk Studenten Overleg (Brink, van den Broek & Ramakers, 2021) (with a response of over 11,000 students), reveals that the current COVID19 crisis is causing financial concerns for 40% of students in the Netherlands. Although not further elaborated in this study, this could lead to a reinforcement of the behaviour of students to purchase learning materials late or not at all (a finding from research by ResearchNed (Janssen & Van Casteren, 2021)).

OER and public values

OER and, more generally, openness in education are closely linked to values that we as a society value so highly that we organise them at the level of society: public values (Pijpers et al, 2020; Dijck, Poell, & De Waal, 2018). To these we count the accessibility, quality and efficiency of education, but also the formative value of education (Bildung). Values also play an important role at the institutional and personal level. Think of philosophical and, in the context of this blog series, value of Bildung.

A common argument for adopting OER is that what has been paid for with public money must also be made publicly available. This idea is one of the drivers behind the movement to make research results freely available (Open Access), but it can also be applied in full to learning materials created by instructors.

However, there are more values at stake. Rob Farrow (2016) has presented a framework for thinking about the ethics of open education. Ethics is seen here as a structured reflection on the (possible) impact of certain choices or actions on values: do certain choices or actions promote the advocated values of education, or do they actually threaten them?  In an e-mail communication with us, Farrow provided an extension of that framework. According to Farrow, we can distinguish the following perspectives:

  • Consequentialist ethics. These are arguments by which one judges whether something is right or wrong based on the outcome or consequences of an action. For OER, the argument that policies that lead to increased use of OER are good policies is an example of this type.
  • Deontological ethics. These are arguments in which the moral rightness of adoption and use of OER is determined by a set of rules, rather than on the consequences of the action. The issue is whether the choice or action itself is right; the consequences of the choice or action are not considered. An example is to publish outcomes of a government-funded project under an open license because this was set as a condition.
  • Ethics of care. Here, the rightness of a choice or action is determined by the care and responsibility of individuals for others. People are always and everywhere dependent on each other, and are interconnected. It is not only rules and principles that determine the correctness of a choice or action, but also the social network and the attention to each other. An example of this approach is the so-called CARE framework. The purpose of that framework is “to articulate a set of shared values and a collective vision for the future of education and learning enabled by the widespread adoption and use of OER”. The framework describes rules of conduct to be followed to make adoption of OER as widespread as possible (such as the premise that OER can be published and used outside the course and platform in which it was created or initially published).
  • Decolonization ethics. This is understood as the dismantling of power relations and conceptions of knowledge that promote the reproduction of racial, gender and geopolitical hierarchies that have emerged in the modern/colonial world or have taken on new and more powerful forms of expression (Adam, 2020). From this ethic, creators of learning materials are encouraged to create open materials not only from rules or concern for the other, but to include in them less heard perspectives (e.g. from minorities). The fundamental adaptability of OER makes this possible.
  • Social justice. Sarah Lambert (2018) provides the following description for it: “A process and also a goal to achieve a fairer society which involves actions guided by the principles of redistributive justice, recognitive justice or representational justice. Redistributive justice is the most long-standing principle of social justice and involves allocation of material or human resources towards those who by circumstance have less (Rawls, 1971). Recognitive justice involves recognition and respect for cultural and gender difference, and representational justice involves equitable representation and political voice (Fraser, 1995)”. In (Hodgkinson-Williams and Trotter, 2018) the values of OER are formulated from this view. In addition to the economic dimension, which is extremely important for the Global South (OER reduce the cost of learning materials and therefore increase accessibility), they point to the cultural dimension (whereby, in particular, the adaptability of OER makes it possible, in the event of reuse, to adapt the learning materials to the cultural context of reuse) and the political dimension (OER ensure effective access and, supported by open educational practices, support less privileged participants).

In this section, we have indicated that the “value” of OER is closely associated to values that we as a society, as institutions, and as individuals consider so important that we make choices and take action on that basis. This list also reveals a trend whereby the openness of educational resources is partly determined by their content, whereby subjects are approached from a variety of perspectives, with attention paid to perspectives that are rarely heard or taken into account. The attached tweet about the recently held OERxDomains21 conference illustrates this trend.

When making policy decisions about OER adoption, it is wise to make the aforementioned values and ethical perspectives explicit and to take them into account in the formulation of vision and policy, in addition to the arguments of affordability, efficiency, quality, and accessibility. What values are promoted and/or threatened by adoption? An ethical reflection on that question helps to guide the policy for adopting OER.

Perhaps that reflection will lead to adjustments, which in turn will prompt reflection. In the publication “Weighing Values. An ethical perspective on digitisation in education” (in Dutch) (Pijpers et al, 2020) presented a “steering model for valuable digitalisation” that can be very useful for helping to guide and steer the process of adopting OER and on the basis of values and ethics.

Issues surrounding OER

Much research has been done into factors that prevent large-scale adoption of OER. A good overview of these factors is provided in various UNESCO documents that ultimately led to the OER Recommendation in 2019 (see for example (COL, 2017)). Studies in the context of higher education in the Netherlands arrive at the same lists of factors (Baas, Admiraal & Van den Berg, 2019; Schuwer & Janssen, 2018; Schophuizen et al, 2017). Various conversations we had, for example in the context of the Acceleration Plan, with administrators, faculty, and support staff, confirm that the issues mentioned in the literature are mostly also experienced in the Netherlands and indicate that these issues are present both at the individual level of faculty and staff and at the level of a department for institution (administrators). An overview:

Lecturers:

  • Lack of time
  • Lack of clarity regarding the added value of OER (what’s in it for me)
  • No perceived recognition and appreciation for sharing OER
  • Insufficient skills regarding the findability of OER, copyright issues, and the possibilities for using them
  • Lack of clarity about quality of both retrieved OER and the learning resources to be shared
  • Insufficient perceived support in the areas of educational technology, ICT, and copyright.
  • No overall solution. Commercial learning resources are often accompanied by test banks, slides, and other supplementary material. OER often lack an overall solution of this kind.

Institutions:

  • No control over guaranteeing the quality of learning resources published under the institution’s banner
  • Uncertainty regarding the added value of OER within the context of the institution
  • Lack of clarity on how to encourage instructors to adopt OER within their teaching. Support and clarity appear to be necessary but not sufficient conditions. How do you address sentiments such as “not invented here”, “my content is king”, or “I created it in my own time so the institution does not own it”?
  • Lack of clarity on how adoption of OER can be made sustainable (not dependent on one-off project subsidies).

In addition to the observation that there appears to be very little sustainability within professional communities of practice (CoP) regarding OER, little is known about the issues within a CoP regarding the sharing and reuse of OER. A study (still in progress) of this subject at the cross-institutional professional community for the Dutch Bachelor of Nursing shows that the issues concerned are largely the same as those mentioned above for instructors.

In the next blog, we will elaborate on how to arrive at vision and policy at the institutional level, taking into account the value of and issues surrounding OER.

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the following people for the information they sent us on request: Marjon Baas, Tecla ten Berge, Rob Farrow and Willem van Valkenburg.

References

Adam, T. (2020). Between Social Justice and Decolonisation: Exploring South African MOOC Designers’ Conceptualisations and Approaches to Addressing Injustices. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2020(1), p.7. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/jime.557

Baas, M., Admiraal, W., & Van den Berg, E. (2019). Teachers’ Adoption of Open Educational Resources in Higher Education. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2019(1): 9, pp. 1-11. DOI: 10.5334/jime.510

Baas, M., & Schuwer, R. (2020a). What About Reuse? A Study on the Use of Open Educational Resources in Dutch Higher Education. Open Praxis12(4), 527-540. https://dx.doi.org/10.5944/openpraxis.12.4.1139

Baas, M., & Schuwer, R. (2020b). Het bevorderen van de adoptie van open leermaterialen door docenten. Onderzoek in de vakcommunity SAMEN hbo verpleegkunde. Fontys hogescholen, Eindhoven. Source (In Dutch)

Beaven, T. (2018). ‘Dark reuse’: An empirical study of teachers’ OER engagement. Open Praxis, 10(4), 377–391. https://doi.org/10.5944/openpraxis.10.4.889

Brink, M., van den Broek, A. & Ramakers, C. (2021). Ervaringen van studenten met onderwijs en toetsen op afstand tijdens corona. ResearchNed Nijmegen. Source (In Dutch)

COL (2017). Open Educational Resources: Global Report 2017. Burnaby: COL. Source

Dijck, J. Van, Poell, T. & De Waal, M (2018). The platform society. Struggle for public values in connective world. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780190889777

Farrow, R. (2016). A framework for the ethics of open education. Open Praxis, 8(2). https://doi.org/10.5944/openpraxis.8.2.291

Fraser, N. (1995). From Redistribution to Recognition? Dilemmas of Justice in a “Post-Socialist” Age. New Left Review, 1 (212). Source

Gallion, J. (2018). Performance Audit Report North Dakota University System Open Educational Resources. Office of the State Auditor, North Dakota. Source

Hodgkinson-Williams, C. A., & Trotter, H. (2018). A Social Justice Framework for Understanding Open Educational Resources and Practices in the Global South. Journal of Learning for Development, 5(3), 204-224.

Jacobi, R., Schuwer, R. & van der Woert, N. (2019). Thema-uitgave Open Pedagogy. Er is meer Open Pedagogy dan je denkt! SURF, Nederland. (In Dutch)

Janssen, B. & Van Casteren, W. (2021). Digitale leermaterialen in het onderwijs. Onderzoek in opdracht van het Koersteam Versnellingsplan Onderwijsinnovatie met ICT, Utrecht (to be published, In Dutch).

Lambert, S. R. (2018). Changing our (Dis)Course: A Distinctive Social Justice Aligned Definition of Open Education. Journal of Learning for Development, 5(3), 225-244. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1197463.pdf

Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap (2019). Houdbaar voor de toekomst. Strategische agenda hoger onderwijs en onderzoek. Den Haag. Source (In Dutch)

Orr, D., M. Rimini and D. van Damme (2015), Open Educational Resources: A Catalyst for Innovation. OECD Publishing, Paris, Source.

Parker, P. (2012). Explaining the Paradox: Perceived Instructor Benefits and Costs of Contributing to Massachusetts Institute of Technology OpenCourseWare. Utah State University. Source

Pijpers, R., Bomas, E., Dondorp, L. & Ligthart, J. (2020). Waarden wegen. Een ethisch perspectief op digitalisering in het onderwijs. Kennisnet, Zoetermeer. Source (In Dutch)

Rawls, J. (1971). A theory of justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Scheers, M. & Pinchetti, T. (2020). Impact van flexibele studentroutes op onderwijslogistiek. Versnellingsplan Onderwijsinnovatie met ICT, Utrecht. Source (In Dutch)

Schophuizen, M., Kreijns, K., Stoyanov, S., & Kalz, M. (2017). Eliciting the challenges and opportunities organizations face when delivering open online education: A group-concept mapping study. The Internet and Higher Education36, 1. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2017.08.002

Schuwer, R., & Janssen, B. (2018). Adoption of sharing and reuse of open resources by educators in higher education institutions in The Netherlands: A qualitative research of practices, motives, and conditions. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 19(3). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v19i3.3390

TU Delft (2020). Extension School Impact Report 2020. TU Delft Extension School. Source

UNESCO. (2019). Recommendation on Open Educational Resources. Source

Valkenburg, W. van (2016). The Impact of DelftX MOOCs. In: Jansen, D. & Konings, L. (eds). European Policy response on MOOC opportunities. EADTU. ISBN 978-90-79730-20-9. Source

 


This blog is contribution 4 in a series entitled A principled, pragmatic view of institutional OER policy. Previous contributions:

To be published:

  • The need for a vision and policy regarding OER at both institutional and community of practice level

Processes and networks around digital learning materials

This blog post is a co-production of Ben Janssen (OpenEd Consult) and me. Nederlandse versie

The purpose of this series of blogs is to provide arguments that may be relevant when formulating a vision and policy for OERs. Vision and policy are necessary for adoption of OERs to be sustainable. Many OER initiatives start with an initial project grant but is not continued once the project is completed (Tlili et al, 2020; Annand, 2015). Paraphrasing, we might also say “Is there life after the project grant?”. In an advisory report for the OECD, David Wiley (2007) indicated that a distinction can be made between two issues regarding the sustainability of OER:

  1. How to sustain the production and sharing of OER?
  2. How to sustain the use and reuse of OER by end users?

Vision development and policy will have to address both issues.

In the previous blog, we have presented a framework for categorization of digital learning materials and the specific position of OER. In this blog, we will present two models: a process model for how instructors and students “deal” with digital learning materials and a model for the networks/contexts in which “users” of digital open educational resources operate. Vision and policy for OER will need to take both – the practices of users and the networks in which users operate – into account (Tlili et al, 2020).

A process model for using digital learning resources

In the zone Towards digital (open) educational resources of the Acceleration Plan a process model has been developed in order to get an idea of what the use of digital learning materials looks like in practice.

Their model was adapted to include semi-open and commercial learning resources, as well as the role of the student. The adaptations were made on the basis of observations and experiences in practice of the members of the zone.

The extended process model shows the activities an instructor and a student undertake in order to accomplish their optimal mix of learning resources. “Optimal mix” is defined as the mix of learning resources that, in the eyes of the instructor or student, most effectively supports his or her teaching and learning process that should lead to the achievement of the learning outcomes.

The process model distinguishes two scenarios:

  1. Scenario 1: the reading list. The instructor assembles what he/she considers to be an optimum mix for both the learning process to be supported by the student and for use in his/her educational process. The instructor determines which learning resources are compulsory and which are recommended additionally. The student uses these materials to compile his/her optimal mix. Communication about learning resources between the instructor and the student usually takes place via a list of required and optional learning materials (“the reading list”) compiled by the instructor.
  2. Scenario 2: the instruction. The instructor defines an assignment and usually provides a list of recommended literature (in some institutions also referred to as a reference list). Communication regarding learning resources between the instructor and the student is more diffuse than in scenario 1. Initially, there will be at least one instruction from the instructor to the student that will help guide the optimal mix of learning resources for the student (“the instruction”).

Scenario 1: the reading list

Figure 1 shows the process model for scenario 1.

Figure 1. Creation of optimal mix of learning materials, process model for scenario reading list. Click on the image to enlarge

An instructor will compile a mix of learning resources that best fits the learning outcomes to be achieved and his/her own educational process. That composition is visualised by the dotted shape in the diagram. The instructor searches for learning resources that can be either open or closed. Those resources can already be in his/her possession (in a private database, generally a hard drive), a local database (for example a departmental or institutional repository of learning resources, often a shared network drive), or in the “cloud”. In many cases, an instructor herself/himself will also create learning resources, which also includes mixes and adaptations of learning resources found elsewhere. The mix of learning resources will be subject to a quality control process, which may or may not be explicit. This quality control can also be carried out by people other than the instructor (for example, colleagues). Ultimately, the mix of learning resources will either be published (i.e. made available to students) or used in educational activities. In the latter case, those materials may not be made available to students. For example, a video that is shown in the lecture hall but that is not distributed further. It may also be the case that educational resources used in the educational activity become available to students. These might include copies of the slides that the instructor uses in the educational activity. Publishing the optimum mix of educational resources in any case involves specifying the titles of the educational resources (usually textbooks) that must be studied, whether or not it is compulsory (the reading list).

Experiences with the use of learning materials can be input for a quality check and possibly lead to adjustment of the optimal mix, during or after the course for which the optimal mix is composed. Consider, for example, a situation in which students during an educational activity indicate that they do not possess the prior knowledge that the instructor assumed was present. The instructor can then supplement the optimal mix with learning materials that fill in the knowledge gap. Feedback on the quality by students can also take place via a course evaluation (represented in the figure by the dotted arrow).

Based on the published mix of learning resources (including the reading list), the student will compile his/her own mix of learning resources. While studying or during an educational activity, the student can search for or create additional learning resources and add these to his/her optimal mix of learning resources. Quality control is expected to be implicit and based on the usefulness that the student experiences in achieving the formulated learning objectives. Think, for example, of the experiences the student has when doing exercises to master a certain mathematical concept. When the student is not able to do all the exercises, he or she will look for additional sources to gain knowledge that is apparently not yet present. Such practices are described in more detail in (Schuwer, Baas & De Ruijter, 2021).

A student may decide to publish parts of his or her mix for third parties. For example, making lecture notes available to fellow students in a study association.

Scenario 2: the instruction

Figure 2 shows the process model for scenario 2.

Figure 2 Creation of optimal mix of learning materials, process model for scenario instruction. Click on the image to enlarge

The activities correspond largely to those described in scenario 1. The teacher defines an assignment. If necessary, a list of recommended literature for carrying out the assignment is compiled and, if necessary, the teacher also produces teaching materials. All of this is published and made available to students (the instruction). What was written about quality control on the instructor’s side in scenario 1 also applies in this scenario. Based on the instructions, the student starts compiling his/her optimal mix of learning resources.

In this scenario, students can also publish their own (learning) materials (open or semi-open), both in local storage and in the “cloud”. The student will then also have access to local storage for materials in his/her optimal mix. This situation arises, for example, when students create and publish learning materials as part of their learning process. Such didactic forms of working characterize educational approaches such as Open Pedagogy and Open Educational Practices. Quality control of the materials to be published can be carried out by both the instructor and the student. Conversely, when an instructor and students jointly create and publish educational resources (shown by the green dotted shape in the figure), the student can also be part of the group that carries out a quality check for the instructor.

Not shown in the figure is the situation where learning materials created by a student during his/her learning process are added to the optimal mix by an instructor the next time the course is given.

A model for the networks of users of OER

Sharing and reuse of OER is done by individual instructors and students. Their actions are nevertheless influenced by the networks in which both categories of actors operate, in both a positive and a negative sense (as seen from the perspective of the adoption of OER). Vision and policy regarding OER will therefore also need to address those networks.

In this context, we distinguish two types of networks in which students and instructors function and which affect their views and activities regarding OER. First of all, every instructor and student is associated with at least one higher education institution. In addition, students and instructors work together in all kinds of contexts. When those relationships are institutional or semi-institutional, we refer to them as communities. Temporary collaborations, such as student workgroups that are formed for a course, are not included in our concept of communities.

Communities can exist within institutions, but also across institutions. Instructor communities can be discipline-oriented (for example, the Dutch Community of Practice Bachelor Nursing) or theme-oriented (for example, a community for educational video resources). There are also communities for supporting instructors and students in dealing with OER. Examples include the libraries’ Open Online Education working group or the various Special Interest Groups affiliated with SURF.

The following figure visualises the spheres of instructors, students, institutions and communities. It does not show the situation where an individual student or instructor is associated with more than one institution.

Click on the image to enlarge

In this figure, A, B and C are three institutions. The following situations can be distinguished:

  1. A community exists locally within an institution (1b in institution B or 1c in institution C). Examples: a course team within a department or a cross-faculty partnership of teaching staff in mathematics within one institution.
  2. A community of lecturers from two or more institutions (cross-institution community). In the figure, these are 2ab with institutions A and B and 2ac with institutions A and C respectively.
  3. Situation 3 at institution C shows the situation that instructors can be involved in more than one community.
  4. Community 4 at institution A consists of students. Example: a study association at a faculty.
  5. Community 5 is a cross-institutional community in which both instructors and students participate. An example is the so-called Centres of Expertise, in which students and instructors, but also researchers and entrepreneurs, work together to solve social challenges.

The example of community 5 illustrates that people other than teaching staff and students can also participate in communities. Support staff (educational experts, library staff and ICT experts) will often also be part of such communities.

Why these models?

In developing a vision and policy for the adoption of OER, it is important to focus on how and the context in which instructors and students create and use OER. Hodgkinson-Williams et al (2017:33) refer in this context to three kinds of dependencies:

  • the activity dependency
  • the context dependency
  • the concept dependency (the ideas and images people have).

In this contribution, we have outlined models for the first two types of dependencies: a process model for how instructors and students “deal” with digital learning resources and a concept model for the networks/context in which the “users” of digital open educational resources operate.

All kinds of factors play a role in activities and networks and these factors must also be addressed in an OER vision and policy. Examples include ownership of educational resources created (in part) by students or differing views regarding OER at institutions where instructors participate in a cross-institutional community. In a subsequent blog, we will clarify these and other issues and also formulate points of view from which a vision and policy for OERs can be drawn up.

Acknowledgements

The process model for assembling and using a mix of learning resources is based on an earlier version developed in the Acceleration Plan’s zone Towards Digital (Open) Educational Resources. The participants involved in formulating this model are to be thanked. In alphabetical order by surname, they are: Hans Beldhuis, Vincent de Boer, Cynthia van der Brugge, Michiel de Jong, Wouter Kleijheeg, Gerlien Klein, Gaby Lutgens, Marijn Post, Lieke Rensink, Arjan Schalken, Frederike Vernimmen – de Jong and Nicole Will.

References

Annand, D. (2015). Developing a sustainable financial model in higher education for open educational resources. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning16(5). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v16i5.2133

Hodgkinson-Williams, C., Arinto, P. B., Cartmill, T. & King, T. (2017). Factors influencing Open Educational Practices and OER in the Global South: Meta-synthesis of the ROER4D project. In C. Hodgkinson-Williams & P. B. Arinto (Eds.), Adoption and impact of OER in the Global South (pp. 27–67). DOI https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1037088

Schuwer, R., Baas, M. & De Ruijter, A. (2021). De student gaat op zoek: de waarde van (open) leermaterialen voor het eigen leren. In: Baas, M., Jacobi, R., & Schuwer, R. (eds). Thema-uitgave hergebruik van open leermaterialen (pp 17-22). SURF, Nederland. https://communities.surf.nl/files/Artikel/download/Thema-uitgave%20hergebruik%20van%20leermaterialen_2mrt2021.pdf

Tlili, A., Nascimbeni, F., Burgos, D., Zhang, X., Huang, R., & Chang, T. (2020). The evolution of sustainability models for open educational resources: Insights from the literature and experts. Interactive Learning Environments, 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1080/10494820.2020.1839507

Wiley, D. (2007). On the Sustainability of Open Educational Resource Initiatives in Higher Education. Paper commissioned by the OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) for the project on Open Educational Resources. http://www.oecd.org/education/ceri/38645447.pdf


This blog is contribution 3 in a series entitled A principled, pragmatic view of institutional OER policy. Previous contributions:

To be published:

  • Why are OER important? The value of OER from various perspectives
  • The need for a vision and policy regarding OER at both institutional and community of practice level

A framework for classifying types of digital learning materials

This blog post is a co-production of Ben Janssen (OpenEd Consult) and me. Nederlandse versie.

Many have attempted to provide a conclusive definition of digital learning resources. In the study by ResearchNed (Janssen & Van Casteren, 2020), the following pragmatic description of digital learning resources was used (p. 9):

“Learning resources are a subset of educational tools. Educational tools include anything used by instructors and/or students (including computers, electronic learning environments and smart boards) in and for the purpose of teaching or learning. The term learning resources refers only to learning content in a particular form (textual, visual, auditory, or a mix of these forms).

‘Digital learning resources’ means any digital resource that is used as teaching or learning content by instructors and/or students in the course of a teaching or learning process. A digital resource is a resource that exists in binary numerical form, such as digital audio or digital images (this also includes the ‘book behind glass’, pdf).

Educational tools such as digital whiteboards, VR glasses, but also digital assessment tools, platforms or online discussion forums, do not fall under our description of learning resources. E.g., YouTube as a platform is not included, but the videos that are placed on YouTube and used as learning resources are.”

The following non-exhaustive list of digital learning resources is provided for illustrative purposes

digital study- and handbooks, among which (open) textbooksanimations
digital (scientific) publicationswiki’s
(PowerPoint)presentations/sheets/slideshowsYouTube video’s
digital syllabi, summaries, manuals of lectures and practicadigital images, including 3D visualisations
weblectures and slidecastsdigital newspaper articles/news sources/archivestv-uitzendingen
digital assessmentspodcasts
digital internship and assignment reportsblogs
videos, including knowledge clips, tutorials, instructional videos, vodcasts, animations and documentariesopen content and data on websites, such as reports from the Parliament and reports from policymakers and research committees
AR- en VR-applicationsdata from databases such as Skybray, BBC Monitoring, Factiva
MOOCs, SPOCs, Open Educational Resourcesessays in digital form
infographicsnovels in digital form

We are interested in digital open learning resources, not so much in what they are but more in what you can and cannot do with them. Using a dichotomy of open versus closed is insufficient for that purpose. Concepts like semi-open resources and commercial resources are also useful for the activities in the Acceleration Plan. But how do these two concepts relate to one another and to OER?

We propose a differentiated categorisation of digital learning resources that gives guidance for institutional policy development. This framework is an extension from what David Wiley has presented (source, p. 26).

Digital learning resources can be categorized using two dimensions:

  1. Access
    • no restrictions (open access), for everyone
    • non-financial restrictions, for everyone
    • non-financial restrictions, not for everyone (walled garden)
    • financial restrictions
  2. Adaptation rights
    • Adaptable (users have permission to adapt)
    • Non-adaptable (users have no permission to adapt)

Learning resources with access without financial restrictions are called free learning resources. The following figure is a graphical representation of our framework.

Click on the image to enlarge

Some background information to this framework:

  • For the open learning resources (without restrictions or with non-financial restrictions), adaptation rights are ordered from most (100%) to no rights to adapt. Licenses provide the conditions for adaptation. In the figure we have adopted the commonly used Creative Commons licenses. These licenses are about the rights creators give to others to retain, use, adapt and distribute their works and the conditions to be met when exercising those rights. The licences do not cover restrictions on access to the works.
  • The figure also shows that two Creative Commons licences do not grant rights of adaptation due to the ND (Non Derivative) condition.
  • Preference for a combination of rights of adaptation and access are context dependent. E.g. a lecturer can prefer adaptable learning materials, but will be indifferent on access. A learner will in many cases only be interested in free access and not in adaptability. But the same learner can, when pedagogy makes it necessary, also be interested in adaptability. Think e.g. about practices of open pedagogy (for examples, see the Open Pedagogy Notebook)
  • The most common non-financial restriction when access for everyone is available is the obligation to create a free account to get access.
  • The most common situation for non-financial restrictions, access not for everyone is membership of a group (institution, community of practice).
  • We have chosen for a pragmatic view on openness to widen adoption of sharing and reusing. Issues like technical openness (only open source tools and platforms are allowed to access the learning material) or content requirements (e.g. inclusive, accessible to people with disabilities) have not been considered.
  • The size of each area does not reflect a relative importance or a personal preference of that area, compared to the other areas

This framework allows us to position the different types of learning resources mentioned in the Acceleration Plan as “open”, “semi-open”, “closed”, “commercial” in relation to each other.

As far as we know, there seems to be a generally accepted definition only for the category “Open Educational Resources”. Here we use this definition in the formulation of Creative Commons.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials that are either (a) in the public domain or (b) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:

  • Retain – make, own, and control a copy of the resource
  • Reuse – use your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly
  • Revise – edit, adapt, and modify your copy of the resource
  • Remix – combine your original or revised copy of the resource with other existing material to create something new
  • Redistribute – share copies of your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource with others”

This definition is a.o. adopted by the Hewlett Foundation.

In terms of the framework, we define the terms used in the Acceleration Plan as follows:

  • Semi-open resources are teaching, learning, and research resources that are available to a limited group of persons and eventually licensed in a manner that provides everyone in this group with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities, be it with the restriction that redistribution happens only within the limited group.
  • Commercial resources are teaching, learning, and research resources that are only available under financial restrictions.
  • Closed resources are teaching, learning, and research resources that are unavailable for a person or a group of persons. This definition is dependent on the perspective of the stakeholder. E.g. semi-open learning resources, available for a group, appear to be closed for persons outside of that group.

In the next figure we have positioned the sets of OER, semi-open learning resources and commercial learning resources in the framework.

Click on the image to enlarge

To illustrate the framework, we have added some examples.

Click on the image to enlarge

In the next blog we will focus on ecosystems for (semi-)open learning resources and issues we encounter.

Reference

Janssen, B. & Van Casteren, W. (2020): Digitale leermaterialen in het hoger onderwijs. Onderzoek in opdracht van het Koersteam Versnellingsplan Onderwijsinnovatie met ICT. Utrecht: Versnellingsplan Onderwijsinnovatie met ICT.


This blog is contribution 2 in a series entitled A principled, pragmatic view of institutional OER policy. Previous contribution:

Introduction

To be published:

  • What is the playing field on OER? A systems approach
  • Why are OER important? The value of OER from various perspectives
  • The need for a vision and policy regarding OER at both institutional and community of practice level

 

A principled pragmatic view of institutional OER policy

This blog post is a co-production of Ben Janssen (OpenEd Consult) and me. Nederlandse versie.

For years, we have been advocating the adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) in publicly funded Dutch education. A study we both conducted in 2017 showed that adoption by the early and late majority of instructors is not yet widespread (Schuwer & Janssen, 2018). And in our view, the degree of adoption of OER in publicly funded Dutch higher education (i.e. funded education) is still too low to have any effect. There are more than enough indications to assert that the use of OER can have multiple positive innovative effects on and in higher education (see e.g. (Orr, Rimini & Van Damme, 2015)). In the Netherlands, this has been recognised in and by the The Acceleration Plan for Educational Innovation with IT (abbreviated as the Acceleration Plan). One of the themes of this plan is the use of digital (open) educational resources.

In the Acceleration Plan, Dutch publicly funded HE institutions, SURF, VSNU (Association of Research Universities in the Netherlands) and VH (Association of Universities of Applied Sciences) are working together to seize the opportunities digitalisation is offering to higher education in the Netherlands. The mission of the Acceleration Plan is to institutions take substantial steps in digitalisation of education, for themselves and in collaboration with others.

The Acceleration Plan is divided into eight Acceleration Zones, within which 39 Research Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences collaborate on themes such as professionalisation of instructors, use of study data, making education more flexible, linking up with the labour market, and use of digital (open) learning resources. In the “Joint Steering for Acceleration” zone, seventeen university governors are having an executive dialogue about digitalisation in higher education, with special attention for the themes of the Acceleration Plan. More information about the Acceleration Plan.

In 2020, the research bureau ResearchNed (with Ben Janssen as lead researcher) conducted a study (in Dutch) commissioned by the Joint Steering zone into the state of affairs regarding the use of digital learning resources in Dutch higher education. A public version of their report will soon be available (in Dutch). Based on the results, a working group of the digital (open) educational resources zone of the Acceleration Plan (in which Robert Schuwer participated) has drawn up a vision document for digital learning resources with a horizon on 2025.

Based on the results of both exercises, the Joint Steering zone is now working on two themes:

  1. Achieving a national set of agreements with publishers of digital learning materials regarding the use and ownership of user data.
  2. Formulating and implementing a fully-fledged open alternative for commercial learning materials.

The second theme requires institutions to develop an OER vision and policy.

In a series of blogs, we will present arguments that may be relevant in formulating such a vision and policy. Although we will focus primarily on higher education institutions, we believe that they can also be useful to umbrella organisations (VSNU and VH), SURF, and the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. We base our approach on a principled view on OER but also aim for as much pragmatism as possible so as to maximise the direct applicability of the arguments. In the coming weeks, we will be publishing blogs on the following topics:

  1. What are we talking about when we use the term digital educational resources? A proposal for a terminology framework
  2. What are the issues with OERs? A systems approach
  3. Why are OER important? The value of OER from various perspectives
  4. The need for an OER vision and policy, both at institutional and communities of practice level.

 

Reference

Orr, D., Rimini, R., & Van Damme, D. (2015). Educational research and innovation open educational resources a catalyst for innovation: A catalyst for innovation. OECD Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264247543-en

Schuwer, R., & Janssen, B. (2018). Adoption of sharing and reuse of open resources by educators in higher education institutions in The Netherlands: A qualitative research of practices, motives, and conditions. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning19(3). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v19i3.3390

Guidelines on the Development of Open Educational Resources Policies

Recently, UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) have published a report with Guidelines on the Development of Open Educational Resources Policies. According to a tweet from one of the authors, Dominic Orr, this publication took a long time before it was finalized:

These guidelines are published just in time for the 40th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, organized from 12-27 November in Paris. In this conference, the Draft Recommendation on Open Educational Resources will be on the Agenda for acceptance by the Member States. To realize the ambitions as stated in this Recommendation, policies both on national level and institutional level will be necessary.

The aim of the guidelines are, in the words of the authors (p. 2):

  1. Understand essential subject-matter knowledge on OER through a learning-by-doing process
  2. Develop a set of procedural knowledge on OER policy planning, working through key steps necessary for designing a comprehensive OER policy
  3. Reinforce the contextual knowledge needed to leverage OER in achieving SDG 4 through assessing the policy context and needs for OER, planning institutionalised programmes and drawing up a contextualised masterplan
  4. Ensure the commitment to policy adoption and implementation through integrating stakeholder engagement into the policy-planning process and determining adequate policy endorsement and implementation strategies
  5. Enhance the quality of policy implementation by planning a mechanism for monitoring and evaluation, and working towards an evidencebased policy-planning and updating cycle

The target group are “those directly involved in policy design” (p.2).

The structure of the report is based on a 7-phase action plan, devised by the authors of these guidelines:

Each phase has the same structure in the guidelines:

  • Overview of the phase;
  • Learning outcomes: “After reading and working through this chapter, you are expected to be able to:”;
  • Guidelines for the topic on hand, illustrated with tools, literature references and examples;
  • A set of guiding questions to fill in by the user of the guidelines and with which s/he can apply the knowledge of the chapter on her/his own policy development.

With this setup, the report can really be used as a guide taking you by the hand in step-by-step developing your own OER policy.

Remarks

Overall, I consider these Guidelines as a valuable tool for formulating OER policies. I especially like the last phase on launching the OER policy. This phase is crucial for the success of policy, since it focuses on ultimately realizing impact with the teachers. As I mentioned in an earlier blogpost (in Dutch), there is a long way to go with many hurdles to pass before policies on a high level have impact on the “chalk level”. For this, more detailed guidances and good practices (e.g. to extract from the OER Worldmap) could be a valuable addition to these Guidelines.

A bit unclear for me is for which types of OER policies these Guidelines have been developed. Although table 3 (p. 34) suggests the Guidelines could be used for both national and institutional policies, box 3.1 (p. 36) points the user of the Guidelines to alternative tools and guidelines, specifically for developing an institutional OER policy. And because most examples in the Guidelines are from national policies, one could question its applicability for other than national policies. Asking this to one of the authors of the Guidelines, Ben Janssen, he confirmed applicability also for institutional policies, but considered that some of the guiding questions at the end of each chapter should be changed a bit.

OER policies could be widened to policies on Open Education. One such example can be derived from the strategical agenda from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in the Netherlands. In the 2015 version (soon to be updated), this agenda formulated the ambition that in 2025 all Dutch Higher Education institutions would recognize each other MOOCs. Institutional open policies are needed to realize this ambition, going beyond the framework shaped by these Guidelines.

Finally, much attention is needed for policies in other sectors than Higher Education. Although the examples provided in the Guidelines are also taken from K12 and Vocational Education (kudos!) and are not only targeted to policies on open textbooks (kudos!), the majority of the examples stems from Higher Education. When the overview of policies from OER Worldmap is representative, this Map illustrates the urgent need for policy makers to give more attention to sectors other than Higher Education. Currently, the overview consists of 172 examples of OER policies, of which 48% are targeted towards Higher Education, 37% cross sector and only 1 (0.58%) towards Vocational Education. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to bring these Guidelines under the attention of policy makers outside of the Higher Education sector.

 

 

MOOCs Guide for Policy Makers in Developing Countries


Vorige week werd bij UNESCO in Parijs het rapport Making Sense of MOOCs, A Guide for Policy-Makers in Developing Countries gelanceerd. Deze publicatie is een gezamenlijk intiatief van UNESCO en de Commonwealth of Learning. De EADTU kreeg van hen de opdracht voor het schrijven van dit rapport. Darco Jansen werd de hoofdauteur en hij vroeg mij of ik mee wilde schrijven. Ik voldeed graag aan dit eervolle verzoek, mede omdat het schrijven aan een dergelijk rapport een uitstekende gelegenheid is om alle literatuur die daarover beschikbaar is eens gestructureerd op een rijtje te krijgen en via onderlinge discussies en de feedback van de reviewers de eigen kennis te vergroten.
De aanleiding voor het maken van dit rapport is in de abstract als volgt beschreven (nadruk door mij aangebracht):

The Guide is designed to raise general awareness amongst policy makers in developing countries as to how Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) might address their concerns and priorities, particularly in terms of access to affordable quality higher education and preparation of secondary school leavers for academic as well as vocational education and training. With very few exceptions, many of the reports on MOOCs already published do not refer to the interest and experience of developing countries, although we are witnessing important initiatives in more and more countries around the world.

Het rapport telt acht hoofdstukken:

  1. MOOCs – Setting the Context
  2. The Opportunities and Challenges of MOOCs for Society
  3. The Possible Benefits of MOOCs for Developing Countries
  4. Quality Assurance for MOOCs
  5. Learner-centred Approaches and the Benefits for Learners
  6. Reuse and Adaptation of MOOCs
  7. Collaboration on MOOC Development and Provision
  8. Business Models for MOOCs
Ieder hoofdstuk kent een opbouw:
  • Policy takeaways (geeft de beleidsmaker de lessen van het betreffende hoofdstuk)
  • Introductie
  • Inhoud

Daarnaast bevat het rapport een bijlage met voorbeelden van Government Business Model Canvases en een glossary met gebruikte terminologie.
Met name in de hoofdstukken 2 en 3 zijn de specifieke kenmerken voor MOOC´s in ontwikkelende landen te vinden:

  • Groot belang van toepassing van MOOC’s voor on the job training.
  • Geen grootschalige toegang tot internet. Dit leidt bijvoorbeeld tot initiatieven waarbij een mobiele telefoon wordt gebruikt voor de interactieve elementen in een MOOCen de materialen worden gedownload in een internetcafé of worden verspreid door middel van DVD’s om offline te bestuderen.
  • Er is weinig ervaring bij lerenden met leren in een digitale omgeving zoals door een MOOC wordt geleverd. Dit vereist goede lokale begeleiding. Omdat docenten deze digial literacy skills vaak ook missen is er een grote professionaliseringsbehoefte in dezen.

Commonwealth of Learning heeft dit eerder al geadresseerd via initiatieven als MOOCs for Development (een MOOC platform dat weinig bandbreedte vereist) en de ontwikkeling van een aantal MOOCs op dat platform (zie overzicht).
Naast deze verschillen zijn er echter ook veel overeenkomsten bij publiceren en gebruik van MOOC’s tussen de ontwikkelende en de ontwikkelde landen. Het rapport kan daarom ook waardevol zijn voor beleidsmakers op nationaal en instellingsniveau in de ontwikkelde landen.

OER-onderdompeling in Krakow

Van 10 t/m 14 april vond in Krakow in Polen een drietal evenementen plaats rondom OER en Open Education. In deze blog een terugblik op deze events en de dingen die me daar het meeste opvielen (naast de mooie en sfeervolle stad die Krakow is).

GO-GN

De week startte op 10 april met een tweedaagse workshop van het Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN). Dit netwerk, eertijds gestart door Fred Mulder in zijn tijd als UNESCO OER Chairholder, wordt nu gecoördineerd door de OER Research Hub op de OU-UK. Een negental PhD-studenten, afkomstig van over de hele wereld, presenteerden hun onderzoek, kregen feedback van de aanwezigen en zochten naar aanknopingspunten voor onderlinge samenwerking. De slides van hun presentaties zullen successievelijk op de website van GO-GN worden gepubliceerd.
De onderwerpen waren erg divers, variërend van OER Learning Design Guidelines for Brazilian K-12 tot Opening Up Higher Education in Rwanda. Het niveau was van een eerste onderzoeksplan tot resultaten van een bijna afgerond PhD-onderzoek. Overall was het inhoudelijk niveau erg hoog, maar moet er door de meesten nog wel gewerkt worden aan presentatievaardigheden.
>> Overzicht van onderwerpen
>> Presentaties (worden in de komende weken aangevuld)
>> Storify van tweets

Open Education Consortium Global Conference

De week werd vervolgd met de jaarlijkse Global Conference van het Open Education Consortium. Naar schatting 200 deelnemers konden kiezen uit een diversiteit aan presentaties en workshops. Grofweg konden de volgende categorieën worden onderscheiden:

  • Opening up education (op niveau van land of instelling)
  • Communities rondom OER
  • Adoptie van OER en andere vormen van open education
  • Casussen (bij landen of instellingen)
  • Learning design voor OER en MOOC
  • Onderzoek
  • Open policies
  • Open practices

Van de sessies die ik heb gevolgd sprongen voor mij die van John Hilton III en Javiera Atenas eruit in positieve zin. John sprak over recent studies in OER adoption. Hoewel het daar vooral ging over adoptie van Open Textbooks in de US, zijn resultaten te generaliseren naar andere vormen en contexten. Resultaten van zijn research (onder de vlag van de Open Education Group) zijn te vinden op hun website. Het onderwerp van Javiera was (uiteraard) Educating for Social Participation: Open Data as Open Educational Resources. Vooral de mogelijkheid om “echte” data te kunnen gebruiken om vaardigheden als critical thinking en civic engagement aan te leren sprak mij aan. Aanrader: de site schoolofdata.org (met onder meer open cursussen over hoe om te gaan met data).
Zelf gaf ik een presentatie over het onderzoek naar gebruik van OER en MOOC’s in het Nederlands hoger onderwijs dat ik samen met Ben Janssen eind vorig jaar heb uitgevoerd. Hier de sheets.

OER Policy Forum

Parallel aan de laatste dag van de conferentie werd door het Centrum Cyfrowe, in samenwerking met het Open Policy Network, als onderdeel van het EU-project ExplOERer een bijeenkomst gehouden. Het doel was te komen tot een set van aanbevelingen, voortbouwend op een policy document Foundations of OER Strategy Development. In de ochtend werden enkele presentaties gegeven. Voor mij was die van Dominic Orr van het FiBS uit Berlijn What can policy do for innovative educational practice and especially for OER? de meest in het oog springende. Dominic is een van de auteurs van het vorig jaar verschenen OECD rapport Open Educational Resources, a Catalyst for Innovation. In zijn presentatie ging hij echter in op social innovation en de koppeling ervan met open policies. Hij refereert aan een studie uit 2015 Growing a Digital Social Innovation Ecosystem for Europe in opdracht van de Europese Commissie. Die studie onderscheidt 7 fasen voor sociale innovatie, die niet noodzakelijk lineair worden doorlopen, maar spiraalsgewijs naar het begin kan terugkeren. Hij koppelt die fasen met twee strategieën voor policy, met name OER policies:

  • Pull strategie. Uitgangspunt is de motivatie van docenten en lerenden. Activiteiten als presentatie van OER use cases en toekennen van awards voor good practices helpen adoptie van OER te bevorderen. Resources zijn bijvoorbeeld aanbieden van vrijwillig te volgen trainingen voor gebruik van OER, ontwikkeling van een OER infrastructuur en toelaten van experimenten (d.i. tijd daarvoor geven)
  • Push strategie.Uitgangspunt is aanpassen van het raamwerk van voorwaarden voor gedrag van docenten en lerenden. Voorbeelden zijn het reguleren van productie van leermaterialen (OER heeft voorkeur), kwaliteit van leermaterialen (dynamisch en tailored heeft voorkeur) en de evaluatie van leeruitkomsten (competenties heeft de voorkeur)
Samengevat in één figuur die Dominic de omschrijving meegaf OER as a driver of social innovation: allows and promotes new combinations or configurations of social practices 

In de middag werden in subgroepen over key issues voor OER policies gedebatteerd. Doel van deze discussies was input te leveren voor het document van aanbevelingen dat na de workshop werd opgesteld. Ik nam deel aan de subgroep OER repositories and content production, waar met name de ervaringen met Wikiwijs van pas kwamen.
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Tenslotte

Zowel de conferentie als het OER policy forum preludeerden al op 2017, het jaar waarin de Cape Town Open Education Declaration 10 jaar bestaat en de Paris OER Declaration 5 jaar. Het komend jaar zal ongetwijfeld worden teruggekeken op wat in die achterliggende periode al is bereikt, maar zal vooral worden vooruitgekeken naar wat er nog moet gebeuren om OER in het bijzonder en Open Education in het algemeen mainstream te maken, zowel op instellingsniveau als rondom open policies op nationaal en internationaal niveau. Dat de volgende Global Conference in 2017 in Kaapstad zal plaatsvinden is daarom geen toeval.