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OERS in the curriculum: Is OER mainstreamed and sustainable? -- 199 -- Short (oral) Paper

14:45 - 15:45 on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 in 4.205

The 2010 Horizon Report (Johnson, 2010) identified OER as a practice that will reach mainstream adoption within one year. Two years on, this presentation questions whether the Movement has yet reached mainstream, and questions if the movement is sustainable beyond funding.

There will always be societal influences in education – sharing locally amongst academic colleagues, has, is, and probably always will take place. Research is increasingly demonstrating that teaching staff are sharing content on an informal scale with colleagues within department/faculty, but they are not applying (creative commons) licences or sharing formally via repositories (Rolfe, 2012, Reed, In Press).

Critically reflecting on this informality, one can question if it can be classed as ‘open’ at all. Schaffert & Geser (2008) suggest if something is to be open, it must subscribe to 4 elements: Open Licensing, Openly Access, Open Software and Open Format. This is quite a strict viewpoint, whereas Hilton et. al. (2010) suggest;

"Openness is not like a light switch that is either ‘on’ or ‘off’. Rather, it is like a dimmer switch, with varying degrees of openness” (Hilton et. al, 2010)

Tackling this informal approach to sharing is critical if the movement is to become mainstream, sustainable, and effective.

The second point to this presentation, considers the movement's sustainability.

For as long as it requires extra workload and/or time, the chances of mass sharing of resources will be slim, especially in a era where wanting ‘more for less’ is prevalent. This is particularly true whilst there are little or no systems for reward or recognition – something seen as one of the biggest barriers to engagement (Yuan, Macneil, & Kraan, 2008).

Furthermore, sharing content is often more time consuming – not just the process of uploading a file to a repository, but inevitably (and rightly or wrongly) the stakes related to QA increase. Staff might be willing to use their own materials in the classroom, but the thought of sharing those materials ‘as is’, can be daunting.

So whilst there are resources, workflows and development tools available, the movement isn't prepared for mass engagement when funding ceases. Many authors suggest barriers that must be overcome, such as reward mechanisms and licensing (Yuan, MacNeil * Kraan, 2008; Seonghee & Boryung, 2008). Until HEIs strategically focus on OER for OER-sake, which will come at a cost, it can't reach mainstream. After all, would the breadth of institutions currently engaging with OER be the same if JISC/HEA funding wasn't so plentiful?

Participants will gain insight into research around the awareness and attitudes towards the Open Content Movement (at two UK HEIs); and have the opportunity to debate the argument that ‘OER has not reached mainstream, and with the current structure in the UK, is not sustainable’.


Slides for presentation available from Slideshare

Thursday, 6 September 2012, 14:49