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Overviews and General Guidance

Page history last edited by Lou McGill 9 years, 10 months ago

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A number of high-level studies have been commissioned which focus on, or consider issues around, Open Educational Resources (OER). There are also some useful practical guidance documents available as a result of project work in this and related areas. This section highlights many of the resources available to institutions, consortia and individuals with an interest in Open Educational Resources.


HE Academy/JISC UKOER Programme

The joint JISC/Higher Education Academy Open Educational Resources programme (April 2009 - October 2012) was a large scale programme across three yearly phases of activity. Known as the UKOER programme - projects, support teams and programme officers produced a wide range of reports, guidance, toolkits and other practical resources to inform the wider community around lessons learned around a wide range of issues:

  • strategic and policy issues
  • legal aspects
  • technical issues
  • pedagogic aspects
  • cultural and practice change
  • benefits, barriers and enablers
  • stakeholder engagement and capacity building
  • business models and sustainability
  • quality, ownership and trust

For further information see the following pages:


Historical perspectives

Overviews and General Guidance

  • The Open practices: briefing paper was produced by the UKOER Evaluation and Synthesis team in 2012 to highlight key issues around OER and open educational practice Beetham, H., Falconer, I., McGill, L. and Littlejohn, A.  JISC, 2012  https://oersynth.pbworks.com/w/page/51668352/OpenPracticesBriefing
  • The Open practice across sectors: briefing paper was produced by the UKOER Evaluation and Synthesis team to highlight aspects of open educational practice across sectors during the second phase of the programme McGill, L., Falconer, I, Beetham, H. and Littlejohn, A.  JISC, 2012 https://oersynth.pbworks.com/w/page/49655750/OpenPracticeAcrossSectors
  • Good Intentions Report. The JISC information environment and e-learning teams jointly commissioned a report entitled 'Good Intentions: improving the evidence base in support of sharing learning materials', 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.
  • The JISC Sharing eLearning 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 the report is a useful overview of existing work in this area.
  • OpenLearn is part of the wider Open Learning network (OLnet) supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation which features resources, research and tools. In addition, Support Centre for Open Resources in Education (SCORE) is a HEFCE-funded project (2009-2012) based at the Open University which aims to "support individuals, projects, institutions and programmes across the higher education sector in England as they engage with creating, sharing and using open educational resources."
  • The Pocket Project investigated the potential of migrating open content approaches in a range of disciplines across a number of different higher education institutions. The project ran from November 2007 until February 2009 and was led by the University of Derby. The partner institutions were: University of Bolton, Open University and the University of Exeter.
  • The RepRODUCE programme addressed the repurposing of existing content for use within institutions and for subsequent open release. Helen Beetham  worked with the programme management team to provide resources concerning the evaluation of activity in this area. You may wish to view the slides as well as the evaluation and quality assurance plans.
  • Jorum is a national repository for learning and teaching resources, and the Jorum Community Bay aims to support knowledge exchange and discussion on all aspects of sharing, re-use and repurposing of learning and teaching resources. The Jorum Community Bay provides links to a range of useful information, such as authoring and repurposing tools, case studies and discussion forums. 
  • The Learning Resources and Activities (LRA) infoKit contains further links to previous and current JISC funded resources in this area.
  • Open Database of Educational Projects and Organizations (ODEPO) is a wiki-database of organizations involved in providing educational content online. ODEPO includes over a thousand sites affiliated with various organizations, the majority of which involve the creation and expansion of Open Educational Resources.
  • Steven Downes has released an ebook (August 2011) entitled Free Learning which collates many of his essays, posts and conversations around OER and Copyright - and address much broader issues of open practice. Provides some of the history and discourse in this fast moving field.

Research Reports

Practical resources

  • 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 its website. In addition to these learning resources, OpenLearn has also provided advice for educators, which describes the nature of open content and the ways in which it can be used. 
  • OpenLearn is part of the wider Open Learning network (OLnet) supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation which features resources, research and tools. In addition, Support Centre for Open Resources in Education (SCORE)was a HEFCE-funded project (2009-2012) based at the Open University which aimed to "support individuals, projects, institutions and programmes across the higher education sector in England as they engage with creating, sharing and using open educational resources."
  • OER for beginners: an introduction is an excellent page produced by the MEDEV Subject Centre which provides links to resources for healthcare education
  • The STEM OER Guidance wiki contains guidance documents prepared by the STEM project teams from a number of Higher Education Academy/JISC-funded projects, which ran May 2009 to April 2010. The guidance is based on the experience of the teams' work with practising academics around issues to do with OER production and release.
  • The UKOER Evaluation Toolkit  was produced by the UKOER Evaluation and Synthesis Team during phase 3 of the programme to help projects with evaluation of OER initiatives.


Case studies



Are there any messages around tools and standards that come from the programme?

Projects are using a very wide range of standards due to the wide range of materials being released:

Standards: SCORM, SWORD, SENDA/W3C/WAI/Section 508, IMS LD/CP/QTI, IEEE LOM, RSS/Atom, METS content packaging, Simple Dublin Core, OPML, OAI-PMH

Document formats: pdf/ua/odf, java, javascript, html, xhtml, css, wcag, word, mpeg, mp3, ajax, jpeg, flash, vra/cdwa, rss

CETIS is advising projects on technology and standards


What kinds of metadata are essential, what desirable, and what are the issues in creating and managing metadata?

Tension between rich tagging to ensure shared understanding of how resources address key academic issues, and lightweight, usable metadata solutions

Several approaches to tagging which will be explored to surface how lightweight the metadata requirements can be while facilitating discovery and reuse. e.g. adding multimedia support to e-Prints, using existing repository tools

Will better tagging improve Google ranking of OERs?

Long standing issue of who adds metadata still a consideration for projects - professional/academic/resource users


Guidelines For EngSC OER-Descriptions

How do existing repositories support the release, management, discovery preservation and access to OERs e.g. OpenJorum in the UK, institutional repositories within an institution, web sources globally, etc

Dealing with expired content and keeping content up to date

Duplicated content or linked-to?

Different degrees of openness available to depositors?

Choices re deposit into JORUMOpen? Open content ethos = specific hosting solutions don't matter. Also the development path of JorumOpen may be out of sync with project requirements

Many projects grappling with issue of consistency, tracking and management of resources available through web, institutional repositories and JORUMOpen, particularly in relation to preservation and archiving


What issues arise when using public/third-party hosting solutions?

What are implications of using e.g. SL islands, youtube, i-tunes, twitter...?

How well do Web 2.0 sites support interactivity e.g. Flash animations?

Web2.0 sites are at different stages of development and inconsistent in the media they will support - some specialise in specific media types and vary in how they allow access

There is an issue of resource ownership in relation to some or all third party web sites, e.g . in Flickr the person uploading the resource is, by default, the resource owner. Many sharing sites require consent to conditions of use statements that may violate CC and other licences.


How best to make hybrid, interactive and multi-media resources available for open access.


Dandelion Image CC BY-NC SonOfJordan







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