OER infoKit wiki Open Educational Resources infoKit / Cultural considerations
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Cultural considerations

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Saved by Doug Belshaw
on July 23, 2010 at 7:14:02 am


"Many staff felt that it would be good to incorporate resource creation into Learning and Teaching in Higher Education practice (LTHE โ€“ HEA accredited postgraduate programme designed to meet the needs of those new to teaching). This would make OER sustainable in the long term. The costs of producing OER would then just be a part of training with getting staff to think about copyright and IPR from the very beginning: "a basic educational need which has now been highlighted as necessary anyway"."

Open Exeter Project final report, University of Exeter

Cultural issues have been identified as significant in relation to if and how people share learning and teaching resources. Different institutions, sectors and subject communities may all have their own 'established practices' around sharing practice and learning materials. Academics may feel more connected to the culture of their subject discipline or Community of Practice than to the institutional culture. It could be argued that there is no such thing as an institutional culture as many sub-cultures exist, often related to different institutional roles, with traditions and approaches that can be more persuasive than strategy and policy documents.  Some of these traditions or practices can result in slow take up of new approaches or ideas.


The Open movement in particular challenges people and groups  to change their existing practice and patchy development is quite likely in large institutions with many sub-cultures. An institution-wide approach to staff development and support can help to address some of these cultural barriers and encourage OER release and use but some institutions may choose to mandate such activities to move forward.

The following studies discuss cultural issues around sharing learning materials in more detail:


JISC/HE Academy Pilot Programme: OER release

The JISC/HE Academy Pilot programme: OER release aimed to provide funding and support to enable individuals, subject communities and institutions to openly release existing materials. The lessons learned, approaches adopted and barriers overcome were expected to inform the wider community and offer models and guidance to support wider release in the UK. It was anticipated that cultural issues would continue to be significant for the pilot programme:


The questions that the programme hoped to address include:

  • What are the current norms for sharing educational content in different communities? What global or local trends are in evidence?
  • What motivates and supports/enables individuals to make their content open? What are effective mechanisms of reward and recognition?
  • What are the institutional, legal, cultural barriers to open content?
  • Who benefits from release of content? How do they perceive and understand those benefits?
  • How does the opening of learning resources affect the roles of individuals?
  • Within what kinds of communitites does open sharing take place readily and effectively?
  • What are these communities actually sharing? What can we learn from them?


Pilot programme outcomes and discussion around cultural considerations for OERs  are 

being developed on the OER Synthesis and Evaluation Team wiki - these pages are restricted until release at the end of June 2010.

Pilot programme outputs: Pedagogy and End use issues

Pilot programme outputs: Guidance and support

Pilot programme outputs: Cultural issues

Pilot programme outputs: Quality issues 

Image CC BY nerdegutt 


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