OER Research Hub Celebrates Open Research Award

Award winning OER Research Hub team

Award winning OER Research Hub team

Celebrating ‘excellence’ was the highlight for the OER Research Hub project when they attended the OCWC conference in Slovenia – April 23-25. The project was selected as the recipient of the 2014 Open Research Award of Excellence (ACE) in recognition of “continued efforts to promote the importance of online and open education through the OER Research Hub” . This official recognition was made by the OCW Consortium Board of Directors and Awards Committee, and was presented to the OERRH research team on April 24th at a gala dinner reception at the OCWC conference.

At the conference, the researchers presented papers on OERRH research tools and findings : Rob Farrow discussed the OERRH’s Impact Map in his paper OER Impact: Collaboration, Evidence, Synthesis; Bea de los Arcos discussed teachers’ views on OER and students in: Flipping with OER: K12 teachers’ views of the impact of open practices on students. OERRH Open fellow, Leigh-Anne Perryman presented on OER in the context of two Open University OER projects in:The role of OER localisation in building a knowledge partnership for development: Comparing the TESSA and TESS-India teacher education projects.

Through its research, collaboration and dissemination activities, the OERRH has been working towards building a global picture of the impact of OER on learning and teaching practices.

It is with much excitement and gratitude to all its research collaborators that the OERRH receives this award!

Is There a Gender Divide Around OER and Educational Technology?

The month of March has been a memorable one for our project – it was all about celebration! Like the rest of the OER community we joined in the fun of Open Education Week to help raise awareness of the global … Continue reading

In the OERRH spotlight- Flipped Learning

CC-By Vanguard Visions

CC-By Vanguard Visions

Today’s Open Education Week focus at the OER Research Hub (OERRH) is on Flipped Learning.

One of the OERRH’s research collaborations is the Flipped Learning Network (FLN), a community of teachers whose mission is ‘to provide educators with the knowledge, skills and resources to successfully implement Flipped Learning’. Together, we have been working on finding out about K12 teachers’ use of free online resources in the context of the flipped classroom.

A commonly asked question is: how open is the flipped learning community? The view taken by OERRH researcher, Bea de los Arcos, is that K12 teachers engaged in flipped learning are also engaged, for the most part, in open practice, but they need to spell it out clearer for the rest of the world. Bea discusses some of this in a recent blog post.

Today, our project would like to draw attention to an infographic – Using, creating and sharing free online resources in a flipped classroom. This infographic is based on the results of a survey that the OERRH conducted to find out how flipped educators are using and thinking about open educational resources (OER).

Open Education Week Spotlight – Librarians!

Today’s Open Education Week focus at the OER Research Hub is on Librarians. The OER Research Hub has been working over the last few months with members of the Co-PILOT project (which promotes “digital and information literacy” open resources for use in Higher Education) … Continue reading

Celebrating Open Education Week

Today marks the start of Open Education Week. The week is a celebration of the global Open Education Movement to raise awareness about the movement and its impact on teaching and learning. Throughout this week our OER Research Hub project … Continue reading

OER Impact Map Creates Buzz at OU’s Learn About Fair

What is it about the OER Impact Map that creates so much interest among OER colleagues? I have been pondering this very question ever since it generated quite a buzz at its mini launch at Open Ed 13.

One thing that’s for sure is that there seems to be an obsession with maps in the OER community. I think the Map’s designer Martin Hawksey was right when he noted in his blog post : “the OER community are obsessed with geography”. The unique features standing out in Martin’s design are: a zoomable map by clicking on a country and a Sankey diagram to let people see the flow of data from a hypothesis (evidence is being collated for our project around a set of 11 hypotheses). Through our Impact Map, our project hopes to be able to gather and display evidence for our research hypotheses . We have also invited the general OER public to add their projects to the map and share data from their projects. This way we hope to build a rich picture of OER projects and data relating to the impact of these projects, in various sectors.

The Map’s interactive features have certainly attracted a wide range of individuals, not just persons interested in OER. For example, at The OU’s Learn About Fair held last Wednesday 26th February, participants belonging to various disciplines such as Languages; History and Geography were intrigued by functionality and design. The Impact Map proved, once again, to be the centre of attraction at the OER Research Hub stall.

The Learn About Fair helps OU staff, and other education institutions, keep abreast of new tools and methods of teaching and learning.  The event is jointly organised by The OU’s Institute of Educational Technology, Library Services and Learning and Teaching Solution.  The Fair is topic-led rather than a department or project showcase. So our OER Research Hub were part of a group that included:

For us, the Learn About Fair was a great opportunity to connect with these other projects and explore synergies – The OU is, by UK standards, a large organisation and staff don’t often get the opportunity to discuss research and projects across disciplines/departments. But via events like the Learn About Fair we discover projects like CORE which, like the OER Research Hub, uses an interactive map as a tool for exploring data (see CORE’s map here). The event certainly facilitated a kind of sharing that could prove valuable to both our projects.

The Fair was all the more special because OERRH fellow, Billy Meinke, was on site to participate in this event – open licencing is still a new and mysterious concept for some OER projects and his Creative Commons background was certainly of value to colleagues.

If you are interested in adding your OER project to our Impact Map, and would like to share your data (or see what others have shared), read more here.

Open fellow Creative Commons' Billy Meinke and OERRH Researcher Beck Pitt at The OU's Learn About Fair

OERRH fellow Creative Commons’ Billy Meinke and OERRH Researcher Beck Pitt at The OU’s Learn About Fair

OER Research Hub says farewell to project manager Claire Walker, and hello to new PM Natalie Eggleston

The OER Research Hub would like to extend best wishes to our project manager, Claire Walker, as she takes up a new role in The OU’s Centre for Inclusion and Collaborative Partnerships (CICP). Claire will now be managing a project around the Accreditation of Prior Learning across the university. Her last day is Friday 14th February.

We would like to say a big thank you to Claire for her valuable contribution to our project, and good luck in her new role.

And as we say goodbye to Claire, we say hello and welcome to Natalie Eggleston (no stranger to the project!) who will be taking over from Claire from Monday. As Claire puts it: with Natalie coming on board, we are sure our project will continue in good hands!

Please join the OER Research Hub as we say: Good luck Claire and Welcome Natalie!

Goodbye Claire (left) and Hello Natalie (right)

Goodbye Claire (left) and Hello Natalie (right)

OER Research Hub welcomes Open Fellows and visitors from collaborations

The OERRH has started off 2014 with an exciting visitors programme.

Open Fellows Giselle Ferreira; Alannah Fitzgerald and Megan Beckett will be with us at various times throughout January.

Giselle is an Adjunct Professor at the Post-Graduate Programme in Education of the University Estácio de Sá, Rio de Janeiro, where she coordinates the ICT in Education Research Group . Previously, she was a Lecturer at The Open University, UK, (1998-2013), where she was engaged in various OER-related research and development projects, including OpenLearn.

Alannah is an open education practitioner and researcher working in the area of technology-enhanced learning for English Language Teaching (ELT) and English for Academic Purposes (EAP). She is a doctoral candidate in Educational Technology at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.

Megan coordinates the production of new OER titles in Natural Sciences and Technology workbooks for Siyavula. Siyavula is focused on developing open educational resources for K-12 STEM subjects, supporting technological tools and software, and building and supporting communities of practice to improve education in South Africa.

OER Research Hub welcomes founders of Flipped Learning Network

On Wednesday 22nd January, we also welcome Founders of the Flipped Learning Network – one of the OER Research Hub’s research collaborations. They are John Bergmann and Aaron Sams

OERRH welcomes Giselle Ferreira and Alannah Fitzgerald

OERRH welcomes Giselle Ferreira (3rd from right) and Alannah Fitzgerald (second from left)

OER Research Hub: Our first year in review (2012-2013)

Our OER Research Hub project began its first year probably the same way most research projects do –new staff establishing themselves into their new roles; developing key project management documents that would outline the framework of how the project would flow; developing of a research framework that would guide how we undertook research on the impact of OER on learning and teaching practices – a remit to which we had committed to the Hewlett Foundation.

The year continued with great collaboration and research with our 8 collaborations – OERRH visits to collaborations; collaborations’ visits to the OERRH and; various meetings to discuss and agree on research methodology that would produce mutually beneficial research.

Fellows: Our fellowship programme was an extension of our collaboration efforts  through which we aimead to strengthen and create networks between practitioners, educators and OER experts. This programme features 13 fellows, 7 of whom have already visited the OERRH, bringing their knowledge and evidence to our project.

Events highlights: During the past year, our OERRH were represented at more than 30 events that brought together leading OER researchers and practitioners to discuss the ever-changing OER landscape. Some highlights for us have been OER 13 and Open Ed 2013 where our project was represented in full. Through our webinars, the OERRH promoted discussions around OER, such as policy and informal learning.

OERRH Data highlights:

  • Educator belief that OER improve student performance is high, but this is less so for learners themselves
  • Open licensing is important for educators but not for learners
  • The main users of MOOCs and OER tend to be experienced learners
  • OER are frequently used by students entering or continuing formal education to determine study direction
  • OER use leads to reflection on teaching practice by educators
  • There are considerable savings for learners using open textbooks with no detrimental effect on learning
  • When selecting OER, users combine indicators that denote quality and also those that facilitate their own use of the resource
  • Learners in formal education make better use of social network support structures than informal learners when learning with OER
  • The broader acceptance of OER has laid the groundwork for increasing numbers of explicit OER related policies.

As we say goodbye to 2013 and look ahead to 2014, we are excited at the pipeline of activities that have potential to significantly impact the world of OER impact data. The next year, 2014, is poised to be a significant year for us – a year in which we plan to take on the global picture of OER impact – populating our Evidence Hub, with your help. We will also continue to share research findings and approaches at OER events

So, in 2014, we will concentrate on four pillars:

Researcher discovery: Sharing our research tools, including a researcher pack and launching a School of Open course on ‘How to conduct OER research on impact’;

Data analysis: In 2013 we have had the privilege to work with various collaborations; research fellows and other members of our network on gathering data from their communities. We now turn our focus to analysing and reporting  that data;

Painting a global picture of OER impact: Our collaborations and our research data thus far have been, in the main, US-centric. In 2014, we look forward to widening our focus to include OER impact data and OER projects from around the world;

Dissemination: As well as continuing to host our own OER events, such as webinars, you can catch us at a number of upcoming OER events including OER 14; OCWC; eLearning 2014 and others. Publications in Open Access journals are also on the 2014 horizon.

As we say thank you to all our collaborations and network of ‘friends’ for the support throughout the first year of our OER Research Hub project, we would also like to extend our best wishes to you all for 2014. Seasons Greetings from the OER Research Hub project!

The following slides are a snapshot look at some of our year’s highlights:

Slide2 Slide4 Slide3 Slide1

OERRH Fellow Jane Park shares notes from her recent fellowship experience

I took up residence in Milton Keynes, England, for one week as the Linked OER Research Hub Fellow for the School of Open. The School of Open is a community of volunteers from all around the world who are developing … Continue reading

As we say ‘goodbye’ to first OERRH fellow Una Daly, it’s ‘Hello!’ to another four

OERRH Team and Fellows in deep thoughts at our Sprint-planning meeting

OERRH Team and Fellows in deep thought at our September Sprint-planning meeting

We at the OER Research Hub said ‘goodbye’ to our first fellow Una Daly in August. While here, Una participated in various activities around our campus, and also managed to liven up the campus debate around OER and Accessibility. It has been a delight to meet and work with Una and we look forward to our continued collaboration with CCCOER. Check our group photo with Una here.

On Monday, we welcomed another four fellows (three from the United States and one from Scotland): Daniel Williamson; Kari Arfstrom and Thanh Le, and our project’s evaluation fellow/consultant, Sheila MacNeil. The four started on a very hectic, but fun, note as they dived in and participated in our week-long team Sprint – an approach our team has been experimenting with using the premise of agile programming and adapting it to a research project (see Patrick’s blog about our first research sprint, for details). The focus of this September sprint was around the evaluation of the Hub’s dissemination channels, and the fellows provided valuable feedback that will go on to inform e.g our website layout and engagement with various project stakeholders. Apart from the Sprint, fellows have been visiting schools and colleges in Milton Keynes to get a sense of the status of OER in the UK; and have been meeting with various OU departments bearing similarities to their own OER project.

We look forward to Open fellows’ (Sara Frank-Bristow and Jane Park) visit in October.

Indicators for selecting OER – an informal learner’s perspective

Indicators for selecting OER – an informal learner’s perspective

According to the Terminology of Vocational Training Policy (Tissot 2004), informal learning is: “Learning resulting from daily activities related to work, family or leisure. It is not organised or structured (in terms of objectives, time or learning support). IL (informal learning) is in most cases unintentional from the learner’s perspective. It typically does not lead to certification.”

Similarly, the European Commission (2000) describes: “Informal learning is learning that is not organised or structured in terms of goals, time or instruction. This covers skills acquired (sometimes unintentionally) through life and work experience”.

This unstructured, informal approach has resulted in informal learning being a scarcely-investigated area of OER impact.

Our project has identified the ‘informal sector’ as one of its four key sectors of study. We have been taking a close look at informal learners and their use of OER: in her Blog Can OER breakdown barriers to participation in education?, OERRH researcher Leigh-Anne Perryman discusses increased access to education for informal learners with disabilities; one of our research hypotheses (hypothesis H) looks at informal learners in relation to the variety of techniques used to compensate for the lack of formal support – initial research findings have been discussed in OERRH researcher Rob Farrow’s blog post Supporting Informal Learners Openly. Another OERRH research hypothesis (hypothesis G) poses the question: Informal learners use a variety of indicators when selecting OER.

Our Hub spent a week in July compiling evidence around Hypothesis G. Thus far, OERRH survey results show that ‘description of learning objectives’ of an OER is the most influential factor for informal learners.  Clements and Pawlowski’s (2012) survey-based study of ICT and Math secondary school teachers’ attitudes towards OER quality identifies ‘trust’ as an important indicator involved in respondents’ choice of OER, and a core component of judgements around OER quality during the search phase of the re-use process.  Initial analysis of OER Research Hub data from an OpenLearn survey of informal learners’ use of OER highlighted that ‘trust’  is certainly a factor influencing the decisions of informal learners – 53.12% of survey respondents agree that resources being created/uploaded by a reputable/trusted institution/person is indeed important. However, a greater percentage of informal learners were influenced by the availability of a description of learning objectives or outcomes being provided by the resource. This, to 60.5% of our survey respondents, is key in their decision-making process. For 54.98%, the ease of downloading material is another crucial factor influencing use of resources.

On the other hand, the OER Research Hub survey suggests that a ‘catchy title’ or ‘attractive images’ bear less (8.23%) sway over learners’ choice.

Other influencing factors include: the length/complexity of the resource; user ratings; evidence of interest in a particular resource and; personal recommendation.

Our OpenLearn survey is still live so results could prove different once closed. Other OERRH surveys of informal learners are in the pipeline and results will be shared soon.

A collaborative approach to OER research: Reflections at our OER Research Hub Away Days


Photo credit: Nicola Corboy CC-By-NC via Flikr

Photo credit: Nicola Corboy CC-By-NC via Flikr

A collaborative approach to OER research: Reflections at our OER Research Hub Away Days

The OER terrain seems a wide and varied one- an OER can take on any format: videos, textbooks, software and more.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation define OER as “teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge”.

This diversity is one that we are so often reminded of at The OERRH. Tasked by Hewlett to undertake research on OER impact on learning and teaching methods, our main challenge was: how do we gain an objective and near panoramic view on ‘impact’ in such a varied sphere? Where do we start?

Then that ‘Aha!’ moment struck when some members of our bid-writing team came up with the idea of collaborations/research partners- Let’s partner with various OER projects and work with them to research OER impact through the lens of their projects.

Since securing our Hewlett grant and launching our project, we have marketed our research project as one that brings this very unique element to the OER research table- our research showcases data and evidence drawn from more than nine (9) diverse OER projects (our research collaborations) – ranging from the Flipped Classroom Network in the United States to Teacher Education in India.

So, as we reflected at our recent team away days, we highlighted a few of the benefits of our collaborative approach to OER research:

  • Through these collaborations we have managed to secure coverage of the main education sectors – K12 (high school); College; Higher Education and Informal sectors
  • We have been able to extend our project’s geographical reach, gaining perspective and understanding of how impact can be influenced by factors such as culture and political climate
  • We have been able to research a multiplicity of modes of OER – e.g. open text books; flipped classrooms and; in situ science projects
  • Through our fellowship programme and other collaboration activities we aim to foster a networking climate among collaborations, building a community of OER projects.
  • For some of our collaborations,  that element of research on ‘impact’ was almost non-existent so the collaboration has been proving to be a useful way of amassing data that further strengthens their OER project

As an OER research hub, we are on a mission to build that database of evidence that sheds light on your OER research. Via our 11 Hypotheses, and with the help of our collaborations, we will explore the impact of OER on learning and teaching practices. We will soon launch our Evidence Hub – a space where we invite the general OER community to participate and submit their own pieces of evidence.

We have been privileged to meet and engage with some exceptional OER projects and passionate collaborators. If you have an OER project and would like to participate in our research project, please feel free to contact us at:  oer-research-hub@open.ac.uk