Implementing OERs and Open Textbooks

The Engineering Building at the University of ...
The Engineering Building at the University of Leicester. Designed by James Stirling.(Wikipedia)

There is still a lot of energy out there around the creation of open content and the licensing of existing content with open licences. There are many worthwhile projects out there that are interested in creating OERs such as SCORE in the UK. But how do we use these materials effectively? How can we roll out this content in the most effective manner? Who is evaluating these materials for quality? These are common questions about OERs and they point to an evolutionary history of OERs: creation, repositories, evaluation, assessment, and implementation. There are three projects worth taking a close look at even if you are already aware of them because there are common themes arising in OER implementation. 

 The OSTRICH Project – “The OSTRICH project, funded by the Higher Education Academy and JISC, and led by the University of Leicester, will transfer and cascade the key outcomes of Leicester’s institutional open educational resources (OER) pilot project, OTTER, to the universities of Bath and Derby.” Why do you need to know about this? Because their blog provides an excellent model for implementing and assessing OERs. You can follow the evolution of their implementation step-by-step through their blog.

Kaleidoscope Project – “Project Kaleidoscope is implementing a set of fully open general education courses across eight colleges serving predominantly at-risk students. The project will dramatically reduce textbook costs and allow collaborative improvement of course design to improve student success.” This project built assessment and peer review into the implementation process. The genius of the project is that it brings multiple colleges together not only to review OERs and open textbooks but to find common course outcomes and develop common assessments. This is a critical stage in the history of the implementation of OERs. This project shows that inter-institutional collaboration is a key factor in OER implementation success.

SAIDE ACEMaths Project – “The aim of the SAIDE ACEMaths project was to pilot a collaborative process for the selection, adaptation and use of OER materials for teacher education programmes in South Africa. Our latest research article entitled Collaborative Design and Use of Open Educational Resources: A Case Study of a Mathematics Teacher Education Project in South Africa by Ingrid Sapire and Yvonne Reed was published in Distance Education vol. 32 no. 2 August 2011.” 

OPAL: Open Education Quality Initiative – “Open educational resources, and open education more generally, are considered to have huge potential to increase participation and educational opportunities at large and to promote widening participation and lifelong learning. At the same time, the past decade has shown that openness in itself is not enough to unfold this potential. It is important to shift the focus more to the actual open practice of using, reusing, or creating open educational opportunities: open educational practice.” They have published numerous case studies on the implementation of OERs. 

Each one of these projects emphasizes collaboration in one way or another. Instructors are learning how to work together to reuse, remix, and share OERs through these projects, but beyond that, they are identifying the practices that will make the implementation of OERs successful. 

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