EC SIG OER Meeting 27 February

Last Friday the EC SIG met at the OU, Milton Keynes for a really interesting day of presentations and discussion around OER. The meeting was in part timed to to coincide with the JISC OER call and to give an overview of some current developments in OER from a range of perspectives from the institutional to the individual.

Andy Lane and Patrick McAndrew started the day with an overview of institutional impact of the OpenLearn project. One of the key institutional barriers was (unsurprisingly) trying get over the assumption that providing open content wasn’t “giving away the family silver” and the fear of not being able to control what others might do with your content. OpenLearn has fundamentally been about de-bunking these perceptions and illustrating how making content open can actually bring about a range of benefits to the institution. The ethos of the OpenLearn project has been to enhance the student experience and the student, not the institution has central to all developments. In terms of institutional benefit, perhaps the most significant one is that there is now a clear trail showing that a significant number of openlearn students do actually go on to register for a fee paying course.

Sarah Darnley, from the University of Derby gave an overview of the POCKET project which is using OpenLearn materials and repurposing/repackaging then for their institutional VLE. They are also creating new materials and putting them into openlearn. Russell Stannard, University of Westminster rounded off the morning’s presentations with his fascinating presentation of his multimedia training videos. To quote Patrick McAndrew Russell is a bit of a ‘teacherpreneur’. During teaching of his multimedia course Russell saw that it would easier for him to create short training videos of various software packages which students could access at anytime thus freeing up actual class time. Russell explained how the fact that his site was high in google rankings has led a huge number of visits and again increased interest in the MSc he teaches on. Although not conceived as an OER project, this is a great example of how just “putting stuff out-there” can increase motivation/resources for existing students and bring in more. However I do wonder as Russell starts producing more teaching resources to go with his videos and his institution get more involved how open he will be able to keep things.

The afternoon session started with Liam Earney of the CASPER project sharing the experiences of the RePRODUCE programme. CASPER has recently surveyed to projects to find out their experiences dealing with copyright and IPR issues when repurposing material. A key finding is that the within the HE sector there is generally an absence of rights statements and only 14% of the projects found it easy to clear copyright. Ambiguity abounds within institutions about who/where/what and how of content can be reused. Of course this is a key area for the the upcoming JISC OER call.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in discussion around the call. Four of the programme managers involved were at the meeting and we able to answer questions relating to it. It is important to note the the JISC call is a pilot and is not a means to an end. It will not, and is not trying to solve all the issues around OER, however what it will do is allow the community to continue to explore and move forward with the various technical and IPR/copyright issues in the context of previous experience.

Copies of the presentations from the day are available from the CETIS wiki, and also a great summary of the day is available via Cloudworks ( a big thanks to Patrick McAndrew for pulling this together).

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