Researching openness in teaching and learning at Oxford

In recent years, Oxford has become a leading provider of online reusable learning and teaching resources in the UK. It has now released over 2800 podcasts with Creative Commons licences through iTunes U and the University of Oxford Podcasts website. This number is swelled by several thousand resources of other types in openly licensed collections such as The Great War Archive and Great Writers Inspire. However, until recently we had yet to investigate how OER fit into teaching and learning in the University.

In early 2013 the Education Enhancement team and the Department of Education were jointly commissioned to do just that. However, we quickly became caught up in the burgeoning literature on openness and decided to expand our research to explore the relationship between open educational practice and the academic culture of Oxford. Our aim was to use this broader context in order to illuminate the factors that might be conducive (or otherwise!) to greater uptake of OER in teaching and learning at the University.

In all we have conducted 14 interviews with teaching staff and three with representatives from other stakeholder groups with an interest in supporting open practices, including a learning technologist and a librarian. We’re currently writing up our findings and expect to publish them in April.

In the meantime, we leave you to ponder how far you agree with the following two statements about openness which we put to our interviewees:

  • ‘The world’s knowledge is a public good and all people should have free access to it.’
  • ‘Open sharing of knowledge is at the heart of the academic process.’
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