The new year brings good news. I am delighted that we have secured funding from the John Fell fund to work with researchers in Dept of Education to enhance our understanding of the ways academics use open educational resources (OER) in their everyday teaching practice.
Through interviews with academics from a range of disciplines across the university we will build a more critical and theoretical perspective on how the use of OER enhances the University of Oxford’s reputation as one of the leading providers of online reusable learning and teaching resources in the UK.
From the practical, methodological and conceptual understandings reached through this project the study will help to inform organisational support of OER at the University of Oxford in the future.
A small but significant amount of research has been carried out at Oxford to begin to evaluate the impact of its open educational resources (OER) beyond the University, and the ways in which OER is used more generally in higher education (Masterman et al., 2011; Meyer , 2011). As the interest in OER grows, it is timely to offer a more critical and in-depth examination of how OER is effectively used in by educators and students within the university.
This will be achieved via a systematic literature review and a series of rich qualitative interviews with academics from a range of disciplines within the University, in order to understand a range of pedagogical, social, cultural, technological and political factors that are highly relevant to this developing field of research, while at the same time providing information that can be used at an institutional level to inform teaching practice, and appropriate models and investment strategies for OER within the University of Oxford in the future.
Through our ‘OpenSpires’ and ‘Oxford on iTunesU’  initiatives, the University of Oxford has rapidly become one of the largest providers of online reusable learning and teaching resources in the UK. This complements other ongoing initiatives in the Department for Continuing Education, Oxford University Press, and Bodleian Libraries. A strategy will build on the strong reputation the University of Oxford has as a provider of high quality OER content to ensure that we also have a strong reputation as having a strong critical and analytical approach to understanding how the use of OER plays out in practice.
This is key at a time where funders are beginning to move beyond funding provision of content to properly understanding its meaning in higher education settings.
 Open Spires project has created a facility to enable over 1,700 individuals in Oxford to release their podcasts, videos, e-books. and other teaching and learning materials (http://openspires.oucs.ox.ac.uk/)
 Oxford is currently the second largest contributor of sets of materials into iTunes U in the UK (around 4,000 items so far)
 The Department for Continuing Education teaches on-line courses, taking distance learning forward
 OUP has as part of its mission to create world-class resources and make them available as widely as possible in pursuit of the University’s objectives. It is investing substantially in a number of new digital products and platforms
 Developments in policy, practice and technology are influencing change in the dissemination of academic research publications and other products of research. ORA and similar open access digital archives are just one strand in a massive evolving arena.