OER Programme Interim Meeting

Yesterday we attended the interim meeting for the OER Programme in Birmingham. It was a busy event with attendees from projects in all the strands supported by this second phase of the OER Programme.

The first main session in the morning focussed on Accessibility with Terry McAndrew from JISC TechDis (http://www.jisctechdis.ac.uk).  After some fun exercises to highlight the difficulties encountered by some users and the need to take these into account when developing resources, Terry highlighted the help that was available from TechDis and some useful tools which audit accessibility practices. He asked that projects report on accessibility issues and document any compromises that have to be made.

Next was a session by David White from Technology Assisted Lifelong-Learning here at Oxford. Dave spoke about the OER Impact Study, a JISC-funded research study which will investigate patterns of behaviour around the use and reuse of OER, and examine the impact of these behaviours on teaching and learning strategies from institutional, tutor and student perspectives. More on the project can be found here http://oerblog.conted.ox.ac.uk.

Following this we filtered off into strand-specific sessions. I attended the Cascade strand to represent the Ripple project. During the first part of this session we focussed on evaluation and some generic evaluation questions supplied by Helen Beetham of the Evaluation and Synthesis Team (http://oersynthesis.jiscinvolve.org/wp/).  Four of these questions which I feel will be evaluated with our partners are:

  • What are the main motivations for, and barriers to, the release and use of OERs?
  • How are different means of sharing expertise effective? E.g. workshops, mentoring, sharing workflows, documentation, guidance etc.
  • What makes resources suitable for open release (with or without significant repurposing)?
  • In what roles do we find OER advocates and how are they effecting change within institutions?

I am sure we will evaluate many other issues – cultural, impact etc. – but these are topics which have already been touched on in our workshops.

After lunch, we returned to our strand-specific sessions to discuss and share our thoughts on working with partners, institutional embedding, managing communication flows and working with shared repositories. The projects within the Cascade strand have different models of support, one providing a tool to partners, one running focus groups and another using a series of reflexive tasks to develop a collaborative framework for cascading OERs. It will be very interesting to see the outputs of these different models and to assess the impact of providing cascading support to partners.

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