Arguably, at present, the largest group of OER creators and consumers consist of ODL practitioners. However, the uptake of the wider adoption of OER in teaching and learning is slow from the perspective of an ODL institution due to the lack of understanding of how to implement the use and re-use of OER across the various interconnected departments. This has become especially challenging with respect to re-use as the institution needs to implement policies and procedures holistically adopting a top-down approach encapsulating the key stakeholders which include (i) management; (ii) academics; (iii) educational technologists (ET); (iv) library and learning support services (LLS); and (v) information technology support services (ITS). In this approach, the academics are at the core of the implementation exercise supported by the various other stakeholders as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1 Key stakeholders in an ODL institution with respect to re-use of OER.
The strategic implementation of re-use in ODL institutions can be segmented into four distinct stages which are (i) capacity building; (ii) creation of an institutional repository; (iii) quality assurance; and (iv) recognition and rewards. As shown in Figure 2, each of these stages consists of a number of activities which are performed by the various stakeholders.
Figure 2 The four stages of strategically implementing re-use of OER.
The first stage of an institutional plan for strategically implementing the re-use of OER consists of capacity building for the academics, ET, LLS as well as ITS. Each of these key stake holders should be acclimatised to the concept of OER, the types of OER available with respect to the medium, the openness and accessibility of OER; the use and re-use of OER with respect to copyright and the technological tools available for the re-use and adaptation of OER. More extensive training should be provided to LLS with respect to the copyright and intellectual property rights associated with the re-use of OER; and to ITS with respect to the technology tools used to adapt OER. This new understanding of the OER landscape will in turn underpin the next stages of the implementation plan.
The second stage of the exercise consists of the creation of an institutional repository for both OER as well as technology tools used to adapt OER. It would be the responsibility of the LLS to scout the various OER repositories available, extract resources relevant for the teaching and learning taking place at the institution, catalogue them using metadata which will facilitate more efficient search and retrieval, categorise them according to the medium and store them in an institutional repository which is accessible by all the key stakeholders. Similarly, the ITS will be responsible for locating, cataloguing, categorising and storing technology tools, user manuals and support materials to be used by the key stakeholders for re-using OER. This stage will enable the academics and the ET to easily and effectively locate OER for their teaching and course development purposes.
The third stage of the exercise concentrates on the quality assurance aspect of the institutional repository and involves the academics, ET, LLS as well as ITS. The academics will be responsible for evaluating the suitability of the OER material in the repository with respect to the technical soundness of the content. The ET will be responsible for evaluating the pedagogical aspect of the resources. The LLS will be identifying the level of openness of the content with respect to intellectual property rights and the ITS will be evaluating the level of access with respect to the technology tools required for re-use. The OER in the repository should then be annotated with the notes generated by each stakeholder. This, in turn, will act as a filtering process which will identify the most suitable OER for re-use within the context of the institution.
The fourth stage of the strategic implementation plan involves the management and policy makers of the institution. Even though stages one to three have established a stable working foundation for re-use of OER on an institutional level, the academics must be encouraged to adopt the re-use of OER in their teaching and research activities. In order to facilitate this, an institutional policy on “Share Alike” of OER needs to be established whereby the adapted OER are placed back in the institutional repository for re-use by others. Also this will act as an indicator of the contributions made by each academic towards the institutional directive of re-using OER in its teaching and learning activities. Furthermore, the extent of re-use of OER in teaching and research activities can be considered as one of the key performance indicators (KPI) of the academics giving raise to the possibility of remuneration and rewards. This institutional policy will then promote the wider re-use of OER which will result in significant gains for the institution.
The aforementioned four stage implementation plan provides a strategic approach for the re-use and adaptation of OER in an ODL institution. However, it must be noted that there will be practical limitations which will be encountered during the implementation of this plan. It must also be noted that each of the stages need to be re-visited periodically to ensure the integrity of the whole institutional directive towards the re-use of OER.
Original source: Abeywardena, I.S. (2012). A report on the Re-use and Adaptation of Open Educational Resources (OER): An Exploration of Technologies Available. Commonwealth of Learning.