OER Mainstreaming Checklist – Quick Reference

In my previous post on OER – From Practice to Culture, I introduced nine action points which need to be addressed to mainstream OER in an institution:

  1. Make the effort to change your mindset
  2. If you take, remember to give back
  3. Know your licenses
  4. Plan ahead
  5. Practice first, policy will follow
  6. Build capacity
  7. Setup a repository
  8. Conduct QA
  9. Recognize and Reward

However, what that post fails to provide is a systematic and practical framework which can be used to tackle the mammoth task of changing the entire culture of an institution from closed to open.

This post, based on my recent journal paper An empirical framework for mainstreaming OER in an academic institution (used under CC BY), will provide an overall road map for institutions to transition from OER practice to culture.

Why OER in the first place?

The instigator of the OER mainstreaming process at an institution is the top-level decision to adopt the philosophy. There are three main reasons for an institution to turn to OER:

  • It is a viable strategy to reduce costs or shorten course development times;
  • It is an opportunity to improve the quality of teaching and learning; or
  • For philanthropic reasons particularly in developed countries.

The top down approach

Although the decision to adopt OER at an institution is typically made at a senior management level, the quantum of success of the implementation depends entirely on the execution. To this extent, the top down approach encapsulates the key stakeholders in a hierarchy. In this model, the academic staff are tasked with the implementation of OER in the institution, following the directive from the management, with support from the educational technology unit, library and IT support. However, from a practical perspective, this model creates a disconnect between the key stakeholders and the original reason for adopting the philosophy of OER because the exercise is perceived as an additional workload. This, in turn, leads to frustration and lack of ownership in the adoption of OER for teaching and learning.

The horizontal approach

To address the issues of the top down approach, I propose a horizontal approach where all parties have an equal stake in ensuring the successful holistic adoption of OER in the institution.

The horizontal approach to mainstreaming OER in an institution
The horizontal approach to mainstreaming OER in an institution

Among the advantages of the horizontal approach:

  • The collaborative team-oriented nature leads to increased ownership, transparency and the sharing of responsibilities among the key stakeholders resulting in higher success rates;
  • The stakeholders form teams to systematically execute multiple processes required for OER mainstreaming;
  • The learners are considered key stakeholders as the quality of the teaching and learning directly impacts their mastery of learning outcomes;
  • By measuring the mastery of learning outcomes, the model allows for continuous quality improvement (CQI) which transforms a unidirectional mainstreaming process into an evolving iterative activity.

The OER mainstreaming checklist

Each process executed by the stakeholder teams comprise of a set of tasks which need to be achieved for the process to be considered complete. The following checklist maps each process against the respective tasks and the stakeholder teams concerned in the OER mainstreaming exercise:

OER mainstreaming checklist
OER mainstreaming checklist

For a detailed description of how each process is to be addressed, read my full paper.


Abeywardena, I.S. (2017). An Empirical Framework for Mainstreaming OER in an Academic Institution. Asian Association of Open Universities Journal, 12(2), 230-242.


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