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Developing sustainable business models for institutions’ provision of open educational resources: Learning from OpenLearn users’ motivations and experiences

Perryman, Leigh-Anne; Law, Patrina and Law, Andrew (2013). Developing sustainable business models for institutions’ provision of open educational resources: Learning from OpenLearn users’ motivations and experiences. In: Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference 2013, 23-25 Oct 2013, Paris, France, European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU), pp. 270–286.

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Universities across the globe have, for some time, been exploring the possibilities for achieving public benefit and generating business and visibility through releasing and sharing open educational resources (OER). Many have written about the need to develop sustainable and profitable business models around the production and release of OER. Downes (2006), for example, has questioned the financial sustainability of OER production at scale. Many of the proposed business models focus on OER’s value in generating revenue and detractors of OER have questioned whether they are in competition with formal education.

This paper reports on a study intended to broaden the conversation about OER business models to consider the motivations and experiences of OER users as the basis for making a better informed decision about whether OER and formal learning are competitive or complementary with each other. The study focused on OpenLearn - the Open University’s (OU) web-based platform for OER, which hosts hundreds of online courses and videos and is accessed by over 3,000,000 users a year. A large scale survey and follow-up interviews with OpenLearn users worldwide revealed that university provided OER can offer learners a bridge to formal education, allowing them to try out a subject before registering on a formal course and to build confidence in their abilities as learners. In addition, it was found that using OER during formal paid-for study can improve learners’ performance and self-reliance, leading to increased retention and satisfaction with the learning experience.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item
Copyright Holders: 2013 European Association of Distance Teaching Universities
ISBN: 90-79730-13-0, 978-90-79730-13-1
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
OER Research HubNot SetHewlett Foundation
Keywords: open educational resources; OER; business models; sustainability; widening participation; OpenLearn
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
Learner and Discovery Services (LDS) > Open Media & Informal Learning (OMIL)
Learner and Discovery Services (LDS)
Other Departments > Business Development Unit
Other Departments
Research Group: Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)
Item ID: 39101
Depositing User: Leigh-Anne Perryman
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2013 09:35
Last Modified: 09 May 2019 10:51
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