Repurposing resources as open content: studying the experiences of new providers

McAndrew, Patrick; Wilson, Tina; Malone, Sarah and O’Hare, Dave (2008). Repurposing resources as open content: studying the experiences of new providers. In: ALT-C 2008: Rethinking the digital divide, 9-11 Sep 2008, University of Leeds, UK.



Much educational content sits within institutional systems protected from global access, this proprietary approach restricts opportunities for informal learning and the exchange of materials between cultures. One response to reducing this particular digital divide is to open up access to existing courses by providing them as free to use Open Educational Resources (OERs). This is being addressed through work on OpenLearn (the open content initiative from The Open University developed with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation) and POCKET (The Project on Open Content for Knowledge Exposition and Teaching, supported by JISC under the repositories and preservation programme).
The approach is evaluative considering transfer of lessons from work on the reworking of distance learning materials (within the OpenLearn initiative) to the reworking of material from campus-based universities (supported by the POCKET project). Analysis will include the role of supporting artifacts (guidelines, examples, tools) and the process support required (shared aims, workshops, structure). Evaluation tools that are being applied include logging of experience, stake holder interviews, and analytics data.
We are building on existing evaluation of the OpenLearn initiative that has revealed models for learner use of open educational resources and studied the reuse of released open resources. Results include the need for a range of reworkable formats, support and time pressures on voluntary use – these results are supported by case study information and overall usage statistics. Further data that will be available from POCKET by September 2008 will include reflections from participants, workshop outcomes and initial stakeholder interviews, full evaluation of POCKET will be complete by April 2009.
This paper will have examined our understanding of the process by which content can be transformed from existing learning materials to freely available open educational resources. Conclusions at this stage will focus on the process of adoption and transfer from OpenLearn and the effectiveness of the evaluation and project approach. Comparison will be made with the advantages and disadvantages of the self supported approach adopted initially in OpenLearn and suggestions given for structures that enable collaboration in producing open educational resources.

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