New spaces, new tools, new roles: two case studies on the impact of open educational resources

Ferreira, Giselle Martins dos Santos (2009). New spaces, new tools, new roles: two case studies on the impact of open educational resources. International Journal of Learning, 16(11) pp. 273–286.



This paper reports on two case-studies on the impact of Open Educational Resources taken from an investigation carried out on OpenLearn, the UK Open University Open Content Initiative funded by the Flora and Hewlett Foundation between April 2006 and April 2008. The project has re-purposed several thousand hours of learning materials selected from the university's course provision into freely available units of study on a pair of twin sites, the LearningSpace (aimed primarily at learners) and the LabSpace (the experimental space aimed primarily at other educators). The case-studies form part of a broader investigation into engagement with communication and discussion tools provided by OpenLearn.
Each of the case-studies revolves around a collaborative mini-project involving OpenLearn staff and a subject-specialist. The mini-projects were set up with the twofold aim of providing a test bed for the use of resources and tools provided on the OpenLearn Web site whilst providing a context at the boundary between 'formal' and 'informal' learning. Each mini-project was structured around a series of videoconferences supported with a study unit on the LabSpace (containing resources as well as further communication tools), the first focusing on the area of ethics and technology for practitioners, and the other focusing on the area of collaborative design at introductory level.
This paper describes the process of organising and supporting the mini-projects as one of co-creating new spaces and roles for stakeholders involved in teaching and learning. The learning situations created in the mini-projects are located as samples from the 'informal learning�/�formal learning' continuum afforded by OpenLearn, which suggests a number of boundary issues in relation to curriculum and pedagogy for online learning as well as discourses and technologies of 'openness�

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