Widening access and OER: developing new practice

Cannell, Pete; Macintyre, Ronald and Hewitt, Lindsay (2015). Widening access and OER: developing new practice. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 17(1) pp. 64–72.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5456/WPLL.17.1.64


Open Educational Resources (OER) are widely viewed as having the potential to open up access to educational opportunities at all levels. However, issues of access, openness and free use are complex and contested. The development of OER takes place in contexts where educational and other resources are distributed unevenly, both between the global north and south and within nations in the developed world. This paper reviews recent literature on OER and widening access to higher education for adults which suggests that so far OER is having limited impact on educational inequality. In the context of the tensions and challenges identified in the literature it then presents evidence from some recent developments in Scotland where OER has been developed collaboratively in widening access partnerships. The paper argues that the findings from these new initiatives support the view that realising the promise of OER is as much through the development of innovative social practice as through development of new content. It concludes by suggesting that there is a case for extending the definition of Open Educational Practices (OEP) from a focus on design and pedagogy into the domain of partnership and social networks.

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