How OpenLearn supports a business model for OER

Law, Patrina and Perryman, Leigh-Anne (2017). How OpenLearn supports a business model for OER. Distance Education, 38(1) pp. 5–22.



In 2013, the Open University (OU) in the UK launched a large-scale survey of users of its OpenLearn platform for open educational resources. The survey results revealed that OpenLearn is functioning as a showcase and a taster for the OU, thereby offering informal learners a bridge to formal education. In 2014 and 2015, the OpenLearn survey was repeated. This paper reports a comparison of the results of the surveys, highlighting considerable changes in learner characteristics, priorities and motivations over a 3-year period. The data also reveal a substantial increase in the number of learners identifying study performance-related benefits resulting from OpenLearn use and, in addition, that educators reveal increasingly positive changes in their approach to teaching. This paper outlines some of the ways in which the OU is responding to the data and discusses how further development of the platform could better meet institutional and learner needs.

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