DEFINITION AND DESCRIPTION
Cultural aspects of OER
Cultural issues are significant in relation to how people share learning and teaching resources. Different institutions, sectors and subject communities may all have their own ‘established practices’ around sharing teaching practice and learning materials. The impact of different cultures on OER release and use links closely to the impact of changing or emerging practices. See also OPEN-COURSES, OPEN-PRACTICE, OPEN-EDUCATIONAL-PRACTICE
Academics may feel more connected to the culture of their subject discipline or professional Community of Practice than to the institutional culture. In HE it could be argued that there is no such thing as one institutional culture as many sub-cultures exist, often related to different institutional roles, with traditions and approaches that can be more persuasive than strategy and policy documents. Some of these traditions or practices can result in slow take up of new approaches or ideas.
The UKOER Programme examined cultural aspects of both release and use for an impressive range of stakeholders, and has produced a rich and diverse set of outcomes and outputs (see links to further sources below)
Barriers and enablers
The Open movement in particular challenges people and groups to change their existing practice, and patchy development is quite likely in large institutions with many sub-cultures. An institution-wide approach to staff development and support can help to address some of these cultural barriers and encourage OER release and use but some institutions may choose to mandate such activities to move forward.
Whilst Legal and Technical aspects do present barriers, they are often easier to resolve than cultural barriers. At a fundamental level if individual educators or communities are not committed to open sharing, or if an institution does not provide a strategic push for organisational change towards openness, then it is only likely to happen in small pockets. For stakeholders outside the FE and HE education sectors barriers reflect their own cultural practices and , for example, might be focused on tensions with commercial strategies (private companies), issues around safety (schools), or stakeholder expectations.
Whilst it may appear that the most compelling case for open sharing exists at the level of a community with shared values and cultural practice, tensions still exist. Communities may encourage and support sharing but this may result in the release of OER that are not truly accessible outside that community, if they reflect the needs of a specific group of users with finely articulated needs.
Collaboration and partnerships involving all stakeholders, including learners and bodies outside the education sector, can be challenging to support and encourage but provide an excellent opportunity to consider existing culture and practices and to challenge and change them where appropriate.
Good Intentions: improving the evidence base in support of sharing learning materials’, examines various business cases and models for sharing learning materials. This report offers a useful history of sharing learning materials in the UK
SYNTHESIS AND EVALUATION PAGES
- Open Practices Briefing paper
- Open Practice Across Sectors briefing paper
- Pilot Phase Cultural Issues
- Phase 2 Cultural Considerations
- Phase 3 Culture And Practice