Several projects were surprised to discover a lack of awareness about OERs in general and most projects had to invest significant time and resource into raising awareness and persuading staff of the benefits of openly releasing their learning and teaching materials. In addition to this staff needed ‘considerable support’ to ready materials for open access and re-use. Some of the relevant expertise necessarily resides in – or can be developed by – specialist central departments, while some arguably should to be extended to frontline academic staff. Those projects that engaged this group of staff felt that the contribution to sustainability would be significant and several aimed at developing ‘champions’ who could cascade their knowledge and methods within their departments. There is a need to reconsider roles, which is usually very challenging, whilst making best use of existing knowledge and expertise.
‘Technological barriers can be a very real issue to open publishing and additional resources dedicated to content conversion may be required. Nevertheless, the cost benefits of re-use and re-purpose of OER remain, especially where mechanisms to support re-purpose exist. Nottingham‘s open source e-learning development tool Xerte Online Toolkits is already empowering non-technical teaching staff worldwide to create highly interactive and accessible multimedia learning materials’ BERLiN Project Final report
Organisational restructuring could provide opportunities to reconsider roles and expertise in relation to OER release but this process can be experienced as a negative process which prevents progress and causes resentment. Institutions with existing repository teams are likely to have already developed a bank of useful expertise and knowledge but it should be recognised that moving from closed repositories to open requires considerable new learning.
Projects have found that the relevant expertise includes:
- finding and using open resources for learning and teaching
- designing content for online delivery
- designing content in different media and for different platforms e.g. mobile
- packaging and uploading resources to a repository or host site, including metadata and other conextualising information (comments etc)
- choosing and using public hosting sites e.g. SL, youtube, i-tunes-u, slideshare, Vimeo, openlearn, opencourseware, WordPress, e-Prints
- making content easily discoverable e.g. promoting through google, twitter, facebook and other social networks
- evaluation and Quality Assurance of OERs
- evaluation, communication and sustainability of OER projects
Staff development activities have been developed within each strand and materials are being made available to the wider community. Projects have produced tailored guidance for their institutions/communities and these should also be of interest to the wider community. These are listed and discussed in the strand pages listed below and are also pulled together on the OER Infokit guidance and support page
All of these issues are discussed in more detail for each strand on the following pages: