UKOER Pilot Phase Report: introduction

In June 2009, JISC and the HE Academy awarded funding to Glasgow Caledonian University to examine their jointly funded OER Pilot programme; bringing together and analysing the activity of all the individual projects to gain a greater understanding of the release of Open Educational Resources. The OER Pilot programme enabled the large scale release of OER with a view to the creation of a mass of released materials and sustainability of OER release. The synthesis & evaluation project engaged with participants in the OER Pilot programme throughout to enable early identification of support needs as well as to gather information. The Synthesis & evaluation project therefore ran in parallel with the Pilot Programme.

The project team developed a Generic framework to capture common issues related to OER release (barriers and enablers), cultural differences across the sector: what norms, roles, rules and reward structures foster effective OER practice in differing institutional and consortia climates, and ‘strand specific’ content related to the context: individuals, subject communities, institutions. The framework was also used to support project and programme evaluation and this is described in detail in the Project method and approaches section.

The framework has enabled collation of evidence and outputs in the following areas which are detailed in this report:

  • Approaches to open content
  • Developing, managing and sharing OERs
  • Expertise
  • Business cases and benefits realisation
  • Cultural issues
  • Roles, rewards and division of labour added as is in final framework document and impt
  • Legal issues
  • Technical and hosting issues
  • Quality issues
  • Pedagogy and end-use issues (not a primary focus of evaluation)

Evaluation & synthesis was an iterative, two-way process and this was a successful means of ensuring that projects contributed to the development of the framework throughout. The synthesis & evaluation team worked closely with the programme management team, the support teams, the project teams and their evaluators. This closeness enabled immediate feedback to support teams on needs identified during ongoing synthesis and evaluation enabling projects to receive guidance in areas that they may not have identified for themselves.

The framework proved to be a successful means of gathering information from the projects. Strand specific frameworks emerged which some projects used  to map their activities, final outcomes and outputs. These stand frameworks fed back into the generic framework and also in the final Pilot programme synthesis framework.

Strand-specific evaluation support addressed how different communities and cultures are progressing towards openness in their shared practice. Mixed methods were recruited to examine social, technical, pedagogical and legal / organisational issues in each strand, and provide a synthesis account detailing barriers and opportunities for change. A set of materials were produced by Helen Beetham to support project evaluation activities. Dialogue with projects took a range of formats, including online and face to face workshops, direct email and telephone conversations, and this provided an opportunity to inform and engage projects with the framework as a tool to support evaluation.

This final synthesis report includes recommendations to the funders and to the stakeholders represented in the three strands of the programme, and a version of the framework tool for use by the sector to audit progress towards more open practices around educational resources.


A detailed description of the approach taken by the team to support programme evaluation and synthesis is available on the page Project method and approaches

In summary our approach to synthesis aimed to support the following functions:

  • Providing mechanisms for projects to identify key evaluation questions and share methods used across the programme
  • Enabling the projects to feed their findings into a framework which reflects strand and programme wide issues
  • Supporting synthesis of key messages and issues and highlight areas of concern or that may require action
  • Providing feedback to the Programme Team on issues, challenges, successes and likely outcomes and outputs.
  • Reflecting the stages of the projects throughout the programme and ultimately providing a series of mechanisms to disseminate to the wider communities.
  • Providing a series of mapping approaches that will be valid and appropriate for future iterations of the UKOER Programme.

Framework Tool

The team developed a generic framework tool which was shared with project teams and programme support teams. This framework provided a strong foundation and common language for collating data from projects. It allowed us to structure our interventions with projects, and was used a means of evaluating the ‘openness’ of their outcomes. This working framework was developed throughout the year in collaboration with the support team so that support can be focused on those areas identified as most challenging or interesting, and so that evidence about the effectiveness of support in different areas could also be evaluated. The resulting ‘final’ Pilot Programme Synthesis Framework represents an holistic view of the pilot programme and includes links to project and support team outputs that illustrate or provide evidence in each of the areas.

Strand-specific activities

In order to support the three stands in an appropriate way, strand-specific evaluation activities addressed how the different communities and cultures are progressing towards openness in their shared practice. These aimed to examine social, technical, pedagogical and legal / organisational issues in each strand, and provide a synthesis account detailing barriers and opportunities for change. Each of the strand-specific activities led to the development of separate strand framework tools.


Synthesis of the separate strand outcomes and outputs have fed back into the ‘final’ version of the framework. It is anticipated that this framework will continue to support OER Programme activities and will continue to be developed after the pilot programme.

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