Roles and rewards

Roles, rewards and division of labour


So at present future release of OERs is based in a general interest in open education, philanthropy or a view that open education is exciting (openSpace final report)

As discussed in the Business Cases and Benefits Realisation and the Barriers and Enablers sections staff need to be convinced of the benefits of both releasing their own and using others OERs. Reward and recognition has been a significant concern for projects with many of their outputs focusing on this area. Many projects have incorporated these outputs into their own institutional HE teaching awards as a way of ensuring sustainability by making OER release a natural part of developing teaching and learning materials. Some have suggested that OER release should be included in HE Academy teaching fellowship criteria. A number of projects have made comparisons with research, and with the impact of the REF in promoting very obvious rewards for research publications; comparable visibility for OER, viewed as teaching publications is lacking. One institutional strand project has incorporated recognition of both OER release and use into performance review mechanisms.

‘On a National level the Unicycle project has sought to engage in national debate on reward and recognition. Working with The MEDEV OOER project (a subject centre OER project) we have been in discussion with the Higher Education Academy with regard to specifically identifying OER contribution as part of the HEA Fellow applications. These early discussions have been very positive and with the HEA fellow scheme due to for review we are hopeful that OER engagement will become recognised at a national level, with a longer term objective that institutions begin to recognise academic staff’s contribution in the area of OER.’ Unicycle Project Final Report

However, a number of projects found that an expectation of repurposing, with consequent worry that they will be seen as ‘responsible’ for all uses of content which they originally released, mitigates against recognition or personal reputation as a reward, and hence against individuals’ willingness to release OERs. Staff are often also unwilling to reuse or repurpose other’s materials, either because it is seen to reflect poorly on their own expertise, or through lack of trust in the work of others not known to them.

A change in culture is needed in many academic departments to avoid the “not invented here” objections to the use of OERs (EVOLUTION final report)

Further, a tension is apparent over who will get the recognition, the individual or the institution. Thus there is a need to consider the balance of collective responsibility for quality, institutional branding, and marketisation, with incentives for individuals to showcase their own learning/teaching expertise. We recognise that the reputational benefits to individuals can be in tension with the desire for materials to be easily repurposed by end users: however, the blogging community offers an example of how both reputation and re-use can be served by high quality material.

Projects have also noted that incentives depend upon the nature of the staff involved, and that part-time fractional staff may be in a different situation to full-time staff i.e. may perceive themselves as having more to lose by open release of teaching materials. Staff at different stages of their academic careers may also perceive the benefits and risks differently, e.g. building reputation (early career), or leaving a legacy (later career).

Many projects found that the enhancement to personal skills, the promise of improved quality of teaching materials through feedback and reflection, a sense of philanthropy, and the excitement of being involved in the open movement, were more reliable and realisable rewards for individuals

It might be an advantage to be a contributor to an OER project, as a showcase of my work for example, but all I’m really interested in as a contributor is making my resources more freely available to other educators to use as they see fit. I think there is some value in my resources that I’m happy to see others take advantage of if they wish. (OpenExeter final report)

Roles and Division of Labour

Project teams have adopted a range of models to support OER release (seeApproaches to open release) Those models that operate within an institutional context have been developed in a cross institutional way which has required project teams to identify existing roles that could contribute towards OER release practices, clarify how these roles would need to change in relation to new practice and encourage, through training and support, those for whom these roles were new.

Roles that may need to be considered and ideally involved in OER initiatives include: e-learning, library and learning resources, content development (multimedia), repository, legal (IPR), learning and teaching champions, quality, and academics. However, projects have noted that departmental boundaries and management structures may come under strain due to multiple implications of open release. And the experience of changed publishing paradigms in e.g. the media sector suggests that old roles may not translate comfortably: new hybrid roles around open content may emerge.

Many projects stressed the need for staff development to support OER release, and several suggest that this should be included in HEA accredited Learning and Teaching in Higher Education postgraduate programmes, which would make OER sustainable in the long term. The costs of producing OER would then just be a part of training with getting staff to think about copyright and IPR from the very beginning. On this view, the responsibility for OER release lies mainly with the individual teacher, whose current role will change to include it.

However, some projects have found or suggested a different balance between upskilling academic staff and capacity building among support staff, to give teaching staff confidence in open release, and to alleviate the time-consuming work involved in e.g. third-party IPR clearance.

Project staff have almost universally found themselves taking a more collaborative approach to developing teaching materials, and have also found their roles changing as they become the “experts” on OER, and are providing advice for others within the institution. They have been collaborating, not only with other staff, but also in some cases, with learners, to produce or repurpose OERs, and have noted a flattening of the usual hierarchical relationship between teacher and learner.

Projects have also noted that direct access to content by learners as users may change roles in learning-teaching relationship. Some projects have welcomed “public peer review” through user ratings and reviews; others have rejected it emphatically.

All of these issues are discussed in more detail for each strand on the following pages:

Individual Strand – Cultural Issues

Subject Strand – Cultural Issues

Institutional Strand – Cultural Issues

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