Some of the challenges that confront moves to greater use of OER and OEP

This is the second of a series of posts that draw on discussion from workshop A at OEPS Forum 4. In this workshop we looked at ideas for the strategic development of open education in Scotland. The first post in the series summarised the factors that the workshop participants felt are driving greater use of OER and OEP. However, analysing the feedback from the six workshop groups, it’s very noticeable that as participants articulated the drivers for change they were also thinking about challenges and barriers.

Across the groups there was discussion of bottom up and top down approaches to change. Several groups reflected on the challenge of getting buy-in from senior managers. It was noted that advocates of for change come up against colleagues and policy makers who are unaware of open education. This strand of discussion explored the challenges and opportunities in developing formal institutional policies. Some participants felt that this was essential to make progress, however others cautioned that in a developing field policy frameworks might restrict creativity.

Moving on from policy matters some of the groups discussed the perspective of teaching staff. There was a feeling that relative lack of awareness of issues around openness can be reinforced if staff are working in silos and don’t have opportunities to see the bigger picture. Some of the challenges for staff are technical. For example:

  • Lack of knowledge or confidence about licensing and attribution;
  • Being unaware of tools and techniques that make using, reusing and remixing OER relatively straightforward.

But the discussion made clear that barriers to engagement by teaching staff are not just about technology and technical competence. If levels of knowledge about the issues are low, it’s possible to see ‘open’ as a threat to existing skills and professionalism. The insecurity this causes may be reinforced if pressure to adopt makes it appear that ‘open’ is just ‘one more thing’ to do. There was a strong sense from the discussion that developing practice in the context of OER needs to be seen primarily as a pedagogical issue.

While most of the discussion focused on incorporating OER into the curriculum there were also comments from ‘users’ outside the formal education sector. In particular participants from the public sector with an interest in workplace learning noted that design of resources often doesn’t take into account the fact that many public sector organisations operate strong firewalls. As a result resources that include video may not be useable.

This blog covers some of the areas of challenge as discussed by the Forum 4 participants, however there are many others. Please add your own challenges and solutions in the comments section or email us at

The final post in this series will look at what forum participants said about engaging senior policy makers and ideas for cross-sectoral collaboration.

Pete Cannell – for the OEPS project team

Posted on May 18, 2016, in article, Event, OEPS Forum, workshop and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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