Posted by Beck Pitt
At the recent OEPS Forum 4 in Stirling Bea and I facilitated two workshop sessions focused on what best practice in OER looks like. The aim of both sessions was to enable people to share examples and advice on best practice:
Using OER: What does Best Practice Look Like?
This will be a participative facilitated session that will provide the opportunity for open education practitioners from the formal and informal sectors to speak about their experiences of using OER and for everyone to ask questions, discuss and analyse the characteristics of good practice.
We kicked off the hour long sessions with an introductory warm up activity to gauge both where people, in the context of their role, thought they were “at” in terms of sharing, creating and supporting others in the use of OER. On a sheet of paper with high and low written along an axis participants talked about what kinds of things they did, or would like to do, for each type of activity, before self-assessing where they thought their level of participation was on the scale. It was interesting to note that often people were modest in their assessment of themselves, with other members on their table deeming them to be more involved in sharing, creating or supporting others in the use of OER than they first thought!
This activity, which is an adaptation of an activity devised by Catherine Cronin and which we’ve used for other workshops, was a great way to start the session, facilitating introductions and synergies across people’s experiences and contexts. It also set the scene for the next activity, where we asked people to identify and discuss what issues and challenges prevented them from moving ‘higher’ up the scale. Were others in the group able to offer possible solutions? What kinds of activities did people consider best practice? Sharing possible solutions and ideas and unpacking concerns enabled participants to think about what kinds of practice they found useful and what might help others. The results from both groups are summarised below.
There were a number of issues and challenges discussed during the sessions, including:
- Whilst research councils and funders often mandate open licensing, there is no similar demand or support for learning and teaching staff to share material openly.
- Who is responsible for keeping up-to-date on legislation and acting as a go-to source for information in an institution? Is it educational technologists? Librarians? Or is it part of one’s own professional development, even though it might not be recognised as such?
- Do people like to reuse material they haven’t created themselves? Repurposing materials gives a sense of ownership but how granular do you go? Time can become an issue.
- Silos can occur anywhere, even within your own institution;
- How do you find the best resources? There is a need for metatagging material so that it is easier for people to find and reuse but how often, and how consistently, does this happen?
- Some people are using open materials, without realising they are OER.
Here is a summary of participant recommendations, which I’ve loosely grouped together and summarised.
Your own practice: best practice recommendations
- Raise awareness of licensing and IPR in general, and CC licences in particular;
- There are lots of great resources out there to help explain how to make resources open, or how to use OER. For example Creative Commons have some great videos that explain licence types clearly… Use them and share them with colleagues!
- Not sure of who to ask? Use forums, YouTube, tutorials and build your own network;
- When creating an open resource, think about what you want other people to do with your work;
- If you don’t have a policy at your institution or organisation, lead the way in terms of practice! Use Slideshare and blogs to share materials on an open licence. Remember resources don’t have to be perfect!
- Any licence is better than no licence so add one to your work! e.g. CC licence your blog, images, slides etc. Attribute when you create or reuse material (i.e. model good practice for others to emulate);
- Work and material I produce in my own time belongs to me so I can choose the licence it is given, not my place of work;
- Get into the habit of looking for open resources;
- Being more open in your practice facilitates and enables one to keep control of one’s own academic identity better, especially when posts are becoming more casualised.
You and Your Institution/Organisation: best practice recommendations
- Check your contract of employment re: ownership of materials. Some institutions have no policy on OER whilst others don’t specify what type of open licence you should use;
- Institutions need to articulate their policies on licensing and IPR;
- … this enables staff to be empowered and raises awareness;
- Share and discuss OER with colleagues and senior management. Share institutional policies such as those at Glasgow Caledonian University or University of Edinburgh…
- Ensure policy is enabling and reflects practice.
The session ended with a reflective final question where people were asked what they would do to change their practice in the next few days with shared responses including raising institutional policy at one’s own organisation and talking about #OEPSforum4 with colleagues. If you participated in workshop B at #OEPSforum4 … Thank you! We’d love to know how you are getting on or if you have any suggestions for how to address the challenges and issues raised by participants.
If you weren’t at the #OEPSforum4, do these issues and challenges resonate with you? What kinds of best practice ideas and solutions would you offer in response to the challenges and issues raised above?
With thanks to Anna Page for her notes on this session, which were incorporated into this post.
All images taken at OEPS Forum 4, workshop B sessions (CC-BY 4.0, Beck Pitt)