UKOER3 themes and activities


moodle showing UKOER3 themes and areas of activity

We are currently going through UKOER3 project plans and drawing out key themes and areas of activity to map these against our synthesis and evaluation framework.

We use the framework as an iterative tool to support both evaluation activities of projects and synthesis activities of our team. It highlights core areas of inquiry and identifies evaluation questions that projects intend to address. We started with a working pilot phase framework in 2009 which has since been through several iterations. The latest version of the framework was created at the end of phase 2 in November 2011 and links to evidence from projects. We are currently revising this framework to reflect phase 3 activities and questions (coming soon!).

We have listed phase 3 projects and their evaluation questions and themes/areas on a new wiki page and the wordle is made from the terms in the third column of this page – themes/links. UKOER projects may find this wiki page useful to identify other projects to make links with. The funding call for the THEMES projects did identify 4 themes which has obviously shaped some of the focii.

A: Extend OER through collaborations beyond HE

B: Explore OER publishing models

C: Addressing sector challenges

D: Enhancing the student experience

It’s early days for phase 3 but what strikes me so far is that the issue of student created OERs has emerged as a more prominent focus this year. Identified by a few projects in the pilot phase as an area of interest, raising issues around ownership, digital litercaies, and licencing, it failed to attract alot of interest during phase 2 with only a few projects including student content as part of their OERs. I am pleased to see this re-emerge (under the banner of Enhancing the student experience) because I think this area needs investigating more.

Cross -sector partnerships continue to be a major theme and this phase will see several projects taking up the challenge of working with publishers – indeed new OER publishing models are being considered and hopefully developed during this phase. 3rd sector agencies as partners have also emerged with several projects working with charities and the voluntary sector – another area to watch with interest. Some projects plan to work with industry, NHS, skills councils and SMEs, continuing some interesting work that was carried out during phase two with these groups. Projects will continue to work across educational sectors and schools also feature as partners in some projects. We have been working on a briefing paper which highlights issues emerging during phase 2 around open practice across sectors. We expect this phase of activities to inform and expand on this work.

Digital literacies featured strongly during phase 2 and continues to be a focus area for many projects, as do research skills and academic practice, with the OMAC strand particularly focussing on this area. The OMAC (open materials for accredited courses) strand aims to build on the outcomes of phase 2 and focuses on the release of materials linked to the new UK Professional Standards Framework (UK PSF) for staff who teach in higher education.

A key focus of phase 2 was changing teaching practice and we noted a move of emphasis from OERs to open edcuational practices. This is a continued area of focus for projects this year and is likely to raise some interesting debate and discussion.We are currently preparing a briefing paper on open educational practice – so watch this space…

One of the challenges for UKOER project timescales is that they often underestimate the time taken to release the OERs and have little time to find out how they are used by different stakeholders. We may find that projects are able to report more about this (particularly academic use of OER) as some projects are intending to re-use existing OERs. Several projects have included a remit to investigate student use of OERs – another area which should be of significant interest to the community.

So, in summary, I think we are in for a really interesting time during phase three and I’m looking forward to working with the projects as they attempt to answer their evaluation questions. Not least I always look forward to those unanticipated findings that come from taking a few risks and being experimental…

If you have not had the chance to read the findings from phase 2 (we have been a bit tardy in reporting this here – but hope to do a series of blogs focussing on different aspects of this soon) then do check out our Phase 2 Synthesis report. It’s a meaty read but you can dip in and out of the different sections…