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    • The future of education March 13, 2018
        I recently did a really interesting piece of work for the Open Universities Australia looking at key future trends in education. The piece was part of a larger report, which has just been released. Donna Gallagher was the lead on the project. My section focused on four key topics that are likely to [...]
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    • The ‘Great HE financial swindle’ February 27, 2018
      HE finances in the UK have hit the headlines recently – with the disgusting fat cat approach to pay of senior leaders, the current strikes, where University lecturers are making huge personal sacrifices to try and protect the future of HE in the UK, and then Theresa May ironically calling for a review into university […]
    • Creating a RAG system in Excel tutorial February 1, 2018
      It may sound a bit sad, but I love Excel – once you have mastered a few simple techniques, you can put these techniques together in different orders to create some very powerful effects, and for me one of the most powerful things that I can do in Excel, is analyse some data in a […]
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    • Belonging, friendship and learning March 13, 2018
      Image from PixabayFlawed though it is, Maslow's theory of motivation highlights at least one important theme: We are social beings and we need to know that we belong.Belonging needs are complex and are sometimes misunderstood. Yet most teachers would agree that children who feel they belong will learn better than those that feel excluded. Feeling accept […]
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    • It's a complicated business.... March 12, 2018
      Image from PexelsTwo recent articles have prompted a flurry of commentary on social media around the quality of learning in higher education.The first, from the Times Higher Education Supplement was entitled 'Academics fail to change teaching due to fear of looking stupid'. A year long study found that younger academics held on to strong ideas abou […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Steve Wheeler)
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    • Career path March 15, 2018
      Reflection can be good for the soul. It can also be a time-waster and detractor from doing something more productive instead. This reflection is the 17th entry in my ‘what is a learning technologist’ series. Read More ...
      David Hopkins
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    • Five things to remember before you press record
      Video has fast become the medium of choice for digital learning, maybe not yet for every employer but certainly for the overwhelming majority of learners. Want to find out how to do something? Watch a video. Want to explore technical subject matter? Watch a video. Want to know what people think about things? Watch a video.Anyone with an interest in digital m […]
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Three key issues about Open Educational Resources (OERs)

As the 3 year UKOER drew to a close  and the final evaluation of the HEFCE funded intervention in OER was published  (McGill et al, 2013), what lessons have been learnt and how do they compare with the current findings of the OER research Hub?

It was difficult to identify just 3 key issues with OERs as there are so many models and perspectives that the learning objects could be viewed from, with each model producing a different perspective on the overall impact of OERs; be this good or bad. However, the OER Research Hub is starting to produce more polarised reports focused around three main topics and it is these I shall concentrate on.


  1. Learner Performance – The OER Research Hub identifies OERs having a positive impact on learner performance and satisfaction; this being mainly composed of the views of educators and less so of their students. Whereas this does not feature within the top 3 benefits of encouraging and releasing OERs within the HEFCE review impact summary. However, there does seem to be a positive correlation between the production of OERs and  pedagogy, which in turn should favour learner performance and satisfaction.
  2. Access – Although this is a fundamental aspect of Open Educational Practice (OEP) it does not appear that OERs are having a significant impact on opening access to education for the most disadvantaged world populations.  The HEFCE review impact summary states that 55% of their respondents identified this a top benefit yet the OER Research Hub maps clearly show that most of the creation and usage activity takes place in the US and Europe, with little creation or usage taking place elsewhere.

Even with all the funding and the significant institution-wide engagement, awareness around OER and OEP outside projects is still fairly limited.

(McGill et al, 2013)

One of the hypotheses poses was – would MOOC activity be any different? So far, this doesn’t seem to be the case, the world MOOC map shows that  apart from some minor activity around China and Australia, it seems again that the predominant creators and users are the US and Europe.

ImageImage3. Finance – With the introduction of open books and open journals (Open Access) it was envisaged that institutions and students would see considerable financial savings. The HEFCE review impact summary states that 41% of their survey respondents believed that OERs would increase sharing between educators in the same discipline and the OER Research Hub reports a high number of positive reports on financial benefits. However, much of the evidence of financial savings is anecdotal. It is true to say that students have used open books and journals without detriment to their studies but institutions cannot say for certain that open access  has reduced costs.

In summary, the findings so far are disappointing, with no clear evidence (after several years of projects) of a positive impact on teaching and learning. It could be said that those stakeholders involved directly with projects have found a renewed interest in pedagogical approaches, however, the real benefits should be measured on the impact on teaching and learning.   Taking the HEFCE e-Learning Strategy document (HEFCE, 2009) indicators as benchmarks for measuring the impact of innovations on teaching and learning, it is still questionable how much of an impact OERs have had on these benchmarks:


McGill, L., Falconer, I., Dempster, J.A., Littlejohn, A. and Beetham, H. (2013) Journeys to Open Educational Practice: UKOER/SCORE Review Final Report, London, JISC. Also available online at  https://oersynth.pbworks.com/w/page/60338879/HEFCE-OER-Review-Final-Report (accessed 24 March 2014).


6 Responses

  1. Reblogged this on and commented:
    OER Research Hub has been blogged on Learning About eLearning…


  2. Reblogged this on LB-H817 and commented:
    OER by Paula!


  3. Reblogged this on eLearning and innovation and commented:
    A great post Paula.


  4. Hi Paula – I think it’s worth pointing out that you accessed the map at a very early stage of population – there’s lots more going on there now. But I would tend to agree that claims about OER massively improving access to education in meaningful ways tend to be a bit inflated… especially when it comes to MOOC.


  5. Your blog is very informative. Thank you for sharing


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