ExplOERer

Supporting OER reuse in learning ecosystems

Supporting OER re-use in learning ecosystems

1st September 2014 - 31st August 2016

ExplOERer was a European Commission co-funded project, under the Erasmus+ programme. ExplOERer aimed to promote Open Educational Resources (OER) adoption and re-use in educators’ professional practice.

The Open University’s Institute for Educational Technology led research exploring how educators learn open educational practices. A key output was six guidelines for structuring learning and teaching opportunities relevant to educators’ practices were published. These guidelines facilitate the design of professional learning opportunities to support educators in developing new professional practices around open education.

These guidelines were developed through an analysis of the ways educators in different countries expand their practice to include Open Educational Practice (OEP). The study concluded that learning practices and processes that most powerfully support educators’ professional development are those embedded within their day-to-day practice. An important recommendation to education sectors and institutions is that educators’ professional development should be integrated within, rather than in addition to, their professional practice.

The study also examined the various of types of knowledge that educations draw upon as they learn OEP. We found educators learned not only conceptual and practical knowledge (ie what open educational practice is and how it is actioned) but also social-cultural and self-regulative knowledge (who to find information from and how to embed this information into personal learning). The findings give an indication of the broad types of knowledge educators require to support their ongoing development. The findings indicate that educators do not learn new practices from reading articles or participating in courses. They have to embed the knowledge learned into their teaching practice. This means that professional learning requires both formal and informal learning activities. These findings have important implications for workplaces and the ways in which they structure learning opportunities for professionals.

Importantly we found evidence that educators’ engagement with OER is reliant not only on the learning opportunities available to them but that their workplace is a critical component in supporting their learning. The study explored in detail how educators engaged with OER and how they conceptualised their learning. Data was gathered through interviews with 30 higher education educators. Analysis of these data drew on the theory of self-regulated learning and cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT). The study identified three distinct tensions in educators' practice: tensions between the emerging needs of the individual as they adopt new forms of practice and organisational rules and policies; tensions between the transfer of responsibilities from educators to students as new practice is embedded and institutional accountability which may be based on traditional practices; and between cost-efficiency and the social aspects of learning. We recommend that workplaces recognise and support educators in navigating these tensions that exist between new and emerging forms of practice and traditional, hegemonic practices.