An overview of impact of OERs

Dr. Ramesh Sharma of the Indira Gandhi Open University created a very informative note on the impact of OERs. This was done in the context of the 2nd OER Symposium at Wawasan Open University 24 June 2014

Since time at the actual event doesn’t allow this to be shared, I thought of sharing this in this blog.
In the subsequent post I am sharing some more general thoughts to make a success of the OER movement.

Theme = Impact of OERs

Different reasons for an institution to launch an OER initiative. They can be categorised as:

(a) altruistic: where there are benefits to individual learners (who are not paying fees to the in stitution), to other educational institutions (often in developing nations) and to the wider society;
(b) commercial: where the university increases its visibility through an OER initiative leading to increased student recruitment or other funding possibilities; and
(c) transformational: where there are positive impacts on the structure, processes and content of the institution carrying out the OER project
(source: Sclater, N. (2009) ‘The Organisational Impact of Open Educational Resources‘ in Ehlers, U. & Schneckenberg, D. (eds) Changing Cultures in Higher Education: Moving Ahead to Future Learning, Springer. )

1. National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER) created by Central Institute of Educational Technology (CIET), National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) as a project of Govt of India. Repository of digital resources for a school system such as educational videos, concept maps, audio clips, interactive objects, photographs, diagrams, charts, images, articles, learning objects, talking books, textbook pages and documents, any resource that can be offered and accessed digitally. According to Dr. Shashi Tharoor, the then MoS for Human Resource Development, Government of India while addressing the launch of the repository, stated that “This initiative is a significant step towards inclusive education. Opening access to all requires a debate on the issue of ownership, copyright, licensing and a balancing of reach with legitimate commercial interests. This is particularly important for public institutions and public funded projects. NROER frees itself of these boundations since it carries the CC-BY-SA (Creative Commons–Attribution–Share Alike) license which allows it to legally reuse, revise, remix and redistribute content.” The impact has been noted in terms of unique visits, repeated visits, access by users to different resource pages, number of repeated hits on various resource pages and bandwidths of uploaded content in terms of in-house uploading and external contributions both.

2. The National Knowledge Commission (KNC) in 2007 in its recommendations1 to the Govt of India recognised the role of Open Educational Resources (OER) in the knowledge economy and to up-grade the quality of education. NKC recommended creation of a National Educational Foundation to develop a web-based repository of high quality educational resources as OER through a collaborative process. It said, “an enabling legal framework that would allow unrestricted access without compromising intellectual authorship must be devised for this purpose”. It further recommended strengthening faculty development and teacher training in the area of OER to improve quality. Since the recommendations of NKC, several projects to create learning resources have been initiated with the support of the Govt of India. The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) has emerged as a flagship initiative for Engineering and basic Science courses. In September 2012, the NPTEL released its materials in CC-BY-NC-SA license. The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) has also started an OER project and released its materials under CC-BY-NC-SA.

3. Intergovernmental agencies like the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO5) and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL6) have adopted open licensing policy for their materials, and have been advocating the use of open license for public funded resources, while respecting the intellectual property rights.

4. Impact of OER from a use and reuse perspective: In 2010, the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) commissioned the University of Oxford to undertake a study to assess the impact of the use of OER in the UK higher education sector. Themes emerged from the workshop were:
• Everyone reuses all the time, but not necessarily OER.
• All aware of issues around copyright – but not always how best to manage them.
• There is simultaneous more and less out there than you might expect – VERY dependant on what you are looking for.
• Similarly contradictory evidence around where best to search, for somethings Google is best, others found specialist sources a revelation “why didn’t I know about JORUM before?”
• The form of OER is vital to how it is reused, wholesale reuse most likely with video and multimedia you cannot make yourself, textual resources are often used more for inspiration than anything else.

5. OERs impact on Student engagement:
The high cost of textbooks is negatively impacting students academically & financially.
Students reported that the high cost of textbooks caused them to:
Take few classes (49.2%)
Not register for a class (45.1%)
Not purchase a textbook (63.6%) and 22.6% do so frequently
Drop a course (26.7%)
Over half of students were willing to pay a small materials & supply fee for open textbook materials
Over half of students perceived the academic value of open textbooks, OERs, and Open Courseware (OCW) to be equal or better than non-OERs

6. OERs impact on Student autonomy: Emergence of informal learning campuses. Example: Black Mountain SOLE claims to be the first experiment in assembling an entire campus around openly licensed materials.

7. OERs impact on Student achievement:
African Health OER Network case study claims high impact on students: Student focus groups at the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology showed support for OER and students expressed satisfaction both with OER as an approach and with the resources available to them.

Khan Academy approach leads to improved study habits and higher scores: A case study conducted at Oakland Unity High School, Oakland, California revealed how poor learning habits and low confidence caused students to perform below par in basic algebra and arithmetic skills. Looking to sort this out, the school implemented a blended learning model using Khan Academy videos. Teachers noted that students were better engaged and supported, which resulted in improved study habits and higher test scores: from a class average of 37 per cent to a class average of 74 per cent within one year.

Correlation between OER use and student grades: Research by SRI International and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found that there was a positive correlation between student grades and the amount of time spent logged into OER platforms or MOOC providers. Researchers visited schools, districts, and CMOs; made classroom observations; interviewed organization and school leaders as well as teachers, parents, and students; conducted teacher and student surveys; and analyzed students’ user log files over the school year.

Performance improves with OpenTextbook adoption: “Thus students in courses that used FWK (FWK = Flatworld Knowledge open textbooks) textbooks tended to have higher grades and lower failing and withdrawal rates than those in courses that did not use FWK texts. These results have statistical significance (Fall 2010: z-value =-3.636, p < 0.000, Spring 2011: z-value = -4.684, p<0.000)."

Lab skills OERs boost confidence for biomedical students: 110 first year undergraduates studying Biomedical Science and Medical Science (BSc Honours) at De Montfort University accessed VAL system, an OER designed to enable undergraduate students to build a foundation of basic laboratory skills and knowledge before they enter the bioscience laboratory.

8. OERs impact on student retention:
College educators support for OER as driver of student retention: The idea that affordable textbooks can allay these concerns and encourage students to stay in school is supported by research from OER Research Hub. A survey of college educators in community colleges (n=136) showed that more than 1/3 believe that OER use promotes student retention.

9. The impact of OER Policy: The various types of OER licenses available under Creative Commons, and other Open Source schemes have its impact towards the shifts from the resources to the impact OER participation on the individual faculty member, the benefits to the institution, particularly for education in developing countries.

10. Impact on Collaborative e-content generation:
Example: success of Wikipedia

11. Impact on Community building around learner:
Example: openLearn. Major impact when the learning activities involve web – based forums, wikis, blogging and commenting on blogs, there are likely to be greater opportunities for reflection and the deepening of understanding than when OERs are provided in isolation.

12. Impact on broadcast technology:
Move away from high-cost broadcast materials and textual content to user-generated content and social software. Web 2.0 tools like YouTube, Facebook, Flickr etc dominate rather than traditional broadcast technology.

13. Impact on finances:
Public donations are less, or diminishing. Alternative is several institutions joining hands to create open resources like OpenCourseWare Consortium

14. Organisational Impact: IMS Learning Object Metadata but there are wide variations in how the metadata fields are completed. The Open Archive Initiative allows institutions to expose the metadata of their open content for harvesting by indexes.

15. Impact of OER on teaching and learning:
ATTITUDINAL: A positive disposition towards the reuse and sharing of learning resources, together with an essentially collaborative outlook (even if one is not actually co-designing or co-teaching at any given time), are essential prerequisites for the uptake of OER at both the individual and institutional levels.
PEDAGOGIC: Four main pedagogic factors are at play in the selection and evaluation of OER: provenance, goodness of fit to the lecturer’s purpose, the pedagogic intent embedded in a resource itself and granularity.
LOGISTICAL: volume of materials, ease of discovery and licensing

OER Impact Map

(Source: OER Impact Map )
This website gathers and publishes evidence about the impact of open educational resources (OER). It is maintained by the OER Research Hub project. The purpose is to help people understand the impact of OER.

Govt to leverage MOOC for broadband education:
(Read more at:
Aiming to take education to every doorstep, the then Union HRD Minister M M Pallam Raju said (August 2013) they intend to leverage the broadband network by embracing the 'Massive Open Online Courses' (MOOC) programme in a big way. "…to make education more accessible, we have in the horizon MOOC, leveraging on the broadband education platform," Raju said at a function here while harping on sustainable development through such efforts. "We want to embrace MOOC in a big way to increase the number of literates in the country. Institutions must become creators of knowledge," he said.

OER can sure be biggest catalyst to achieving this aim!!

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