In OER4Adults we are providing an overview of Open Educational Practices in Europe by identifying, describing and classifying a comprehensive number of European OER initiatives in the area of Lifelong Learning and adult education. We are identifying bottlenecks and barriers to the innovative implementation and use of OERs in adult learning, surfacing factors critical to the successful implementation, up-scaling and mainstreaming of evolving practices around OERs, whether learning, teaching or scholarship practices.
Lou McGill, Isobel Falconer and I have been planning the methodology for OER4Adults. Building on the methodology we used (with Helen Beetham) in the JISC funded UKOER programme (Joint Information Systems Committees, UK), we are using an iterative community-engagement approach to scope and analyse emerging educational practices. We are using activity theory as the basis for our analysis because it allows us not only to examine activities around the creation and reuse of OERs, but also the motives behind these activities.
Our method is in two phases: identifying where OER activity exists and when it has a positive influence and/or impact on adult learning.
Phase 1: identifying where OER activity exists
We have started work building a typology and mapping all OER initiatives in the domain of adult learning. This typology map will allow the European Commission to identify areas where there has been little OER activity.
- Firstly, we are scoping OER initiatives across Europe. Please send us any initiatives not included;
- Secondly, we will map these initiatives against a typology of OER activity, based on existing typologies (by Lane and Atkins), underpinned by Leontiev’s activity model that describes activities (governed by motives), actions and operations. These classifications will help us map out initiatives existing at different levels. For example, we can position initiatives designed to trigger OER release across trans-national groups with those designed to support individual educators and learners;
- Thirdly, we will identify in what areas OER activity is profuse and where there has been little activity.
A key question is, of course, under what circumstances and in which contexts are OERs making an impact on adult learning? This question leads to the second (parallel) phase of our study.
Phase 2: identifying where OER activity has a positive impact on adult learning
Understanding the impact of OER activity on adult learning is complex. However, our previous research provides evidence of a palpable change in ‘educational practices’ (ie the practices people use for learning, teaching and scholarship) (Falconer, Littlejohn, McGill, Beetham, under review).
To build a detailed and accurate understanding of these changes in practices, we will:
- Firstly, build scenarios of OER activity within the European OER initiatives scoped in phase 1. To gather evidence for these scenarios we will use an instrument based around a framework that has been validated as useful in helping OER initiatives to synthesise and structure their experiences, highlighting strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and iteratively building an overview of these.
- Secondly, we are identifying ‘dimensions of OER activity’ that may lead to successful outcomes. We have build a dimensions model which we will test and validate with the OER4Adults experts group. The dimensions span a number of crtitical areas. For example one dimension is around who plans and structures learning, whether the teacher/ organisation (formal learning) or the learner/ peers (informal learning). Another dimension is based around who funds the resources, whether an organisation, or the learner or some other entity.
- Thirdly, we will identify the profile of OER activity within each scenario by mapping scenario examples to these dimensions. Each scenario will provide a ‘fingerprint’, which may help the European Commission to predict the likely success of future, planned OER activity.
On September 24th 2012 we met with our experts group, which includes some of the leading contributors in the field of OER. One of our main tasks was to gain feedback and improve the methodology and instruments we plan to use in the study. The experts are now helping us so we expect to finalise the methodology over the coming weeks.