On November 14th 2012 we released the UKOER2 final report (http://tinyurl.com/bu5lvge). UK Open Educational Resources (UKOER) is a largescale programme funded by the UK Government through the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) . The programme aims to encourage academics in universities and colleges to openly release educational resources under s creative commons licence.
The report is due mainly to the hard work of my colleagues Lou McGill, Helen Beetham and Isobel Falconer and the collaboration of all the project teams at 23 universities and collages across the UK. The programme was divided into strands grouping projects with a similar goal, for example those who were focusing on ‘release’, ‘projects that aimed to ‘cascade’ expertise, those who wanted to form ‘collections’ of resources and projects that were developing open materials for accredited professional development courses.
The evaluation and synthesis of the programme was led by Lou, Helen, Isobel with me. Our evaluation instrument was a synthesis and evaluation framework which:
a) Focusses on a number of themes emerging during the programme lifecourse. Themes include Practice Change, Development and Release issues, Cultural considerations, Institutional/Organisational Issues and Impacts & Benefits;
b) Asks a number of key questions around each of these themes;
c) Collates and analyses evidence from each project as they answered these themed questions.
The data collected by the project teams was mapped to the questions in the programme evaluation framework, providing an overview of key issues and trends across the programme.
In the final report, the outcomes are presented as issues and trends across the programme and across each of the programme strands. When you read the report you can explore the broad trends and issues, then dip down into the more detailed outcomes, examining the evidence around these.
The final report is a rewardingly rich resource. But what does it tell us about the programme?
We have evidence that the programme has triggered practice change (i.e. changes in knowledge sharing practices) amongst the academics and support staff who participated in the programme. Developing resources for open release under a creative commons licence prompts a change in work practices as people become more comfortable with the idea of releasing resources openly for use by others.
Yet, it seems that many of the new practices are still within the confines of traditional ways of working. Often ‘open release’ of resources simply means ‘release of resources within a b bounded group/ community’. We still dont have the mindsets or trust for open knolwedge sharing.
What needs to happen for minds to change? We need to place much more value on what happens around knowledge resources – how people use them for learning. The MIT Open Courseware Initiative has been explicit about this from the outset.
People learn through negotiating their own understanding of knowledge within the network, connecting different fragments of knowledge, articulating new meanings while developing new knowledge artefacts and products. Placing value on the dynamic interactions of learners and teachers, that link resources gives within a network helps us have a realistic view of the value of knowledge resources and the role they play in learning.
Perhaps the problem is that interactions are not as tangible as knowledge resources, therefore it’s more difficult to place a value on these. Yet, this is the basis for a knowledge economy.