Beyond OER: OPAL Report 2011 released
The Open Educational Quality Initiative (OPAL) releases its Report 2011, entitled Beyond OER: Shifting Focus to Open Educational Practices. Among its conclusions is the fact that Open Educational Resources (OER) are more widely used where programmes or initiatives for open resources exist at the institutional level. The lesser the fear, insecurity or discomfort towards OER, the higher the frequency of their use. The report advocates building trust in OER in order to increase their actual usage and to build open learning architectures to transform learning.
Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain or released with an intellectual property license that allows for free use, adaptation, and distribution.
In partnership with key European institutions, UNESCO is a member of the (Open Educational Quality (OPAL) Initiative to develop a Framework of OER Practices that improve quality and innovation in education.
UNESCO contributed to the international dimensions of the Report, especially policy development and institutional capacity building, and will also be responsible for its wide dissemination.
Institutional policies for OER are still a long way from impacting on educational institutions, according to findings from the OPAL quantitative survey. The perception by respondents that OER lead to institutional innovation still does not translate into implementation at the organization level. This is further compounded, on the one hand, by the very modest levels of support to factors that induce or enable the implementation of Open Educational Practices (OEP) in educational institutions, and on the other hand, by the level of importance attached by respondents to institutional policy barriers to the use of OER.
The report presents the following key findings in relation to supporting factors for OER.
Policy support for OER:
<li>Support and recognition for OER projects and initiatives is necessary in institutional policy in higher education and adult education.
<li>Support for localization, adaptation and translation of existing OER and support for implementing appropriate licensing schemes are viewed as very important.
<li>Infrastructure, access and availability are seen as necessary conditions.
<li>Promotion of quality assurance for OER is viewed as necessary.
Role of networks and partnerships for the diffusion of OER in institutions:
<li>54% of all respondents stated that partnership with other organizations is a supporting factor for the use of OER.
<li>Future OER-related support initiatives should focus their attention more on partnerships with other institutions.
Demand for specific quality assurance processes for OER
<li>The report shows that systematic quality assurance mechanisms for OER are lacking in higher education and adult education in Europe.
<li>Educational professionals give voice to considerable insecurity about how they can demonstrate the value of OER.
The Report (PDF, 64mb) can be downloaded from the University of Duisberg-Essen public repository: <a target=_blank href="http://duepublico.uni-duisburg-essen.de/servlets/DerivateServlet/Derivate-25907/OPALReport2011-Beyond-OER.pdf">click here</a>.
OPAL is an international network that promotes innovation and better quality in education through the use of open educational resources. Partly funded by the European Commission, OPAL is initiated through international organizations like UNESCO, ICDE and EFQUEL, and a number of universities. UNESCO is contributing to the OPAL Open Educational Practices framework, as well as to the development of the Registry of OER Champions and the Clearinghouse of Open Educational Practices.