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The Centre for Inclusion and Collaborative Partnerships > Research and Scholarship > Research Seminars and Events > Widening Participation, Open Educational Resources and MOOCs: In Research and In Practice

Widening Participation, Open Educational Resources and MOOCs: In Research and In Practice

28 February 2013, 10.00am - 3.10pm

The Open University in London, 1-11 Hawley Crescent, Camden Town, London, NW1 8NP

This event is free to attend!

If you would like to attend the event, please email, proving your name, institution, dietary requirements and any other requirements.

Twitter #WPOER

About the seminar

Open Educational Resources (OER) as a worldwide phenomenon offers the potential for providing unparalleled access to educational materials and resources. As such, they have been much lauded as a tool for social justice, but the ways in which social justice can be, and are being, achieved has to date received less critical interest. 

This seminar devotes itself to recent OER research and practice, from large-scale research and projects on the global potential for advancing educational, economic and social development, to small-scale case studies of individuals and small organisations making use of OER. 

Aims and Objectives

  • To bring together widening participation practitioners and academic staff engaged with research into, and use of, Open Educational Resources.
  • To start a discussion between researchers and practitioners on developing the use of OER in community settings and outreach work to widen participation.







Keynote: Widening Participation, OER and Global Research


Open Learning: Bridge to Success




Reflection Toolkit


Reaching Wider in Mid and North Wales


Plenary - Priorities for Research and Practice




OER and Widening Participation: an emerging research agenda?

Andy Lane, The Open University

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Research and Practice presentations

Reaching Wider in Mid and North Wales

Gayle Hudson, The Open University in Wales; Jonathan Hughes and John Rose-Adams, Centre for Inclusion and Collaborative Partnerships, The Open University

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The Reaching Wider project aims to increase capacity and knowledge at community level in North and Mid Wales to provide informal pathways to HE through OERS – in this case the Open University’s OpenLearn platform.

The research that accompanied the project aimed to seek a better understanding of the range of needs of learners and community-based organisations and how they make use of open education resources such as OpenLearn to complement and enrich their learning offer and experience. Specific research questions, suggested by the limited literature on the uses of OERs to widening educational participation were:

  • What do learners perceive to be the value of open educational resources?
  • How do learners approach using the resources?
  • Is the learning seen as a bridge to formal learning or as an end in itself?
  • What are the issues around cultural specificity and what could/should be adjusted: materials or peer and professional support?
  • What is the optimal level of peer and professional support required for successful experience of non-confident learners?
  • What does good OER to widen participation look like?

The presentation will look at the findings of the research and critically evaluate the interface between research and practice as experiences working on the project

Reflection Toolkit 

Lindsay Hewitt, The Open University in Scotland 

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Reflection is one of the cornerstone skills for successful higher level study. The Reflection Toolkit is a module developed to provide an opportunity for learners who are new to higher education, unsure of their skills, or lacking confidence, to engage with the idea of reflection and learn how to use this skill in their learning, and well as in other aspects if their life.

Developed as an Open Educational Resource, the module is freely available for use and re-use. The resource has been re-mixed for use with a specific audience - new migrants, refugees and asylum seekers - and in this session, Lindsay will reflect on the development of the module and its re-development for specific audiences.

Open Learning: Bridge to Success 

Beck Pitt, Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University

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Around 60% of new US college students need to take at least one developmental level course when they begin their studies. The Bridge to Success project aimed to help these students “bridge” this gap in their learning and enable students to transition effectively between compulsory and higher education. Two Openings courses focused on developing learning skills and fundamental mathematics were re-versioned by a team of both US and UK content experts. Following their creation, these courses were made available via LabSpace and then piloted in community college institutions and other organisations.

Bridge to Success focused on low-income and marginalised groups of students, and pilots took place in a wide range of different organisations (e.g. charities), using the materials in a multiplicity of different ways. Research for the project took a tripartite approach and, throughout the duration of the project, evidence for the materials positively impacting on a wide range of metrics was collected. This presentation aims to explore some of the findings from Bridge to Success, arguing that the project widened participation not only through its target audience and usage in non-college contexts, but also through raising the profile and possible uses of OER within different educational environments. Both courses produced for Bridge to Success are expected to be reused to support other groups of learners in the near future.

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