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Open Educational Resources at The Open University > OER projects > OER Research Hub

OER Research Hub

Project website

http://oerresearchhub.org/

About the project

Funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation the Open Educational Resources Research Hub (OER Research Hub) provides a focus for research, designed to give answers to the overall question ‘What is the impact of OER on learning and teaching practices?’ and identify the particular influence of openness. We will do this by working in collaboration with projects across four education sectors (school, college, higher education and informal) extending a network of research with shared methods and shared results. By the end of this research (September 2014) we will have evidence for what works and when, but also established methods and instruments for broader engagement in researching the impact of openness on learning.

The project combines:

  • A targeted collaboration program with existing OER projects;
  • An international fellowship program;
  • Networking to make connections; and
  • A hub for research data and OER excellence in practice.

Collaborations

We will identify critical issues and learn from the practical experience derived from working to solve them. All project collaborations will address two key hypotheses:

 a. Use of OER leads to improvement in student performance and satisfaction.
 b.The open aspect of OER creates different usage and adoption patterns than other online resources.

Each project and fellowship will target one or more of the derived testable hypotheses:

 c. Open education models lead to more equitable access to education, serving a broader base of learners than traditional education.
 d. Use of OER is an effective method for improving retention for at-risk students.
 e.Use of OER leads to critical reflection by educators, with evidence of improvement in their practice
 f. OER adoption at an institutional level leads to financial benefits for students and/or institutions.
 g. Informal learners use a variety of indicators when selecting OER.
 h. Informal learners adopt a variety of techniques to compensate for the lack of formal support, which can be supported in open courses.
 i. Open education acts as a bridge to formal education, and is complementary, not competitive, with it.
 j. Participation in OER pilots and programs leads to policy change at institutional level.
 k. Informal means of assessment are motivators to learning with OER. 

By basing good practice on practical experience and research we can help tackle practical problems whilst building the evidence bank needed by all.

Fellowships

The OER Research Hub will fund 14 fellows, and provide a fellowships program that builds on the activities of previous projects and fellows and brings them together with the collaboration program:
  1. Eight ‘linked fellowship’ will connect a fellowship with each research collaboration. Such fellowships will be determined in consultation with those in the collaboration and are likely to be with lead staff or with key stakeholders. For example to enable enthusiastic teachers to develop research skills so that they can reflect on their own options and also interpret the feedback from learners in their context.
  2. We will seek four open fellowships, each linked to a sector i.e. K12, community college, HE and informal. Open fellowships will be used to avoid the potential to have too narrow a focus in looking at the planned collaborations. These fellowships will include those with identified expertise relevant to OER practice and help to supplement the research expertise in each of the educational sectors.
  3. Two fellowships will be focused on evaluating our own work. These fellowships will enable an additional perspective on plans in the early stages and on progress in the later stages.
Visiting fellows who are supported by other funding sources, will also be encouraged to integrate their work alongside the funded fellowships. An estimated 6-10 such visits are likely during the planned period using institutional resources, studentships or other project funds.
 
Networking between the fellows is an essential element and will be supported through planned online fellowship events, contact lists and support for attendance at key events. If you are interested in applying to become a fellow of the OER Research Hub you can find out more on the project's website http://oerresearchhub.org/fellowships.

Interested in collaborating with us?

If you think you would like to work with us, to help provide links to existing data on OER impact or help us to gather new data within your project, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us by emailing oer-research-hub@open.ac.uk at the Open University.