OER Engagement Study: Promoting OER reuse among academics

SCORE Fellowship Final Report by Joanna Wild


The OER Engagement Study investigated the ways in which higher education institutions, individual faculties and support staff foster OER reuse among academics. The research questions (RQ) that guided the design and implementation of empirical work were:

  1. What are the main approaches to promoting engagement with OER reuse?
  2. What is the optimal level of engagement with OER reuse from the perspective of different stakeholder roles, and what steps must lecturers go through in order to reach the optimal level?
The study was exploratory in nature and therefore adopted a qualitative approach to data collection and analysis. Data were collected from three groups of practitioners representing six higher education institutions in England: a) promoters of OER, b) lecturers who participated in training on OER, and c) faculty OER champions. Semi-structured interviews were divided into two main parts:
  1. Traditional interview with a sequence of themes and questions (to address RQ1).
  2. Interactive activity in which the participants were invited to work with a sketch of a ladder and three sets of pre-prepared cards (to address RQ2).
The study identified a number of ways in which institutions, departments and individuals foster engagement with OER reuse amongst lecturers, including:
  • Embedding OER in Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE).
  • Offering subject-specific OER workshops as part of a staff development programme.
  • Bringing OER to lecturers’ attention when they are in the process of designing a new course.
Participants in the study defined the optimal level of engagement with OER reuse in terms of OER being fully embedded in a lecturer’s everyday practice. This includes: a) reusing resources created by others, b) re-sharing resources one has reused, and c) sharing one’s own materials under open licences. It often requires a lecturer to let go of years of experience in doing things in a particular way and re-shape their professional identity as a lecturer. A lecturer’s commitment to the open agenda often manifests itself by story telling and advocacy.
The steps that lecturers go through to reach the optimal level of engagement are described using the metaphor of a ladder. Figure 1 represents three major levels of OER engagement: Piecemeal, Strategic and Embedded (i.e. the optimal); and three ‘realisation steps’: Understanding, Need and Reflection.  These are described in detail in the full research report from the study.
The emerging model – the OER Engagement Ladder – as well as recommendations and guidance on how to foster lecturers’ engagement with OER reuse should both be a valuable resource to anyone who seeks to strategically encourage open practice in their institution. Main beneficiaries include: academic librarians, staff developers, learning technologists, and staff responsible for implementation of graduate attributes into curricula.

Full Report