OER Policies are typically established in order to drive change, and there are now clear examples of where policy is being used as an instrument to drive OER. The Creative Commons OER Policy Registry lists 40 policies which reflect the ways in which policies supportive of OER and open access have gained recognition. A further 22 proposed policies have also been identified. , though it is likely there are others, particularly at institutional or regional levels. These are typically supportive of open licensing for publicly funded learning materials (especially textbooks) or of open access to scholarly materials. As the Policies for OER Uptake (POERUP) Consortium reports, we are in a period where fully developed national or international initiatives are still emerging. The lead of the Obama administration and OER funders remain key drivers in this respect.
Less common are clear instances where policies and practices have been changed as a direct result of participation in OER pilots: yet these remain our primary focus because our policy hypothesis looks specifically for these. University of Maryland University College – part of the Bridge to Success collaborative strand – are proving to be a promising source of data in this regard, having rethought and actively changed their policies following their involvement. As a result of their involvement in the pilot they now aspire to minimize cost to students through OER and have embraced modular learning design.
A good example from secondary research comes from Utah. Following two years of successful open textbook pilots led by Brigham Young University the Utah State Office of Education has announced that it will support the development of open textbooks for key courses and recommend that all state schools consider their adoption.
However, we have also uncovered counter-evidence. The focus group we ran with instructors from the Math faculty at Anne Arundel Community College indicated that they stopped using B2S materials fairly soon after adoption because it was felt that they did not map closely enough to curriculum needs. While they remain interested in OER they did not adapt their practices after their encounter with OER. Some topical policy innovations will likely be investigated as part of OERRH field work this fall.
As part of the Community College Consortium for OER strand it will be possible to focus on policy narratives from California. The Foothill-De Anza Community College District in Silicon Valley was a key leader in piloting OER and effecting cultural change, and recent bills SB1052 and SB1053 were passed by the California state and assembly in August 2012. Their instructor survey is currently open and it is expected that they will form part of field work in Fall 2013. This field trip is likely to include interviews with key policymakers who have been instrumental in effecting change.