Photo credit: Nicola Corboy CC-By-NC via Flikr

Photo credit: Nicola Corboy CC-By-NC via Flikr

A collaborative approach to OER research: Reflections at our OER Research Hub Away Days

The OER terrain seems a wide and varied one- an OER can take on any format: videos, textbooks, software and more.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation define OER as “teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge”.

This diversity is one that we are so often reminded of at The OERRH. Tasked by Hewlett to undertake research on OER impact on learning and teaching methods, our main challenge was: how do we gain an objective and near panoramic view on ‘impact’ in such a varied sphere? Where do we start?

Then that ‘Aha!’ moment struck when some members of our bid-writing team came up with the idea of collaborations/research partners- Let’s partner with various OER projects and work with them to research OER impact through the lens of their projects.

Since securing our Hewlett grant and launching our project, we have marketed our research project as one that brings this very unique element to the OER research table- our research showcases data and evidence drawn from more than nine (9) diverse OER projects (our research collaborations) – ranging from the Flipped Classroom Network in the United States to Teacher Education in India.

So, as we reflected at our recent team away days, we highlighted a few of the benefits of our collaborative approach to OER research:

  • Through these collaborations we have managed to secure coverage of the main education sectors – K12 (high school); College; Higher Education and Informal sectors
  • We have been able to extend our project’s geographical reach, gaining perspective and understanding of how impact can be influenced by factors such as culture and political climate
  • We have been able to research a multiplicity of modes of OER – e.g. open text books; flipped classrooms and; in situ science projects
  • Through our fellowship programme and other collaboration activities we aim to foster a networking climate among collaborations, building a community of OER projects.
  • For some of our collaborations,  that element of research on ‘impact’ was almost non-existent so the collaboration has been proving to be a useful way of amassing data that further strengthens their OER project

As an OER research hub, we are on a mission to build that database of evidence that sheds light on your OER research. Via our 11 Hypotheses, and with the help of our collaborations, we will explore the impact of OER on learning and teaching practices. We will soon launch our Evidence Hub – a space where we invite the general OER community to participate and submit their own pieces of evidence.

We have been privileged to meet and engage with some exceptional OER projects and passionate collaborators. If you have an OER project and would like to participate in our research project, please feel free to contact us at: