Who is using Open Educational Resources?

This post marks the official open-on-the-web style start to our JISC funded OER Impact study. The key tasks of the study being:

  • The investigation of patterns of behaviour around the use and reuse of OER.
  • Examining the impact of these behaviours on teaching and learning strategies from institutional, tutor and student perspectives.

Our methodology is distinctly qualitative, focusing on the ‘why’ and much as the ‘what’. Why you might be using OER rather than why they should exist.

As anyone who has cruised the blog posts around OER will know there is a never-ending debate about the value-cost ratio of openly licensing educational resources much of which hangs on an expectation of repurposing/remixing. Up to now there has been little research on the potential value of OER as distinct from stuff-on-the-web from the perspective of the users/re-users/remixers. We hope to somewhat redress that balance.

Most ‘big OER’ activity to date has been driven be the production side of the produce/resuse coin. I recently heard of a university which was considering working with iTunesU in a potentially OER manner. Interestingly it was the marketing department who was pushing for this which is indicative of an understanding of one of the values of open resources/OER from an institutional perspecitve. I don’t know if that marketing department has considered who might use/reuse the resources they hand to Apple?

In any event, stats out of our slice of iTunesU here at Oxford show that a lot of people are using OER. The majority of this use being informal (a term often incorrectly equated with ‘casual’) and individual. I suspect the videos which are CC licensed are used in much the same way as those that aren’t. After all, one of the benefits of informal usage is that you don’t have to be seen to be playing by the rules isn’t it..? That aside there is a pleasant ‘social-good’ aspect here because beyond any formal curricular use of OER they benefit the-man-in-the-street in a manner that would be difficult to argue against.

In a recent post Amber Thomas made the point that OER is a “supply side term” which I tend to agree with. Given that the distinction between OER and stuff-on-the-web is technical (in legal terms) one of our primary concerns is to make sure that we capture narratives of use/reuse which are related to OER not simply to open-stuff-online. Having said this we don’t want to devalue non-OER reuse or examples of the steady cultural shift towards an acceptance of ‘openness’ in the most general sense. To position our conversations with participants within a broad use/reuse territory we are proposing to use the following map.

David White, JISC OER Impact Study.

As ever the semantics could be tweaked/argued over well into the night but I hope the map covers much of the use/reuse area that could be found in and around a Higher Ed institution. Suggestions for how the diagram could be improved are, of course, very welcome.

In conjunction with our research questions this approach should allow us to concentrate on OER value from a use/reuse perspective without discarding valuable examples of the informal use/reuse of OER or close-to-OER type resources.

Over the next six months our project will interview staff who use OER in their teaching practice and those who are interested in taking advantage of OER. In addition to this we will be interviewing students about what motivates them to use particular resources in their learning either as directed by the curriculum or discovered independently. If you have any good examples of OER use/reuse which has been embedded in course programmes/institutional strategies then please let us know.


40 thoughts on “Some real data on Web 2.0 use

  1. I’ve just had a quick look at your results – some things I’ve found interesting (such as the fact that post-docs were the most likely to be using Wikipedia!)

    I do have a few questions – in particular about services that you’ve not listed. For example, you’d got YouTube but not Google Video (I’ve personally found that the educational range at Google is better, or at least easier to find), you’ve also got MySpace but not Live Journal (or Elgg).
    Did you give people the option to add extra systems – either for the categories you had (Social networking) or for others (e.g. Gliffy for creating diagrams?)

    It’s useful to have this data though, as I’ve found that I have to get most of the data about what people are using from Pew Internet & that’s US based.

  2. They are very interesting data, Dave. It would be really interesting to show the aggregated data for every service not filtered by age, because I think that this data point to a profile of very intensive Internet user that ran across all ranges of ages. In some way, you take the orientation of respondent towards technology when you mention in the report that “the majority of respondents probably had some interest in leaning online to have initially discovered the page.”

    And a second question, would it be possible to elaborate data on how many people use one, two, three, etc of these services?

    Really good work. Thank you for sharing

  3. Useless questions = useless answers, or nothing we couldn’t have predicted about present and future usage patterns through the age groups. Many different spellings of “calendar” suggest the authors were in such a rush to get this to press, they couldn’t be bothered with spell-checking or proof-reading. B-, must try harder.

  4. Interesting- I note that my age group is left out of the anaylses (65+), and in my experience such pre-boomers are very high users of web2 and the intenet as a whole..and the younger ggrouops *40-65) less so.. at least the latetr seesm to show up!

  5. Thanks for this survey, it was very insightful. The growth of social networking over such a short period of time is really phenominal. I wonder when web 3.0 will start…

  6. I’ve been experimenting with various collaboration & document sharing tools and have discovered an excellent site. It is a very user friendly, web-based application that is well worth taking the time to explore. Take a few minutes and look at Projjex.com. The tutorials are excellent & you don’t need to be a Rocket Scientist to figure out how to use it. It even offers a free version so you can try it on for size.

  7. I would be really interested in seeing a copy of the final report but the link provided does not work. Please could you send me a copy as it may well support my dissertation.

  8. nteresting- I note that my age group is left out of the anaylses (65+), and in my experience such pre-boomers are very high users of web2 and the intenet as a whole..and the younger ggrouops *40-65) less so.. at least the latetr seesm to show up!

  9. Pingback: Eso de la Web 2.0

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