HomeThe OERTEST Project: Creating Political Conditions for Effective Exchange of OER in Higher Education. Luca Ferrari, Ivan Traina.
This paper refers to the OERTest project and Open Educational Resources (OER) as support education materials that may be freely accessed, reused, modified and shared by anyone. In this paper we will try to answer the following question: how can the political conditions be created to foster an effective exchange of OERs between Higher Education institutions? The article presents several policy recommendations (intended as lessons learnt from the project) to ensure an effective recognition and exchange of OER between Higher Education Institutions. Download Ferrari Traina.
The OERTEST Project: Creating Political Conditions for Effective Exchange of OER in Higher EducationPolicy recommendations (PR)
As a further result of the feasibility study the OERTest consortium has identified and discussed a set of policy recommendations (PR), that have been divided in two main categories: “macro level” (PR1-8), including general indications addressed to national and EU governments, organizations and competent authorities, developed by reviewing and updating the International and EU documents; “micro level” (PR9-18), including specific indications addressed to HEI, Universities and networks, developed through practical actions (analysis, action-research, test) and participatory exchanges (seminars, workshops, interviews) realized in the context of the OERTest project and related to problems still to be solved such as assessment and certification. In the following pages the PRs are shortly presented.
PR1. Develop specific policies for the production and use of OER starting from awareness raising:
HE institutions have to promote the development of specific policies for the production and use of OER within wider strategies for advancing education. The adoption of this vision will facilitate the creation of an open, flexible, inclusive educational environment including support mechanisms.
PR2. Stimulate institutional and national partnerships:
HE institutions are able to take part in educational collaborations, promote shared, collaborative teaching and provide reward systems for open education.
PR3. Promote the exchange of ideas and practices among OER European interest groups:
collaborative agreements between universities are likely to be the most productive approach (i.e. trust relationships as in Erasmus).
PR4. Reconsider the existing Intellectual Property Right and Copyright schemes:
enact legislations, then enable ‘fair educational use’ of copyrighted digital learning materials. Whenever learning materials are produced with public funding, open licenses should be used.
PR5. Overcome fragmentation in learning resources:
the creation of a repository of OER-modules based on quality criteria will facilitate learning processes. This implies the need for universities to share a common approach to training, which can call attention to the pedagogical potential of OERs, including the development of ICT skills (example: the OERTest Clearinghouse). The OERTest project set up a high-quality repository tested by 5 European universities, with commonly agreed standards for classification and scenarios in order to share the learning modules.
PR6. Improve transparency and accountability in teaching: the creation of a “Learning Passport”, a European Diploma Supplement-compliant ‘transcript’, should be thought of as an opportunity through which HE institutions can record the learner’s achievements against Learning Outcomes. Other specific recommendations to facilitate this process are:
Include, when publishing your own OERs, an overview on the content • (pre-structure), learning outcomes and suggested assessment methods. Think of the resources as one package which self-learners can use independently.
Investigate whether assessment and recognition of your OERs would • be feasible within your own institution, e.g. for students of your own university, e.g. students of HEIs with existing agreements with your department/university (exchange programmes), prospective students of your programme through existing procedures of recognition of prior learning.
PR7. Overcome the dichotomy between the perceived value of real and virtual learning:
the adoption of OERs could contribute to: facilitating access to high quality content at university level and to the higher education system without the need to meet access requirements; promoting opportunities for professional improvement; encouraging the trend towards personalization and adaptation to the rhythm of student learning (just-in-time learning); reducing dropout rates, since the student has more information about the course; improving mobility and exchange between universities; providing an opportunity to rethink the university system in its most positive sense; enriching the learning process (and the institutions themselves) by making content available to students from other universities; complementing the traditional university system of funding.
PR8. Promote the provision of Open Educational Assessment and quality procedures:
HE institutions need to share barriers, opportunities and concrete practices in order to improve understanding of OER Assessment. To facilitate this, a possible regulatory framework was developed to allow for the unbundling of course design, provision and certification. In this framework the recommendation created in the OPAL project, the suggestion of integrating OEP into Institutional Quality Procedures is a relevant challenge: “traditional academic (and scientific) quality assurance procedures rely on a formal hierarchical system of peer-review and external assessment. Collaborative co-creation upends this quality model Recommendation: Develop specific quality schemes for Open Educational Practice, particularly by moving concepts from recent EU projects such as CONCEDE, OPAL, OERTest etc. from pilot into operational phases”.
PR9. Open up assessment activity of HE Institution prior learning in order to include OER progressively:
in OER-based learning, it is “essential” to support unbundled assessment & accreditation, to specify a “Learning Passport” and to create realistic assessment & certification scenarios that map onto current traditional higher education processes.
PR10. Allow different scenarios to facilitate the acquisition of an educational certification/qualification:
different universities prefer different scenarios, depending on their charging models, legislative constraints, prior collaborative arrangements, flexibility in current assessment procedures. There are at least four concrete reasons for using these scenarios:
• as a showcase of a program within an institution;
• to validate credits as part of a program within an institution;
• as a supplement or complement to a degree course, that is, completing a program;
• specialization regarding a concrete topic or knowledge area or to fill gaps.
PR11. Adopt quality criteria to define the minimum requirements of an OER learning module to be eligible for assessment and certification: the definition of minimum requirements and characteristics of the modules from a simple and clear structure, and shared between institutions. These criteria have to make clear that the OER approach goes beyond the exhibition of content, in that it promotes a complex and complete learning process.
PR12. Implement quality assurance assessment and certification:
the implementation of a quality assurance assessment system and certification should be developed by management staff and it may involve teachers when accrediting the learning assessed in other institutions. In any case, these processes will be as systematic and concrete as possible as well as based on the reputation of institutions. The procedures for assessment and certification need to be clear and well formalized.
PR13. Promote a plurality of assessment methods:
the need to take into account a variety of assessment methods represents the way to promote a plurality of assessment methods. Nevertheless, it would be complex to define an evaluation process depending on each specific OER-module. Suggestions from the international experts involved in the OERTest project pointed out the importance of choosing the “appropriate tests or procedures”. Beyond the examinations (clearly insufficient), similar processes to the doctoral thesis or project evaluation could be followed. It is also suggested that “the assessment could be the same as that used with students who follow the present OCW”, i.e. continuous assessment applied or adapted to those taking part in the learning process in an autonomous way.
PR14. Test informatics tools to improve the assessment process automation:
different EU universities are testing informatics tools to support the assessment process. For instance when a student gathers a set of X evidences of X type, the system will inform that he or she is ready to be assessed; or in the case of accreditation, the system would offer the possibility of sending a certificate, recognizing it in the student record or sending the information to the university of origin. That is, linking the activity of the student to assessment and management, taking into account all processes and needs resulting from each phase.
PR15. Explore an alternative economic model for the adoption of OER:
the implementation of an economic model of OER in HE institutions, requires us to understand:
• which inputs are available (internal and external to the institution)?
• when will they be available?
• who would benefit from them (the institution, the consortium, in percentages, etc...)?
• what inputs cover what expenses?
Regarding fees it is important to consider the processes that come into play and the resources consumed: “the price, at a minimum, must cover the costs”.
PR16. Support initiatives creating shared Open Courseware repositories:
need to support - starting from the EU level – OER initiatives creating shared Open Courseware repositories among existing ERASMUS networks in specific subjects. Furthermore, creating a repository of OER-modules based on quality criteria will facilitate learning processes. This implies the need to share a common structure between universities. We are working in the OERTest Clearinghouse along this line.
PR17. Disseminate knowledge and existing good practices:
the dissemination of knowledge about the existing good practices on identification and access management” requires universities to issue identity proofed online credentials and help build future partnerships among HE institutions.
PR18. Address quality assurance for distributed learning:
it is crucial to address quality assurance for distributed learning involving different HEI at the national level but also between different countries and allow pioneer HEI institutions to experiment “safely”.
Conclusions
If we accept to face the challenge of OER in HE, it is essential to change or modify our educational perspective, including finding creative solutions to shift from prescriptive educational methods towards open learning formats. The questions highlighted are central and aimed at analyzing efficiency benefits of OER, the relationship between OERs, and the reasons for teachers and learners to use OER materials.
In this article we have presented some evidence and results of the OERTest project. At the same time we have presented the lessons learned and the consequent policy recommendations which each HE institution needs to take into account for implementing OERs.
We conclude by calling for wider participation and input into the development, promotion and dissemination of a culture of sharing amongst the teaching community in Higher Education. We encourage readers to interact with the platform created in the framework of the OERTest project (http://www.oer-europe.net/node/15) and provide feedback and suggestions. Download Ferrari Traina.