OpenLearn: Open Educational Resource projects

How three Open Educational Resource projects attracted involvement from four UK universities

Date:     Wednesday 22 Apr 2009
Time:     18:30 – Tea 6:00pm for 6:30 start
Speaker:     Dr Tina Wilson – The Open University in the UK
Location:     AS124, Coventry University


In this talk Tina discussed three Open Educational Resource projects based in the UK and the involvement of four UK universities.

OpenLearn, the Open Content Initiative established by The Open University, was launched on 25th October 2006 as a result of funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. OpenLearn’s twin websites, the LearningSpace and LabSpace have attracted more than 4 million visitors. They host in excess of 13,500 study hours of freely available course material across 12 different topic areas. While the LearningSpace is aimed mainly at learners, the LabSpace is geared more towards educators. Despite OpenLearn attracting many visitors, activity in the LabSpace was less than expected (a lack of downloading and repurposing of the available materials).

As a result, Project on Open Content for Knowledge Exposition and Teaching (POCKET) was designed to influence what had already been invested in OpenLearn, extend Open Content activity to other universities and place additional content in the LabSpace. POCKET was led by the University of Derby and partnered by The Open University and the Universities of Bolton and Exeter. It was funded by the United Kingdom Joint Information Systems Committee. POCKET improved upon the OpenLearn processes and procedures for uploading new content and uploaded whole courses of material (as separate units) into the OpenLearn LabSpace.

With existing OER communities having seven years of experience in the development of OER it is time to evaluate what has worked, why it has worked and how we can maximise on the design and redesign of OER for the benefit of learners and teachers. (The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was the leader in this field with the OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiative in 2002).

The need to gather evidence of use and reuse of OER on a much wider scale is identified as a major research project Open Learning Network (OLnet), which started in March 2009. Based on the lessons of experience and evidence, the initial aim of the project is to draw in existing OER and social networked communities to evaluate what types of OER have worked well in terms of learning and teaching. The project will investigate the best ways to develop new OER and redesign existing OER for reuse worldwide. OLnet is funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and starts from a base of having a number of partners, which will be built upon over the three-year period of the project (in conjunction with drawing on existing OER communities).

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