Open Educational Resources and Change in Higher Education: Reflections from Practice
Use the link to access the full text report from UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL). An excerpt from the introduction reads as follows: "In the last decade in particular, the promotion, sharing and use of open educational resources (OER) have been growing exponentially. However, as with any new phenomenon or paradigm, our knowledge of OER’s ramifications and achievements to date necessarily lags behind actual developments. The concept of OER — understood simply as 'educational resources … that are openly available for
use by educators and students, without an accompanying need to pay royalties or license fees' (Butcher, 2011, p. 5) — has multifaceted dimensions and implications. For educational institutions, the dimensions are legal, managerial, financial, technical, technological and pedagogical; for practising educators, at stake are ways of teaching that are normative, together with a sense of identity that is both personal and professional. It would be astonishing if research, which by its very nature must be clearly focussed, were able to keep abreast of all such aspects of
OER. Our editorial stance is that OER development is best served by critical reflection
offered by key players in or contributors to the OER field. This provides the rationale for the book and the selection of contributors. It has been noted that 'while OER activity is global … the largest and best funded initiatives have mostly been in developed countries from North America and
Europe' (Lane, 2010, p. 2). As a result, little is known about important questions such as how the more acute levels of resource constraint typical of developing countries impact on demand for OER and on OER 'reuse'. The case studies and reflections in the present book accordingly cover OER practice and policy in a diverse range of contexts, with a strong focus on events in developing countries. However, the focus on experiences from the developing world is not exclusive, as valuable 'generic lessons' applicable also to developing countries can be drawn
from research in the more developed countries. This introduction first sketches a contextual setting for the chapters that follow. With reference to the existing literature, we begin by reviewing OER developments and some of the questions that have arisen from advances made thus far. Drawing inferences from these questions, we identify some of the more important gaps in the way OER research has been conducted. We argue that failure to begin exploring these gaps carries risks that could impede further OER progress. Second, we provide very brief descriptions of the book’s chapters and vignettes. The focus is on locating these pieces within the OER landscape rather than presenting complete summaries of each. Readers curious to find out more about
a particular chapter or vignette that catches their interest should refer to the relevant abstract. In the conclusion to the book, we provide a brief reflection on key issues that emerge from the case studies."