Education systems around the world are under immense pressures and undergoing rapid change. Open approaches could be an important means to increase access and reduce the costs of high quality learning experiences.
But how do those working in education utilise openness to collaborate across organisations? How are the motivations, practices, and support needs different from those seen in open source software or Wikipedia?
This project studied the Bridge to Success initiative, which aimed to harness openness to improve US college achievement. Open Educational Resources (OER) were developed and made available for any organisation or learner to use as they wish. These are free online course materials in study skills and mathematics, combining tutorials, activities, quizzes and multimedia objects.
Rather than creating wholly new materials, or just sharing existing ones, the initiative went a step further by Remixing OER for a new target audience. Proven materials from courses in the UK were converted for those entering, or struggling with, college in the US. This involved extensive collaboration across organisations and continents.
Less than a year later, these resources have been used by thousands of learners and over 16 US-based organisations. Through studying the initiative, we identify and explore four emerging practices in interactions with OER:
Creative Remixing: Remixers build on the existing OER, creating additional material where they feel it is required for their audience. They are inspired by the values of the original text but also create entirely new additions where they feel this is useful.
Adaptive Remixing: This lower cost approach involves only the effort required to make the materials appropriate, such as editing language and replacing culturally-specific examples.
Contextualisation: Organisations interested in using an OER explore how it might best fit into their specific context. This might include introducing students to the materials to fill the gap between signing up for a course and the beginning of term, or using data to target resources towards struggling students.
Wrapping: Individuals then do the work to integrate resources into their teaching. This may involve selecting relevant parts of the OER, integrating with other resources, providing specific instructions and working across face to face and online learning situations.
Our paper explores a range of issues where current views of ‘open’ in should be expanded through understanding these practices and their support needs. OER empowered individuals to share and creatively tackle issues faced in their work. Through this, new forms of ownership become possible, and tools and processes are shared outwards from the organisations involved.
For more, see our full paper, Building Open Bridges: Collaborative Remixing and Reuse of Open Educational Resources across Organisations.