6.1 ROR Recommendations

R4.1 – Promote a culture of reuse

Stakeholders: Standardization Bodies, Technology Providers, Higher Education Management and Faculty

Justification
It was discovered in our analysis that there are several international OER projects developing reusable learning content and, consequently, they are promoting a wide range of best practices around reusing those resources. This was described in Section 5.1 Thematic findings as well as in the “Standards and specifications for developing content for reuse”.  Conversely, there also continues to be strong evidence emerging in the form of perceived barriers for extending effective reuse among other end users described in Section 5.2 “Significant barriers for reusing learning content”.
Although the amount of OER content is increasing by a large amount, the ability to reuse these resources in flexible ways is not keeping pace with this growth. Findings in our survey revealed that most of these barriers are part of what we recognise to be the missing “culture of reuse”. Whilst there are large investments being made globally by foundations and governments to promote the development of OERs, the culture of reuse should be implicit in that process too.

Key actions for implementing this recommendation
To engender a culture of reuse, the following key actions are recommended:

  • Develop a cross-institutional-wide policy with appropriate information that covers diverse aspects (e.g. social, technical, pedagogical, cultural and legal) as well as the inclusion of key benefits and strategies to extending effective reuse locally – both within an institution and also externally between international partnerships and collaborators.
  • Foster communities of practice to engage different stakeholders to collaborate with each other by sharing best practices, resources, tools, problems, solutions, reviews, feedback and references around the broad area of Content Development for Reuse.
  • Provide easy access to content tracking data for all. This includes statistical evidence and review comments in order to understand the key features of the most popular reusable content. This also permits the identification of new needs and may lead to further, localised, recommendations

R4.2 – Disseminate the Openness philosophy

Stakeholders: Standardization Bodies, Technology Providers, Higher Education Management and Faculty

Justification
It appears that learning content resources developed using an openness philosophy frequently include several features that facilitate reuse. To increase opportunities for reusing resources, for example, stakeholders should be made aware of the advantages and new trends of adopting open content, open standards, open specifications, open formats, open license, open tools, open web, open communities and so on. There is evidence from our survey, and associated research, that open features offer several benefits to facilitate reusability, such as interoperability and accessibility. These findings have been described as examples of best practices that promote appropriate open features. Another significant message to emerge is the importance of endorsing a wide dissemination of the openness philosophy, including promotion of best practices and their key strengths, as well as understanding the associated challenges (described in the Section 5.4) and new trends (described in the Section 5.5).

Key actions for implementing this recommendation

To deploy dissemination and promote the adoption of an open philosophy within learning content projects, the following key actions are suggested:

  • Commit to open standards and open specifications to enable interoperability. Whatever is sent out, users should be able to take the “stuff” apart, reuse, repurpose, remix and share it.
  • Support open formats. It is most important to keep all content editable at all stages.
  • Be aware of open licensing approaches as well as related key issues in terms of copyright and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in respect of different formats and scenarios, composite rights, academic licenses and so on, in order to make the best use of them.
  • Make resources available directly from open repositories or via open portals. These should be fully accessible to Open Web Search Engines in order to facilitate and promote their discoverability and reusability.
  • Foster open communities of users around the open resources and keep them updated in terms of new releases as well as relevant local and international information.

R4.3 – Provide meaningful support and training

Stakeholders: Standardization Bodies, Technology Providers, Higher Education Management and Faculty

Justification
There are strong signals both from the previous investigations (D4.1 and D4.2) and from the current survey that indicate important aspects of adopting and applying successful strategies for extending effective reuse (described in Section 5.1 of this report in detail). Namely that it is absolutely necessary to provide appropriate support for all staff, including academics, as well as end users, in terms of raising awareness of the technology. Acknowledging the crucial role of standards in addition to the key advantages of the reusability of learning content (described in Section 5.3) is of the utmost importance. In order to deploy these strategies effectively and efficiently, not only for the reuse of existing resources but also for the development content for reuse, another primary recommendation, therefore, is to provide meaningful support and training.

Key actions for implementing this recommendation
With this in mind we recommend the following key actions:

  • Promote an institutional investment in developing staff technology related skills. These should include training sessions, workshops and pedagogical based events.
  • Develop high-quality open training materials in multiple formats to disseminate not only conceptual information that users may not be familiar with, but also by circulating technical guidelines and promoting further methods for searching, reusing, adapting, and sharing learning resources.
  • Encourage all users (e.g. content providers, technical support staff, tool developers, course team members, Faculties managers, and so on) to adapt their training materials based on local needs and, then, encourage them to share those materials once again on the Open Web.
  • Make relevant tools and useful frameworks for reusable content development freely available, including key information about the standards that have been adapted to meet the local user’s interests and needs.
  • Encourage and engage users to develop, as well as share, their own frameworks and methods to recreate learning content that has been adapted to reflect their local scenario.


R4.4 – Develop easy-to-use and efficient tools

Stakeholders: Technology Providers

Justification
Whilst there are several examples related to the use and creation of tools for facilitating reusability emerging from this survey, as well from the previous investigations (D4.1 and D4.2), there continues to be strong evidence highlighting the further need for more efficient tools to facilitate that creation and reuse. Based on the key barriers (described in Section 5.2) and challenges (described in Section 5.4)  presented in this report, the recommendation for technology providers is, therefore, to encourage the development of tools that meet the needs of users, that are easy-to-use, efficient for saving time as well as effort and coupled with appropriate guidelines that will promote the culture of reuse.

Key actions for implementing this recommendation
In order to meet those current user needs that have emerged from the survey the following list presents some more detailed and specific key actions: 

  • User’s needs and requirements should be taken into account not only during the development of new tools but also for improvements and updates.
  • Provide clear guidelines with relevant information about how to use the tools including listing the key advantages for adopting them in order to promote the culture of reuse.
  • Adopt learning content tools and resources that will enable content development at scale and in various contexts.
  • Ensure that content authoring tools implicitly use a structured content template so that the structured format will be automatically generated by users.
  • Offer structured content authoring tools that are flexible, including the creation of sophisticated rich interactivity for various scenarios and different languages.
  • Supply structured content authoring tools that allow users to add details of the original context in which the content was created to facilitate further adaptation and localisation.
  • Allow users to add reviews and recommendations about learning content in the form of metadata in order to enable enhanced discoverability of appropriate content.
  • Provide Filtering Content Tools transparency.
  • Offer search facilities that are flexible, easy to use, permit scanning through resources and allow users to make informed judgments.
  • Present clear guidelines for users including specific directions for the packaging of potentially complex resources.
  • Deliver tools that provide the opportunity for new and more efficient ways of presenting learning content resources.
  • Stress the importance of providing clear and unambiguous description of resources
  • Ensure that tools can extend the effective reuse of resources at a fine granular level e.g. freeing individual assets within OERs for independent reuse.

R4.5 – Keep standards implicit and thoroughly tested by different stakeholders

Stakeholders: Standardization Bodies

Justification

The majority of the best practice case studies’ evidence as well as details from the interviewees’ experiences highlighted the importance of keeping learning content standards in the background. This should increase opportunities for the OER tools as well as related interoperability standards being reused by a wider community of users. In this instance the recommendation for technology providers and standardization bodies is, therefore, to keep the appropriate standards implicit in the resources as well as thoroughly testing them with different stakeholders in a variety of scenarios (described in detail in Section 5.1).

Key actions for implementing this recommendation
The necessary key actions to achieve this would, therefore, entail the following:

  • Include standards seamlessly within OER processes. Standards do not need to be visible to end users but their benefits and requirements should be clear for the whole community. Both tools and associated standards should extend effective reuse in a way that encourages users to be focussed on the educational aspects rather than the perceived technical barriers. This could also lead to an implicit promotion of the culture of reuse.
  • Provide guidelines for the adoption of such OER related standards and tools including simple information in a straightforward and interesting way. Again this should contribute to the implicit promotion of a culture of reuse.
  • Endeavour to predict technology changes and ensure that content tracking of data can be used to enhance tools and standards effectively and efficiently.
  • Embrace fundamental and essential causes that enable the end user to make their own good sense of the learning content or tools before attempting to reuse the resources.
  • Deliver and evaluate a diversity of workshop formats and training sessions (face-to-face, virtual, blended learning opportunities) with a variety of OER creators and users e.g. content providers, teachers and standards experts.
  • Ensure that standards and tools are tested. Obtain and provide feedback in order to improve practice.
  • Keep OER standards and tools updated, therefore, enabling interoperability at different levels and using different platforms. Provide mechanisms whereby tools can be described easily as well as promoting new features and providing easy-to-use functions for the end user.

R4.6 – Raise OER-related skills and expertise

Stakeholders:  Higher Education Management and Faculty

Justification

Evidence from this best practice research also highlights that a large number of teaching and administrative staff still appear to be less interested or even resistant to using OERs. Many reasons were given for this attitude (described in Section 5.2): lack of awareness; lack of technology skills; disinterest or little experience with OERs; perceived time related requirements and so on. Our recommendation, therefore, would be to raise OER-related skills and the associated expertise required for effective reusability within any institution or educational environment – remembering that both the delivery and reuse of OERs can also take place partially or entirely in the “virtual” world, not just within the physical boundaries or conventions of an educational building or traditional face-to-face teaching scenarios. Reusability is most easily promoted when staff are engaged with new ideas as well as prepared for them.

Key actions for implementing this recommendation

In order to encourage such opportunities for users to develop appropriate OER-related skills and expertise, a list of specific actions are, therefore, recommended:

  • Encourage academics to share best practice deployment and underline pedagogical reasons to support the adoption of the different educational delivery channels
  • Provide support and appropriate multi-format materials clarifying processes that may be unfamiliar to end-users such as versioning and adapting resources
  • Form multi-disciplinary teams. Combine expertise both from pedagogical and technological areas alongside the provision of clear workflows
  • Raise awareness that there is no optimal way of looking at reuse for content. Recognise the direction in which the disruptions may head and find alternative ways to work in this new open virtual world
  • Ensure that all key stakeholders working together: academics, media technicians, public relations staff, freelancers as well as learners
  • Develop strategies to scaffold learning for the early adopters (e.g. a variety of educators, as well as learners) rather than being focussed primarily on the experts and autodidacts

R4.7 – Raise awareness of the key issues related to Content Development for Reuse

Stakeholders: Higher Education Management and Faculty

Justification

There are several key issues to be taken into account when reusable content is initially developed. Findings from our best practices case studies as well as previous investigations (D4.1 and D4.2) suggest that several factors can facilitate the effective reuse and creation of reusable resources (described in Section 5.2). There appear to be a number of recognisable phases: searching, authoring, adapting and publishing (described in Section 5.4). Our recommendation, therefore, is to raise awareness of the key issues around Content Development for Reuse at an early stage of development whilst continuing to keep communities of practice engaged in sharing all relevant OER-related information.
Key actions for implementing this recommendation
Based on the findings described in this report, the following and final list of specific actions is presented concerning those five different Content Development for Reuse phases, namely: Searching, Authoring, Adapting, Delivering and Sharing


1. Searching
• Engage the academic community to share in different ways ranging from initial searching for content in a simple form using open search engines tools to the use of advanced systems that filter and/or quality control the different OER repositories (e.g. constrained search engines, Google Custom Search Engine, RSS feed list, the OICS and so on)
• Raise awareness of new OER tools and functionalities that enable efficient and effective searching, especially ones that can be embedded in a user’s own local environment 
• Disseminate strategies that can facilitate the process of finding resources that were successfully used in other contexts such as incorporating meaningful (social) tagging systems, including opportunities for collaborative bookmarking, and so on. These strategies and tools can be delivered to, adopted and shared by the whole community.


2. Authoring
• Encourage academic and support staff to value collaborative authorship in order to help end users to feel confident to create, reuse and adapt OERs in their own contexts
• Raise awareness of important features that ensure high content quality for learners. Successful content must be fun, interactive, interesting, visual attractive, engaging and so on
• Remember that learning isn’t simply related to content but that it is in the engagement with the materials and, possibly, the social networks that will enhance the whole experience. Authors should be inspired to create a holistic learning experience that is not only based on content
• Improve dissemination about the importance and benefits of structuring OER materials
• Embrace the developments of new concepts that promote reusability e.g. the concepts of: “travels-well-content”, “legal freedom”, “technical freedom” and “cultural freedom”
• Break down and define content into meaningful objects and in terms of meaningful content of learning
• Describe the context in which those components are actually useful. This should facilitate the ability to extract the smaller components from a larger resource
• Try to ensure ways to control the definitive and composed versions of the learning material with appropriate information that are clear for any user
• Separate the given information that is very target group-specific from the object used
• Embed Metadata generation as a core aspect within the content production of all different components and be able to be track it.    

3. Adapting
• Raise awareness of strategies that may facilitate the process of successful adaptation such as templates for adapting or localising resources for different scenarios or contexts e.g. country
• Provide guidelines for end-users that include easy ways to facilitate versioning, remixing, and repurposing of OERs that promote confidence in the process
• Ensure that the learning content is structured and, therefore, ready to be converted into different formats
• Embrace as much metadata information as is appropriate. Make sure all the information provided can be accessed by a variety of recognised search engines. Expose the metadata so that search engines can scroll them.


4. Delivering
• Provide dynamic learning content via front end tools in a granular format
• Distribute that learning content in as many formats as possible
• Enable people to evaluate the learning content and share their feedback with as wide an audience as possible
• Supply a variety of import/export data formats taking into consideration different contexts e.g. low bandwidth
• Ensure that the learning content is easily downloadable including a print format option
• The data format should be as flexible as possible allowing not only import/export to many other different open content formats but also be able to be used on many different platforms.


5. Sharing
• Be able to publish OER materials to existing and new audiences
• Understand the full implications of licensing schemes and follow established approaches from the existing wider Open Content/Open Source community
• Ensure that all the rights information is associated with every reusable object as well as travelling with the end product so that any user will know which part can be reused and understand any restrictions in its use.

Last modified: Thursday, 9 October 2014, 12:27 AM