From POERUP - Policies for OER Uptake
Executive Summary (English)
- POERUP's overall aim was to develop policies to promote the uptake of OER (Open Educational Resources) in the educational sector, to further the range of purposes for which institutions deploy OER: opening up education, widening access (including internationally and in particular from developing countries), higher quality or lower cost of teaching - and combinations of these. These policies were to be oriented to the European Union and a specified range of countries, all but one in Europe.
- POERUP focussed largely on the universities and schools subsectors of the education sector, but also paid attention to the non-tertiary post-secondary subsector (VET) - the 'colleges' - so often the loci of the kind of informal learning that OER facilitates, but also crucial loci for skills development.
- The original focus of POERUP was to focus on policies only at the 'national' level (including governments of top-level devolved administrations such as Scotland or Flanders). In the progress of the project, given the increasingly fragmented environment for education, it was also felt appropriate to look at consortia of institutions, including with private sector actors who facilitate change, as often in the MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) space – such as FutureLearn and OER u. However, it was not an aim of POERUP to produce a set of policy recommendations oriented to institutions, or a set of critical success factors for initiatives.
- POERUP put substantial effort into understanding the state of play of OER initiatives and the policy environment in a range of countries, within the context of the wider development of online learning in these countries – but cognisant also of the worldwide moves towards Open Access for research literature and general resources and the wider "Open" context. However, it was not an aim of POERUP to produce a comprehensive database (or map) of all OER initiatives.
- Indeed, POERUP was a project in the discipline of comparative education: such a project carrying out comparative education has to prioritise. POERUP had to decide which countries were most relevant to European Lifelong Learning and within the set of relevant countries decide which countries would be studied by partners and which by contracted experts paid by POERUP, or in some cases via third parties not paid from POERUP funds. It was not an aim of POERUP to study all countries.
- The countries that POERUP studied came not only from Europe, but also from each continent. Outside Europe we focussed more on countries with linguistic, cultural or political links to countries in Europe, in particular the non-European OECD members such as Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the US. There was of course much activity in the US in an ever-changing situation: there we studied a representative set of exemplars. Developed but non-OECD countries studied included Argentina, Thailand, South Africa and six countries in the Middle East.
- We knew from several former projects of this sort that the kind of global study that POERUP did was expensive and potentially infeasible within typical Lifelong Learning Programme budgets (circa €500K) – thus POERUP was particularly concerned to provide value for money to the EU. A key strategy to achieve this was to partner informally with other projects and agencies to ensure that POERUP did not carry out any country studies, which were already being done by other agencies. This was initially time-consuming and led to some minor delays while other agencies carried out their processes, but the financial benefit of avoiding unnecessary country studies was substantial and indeed the only way that POERUP could have proceeded. There were also other positive outcomes of the consultation process including ongoing collaboration with IPTS, UNESCO IITE Moscow, OER U/ WikiEducator, CommOER/Wikipedia and OER Asia, as well as with several independent experts. An active group of experts led to three very useful workshops under the auspices of the International Advisory Committee.
- The first round of country studies was completed by the time of the Progress Report, but, in accordance with the workplan, effort was held back to put into selected update studies in 2014. This update process was a very useful exercise and established that in the last 18 months several countries formerly regarded doing little in OER had in fact become active - Germany in particular. The initiatives are all documented in a large database and can be shown on a searchable OER Map.
- A key topic in POERUP policy work was to understand the ways in which OER communities can develop and foster activity without sustained long-term amounts of government funding. Particular tools for Social Network Analysis were used to support this task. Eight case studies for OER communities were chosen across the various education sectors for analysis by POERUP partners, at varying degrees of depth. These include the schools-focussed projects DigiSchool (Netherlands, linked with Wikiwijs) and Bookinprogress (Italy); HE-focussed projects OER U (global), Futurelearn (UK) and BC Campus (Canada); VET-focussed ALISON (Ireland) and Re:Source (Scotland); and a specific MOOC project in informal adult learning (University of Amsterdam). The analyses led to policy options and a series of recommendations for effective running of such projects in future.
- POERUP's policy work started early (as documented in the Progress Report). It was closely linked to discussions on Opening Up Education. Three EU-level policy reports were produced in autumn 2013, with a summary presented at the EU OER workshop at Online Educa in December 2013. In 2014 specific policy documents were produced for five member states (UK, Ireland, France, Poland and Netherlands) plus Canada. In addition to formal policy work, informal policy discussions were held at workshops in five more member states: Norway, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania and Croatia.
- The internal evaluator of POERUP completed a full series of evaluations of POERUP, based on reflective practice from POERUP staff and consultations with consultants and stakeholders.
- Future plans from members of the POERUP consortium include participation in projects: some have started already, such as VM-PASS, eMundus, SharedOER and D-TRANSFORM, others are as we write still in process of submission and judgement. There are other exploitation moves under way as opportunities develop, with a focus on the wiki and database.