On 11th March, 2011, Rob Howe attended Institutional Strategies for OERs hosted by SCORE. [A video review of the day should be available in a few weeks]. The notes below represent some of the key ideas I picked up from presenters during the day.

Tom Browne (Exeter) suggested that re-engineering material for OERs was not scalable and that designing for openness should be integral to design and delivery. Development of OERs at present are focused on the supply side (i.e. releasing what we have available) – this is understandable. He contrasts this with OER Africa which is being demand driven (i.e. producing material which is needed). Mention was made of the Open Exeter repository and of the tension between developing OERs for marketing and those which are produced for use on the course. (It was noted the amount of material which was used from the web without permission).

Melissa Highton (Oxford)indicated that successful development of OERs should build on existing workflows and not take significant extra staff time. She mentioned that the recording of lectures (video or audio) was very popular and assisted the adoption of iTunesU. It was noted that audio downloads were 3 times more popular than video. Building of capacity should be achieved through staff development, understanding and cultural change. Melissa questioned whether the Non commercial side of Creative Commons was too restrictive and prevented some academic staff from contributing material. Understanding of Creative Commons was seen as an essential part of OER education and development.

Stephen Stapleton (Nottingham) was involved in the setting up of U-Now in 2007, the Berlin project and the current Open Nottingham project. He mentioned the value of podcasts from senior management to encourage the take up of the service. Various reasons were given for OER release:

  • Social responsibility
  • Excellence in education
  • Promotional opportunities
  • Internationalisation
  • Cost effectiveness

He stated the success of encouraging the release of module handbooks and of flash lectures (e.g. Politics in 60 seconds).

Particular mention was made of Xpert which is an OER search tool.

Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams (Cape Town) reported on the development of the Cape Town OpenContent initiative. There was a discussion of the need for quality / reputation and the fact that tutors were given permission to upload directly to the repository.

Willem van Valkenburg (Delft University) discussed their repository ocw.tudelft.nl and the development of flash lectures. He suggested that iTuneU was more marketing focused. He stated similar values of OER development as heard previously (eg quality, new students, reputation).

Various sites were mentioned during the day which may be useful resources:



MIT Opencourseware


OER Commons

Creative Commons

Opencourseware initiative

Virtual University of the smaller commonwealth states