Quality on OER Repositories

Peer Working Group on Quality for European OER Repositories

ENCORE+ aims at developing a new idea for improved quality within the European OER Ecosystem of the Future.

To this purpose, we organized a four-part workshop series within our Quality Circle, focusing especially on Quality on OER Repositories.
A few weeks ago, the first meeting of this peer working group took place. Read more about the results of our work here!

Towards a New Alliance for a European OER Quality Ecosystem

There is a need for an evolved and refreshed vision for OER in Europe better connected to the European policies and the agenda currently discussed within higher education. This is the outcome of the 1st ENCORE Thematic Peer Group involving 20 experts into a discussion about an emerging European OER repository ecosystem.

The Thematic Peer Group on Quality for OER discussed the current state of quality development for OER repositories in Europe in order to dimension the problem of quality for OER. The discussion outlined the need for a new narrative of OER in Europe as enabler of issues currently high on the higher education and training agenda, like Microcredentials, enabling true Lifelong Learning, inclusive society and/or seamless qualification pathways. It reinforced the need for a new perspective on alliances for OER repositories in Europe which also seeks to connect communities and not only repositories – a matter the ENCORE+ initiative currently undertakes already. The experts unanimously voted that only a well-integrated multistakeholder environment, including stakeholders from policy, practice, institutions and learners will enable Europe to build a well connected OER repository ecosystem within the next 5 to 10 years. They were supporting ENCORE+ in its crucial role to leading these efforts. In particular a lack of policy support for a European OER repository alliances, only little existing institutional OER repository strategies, as well as low learners’ engagement into OER repository communities were pointed out as important fields of action.

Panoramic Issues on OER

  • Overall, OER in Europe is not as developed and accessible as it could be. Quality is still the most important lever for credibility and stability of OER demand and supply.
  • There is a need to enhance the participation of users in repositories. In order to define quality methods and achieve better quality, approaches are needed to actively engage the community of users. This can be done through representative user bodies, surveys or open invitation to user focused activities. OER repositories need to assume a role as community hubs.
  • In addition, quality concepts for OER repositories need to include all aspects of technical quality (enhanced user experience and findability) and better connect repositories to institutional processes.
  • Quality needs to be brought from an often fuzzy term into a transparent understanding of which quality is provided (e.g. technical, pedagogical, etc.). The ENCORE quality initiative therefore should very clearly differentiate between quality of OER based teaching and learning (open education practices), resources, and repository systems.
  • There is a need to create a visible and significant voice for European OER to enable interregional dialogue with other regions of the world, namely US and China.
  • The use of OER in teaching and learning – referred to as Open Education Practice (OEP) – needs support and guidance. Competence frameworks to help teaching and learning in the open are needed in order to support teachers and learners to use, create and share OER.

A “landing on the moon” plan to achieve an interoperable European metadata and search engine strategy enabling a connected European repository alliance is needed. Standards are existing but need to be put in practice.

OER Quality Issues

  1. Lack of Quality Standards: The absence of a common standard for OER quality hinders repositories from developing a mature level of credibility within the group of learners and educational professionals – both in higher education and in business. Quality standards should comprise peer reviews, users’ ratings and include rubric and checklist definitions. OER has no official approval or seal which often leads to a 2nd-rate quality perception. Quality alliances within OER communities need to be supported within enterprise and higher education sector.
  2. Missing information hampers quality reputation: Missing information about OER (pedagogy, usage guidance, duration, educational level and more) within repositories leads to reduced usage and hampers inter-repository exchange of meaningful information.
  3. Lack of connected search architectures: The absence of a European search engine for existing OER repositories is jeopardizing uptake.
  4. Quality increases costs for OER: OER Quality must evolve within a short-term period – leading to higher costs. Financing for OER development, including multiple languages and accessibility for all EU-member states, is desirable.
  5. Lack of open quality framework for OER repositories: An open framework containing recommendations, quality criteria and implementation methods for OER repositories needs to be developed and spread across European repositories.
  6. Lack of OER version history: The future OER universe should also include a joint version history (like Zenodo or Wikimedia) which will ensure transparency.

Impeding Factors for OER Quality development

  1. Decreasing policy support: OER has ceased to be a policy priority – as it used to be. The level of uptake is viewed as sufficient. The result is discontinued funding. National and European policies need to put more focus on OER and support the development and integration of OER into higher education and business.
  2. Lack of knowledge on licenses on learner’s side: Teachers and universities are the main users of OER. However, currently there is not enough awareness for open licenses on learners’ side.
  3. Lack of cooperation and community building around OER repositories and between OER repositories: Cooperation amongst repositories within European member states and across borders is not deep enough to develop common quality standards and common community strategies. It is essential to have a more integrated community to strengthen the communication and agree on certain quality standards.
  4. Lack of clarity and transparency on terms for quality development: Agreedcategories and consistent terminology as well as standards are needed to ensure that users a) find appropriate content for their purposes and b) can check content quality quickly and without major effort. For creators and providers of OER there must be standards on which they can orient themselves, as well as places where they can get their learning material peer reviewed.
  5. Lack of multistakeholder cooperation around OER repositories: OER repositories need to directly cooperate with users and institutions within and across national borders. A networked OER universe needs to become visible and work for mainstreaming.
  6. Lack of recognition for open education and OER on institutional/ strategic level: The lack of recognition of open learning and open teaching – also as a strategic instrument – leads to decredibilisation of OER as a concept within higher eductiaon and business. OER repositories need to support the path from voluntary to mainstream and strategic.

Issues in time perspective

2 Years

Interoperability standards framework for referencing OER, Guides for OEP, Open APIs, Shared metadata in shared search, OER review methods uptake, Knowledge about licenses as requirement for educational professionals

5 Years

Available quality rubrics, User rankings as general standard mechanism, AI recommenders, Microcredentials for open learning, Accreditation method for OER, Institutional OER strategies mainstreamed, Uptake of open curricula, Standards come into use

10 Years

OER in multiple language versions, Versioning of OER

More about the NextEducation Group at the DHBW Karlsruhe and our work on our website: www.next-education.org

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