Just coming to the end of OER10 and so much coming out of the discussion there that confirms what I have been thinking, extends that thinking, and gives me things to take away and mull over. I am really heartened by the shifting of emphasis towards considering how we can engage users – students and also educators. Some really interesting conversations in the Tuesday lunch session led by Helen Beetham. These brought together experiences from Tom Browne (OpenExeter) on exposing new academic staff to OER and Simon Thomson (Unicycle, LeedsMet).

New staff have a need for resources and are developing their teaching practice.  They are starting to learn how to teach. A great opportunity to influence and guide impressions of oER, and support staff in having a very positive starting out in using these in practice. Peter Hartley (Bradford), Paul Batholomew (BCU) and I worked on a proposal to reach this group and influence OER use in 2009. This project wasn’t funded, but we’ve remained convinced that it was a good idea and Tom has now tested a similiar approach at small scale and reinvigorated our interest.

At the other end of the academic lifecycle Simon Thomson has positive experiences of approaching staff approaching retirement, suggesting that they might deposit as OER resources which they have developed. The idea of OER as a legacy. So we are starting to gather experiences and arguments and – most important of all – evidence – of what works as motivation to influence changes in OER practice at the start and finish of careers?

Of course this leaves the mid-career academics as the educators who have less clear motivation for becoming involved. These are the potential users/reusers of OER who would really have to change existing practice. The real test of OER. Experienced practitioners won over to change?

Several ideas of how to do this came forward based on subject centre initiatives and initistutional iniatives. Personally I was impressed by the OER Early Dutch History presentation by Ulrich. A really clear motive for using OER which benefits his institution and courses in attracting attention to a niche subject, but also making study of Dutch more possible, and meeting a need that could otherwise not easily be met by the Dutch teaching community in the UK (which is small and stretched).

Allison Littlejohn has just talked as part of the end of conference panel about how we need to now focus on how we use OER rather than on the content. This is the key. We have the resources. Now we are moving forward into the world of using what we have and building on that based on user needs. Really exciting and challenging stuff, but comforting to be in such good company while seeking anwsers.

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