OER and Adaptation Handbook: Top Ten Lessons Learned from OpenScout

A collection of best practices for the adaptation of learning materials as Open Educational Resources (OER) from the OpenScout project http://www.openscout.net/is available here http://learn.openscout.net/resource.html?loid=OpenScout:6a73c645-0244-11e2-8c2f-c37fb8292160

10  lessons learned.

  1. Initiation: Use trusted relationships as a starting point. Not all materials are re-used as they could. However, materials achieve more attention from colleagues you are already connected with. Try to arrange partnerships within your various networks!
  2. Initial barriers: Be clear about the problems which might occur. OER are still seen rather skeptical. We have observed a lot of barriers which keep users from re-use. Most important barriers to overcome are legal issues, a fit to the (re-users’) curriculum and context, and – most important – cultural differences. However, recommendation of tools has been a successful way to overcome practical barriers.
  3. Trust Building: Invest time in conceptual work and trust building.  Re-use might lead to good collaborations. This needs, however, quite a lot of trust building and conceptual work. When you arrange international collaborations, take your time to discuss key concepts and your understanding of those. Invest time to build a partnership.
  4. Cultural learning processes: Learn about your peers’ cultures. We have seen that it is necessary to reflect on one’s own and collaborators’ cultures. This reflection process is necessary to understand the specific requirements and characteristics of learning processes. The use of culture profiles describing cultural attributes is a starting point for those reflections.
  5. Adaptation: Identify cultural issues and adaptation needs. The adaptation process is not only about translation. It needs adaptation for target groups (in our case for different international students or for SMEs). Especially practical work and group work needs to be adapted to the specific groups.
  6. Re-Use: Keep track of re-uses of your resources. Many materials in OpenScout were downloaded but there is not yet a way to follow up on all re-used materials. There is a need to keep track of resource usage (which can also be used later to define the quality of resources – e.g. similar to citation indexes).
  7. Rights: Clarify legal aspects within the resources. Even though OpenScout provides guidance for Creative Commons licenses, we received a lot of requests on the licenses and needed to make a lot of clarifications. It would be useful to have clear explanations in the learning materials themselves.
  8. Follow Up: Ask what’s happened to your resource. We have received plenty of requests about re-use. However, after the initial contacts and replies, we have not in all cases been informed what happened. Therefore, it might be useful to request this information again, desirably in an automated way.
  9. Further Services: Notification and Tracking is the key. The most important service is from our point of view a reminder and notification services – what was done with a resource, how has it been re-used, have there been commercial usages? This main issue could be resolved using notification services as well as resource tracking services.
  10. Rewards and Appreciation: Use OER as part of your educational CV. OER are not taken as part of academic or enterprise performance indicators (such as citations). However, if resources are used in the international context, this means also a strong international reputation for individuals. Thus, it is useful also to show how resources were re-used in both, academic and enterprise environment.