The Future of OER in Europe – What do the Experts think?

Emily Rauch
The academic researcher of the NextEducation research group at DHBW Karlsruhe Fiona Schmidbauer reports on her experiences and her involvement in the EU project ENCORE+. In this project, she is working on the networking of OER repositories and is working on the development of quality standards and concepts for quality assurance.

Ever since education moved into the internet, we have been waiting for Open Educational Resources (OER) to take off and revolutionize the education market. A world of content opening up to you, for free! OER sounds like a huge opportunity for equal opportunities in education, for inclusive content and the empowerment of teachers and learners. Free, open-access education is a valuable resource that everyone should use and help develop, as both educational organizations and businesses could benefit from it.

OER has saved students, parents, schools and governments at least $1 billion dollars regarding the cost of course materials (Allen, 2018). There is ample evidence that OER, when implemented correctly, can bring far-reaching benefits (see e.g. Hilton, 2016; los Arcos et al., 2014; Weller et al., 2021; Wiley, 2015). However, although there are already numerous databases (OER repositories) of open educational content, which are also widely used across Europe, large-scale use remains elusive and fragmented, both in educational institutions and in the business sector.

The ENCORE+ initiative aims to change this. By interconnecting communities, the ENCORE+ project comes to life as an adaptable and viable ecosystem which we also want to establish as a European OER network. In the middle of the ecosystem stands a meaningful and focused human network. Together, ENCORE+ forms a powerful alliance for Open Education in Europe.

To build this ecosystem, it is necessary that possible and also impossible future scenarios for OER in Europe are mapped out. Barriers and enablers for the uptake of OER must be identified.

For this purpose, the ENCORE+ project is taking a look into the future with the method of a Delphi study!

A Delphi study is a procedure in which expert judgements on a specific question are determined in an iterative process. The focus here is on finding a consensus on the question with regard to the probability of its occurrence coupled to a certain time in the future. The scenarios are evaluated, changed and adjusted by the experts in two or more rounds until they come as close as possible to a consensus (Niederberger, 2018).

For ENCORE+, this means being able to make statements based on expert opinions about what the future of OER in Europe could look like in 2030. By assessing the likelihood of the different scenarios for OER in Europe in 2030, principles for the development of an OER ecosystem can be derived.

An example of a scenario is:

„In 2030, OER will be a standard component in education and training services offered in the corporate and educational sector.”

In the Delphi survey, experts from the field of OER are given the opportunity to evaluate this scenario according to its probability and, if necessary, comment on it or propose an alternative statement. From this, it can be deduced which factors could prevent or favour the occurrence of the scenario.

The scenarios described in the study were developed together with experts in four consecutive thematic peer group workshops. This procedure is based on the Hybrid Delphi method, in which, unlike the conventional Delphi method, the scenarios are developed jointly in a group workshop and then submitted to further experts for evaluation (Landeta et al., 2011).

The Delphi study runs from July 25 to August 7, 2022, during which time people previously identified as experts are invited to participate in the survey and share their expertise. The study is currently in the process of canvassing and vetting experts – so if you know of any suitable experts or are interested in participating, please feel free to contact fiona.schmidbauer@dhbw-karlsruhe.de! The aim of the study is to interview at least 30 experts about their insights.

At the end of the study, there will be a compiled expert opinion. From this, recommendations for policy makers and decision takers on the facilitation of a European OER area can be derived.

The results will be published in a report in early October 2022 and will be available on the ENCORE+ website!

But there are several more ways to follow up on our project work!

  • Read about our current state of research in our position papers which are being continuously developed.
  • Engage in our project events in which we present our current state of work and open our network of OER experts to the public. Through our events, we enable you to get connected with stakeholders in the field of Open Education!
  • Stay updated by signing up to our newsletter or following our blog!
  • Share your experiences, inspiration and questions with us via e-mail or comment under this post!

What do you think about the future of OER in Europe?

If you participated in the Delphi survey yourself, how likely would you rate the statement from above?

“In 2030, OER will be a standard component in education and training services offered in the corporate and educational sector.”

Is there something you would add or change?

Tell us! We’re looking forward to get in touch!

References

Allen, N. (2018, October 12). $1 Billion in Savings through Open Educational Resources. SPARC. https://sparcopen.org/news/2018/1-billion-in-savings-through-open-educational-resources/

Hilton, J. (2016). Open educational resources and college textbook choices: A review of research on efficacy and perceptions. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(4), 573–590. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-016-9434-9

Landeta, J., Barrutia, J., & Lertxundi, A. (2011). Hybrid Delphi: A methodology to facilitate contribution from experts in professional contexts. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 78(9), 1629–1641. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2011.03.009

los Arcos, B. de [B.], Farrow, R [R.], Perryman, L.‑A., Pitt, R., & Weller, M [M.]. (2014). OER Evidence Report 2013-2014. OER Research Hub. http://oro.open.ac.uk/41866/

Niederberger, M. (2018). Das Gruppendelphi-Verfahren: Vom Konzept bis zur Anwendung. SpringerLink Bücher. Springer VS. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-18755-2

Weller, M [Martin], los Arcos, B. de [Bea], Farrow, R [Rob], Pitt, B., & McAndrew, P. (2021). The impact of OER on teaching and learning practice. Open Praxis, 7(4), 351. https://doi.org/10.5944/openpraxis.7.4.227

Wiley, D. (2015). Adopting OER is Better for Everyone Involved – improving learning. https://opencontent.org/blog/archives/3743

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