Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known: nine surveys for OER research

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June 19, 2013 by Leigh-Anne Perryman

Photo credit: Carl Jones CC-BY-NC-ND via Compfight

Photo credit: Carl Jones CC-BY-NC-ND via Compfight

Astronomer and writer Dr Carl Sagan is probably mis-credited as saying that ‘somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known’, though the sentence did feature in a 1977 interview with him in Newsweek magazine. Irrespective of whether Sagan or a magazine researcher made this statement I think it’s fair to say that Carl Sagan’s research field – the mysteries of the universe – is more of a fertile ground for researching the incredible than is the field of (open) educational research. That said, the OER Research Hub team of researchers, myself included, is united in the belief that a judiciously structured survey question or two about the impact of open educational resources on teaching and learning could reveal some very important findings. While this new knowledge may not be as incredible as finding life on Mars, at least not to the wider word, the claims already made for the impact of open educational resources suggest that their potential for transforming educational experience and opportunity could lead to some fairly incredible changes in the shape of education across the globe.  So, over the past few months I’ve been working with fellow OER Research Hub researchers Rob Farrow, Bea de los Arcos and Beck Pitt to craft not one, but 86 judiciously structured survey questions that we hope will reliably collect relevant and usable research data to inform our exploration of the 11 OER Research Hub hypotheses.

The OER Research Hub is not alone amongst the OER movement in using survey research. Of the many surveys that have contributed to shaping knowledge about the use and impact of OER to date, nine are particularly notable for their scope and significance and have informed our own survey questions:

  1. UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning Survey on Governments’ Open Educational Resources (OER) Policies. This survey has informed a comprehensive study of OER policies across Commonwealth countries, resulting in this report.

  2. CERI/OECD OER Follow-Up Survey  – OER use by educators and researchers in tertiary education.

  3. JISC OER Impact Study survey – a survey on OER use and sharing by educators (see pages 69 to 79 of the report).

  4. OPAL survey on the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Educational Practices (OEP) in Higher Education and Adult Learning Institutions – a survey on OER use and open educational practices with different questions for policy-makers, managers/administrators, educators and learners, available in four languages (see page 171 to 186 of the report).

  5. Rights and Rewards Project survey – a survey focused on academics’ use of repositories and sharing of their own materials (see pages 171 to 180 of the report).

  6. ORIOLE Survey 2011 – a survey intended to collect data about HE teaching professionals’ use, reuse and sourcing of learning resources.

  7. ORIOLE Survey 2013 – an updated, internationalised version of the ORIOLE 2011 survey, now available in English and Spanish.

  8. SESAME Project Baseline Tutor Survey – a survey focusing on OER use by tutors in the adult and continuing education sector.

  9. OER Asia Survey – collecting data about the extent of and practice in using OER by institutions and individuals in the developing parts of Asia.

The OER Research Hub researchers have faced a particularly weighty challenge – to design a bank of survey questions and survey designs that will allow for comparative research across educational sectors, countries and stakeholders, while also capturing very individual and distinctive data about the unique context in which each of our collaborators is operating. To date we have live surveys for three of our collaborating projects – CCOER, the Flipped Learning Network and OpenLearn.  We’ll be blogging the findings from these surveys as they emerge. The survey bank and a range of survey design templates will eventually be part of an openly available OER Researcher Pack.

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2 thoughts on “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known: nine surveys for OER research

  1. […] Astronomer and writer Dr Carl Sagan is probably mis-credited as saying that 'somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known', though the sentence did feature in a 1977 interview with him in…  […]

  2. […] The OER Research Hub is not alone amongst the OER movement in using survey research. Of the many surveys that have contributed to shaping knowledge about the use and impact of OER to date, nine are particularly notable for their scope and significance and have informed our own survey questions.  […]

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Blogging on open educational resources (OER), open educational practices (OEP), educational research methods and online practices in the developing world, and in the voluntary sector.

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