Open Educational Resources and Change in Higher Education

Jenny Glennie
Ken Harley
Neil Butcher
Trudi van Wyk


In the last decade in particular, the promotion, sharing and use of open educational resources (OER) have been growing exponentially. However, as with any new phenomenon or paradigm, our knowledge of OER’s ramifications and achievements to date necessarily lags behind actual developments. The concept of OER has multifaceted dimensions and implications. For educational institutions, the dimensions are legal, managerial, financial, technical, technological and pedagogical, for practising educators, at stake are ways of teaching that are normative, together with a sense of identity that is both personal and professional. It would be astonishing if research, which by its very nature must be clearly focussed, were able to keep abreast of all such aspects of OER. Although OER activities are taking place globally, most large and well funded projects have been in North America and Europe. As a result, little is known about important questions such as how the more acute levels of resource constraint typical of developing countries impact on demand for OER and on their reuse. The case studies and reflections in this book cover OER practice and policy in a diverse range of contexts, with a strong focus on events in developing countries. However, the focus on experiences from the developing world is not exclusive, as valuable “generic lessons” applicable also to developing countries can be drawn from research in the more developed countries. The world in which the academy and higher education operate has transformed dramatically. How do institutions, in both developed and developing countries, reposition themselves meaningfully within the new information-rich world in which information is accessible as never before? How can organisations such as UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning foster governmental support for OER internationally? How might proponents of OER garner greater governmental, institutional and educator “buy-in” to the principles of open educational practices, and to the policies and programs necessary to realise and sustain OER? The 28 contributors to this book bring to these questions and many others a wealth of knowledge, experience and insights about OER policy and practice at both national and international levels. With some astute caveats, their findings collectively affirm the promise of OER as a way of providing enhanced quality education to potentially greater numbers of students. Policy makers and practitioners will be able to draw many precepts and possibilities from the rich variety of experience and reflection contained within this volume. // Series formerly called "Perspectives on Distance Education."


Open Educational Resources (OER), Policies


This editorial is a critical reflection of exponential growth in Open Educational Resources (OER) in recent years. Because of narrow scope of existing literatures, important questions regarding OER practices remain unanswered. For example, their exclusive attention to OER tools and business neglect a question about fundamental issues of effective online based teaching/learning. “Can learning resources designed for specific students in particular contexts be as successful in other contexts? “ (p. 5). The authors regard meriolism that has resonated with OER as risky. Employing case studies from various countries and context, the authors fill the gap between OER research.

APA Citation

Glennie, J., Harley, K., Butcher, N., & van Wyk, T. (2012). Open educational resources and change in higher education: Reflections from practice.

About the Study

Links to Article
Mode Technology-enhanced
Publication Type Book
In Publication Commonwealth of Learning
Type of Research Critical or postmodern
Research Design
Intervention/Areas of Study Open education resources
Level of Analysis
Specific Populations Examined Graduates, Undergraduates
Peer-Reviewed Yes
Specific Institutional Characteristics of Interest 2-year institution, 4-year Institution, Associates-granting, Masters-granting, Doctorate-granting, For-profit, Not-for-profit, Private, Public
Specific Course or Program Characteristics
Outcome Variables of Interest Instructional effectiveness, Learning effectiveness, Program effectiveness
Student Sample Size
Citing Articles,50&sciodt=0,50&hl=en