Reflections on sustaining Open Educational Resources: an institutional case study
This paper reviews some of the literature on the sustainability of Open Educational Resources (OER) and what it has to say about successful or sustainable open content projects on the internet.
This paper argues that OERs need to be considered with respect to the different types of economy; market, public and social, that operate for educational materials in particular and education in general. The paper then examines what sustainability means to different actors in these economies and the relationships between them, notably within organisations, between organisations and amongst communities and individuals, but not within or with political institutions. This is followed by a case study of one project within one higher educational organisation: OpenLearn at The Open University in the UK.
The case study outlines the objectives of the OpenLearn project; notes its relationship to The Open University’s mission; lists the major internal and external benefits that have arisen from the project; and sets out the future directions for the project. These traits are then compared with some key factors for successful projects listed in Guthrie et al (2008). The paper concludes by looking at the different sources of funding for OER projects and issues of both financial and social sustainability. It notes that sustainability for these projects, at least within organisations, depends upon the activity fitting closely with the goals of the organisation such that most of the activity is absorbed into existing systems and practices. It also argues that they can act as a test bed for extending activities and securing a mix of new or improved funding streams.
The paper concludes by looking at the different sources of funding for OER projects and issues of both financial and social sustainability.