An ecological examination of open educational practices supporting the design, development, and delivery of OER in tertiary education (2021)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
Open Educational Resources (OERs) are widely available, as are guides for tertiary education institutions to engage with them. However, despite this accessibility OERs are not widely used. Open Educational Practices (OEPs) in the form of institutional supports (e.g., tools, policies, professional development, project funding) can facilitate OER engagement. The problem is that OEP implementation is complex and challenging. There is a lack of models to guide this complex process. This research aimed to examine OEP implementation and OER engagement through an ethnographic case study of the OERu and two of its Partner Institutions. This study drew on a range of qualitative data, including interviews, meetings, documents, observations, and co-facilitation of an online micro-course. Data comprised OERu’s use of open source technology, its open philanthropy, and its open communication platforms and processes. I also collected data on the OEPs of design, development, and delivery of courses as OERs.
Davis’ Arena of change with technology in education, a global and ecological framework based on human ecology, provided a lens for examining OEP implementation and OER engagement in pilot projects. The associated roles and “non-living matter” (inanimate resources) and their interactions across ecosystems were analyzed. Cox and Trotter’s OER adoption pyramid complemented the Arena by enabling examination and categorization of barriers and enablers to these processes. The barriers and enablers were reconceptualized as stressors that could stimulate evolution of education and technology in the institutions’ ecosystems.
The research revealed how institutions functioned as ecosystems, and how they led to different forms of educational and technological evolution as well as co-evolution of technology and education. Some ecosystems focused on technological innovation while others focused on pedagogical evolution. Findings indicated ways in which the systems could work together more cohesively for more favorable and sustainable innovation using OER. Using the OER adoption pyramid revealed stressors related to OER engagement and OEP implementation. The stressors formed patterns according to roles, ecosystems, and the Pyramid’s categories. These patterns were investigated with a view to obtaining practical information for planning open education innovations.
This research contributes to the literature on open education by using an ecological framework to examine innovations in open education at tertiary institutions. It also provides an extension to the Arena framework by using the OER adoption pyramid to examine stressors found within the institutions’ ecosystems. This research builds on successful national and institutional leadership in New Zealand with regards to open licensing, open source software and open education. The findings are applicable to tertiary institutions interested in engaging with OER and OEP and can be used as models for other institutions to plan open education innovations.