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Wednesday, November 19 • 1:15pm - 1:45pm
Understanding the interplay between open culture, institutional structure and academic agency in lecturers' contribution and non-contribution of Open Educational Resources: A social realist approach

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The contribution and use of OER are enabled on a global level by technology, open licences, open standards in metadata, donor funding and government policy. Institutionally OER contribution is enabled by repositories, clear intellectual property guidelines, donor and/or institutional funding, support teams and services, and policy that gives academics institutional guidelines and recognition or reward for their contributions. The long term sustainability and global reach of the OER movement and other open initiatives rests firmly on the willingness of individual academics to share and use OER. Individual contributions and engagement with OER form the foundation of this movement which is built on the altruistic principle of sharing.

This paper will present the stories of four academics from UCT, one who is sharing and using OER, one who is sharing but not using, one who is not sharing but using and one who is not sharing and not using. Interviews with these academics reveal that there is a complex interplay between the global and institutional culture, institutional culture and individual or personal concerns in enabling or constraining the sharing of materials.

The social realism of Margaret Archer (dates) explores the power of the agent (academic in this case) to decide on their course of action related to their personal concerns.

This paper will present the early findings of a bigger project that hopes to provide a model of the interplay between Open culture, institutional structures and agency. It seeks to explain theoretically why some academics share and others do not. Sharing or not sharing seems to be a matter of personal choice and those who have made the decision not to share may see some of its merits but will still remained closed and are unlikely to share even when presented with grants and other forms of institutional support.

The interviews with these individuals revealed their life histories and personal concerns and understanding these has revealed that these academics share because the act of sharing fits into their broader life concerns. Enablers and constraints in their contexts are subverted in order to achieve their life concerns and neither rewards nor policy are seen as constraints. Those who are not sharing are unlikely to share materials as they have other concerns such improving their classroom practice and developing their students.


Glenda Cox

Senior Lecturer, University of Cape Town - CILT
Why academics choose to share or not share their teaching materials as OER. The quality in OER debate. OER and the Library. OER and Open access.

Wednesday November 19, 2014 1:15pm - 1:45pm EST

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