Examining OER Usage in an Open and Distance Learning Institution

Betty K Mutambanengwe, Constance Kadada

Abstract


Open Educational Resources (OER) are digitalised educational resources designed for use and re-use in teaching and learning that are openly available for use by educators and students without an accompanying need to pay licence fees. OER have generally become part and parcel of ODL worldwide and may be to some extent at Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU). Today ZOU is encouraging a multi-media approach to teaching and learning. However, print media (modules) are preferred. The purpose of this study was to measure the extent to which ZOU academic staff and students utilise OER. Participants were lecturers, students, module writers and editors. A qualitative methodology employing the case study as a research method was used for this study since it allowed an in-depth study of the phenomenon. Convenience sampling was used especially for module writers and lecturers who are likely to use OER. Questaviews with open-ended questions, structured interviews and focus group discussions were carried out to collect and generate data. Collected data were analysed using content and statistical analysis. The study revealed that for quality to be enhanced, module writers and lecturers may need OER in the preparation of these modules. OER at an institution like ZOU, where students rely mostly on learning materials, is critical in their development. Demand for modules has been necessitated by an increase in the number of students registering at ZOU. The extent to which ZOU academic staff and students have posted content on OER may be limited or non-existent. ZOU has published some journals whose content has not been placed on OER, but on the repository where there is limited access. Therefore, it can be concluded that ZOU tutors and module writers make use of OER as resources for tutoring and module writing. It was recommended that ZOU should consider the issue licensing for OER, upgrading of Internet connectivity and bandwidth and putting in place the OER policy. It is hoped that the findings will help ZOU not only develop quality modules using OER, but also create content for OER, for the benefit of other users elsewhere. It is also recommended that ZOU as an institution of higher learning, embark on further research on continuous usage of OER in line with current trends in teaching/learning materials development.

Keywords


Open Educational Resources (OER), Open and Distance Learning (ODL), Copyright, Connectivity

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