How can institutions change their culture with regard to OER & Open Educational Practices (OEP)?


Experienced institutions show that there are several factors that influence this process. This is not a linear process but rather one that requires both external and internal factors:

  • The internal factors are volition to adopt OER, availability of relevant OER of requisite quality (for use or sharing), capacity in terms of technical skills for using, creating, finding, uploading OER - personally or with support, awareness of OER, the concept, and how it differs from other educational resources, permission to use OER (via CC licenses) or create OER (via institutional IP policy) and access to infrastructure: computers, internet connectivity, electricity etc. At De Montfort cultural change with respect to OER and open education developed from the ground upwards, with many academic staff using and releasing OER, and students becoming familiar and involved in activities as users, producers and evaluators. There is now, however, the need to garner the support of senior management and to formulate how open education fits with the institutional vision and strategies. There needs to be institutional ownership and support for this work so as to establish processes to scale and sustain the existing activity and facilitate future developments in a sustainable fashion.

According to the OER Adoption Pyramid model, there are six essential adoption factors:

  • Access
    The 1st factor refers to the need for agents to have access to the appropriate physical hardware and infrastructure – such as electricity, internet connectivity and computer devices – for engaging with digitally mediated OER. This may sound obvious, but in the Global South, this remains a pressing issue at many institutions.

  • Permission
    The 2nd factor refers to an agent’s legal right to use or create OER. For users, the OER licence determines permission parameters. For creators, institutional IP policies usually determine whether educators or institutions hold copyright over teaching materials produced at the institution. Only copyright holders can be OER creators.

  • Awareness
    The 3rd factor refers to the fact that a potential OER adopter must have been exposed to the concept of OER and grasped how it differs from other types of (usually copyright-restricted) educational materials. Educators may inadvertently use OER, of course, but this does not comprise OER adoption per se, which requires a level of OER awareness.

  • Capacity
    The 4th factor refers to the technical and semantic skills necessary for adopting OER. This capacity can be held by the educator or found through institutional support. It implies an educator or institution enjoys the technical fluency to search for, identify, use, and/or create (license and upload) OER, or has access to people with those skills.

  • Availability
    The 5th factor refers to the availability of OER for an agent to use or contribute. For users, this is determined by an OER’s relevance (content, scope, tone, level, language, format), utility for a specific anticipated use, and quality as judged by the user. For creators, it is determined by whether they feel their educational materials are relevant and of the requisite quality (based on one’s pedagogical self-confidence) for sharing openly.

  • Volition
    The 6th factor refers to an agent’s motivation to adopt OER. If the agent (lecturer or institution) enjoys the access, permission, awareness, capacity and availability necessary to adopt OER, then volition becomes the key factor in whether they will do so. This outcome is shaped by the agent’s pedagogical values, social context (e.g. departmental or disciplinary norms) and institutional culture.

The value of the OER Adoption Pyramid is that it enables comparison of the factors involved in OER adoption at an institutional site, whether the agent of analysis is a lecturer or the institution. It prompts a series of questions (see this A4 flyer) which can help assess the OER readiness of an institution. It also focuses only on the factors that are absolutely necessary for adoption to occur, leaving aside the myriad of others that would merely be “helpful” or “useful” to have – meaning that it can form the base of an institutional analysis and be comparable across multiple institutions. From the analysis that results, one may then generate OER Readiness Tables (see page 2 of the flyer) that reveal the data in a way that is useful for sharing with stakeholders who want to enhance OER adoption at an institution.

The case study reported by Menon (2015) shows the process through which Open Educational Practices were adopted in the Wawasan Open University.

The OER adoption and integration plan of the University progressed well and some of the evidence of improvement in quality and cost-efficiency are available for sharing. The evidence clearly indicates that Open Education practices including OER use are largely accepted in the University and this has made significant changes in the thinking and functioning of the academic and academic support staff. More staff are inclined to use available OER for their course development as well as engage in research in OER and related areas. OER use has been integrated to the quality assurance processes in the University and this has brought increased cost efficiency in course development and delivery. Six major factors have been identified for the successful adoption of OER in Wawasan Open University (WOU). These are:

  • University-wide awareness raising on OER.
  • Emergence of a core group of champions advocating and demonstrating OER.use.
  • Adoption of institutional OER policy and open licence policy by the governing bodies
  • Capacity building of academic and academic support staff in OER creation, OER integration, open licensing and designing for OER-based e-learning environment.
  • Creation of WOU-OER web-site and repository
  • Support made available for OER research and innovation for staff.

Open Educational Practices, OEP, OER, license, access, permission, awareness, capacity, availability, volition, institution, culture, practice

Trotter, Henry & Cox, Glenda (2016). The OER Adoption Pyramid. In Proceedings of Open Education Global 2016: Convergence Through Collaboration.12-14 April 2016: Krakow, Poland. Retrieved from