A Basic Guide for OER/Appendix 8: OER Policy Review Process

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Appendix Eight: OER Policy Review Process33

In evaluating the policy framework of an institution, the following steps may be useful.

  1. Explain the purpose of the policy review.
  2. Collect information about the mission, strategic plans, teaching and learning, human resource and ICT policies and procedures.
  3. Establish the context and indicate whether the vision, mission and strategic planning are collaboration and OER ‘friendly’.
  4. Identify challenges and opportunities.

For example:

Challenges Relevance to Collaboration and/or OER
Curriculum/Course Material Challenge
• The panel found that in some departments, the curriculum had not been reviewed for many years. (2b)–Visitation Report, Executive Summary)

• Concerning graduate study, the Panel recommends: an urgent review of graduate programmes by departments for relevance and breadth of courses... (2d)–ibid)
• ... Library... collection of books... is inadequate... (Council Statement, Infrastructure and Resources, (viii)

• Development of new courses can be accelerated through collaborative processes, sharing of course materials, and harnessing of existing OER – an objective of Health OER;

• Systematic auditing and re-licensing of materials can serve as vehicle to monitor relevance of curricula and study materials;
• Existing OER libraries can be made available locally and updated regularly without incurring licensing/acquisition costs.

• Blurred inter-faculty & interdepartmental linkages with duplication of activities (CSP, p.13)

• Inadequate and uncoordinated information & communication technology characterised by low access and utilization (CSP, p.13)
• Inability to admit all qualified applicants (CSP, p.13)
• Inadequate funding for research partly attributable to poor marketing of research projects and weak proposal writing skills (CSP, p.14)

• Policy review provides opportunity to be responsive to Mission – promote innovation, relevant and cutting edge technology – by taking cognisent of the changing realities of IP management in a digital age.

• The creation of institution-wide policies around OER provides an excellent opportunity to introduce new systems for more effective management of institutional resources (human & material) as well as its IP.

Challenges Relevance to Collaboration and/or OER
Human Resources & Curriculum/Course Materials Challenges
• Aging faculty, high faculty turnover and the absence of mentoring combine to indicated a crisis in Human Resource Supply which could lead to lowering of output quality ... (CSP, p.18)

• Poor work ethic among some teaching staff coupled with a weak mentoring and supervision system (CSP, p.14)

• Staff succession planning demands effective management of intellectual capital.

• Open licensing frameworks provide simple mechanisms to ensure that, in the long term, institutions have effective access to the products of academic staff’s intellectual capital.
• Imposing a discipline of licensing all materials under an open framework will ensure that knowledge products are stored and tagged on an ongoing basis, thus helping to deal more effectively with staff turnover and induction of new staff

Lack of formal training in teaching and poor teaching aids / laboratory equipment (CSP, p.14)

• Weak recognition and reward systems ... (CSP, p.14)
• In adequate funding for research partly attributable to poor marketing of research projects and weak proposal writing skills (CSP, p.14)
• Need to “Do more with less” by rethinking assumptions about delivery systems, curriculum, organizational structures and personnel. (CSP, p.6)

• Process of adapting OER can be used to build capacity in creation / development and the use of educational materials, i.e. Instructional design.

• Access to high quality materials packages and supplementary materials of multiple media is essential to alleviate workload pressure on overstretched academics.
• Investment into faculty by the university is critical – OER is not a panacea to structural under-funding.

5.Identify key policy positions

For example:

Having analysed some key challenges relevant to OER and collaboration in materials development, it is now possible to explore key policy positions and objectives, in order to assess their relevance. This is presented below:

Policy Position/Objective Relevance to Collaboration and/or OER
Curriculum/Course Material Challenge
• 8.6. A digital library – accessible over the Internet, operational by June, 2009 [Rolling Strategic Plan, p. 83]
• Essential to define terms of use of all materials within a digital library, which will be facilitated by systematic materials audit and establishment of systems to manage the institution’s knowledge base.

• Shared course materials and OERs can be used to increase number of available materials in digital library without significant additional cost.

• 13.7. Study materials regularly digitized [Rolling Strategic Plan, p. 84]

• Digitize all the study materials and make CDs [Rolling Strategic Plan, p. 64]

• Establishment of licensing frameworks relevant to digitized materials (e.g. Creative commons) will be essential to protect rights of the institution.
Policy Position/Objective Relevance to Collaboration and/or OER
Financial/Human Resource Policy Positions/Objectives
• Pay writers and reviewers of study materials materials adequately and promptly materials development is considered based on guaranteed budget from

Government and student fees [Rolling Strategic Plan, p. 60]
• Reduce time for developing study materials by contracting full and part-time academic staff [Rolling Strategic Plan, p. 60]
• May be necessary to include specific • In distance education institutions, the major activities of full-time academic staff members are to develop new programmes and review the existing programmes, to develop an dreview instructional materials, to moderate the work done by part-time academic staff and tutors, as well as researching and consultancy [Formula for Evaluation of Workload, p.3 - emphasis added] • Definition of teaching for purposes of calculating workload includes: •• Supplementing existing study materials (Once annually – 4 hours per lecture allocated). •• Writing scripts for radio broadcasting and other ICT media (where applicable – 6 hours per script allocated). [Formula for Evaluation of Workload, p. 4]

• Clear policy indications that materials development is considered important by the institution and that there is commitment to investing in it.

• Policy positions are essential to ensure high quality of materials and effective collaboration.
• May be necessary to include specific references to collaborative activities to ensure that funds are set aside to cover the time of academic staff from the institution participating in such collaborative activities.
• Sharing of course materials with ACDE members may reduce requirements to pay sub-contracting fees for materials development, as it may open access to already developed course materials in key areas of need.

• University consultancy is work carried out by members of staff acting as employees of the institution. The work carried out may be additional to normal duties for which additional payment over the above the normal salary may be made/or may be part of normal duties for which no additional payment is made [Consultancy Services Policy, p.2]

• Enabling staff whose expertise has a commercial value to benefit financially as well as professionally from their external work. This way, the institution will also sustain its operation through increased income generation. [Consultancy Services Policy, p.3]
• University consultancy shall be contracted through the proposed institutional –Consultancy Bureau (CB) and will be given a formal registration number. [Consultancy Services Policy, p. 5]
• As a rule, the institution will retain 20% of the net revenue for University Consultancy after deduction of the related declared and approved direct costs. [Consultancy Services Policy, p.8]

• Participation in materials development/OER collaborations could generate consultancy-funds, providing an alternative income stream to the university and its staff and financial returns on capital investment.

• Consultancy policy provides clear frameworks to ensure that staff participating in collaborative activities and materials development exercises that are over and above their normal workload can receive remuneration for their time spent.

Policy Position/Objective Relevance to Collaboration and/or OER
Interlectual Property Issues
• Development of a structured system that forestalls practices of plagiarism, infringement of copyrights and other forms of cheating among staff and students. [Quality Assurance and Control Policy, p. 22]

• Copyright: Students are not allowed to copy and paste text, images or graphics from websites that are protected by copyright, without ‘proper acknowledgment’ or permission of the owner of the intellectual property [ICT Guidelines for Students].
• Students should comply with legal and University restrictions regarding plagiarism and the citation of information resources [ICT Guidelines for Students].

• Completing a systematic audit of materials and their licences will create a clear legal framework to guide staff and students. • Maintaining proper licences that facilitate use and adaptation of materials further supports this.

6. Identify Issues for consideration

For example:

Some key issues for consideration emerge from the above review. These are as follows:

1. A policy is clearly required to govern materials development. It will be useful to ensure that it takes account of the above analysis to create a policy environment supportive of collaboration and sharing and to ensure rigour in the management of the university’s intellectual property. Some additional observations are worth noting to feed into development of that policy:

  • The Human Resource Management policy must include references to copyright or intellectual property.
  • Workshop feedback suggests that materials development does not explicitly count when considering job re-categorization and promotion, performance-based incentives, and letters of recommendation and this may need attention. It would be useful if performance appraisal could include contributions of OERs.
  • It is unclear whether or not job descriptions/employment contracts take account of the need to transfer copyright to the institution.

2. It will be important to include open licences (such as the Creative Commons framework) when organizing and executing training of staff and course writers on copyright issues and plagiarism. This will serve to deepen knowledge of the options available to manage intellectual property effectively.

3. It will be useful for the institution to begin its commitment to sharing resources with others on a limited basis in order to test the potential and explore the policy implications through action research.



33 Sourced, with permission, from OER Africa website: www.oerafrica.org/policy