OER in practice: Organisational change by bootstrapping

John Hannon, Simon Huggard, Annabel Orchard, Nick Stone


In this paper, we investigate an approach to institutional change that aims to establish open educational practices (OEP) in a university and inculcate the use of open education resources (OER) as part of its curriculum work and teaching practice. Traditional practices that involve delivering knowledge resources for individualised learning within semester-length units of study are becoming increasingly ill-adapted to the demands of a dynamic and global educational landscape. OER offers a sustainable and equitable alternative to such closed arrangements, with the potential to meet the emerging demands of distributed learning settings. Nevertheless, changing educational practice remains a formidable challenge, and adopting OER is a radical break from legacy institutional practices. Our focus in this paper is on the starting point for embedding OER in curriculum work and teaching practice. We investigate change through emergent initiatives rather than a top-down program at La Trobe University in Australia: we ask what connections are necessary to establish open practices in a university. We trace three instances of OEP in one university that together build capacity in OER. We draw on Bardini’s strategy of bootstrapping, as an iterative and co-adaptive learning process that connects good practices in situ with institutional structures in order to build the groundwork for emergent change. These cases demonstrate how disparate innovations can be connected and re-purposed to establish a network of nascent OEP. 


open educational resources; open educational practices; sustainable; openness; practice; bootstrapping


Bardini, T. (2000) Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.

Bossu, C., Brown, M., & Bull, D. (2012). Do Open Educational Resources represent additional challenges or advantages to the current climate of change in the Australian higher education sector? In M. Brown, M. Hartnett & T. Stewart (Eds.), Future challenges, sustainable futures. In Proceedings ascilite Wellington 2012. (pp.124-132). Retrieved 19 Jan 2014 from: http://www.ascilite2012.org/images/custom/bossu,_carina_-_do_open.pdf

Bossu, C., Bull, D. & Brown, M. (2012) Opening up Down Under: the role of open educational resources in promoting social inclusion in Australia, Distance Education, 33:2, 151-164, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2012.692050

Brown, S. (2013). Brown, S. (2013) Large-scale innovation and change in UK higher education. Research in Learning Technology, 21.

Clements, K. & Pawlowski, J. (2011) User-oriented quality for OER: understanding teachers’ views on re-use, quality, and trust. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (2012), 28, 4–14

Conole, G. (2013). Designing for Learning in an Open World. New York: Springer.

Conole, G. (2012) Fostering social inclusion through open educational resources (OER). Distance Education 33:2, pages 131-134. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2012.700563

Geser, G. (2007). Open educational practices and resources: OLCOS Roadmap 2012: Open eLearning Content Observatory Services.

Gunn, C. (2014). Innovators and Institutions Working as Partners on Sustainable Change (pp. 389-406). In M. Gosper & D. Ifenthaler, Curriculum Models for the 21st Century: Using Learning Technologies in Higher Education, Springer, New York

Hallam, G. (2012) Briefing paper on eTextbooks and third party eLearning products and their implications for Australian university libraries. Council of Australian University Librarians. http://eprints.qut.edu.au/55244/

Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) (2014) Department of Education, Australian Government. Retrieved 8 Feb 2014 from: http://education.gov.au/higher-education-research-data-collection

Indigenous and Intercultural Health (2013) Wikiversity. Retrieved on 8 Feb 2014 from: http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Indigenous_and_Intercultural_Health.

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Estrada, V., Freeman, A., and Ludgate, H. (2013). NMC Horizon Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. http://www.nmc.org/publications/2013-horizon-report-higher-ed

Lane, L. (2009). Insidious pedagogy: How course management systems affect teaching. First Monday, 14 (10). Retrieved 8 Feb 2014 from http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2530/2303

Morgan, D. L. (2003) Appropriation, Appreciation, Accommodation: Indigenous Wisdoms and Knowledge in Higher Education. International Review of Education, 49, 1–2, 35–49.

Nguyen, H.T. & Gardiner, A. (2008) Indigenous community members as teachers of indigenous health. Australian Family Physician, 37, 12, 1019-1021

OPAL Report (2011) Beyond OER: Shifting Focus from Resources to Practices: The OPAL Report 2011. Open Education Quality Initiative. Retrieved 19 Feb 2014 from: http://www.educause.edu/Resources/BeyondOERShiftingFocustoOpenEd/224619

McKerlich, R., Ives, C. & McGreal, R. (2013) Measuring use and creation of open educational resources in higher education. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 14 (4). http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1573

McGreal, R., Kinuthia, W. & Marshall, S. (2013) Editorial. Special Issue - Open Educational Resources: Opening Access to Knowledge The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 14 (2), p. i-iv. Retrieved 19 Feb 2014 from: http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1549/2501

Mulder, F (2013) The logic of national policies and strategies for open educational resources, International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (www.irrodl.org) 14 (2). pp. 96-105

Pegler, C. (2013) The Influence of Open Resources on Design Practice. In H Beetham, R Sharpe (eds.), Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing for 21st Century Learning (pp. 306-333). Taylor and Francis.

Quinton, S. & Allen, M (2014) The Social Processes of Web 2.0 Collaboration: Towards a New Model for Virtual Learning (pp. 35-53). In M. Gosper & D. Ifenthaler, Curriculum Models for the 21st Century: Using Learning Technologies in Higher Education, Springer, New York

Schon, D. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals Think in Action. Hants.: Gower Publishing.

Stake, R. (2008). Qualitative Case Studies. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Strategies of Qualitative Inquiry (3rd ed., pp. 119-149). Thousand Oaks, Ca.: Sage.

Sullivan, K. A. & Sharman, R. (2011) A practical method of embedding a traditional Indigenous perspective in tertiary training for future health practitioners. Australian Aboriginal Studies 1, 197-201.

Wellen, R. (2013) Open access, megajournals, and MOOCs: on the political economy of academic unbundling, Sage Open, 3(4). doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2158244013507271

Weller, M. (2011). The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice. London:Bloomsbury Publishing

Wiley, D. & Gurrell, S. (2009): A decade of development..., Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 24 (1), pp. 11-21. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02680510802627746

Yin, R. (2009). Case Study Research: Design and Methods (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7238/rusc.v11i3.2131


  • There are currently no refbacks.

 Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. eLearn Center

RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal is an e-journal edited by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Barcelona).

Creative Commons
The texts published in this journal are – unless indicated otherwise – covered by the Creative Commons Spain Attribution 3.0 licence. You may copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the work, provided you attribute it (authorship, journal name, publisher) in the manner specified by the author(s) or licensor(s). The full text of the licence can be consulted here: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/es/deed.en.