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Open access

Robert Farrow, Beatriz de los Arcos, Rebecca Pitt and Martin Weller

Abstract

Open educational resources (OER) have been identified as having the potential to extend opportunities for learning to non-formal learners. However, little research has been conducted into the impact of OER on non-formal learners. This paper presents the results of a systematic survey of more than 3,000 users of open educational resources (OER). Data was collected between 2013 and 2014 on the demographics, attitudes and behaviours of users of three repositories. Questions included a particular focus on the behaviours of non-formal learners and the relationship between formal and non-formal study. Frequency analysis shows that there are marked differences in patterns of use, user profiles, attitudes towards OER, types of materials used and popularity of different subjects. The experience of using OER is fairly consistent across platforms in terms of satisfaction and impact on future behaviour. On the whole, non-formal learners surveyed were highly positive about their use of OER and believe they will continue to use them. With regards to this making formal study more likely some degree of polarization was observed: some believed formal study was now more likely, while others felt it made this less likely. On the whole, while non-formal learners are enthusiastic about using free and online resources, the language and concept of OER does not seem to be well understood in the groups surveyed. A range of findings relating to OER selection and use as well as differences between repositories are explored in the discussion.

Open access

Beatriz de los Arcos, Bram Faems, Anna Comas-Quinn and Hélène Pulker

Abstract

The affordance of social interaction has been a part of open online repositories of teaching and learning resources for nearly two decades. Repositories are built not only to collect and disseminate materials, but enable users to collaborate and review, comment on and rate the content they access. However, research indicates that (a) most users do not participate in this type of generative use, and (b) the possibility of social interaction does not necessarily signal active participation in social interaction. In recent years the positive effects of gamification and social networking elements on user engagement have come to the fore in educational settings. From this stance, a quantitative study was conducted to assess users’ acceptance of the existing game mechanics of a large national repository of educational resources, their attitudes towards the inclusion of extra features, and teachers’ motivation to share openly. Our results indicate that teachers do not see open repositories as social networks, but as libraries of resources, and are likely to share if rewarded by intrinsic rather than extrinsic factors.