The meso level looks at the institutional level; in other words, at the higher education institutions. The same aspects as in the macro level were analyzed, with different focuses: infrastructure (I, federal, regional networks), quality (Q, institutional quality assurance), policy (P, regulatory frameworks) and change (C, strategy, organization, professional development).
The research questions posed at the meso level are as follows:
- I: How can regional networks or consortia be described that establish or jointly create infrastructures for the dissemination of (O)ER, are there subject-based platforms in place? How does communication and exchange occur between repositories, servers, e.g. how are these mediated between macro, meso and micro level? What is the relation between public and commercial entities involved (if there are)?
- Q: Which kinds of institutional quality assurance mechanisms exist and how are they operated? Who are the actors involved in setting and assuring them? How do they relate and adhere to international e-learning standards and specifications?
- P: What kind of regulatory frameworks exists within which HEIs operate? Which actors are involved?
- C: How does institutional strategic planning occur with regard to digital infrastructures? Which approaches are being used (top-down or bottom-up) to foster change regarding the digital infrastructure?
In this section we use some examples (concrete universities) to illustrate the aspects regarding infrastructure, quality, policy and change. Some of the better examples in this report for (O)ER infrastructure, policy, quality and/or change are shown as follows (see Table 1):
Examples per country at the meso level.
University of Wollongong
(public research university)
University of Technology Sydney (UTS)
(public research university)
University of Windsor (Ontario)
(public comprehensive university)
University of British Columbia (BC)
(top public research university)
Peking University (PKU)
(top public research university)
(top public research university)
Beijing Normal University (BNU)
(top public research university)
University of Duisburg-Essen (NRW)
(large public university)
University of Hamburg
(top large public university)
University of Tokyo (UTokyo)
(top, public university)
University H (UH)
(large public university)
International Christian University (ICU)
(small, private liberal arts college)
University of Cape Town (UCT)
(public research university)
University of South Africa (Unisa)
(the largest open distance education university)
Seoul National University (SNU)
(top public university)
C University (CU)
(large private university)
International University of La Rioja (UNIR) (private open university)
University Jaume I
University Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M) (top public university)
(public open university)
(top, large public open university)
Middle East Technical University (METU)
(public technical university)
Although most of the work in which the meso level report is, as well as in the macro level, based on desk research, some country reports included other methods: (casual) interviews / inquiries (Canada, South Korea, Japan, Spain, Australia, South Africa), survey (Australia) and content analysis of digitalization plans (China, Germany, Australia, Spain).
In terms of institutional infrastructures, we can identify different situations. A common one is the existence of independent (O)ER infrastructures per each university, especially institutional (O)ER repositories. This happens in all the countries, although not in all the universities of each country (see examples in Table 2). In some cases, the individual institutional infrastructures mainly addressed research outputs and not (O)ER as understood in this report; for instance, in Australia, Canada (not in the Table) and South Africa. In China, the use of third-party (O)ER infrastructure seems to be more common.
Examples of individual institutional (O)ER infrastructures in each country.
Examples of institutional (O)ER infrastructures
- OpenPractice at University of Southern Queensland (OCW)
Institutional (O)ER repositories:
- METU: OCW, OpenMETU (only for students and faculty), MOOCs (Bigels)
- Anadolu University: MOOCs (AKADEMA), Yunus Emre: New Generation Learning Portal
- Ataturk University: MOOCs (AtademiX, private provider)
Integrated (O)ER infrastructures:
- PoliformaT (UPV): LMS Sakai, two video repositories (an open platform and a restricted one for students and faculty) and two repositories for online courses (Open EdX)
- UC3M Digital: OCW, MiriadaX courses, Khan Academy Zero Courses, Youtube Edu, iTunesU
Some of the countries count with a higher to lower number of (O)ER regional networks or consortia that build upon a common infrastructure (see Figure 1). Prominently China, but also South Korea, are highlighted as having higher numbers of consortia. Also, Germany has shared infrastructures for (O)ER regional networks almost in every federal state and other (O)ER consortia that go beyond the states. On the other hand, countries such as Spain, Turkey, Canada and Japan have some (O)ER consortia, but their focus is rather on individual institutional (O)ER infrastructures (if any). (O)ER consortia in South Africa, and to lesser extent in Australia too, are based on a few international networks rather than national interinstitutional infrastructures.
Spectrum High-Low number of (O)ER regional networks.
In the following sections, the countries’ regional networks and consortia, as well as the communication and exchange systems between infrastructures are detailed.
Regional Networks and Consortia
From high to low number of (O)ER shared infrastructures, we describe the situation for each country.
In China, the cooperation between HEIs and cooperation between HEIs and research institutes, the business sectors and/or other institutions is encouraged in The Higher Education Law and the Ministry of Education‘s Action Plan for Educational Digitalization 2.0 (MOE, 2018) aiming at establishing an integrated ‘Internet Plus Education’ mega-platform to integrate public educational resource platforms and support systems of various sorts and at various levels with the aim of building a public system of national digital educational resources. One of the proposed actions is cooperation between HEIs and other social sectors in developing top quality MOOCs (MOE, 2018). Despite consistent support from the Central Government, a more effective mechanism is needed to ensure the sustainability of joint efforts, according to Dong et al. (2017). Cooperation in educational resource development and sharing is also influenced by relevant factors. For example, in terms of policy support, recognition and transfer of credits acquired from learning open or sharable educational resources, appraisal of the quality of these educational resources, accreditation of the operation of their platforms, and protection of copyrights, among other things, should be institutionalized (Hu, et al., 2015). Some examples of Chinese shared (O)ER infrastructure are CNMOOC (Top Chinese University MOOC Alliance, open, non-profit, cooperative educational platform, with 101 partner institutions, including 92 universities and nine other institutions), UOOC (Alliance of local universities in China, with 125 member institutions, open for their students) and WEMOOC (with 132 member institutions). In addition to CNMOOC, UOOC and WEMOOC, there are several Chinese regional/alliance platforms which are hosted by the provider CNMOOC. Some of these regional platforms are hosted on the website of MOE’s Higher Education Press. Some other alliance platforms are hosted by a digital technology company on its course platform – Zhihuishu (Wisdom Tree). In addition to these alliances, there are also examples of subject-based partnerships in China, which are hosted by CNMOOC, iCourse and Zhihuishu; for example, within the computer science (e.g. China HEI Computer Education MOOC Alliance), library science (Library and Library Science Online Course Alliance), mathematics (China HEI Mathematical Modeling Course Center), music (Huaxia Yuefu Music Online Course Union, foreign trade (Foreign Trade Vocational Education MOOC Alliance), medicine (Traditional Chinese Medicine HEI Course Sharing Alliance) or foreign studies (China MOOCs for Foreign Studies).
As in China, OER and open education are considered a key strategy for national competitiveness in HE in South Korea. As such, and apart from KERIS and NILE as the two government-funded organisations for OER, there are different partnerships and consortia involving HE institutions in different regions of the country. For instance, a) the partnership between the World Bank’s Open Learning Campus and Seoul National University, Seoul Metropolitan Government and Korea Development Institute to offer online courses and video lectures; b) the partnership between Korea’s National Digital Library of Congress and Creative Commons Korea to provide open licensing to their content; c) the e-Learning Cluster as example of collaboration between e-Learning Support Centres of 50 HEIs, e-learning companies and research institutes in the Southeast region to develop online content related to Korean cultural studies for university credit and vocational training content for lifelong education; d) the KCU consortium has over 80 member HEIs and its infrastructures is managed by a commercial company; e) the ACU-OCW as a Korean government-funded ASEAN Cyber University Project to develop a collection of OER in English in various formats targeting the ASEAN member countries; or f) the Seoul's "A Shared University" initiative, a shared platform where 57 universities of Seoul share courses, educational resources, and co-develop and provide MOOCs.
Next to the Asian countries, Germany counts with several (O)ER consortia that include shared infrastructures. Many of the different federal states have developed their shared OER repositories for HE, and others are in process of developing them. Among the federal states with advanced examples of (O)ER shared infrastructure, many of which derived from cooperation projects, NRW and BW stand out (Gilch et al., 2019, pp. 240). Some interinstitutional consortia in NRW are, for example, NRW Digitale Hochschule, a cooperation association of 42 HE institutions and the NRW Ministry of Culture and Science that aims at establishing a shared infrastructure in NRW for digital transformation. Within this network, the development of a Landesportal DH.NRW is planned and some of the current projects and funding lines are involved with the HE digital infrastructure for OER in NRW, e.g. OER-Content.NRW. Another example is digiLL, a cooperation for pre-service teacher training between 7 universities. The learning modules are created in the infrastructure of each university (each LMS), then reviewed and received feedback before being shared in the digiLL repository. Similarly targeting a platform and reusable, open contents, is the project “DIGI-KOMP.NRW” from a consortium of various NRW HEIs that aims to provide study materials for beginning and first year students in order to close gaps in knowledge between school and HE. In the case of BW, we can highlight the HE Network Digitisation of Teaching Baden-Württemberg for the cooperative further development of digitally supported university teaching. One of the thematic groups of the network is OER. Another thematic group of the network that relates to EduArc is “cooperative e-Learning insfrastructures”, which aims at the further development of the IT infrastructure required for the digitisation of teaching by using cross-university synergies and creating cooperative approaches. Among the projects the network develops, the development of a central OER-repository for all universities in BW as a service of the university library of Tübingen (Central repository for OER of the universities in BW- ZOERR, see Figure 2) stands out.
Other examples outside NRW and BW are the Virtual University Bavaria (VHB) in the state of Bayern, a cooperation with shared online courses between a network of 9 universities, 17 universities of applied sciences and 4 other HE institutions in Bayern; and the HOOU consortia, which offers online courses and materials in HE created by HE institutions located in Hamburg.
Consortia in countries with a lower number of (O)ER shared institutional infrastructures (Japan, Turkey, Canada and Spain) are described next.
In the case of Japan, there are only a few examples of consortia for OER at the institutional level, which were also addressed in the macro level (JOCW and JMOOC). JOCW is a consortium developed in collaboration with the MIT and the top six universities in Japan, with 13 regular member institutions and 7 associate member institutions. JMOOC operates as a corporation with over 80 member institutions including universities, private companies and academic and professional associations. JMOOC is a multiplatform consisting of four platforms: Gacco, OpenLearning Japan, Fisdom and OUJ MOOC, whereas only the latter is from a university (Open University Japan) and the others are private providers. Most of the JMOOC member universities use Gacco or OpenLearning Japan; and the commercial sector uses Fisdom. Commercial entities are active members of JMOOC and participate in the creation and delivery of MOOCs in collaboration with universities and academic associations.
As in Japan, there is almost no shared infrastructure for the digitization of HE in Turkey. As was mentioned in the macro level report, the OCW Project can be shown as one of the few examples of the initiatives that offered shared infrastructure for dissemination of OERs in Turkey (45 universities participated). Another example was launched in 2017 by a couple of entrepreneurs, intended to create a Coursera like environment in Turkey, entitled as UniversitePlus. Currently they collaborate with three major universities.
Canada shows a similar case. The provinces analyzed have own isolated (O)ER consortia initiatives within the province (eCampusOntario in Ontario and Open Textbooks in BC), even though not all HEIs in those provinces are involved. What is most remarkable in Canada is the consortium of libraries, which are better connected in terms of (O)ER than HEIs. eCampusOntario is the most inclusive collaboration and largest, most over-arching and ambitious OER resource in Ontario. It aims at implementing and maintaining digital access projects, developing and implementing metadata strategies, and digital curation and OER development and promotion. It is managed by a government-appointed board and provides educators and learners access to over 250 free and openly-licensed educational resources by hosting its Open Library in collaboration with BCcampus. One recent OER project of BCcampus worth mentioning is the open homework system; in addition, BCcampus is evaluating open source options for hosting and developing an open source system for use in the province.
In the case of Spain, the HE network Universia had a major role in the past in promoting the project OCW in Spain, as mentioned before in the macro level report. Another HE network related to (O)ER is the G-9, which shares a virtual learning platform based on Moodle where elective courses for students and professional development courses for teachers are offered for free from any of the 9 universities involved in the network. HE consortia related to sharing (O)ER repositories at the institutional level that are worth mentioned are: MDX and UniMOOC. MDX (Materials Docents en Xarxa) is an (O)ER cooperative repository supported by the Consortia of University Services of Catalonia (CSUC) and shared by 9 Catalan universities and a Valencian university with the aim of increasing the visibility and promotion of the teaching production of the participating institutions, of contributing to educational innovation and the free access to knowledge. UniMOOC is a MOOC platform addressed at offering online learning to entrepreneurs. Two universities, some organizations and foundations, as well as training centers and private companies are partners of UniMOOC. Before the international MOOC platforms MiriadaX and Coursera, UCATx was a consortium of universities in Catalonia that used Open edX technology for providing MOOCs.
In Australia, a several HEI have partnerships with other international organizations or institutions on OER creation and storage. The only inter-institutional alliance in Australian HE found is the Open Textbook Initiative, a joint effort between 6 universities. The ‘Find a textbook’ facility of the initiative, enables academics to search within the catalogues of the institutions. The international organizations with partnerships with Australian HE include the MIT Open Education Consortium, OpenLearn, FutureLearn, OER Foundation, WikiEducator/WikiResearcher, OER University, Community College Consortium for OER, College Open Textbooks Community, OpenDOAR, Flat World and OER World Map.
In South Africa, most repositories are individual university-based. An exception is the OERTerm Bank, hosted by UCT and derived from the collaboration between the South African Department of Higher Education and Training, the University of Pretoria and UCT. Some initiatives are based on the general context of Africa and involve HEIs in South Africa, e.g. UCT or the University of Pretoria with OER Africa, University of Fort Hare, Unisa and University of Pretoria with Teacher Education in Sub Saharan Africa (TESSA) (initiative started by the Open University, UK). Some of those initiatives developed subject-based repositories (medicine in the African Health OER Network within OER Africa; teacher education in TESSA).
Communication and exchange
In this section, technical communication and exchange structures between infrastructures are addressed per each country. We have to note that most of the countries do not have them.
For instance, in Japan, where the infrastructure of JOCW and JMOOC is decentralised, JOCW HEIs members have established and maintained their own server and platform and created their portal linked to the website of JOCW; but there is no communication and exchange structures between the servers and repositories of the member institutions in JMOOC; the homepage offers just a course search function across the platforms.
In the case of Turkey, most efforts of connecting major sub-systems of a campus system have been focused on integrating HEIs to the central network (eGovernment services and students support services); OER related platforms such as MOOCs are independent and there is not a jointly established infrastructure. However, some digital systems and repositories in HEI in Turkey are compatible with the OAI-PHM protocol, OEC and OpenAIRE, and have a connection with EOSC (e.g., OpenMETU of METU).
Similarly, in Canada there are no communication and exchange systems as such. As rather an exception, via an ongoing effort between eCampusOntario and Ryerson University in Toronto, the Open Library is integrated with the publishing infrastructure. eCampusOntario also supports “enhancements to the PressbooksEDU platform, including the integration of H5P interactive content, version tracking, and cloning support” (Open Library, n.d.). However, there is no infrastructure collaboration happening between BCCampus and eCampusOntario. Instead, processes seem to be shared between the two (e.g., open textbook review processes).
The case of South Africa is similar to the previous situations described. However, it is interesting to note a study in the UCT. In a project funded by the Shuttleworth Foundation (the Opening Scholarship project), the researchers discovered the existence of many shared materials as well as the lack of their visibility due to the absence of metadata. Therefore, they decided “... from the outset that the planned [OER] directory should operate as a portal for accessing content rather than hosting content, as initial investigations showed that most teaching materials at UCT were already online” (Hodgkinson-Williams et al, 2013, p. 36).
On the other hand, countries with a higher number of interinstitutional consortia have some examples of communication and exchange structures.
In China, an integrated system with systematic coordination of general administration and learning and teaching support is seen as a solution to digitalization. The iCourse platform was created to host all the institutional top-quality video open and shared courses, and some universities were also expected to create an aggregator linking to their own course (e.g. PKU).
The Digital Jingshi portal at BNU provides an institutional example of integrated infrastructure. It provides unified access to all online information and resources and provides a single gate for releasing and sharing university information, and access any service. Building on BNU’s previous systems, such as IPv6 and digital libraries, a unified Service Center for Educational Resources (shown in Figure 3) has been established within the Digital Jingshi portal, in order to provide different groups of users with high-quality learning resources, including online courses, teaching courseware, and scientific and technical literature. The Service Center for Educational Resources supports massive retrieval, storage, publishing, uploading and downloading of various types of digital files, thus effectively promoting the co-construction and sharing of high-quality educational resources.
Digital Jingshi portal at BNU.
Another example is BNU, which has independently developed the learning system ‘Learning Cell Knowledge Community’ (LCKC), which includes six modules: learning cell, knowledge group, knowledge cloud, learning tool, learning community, and personal space (Yang, Yu & Zhang, 2013). Using the learning object model, the concept of a learning cell implies that a learning resource is open, generative, evolvable, connected, cohesive, intelligent, adaptive and social (Yu, Yang & Cheng, 2009). The core functions of the LCKC include the creation of learning cells, collaborative editing, interpersonal network construction and sharing, a collaborative creation of knowledge ontology, community learning and interaction, personal knowledge maps, intelligent recommendations, and personalized learning (Beijing Normal University, 2020). On the LCKC platform, a learning resource can be created independently or co-developed by connecting to a personalized knowledge network, which contains metadata, aggregation models, knowledge ontology, learning content, learning assessments, learning activities, generative information, learning service interfaces and other resources (see Figure 4). Metadata is used to describe the attributes of learning cells, so that they can be easily categorized, indexed and shared (Yu, Yang, Cheng & Wang, 2015). To ensure the security of data revision a content version management function is implemented in the LCKC (Yu, Duan & Cui, 2019).
The cloud storage model for ubiquitous learning resources (LCKC).
In the case of South Korea, KERIS works as a centralised infrastructure for KOCW for universities and other organisations (e.g. public organisations and commercial companies). KERIS manages the courses and integrates a search engine to search by academic field and by theme, but these are created by the institutions. The institutions are also the ones that upload the courses to the KOCW platform and disseminate them via each institution’s course information sharing system or KOCW content server. Upon request to KERIS, the institutions can have a module for collecting real-time course usage data. On the other hand, NILE operates infrastructure for K-MOOCs based on edX, including the LMS, the course development tool (Studio) and the data management tool (insights). The K-MOOC server is linked to the national Online Lifelong Learner Portal server and the Academic Credit Banking System.
In Germany, there are mostly no mechanisms for communication and exchange between institutional infrastructures. Edu-sharing is an exception. It is an open source solution coordinated as a consortium that connects OER repositories (co-operative creation, management and usage of learning objects) between HE institutions in different federal states involved. There are four networked installations, among which three universities are involved (Bauhaus Universität Weimar, FernUniversität and Universität Leipzig). Non-commercial and commercial institutions are invited to apply for a fee-based membership in the edu-sharing association. It is based on the Alfresco document management system and offers interfaces to systems such as Moodle, ILIAS, OLAT and MediaWiki, as well as content items as SCORM-courses, QTI-compliant tests and drills, and H5P-objects, being each repository still an independent content-pool (see Figure 5). The authors acknowledged that “the main difficulty in acquiring users lies in the fact that our main target group are not individuals but educational institutions that recognise the benefits of cross-institutional sharing of educational experience and cooperative development of scholarly content. [...] We have also good chances that edu‐sharing be adopted as part of the e‐learning infrastructure for the universities in Thuringia, Germany, and we are optimistic that ongoing negotiations with several other German universities will end positively” (Klebl, Krämer & Zobel, 2010, p.949-950).
Architecture of edu-sharing.
ZOERR is an OER repository based on edu-sharing and the html pages for the OER include metadata in a LRMI format, so that they would be easier to find through search engines. One of its main current goals is to connect with other OER repositories, in order to use the same access and reach a broader offer of OER. In a first phase, the Virtual Campus Rheinland-Pfalz (Campus RLP) is being connected.
In Spain, a high percentage of teaching materials in open access and the common practice of duplicate publication of OER and incompatibility among institutional platforms (virtual campus and open repositories) and external platforms (Youtube, Slideshare, Issuu) is highlighted (Santos-Hermosa et al., 2019). Some universities have integrated platforms that include the different institutional (O)ER spaces, but these are usually only linked, without systems of communication and exchange between platforms. For the case of (O)ER repositories, open access policies apply. The commitments include the coordination with institutions of the university system in order to allow national (e.g. RECOLECTA) and international (e.g. DRIVER) academic and research production collectors to collect the produced knowledge by the universities and give access to it. This implies the use of standard protocols of exchange of metadata (e.g. OAI-PMH, Dublin Core). According to Santos-Hermosa et al. (2019), 92.5% of the universities use the OAI-MHP protocol for their interoperability For example, the open access policy of the UOC (2010) highlights the use of OAI-PMH, OAI-ORE and SWORD as standard metadata exchange protocols. As a concrete example, MdX is based on DSpace and uses the interoperability protocol OAI to share (O)ER metadata between the partner institutions. The basic metadata collected per item is as follows (see Figure 6):
(O)ER Metadata in MdX.
Concerning quality at the institutional level, we can distinguish between: a) countries with (binding) top-down institutional quality assurance mechanisms for (O)ER derived from national regulations such as China, South Korea and Turkey; b) countries with HEI with their own independent institutional guidelines for (O)ER quality assurance mechanisms (Japan, Spain, Canada), and c) countries with basically non-existent institutional (O)ER quality assurance processes, which are left up to the individuals (Germany, Australia, South Africa) (bottom-up approach) (see Figure 7).
Spectrum Approaches in institutional quality assurance mechanisms.
Institutional quality assurance mechanisms
Starting with the countries in group a), all interinstitutional alliances/platforms in China have their quality assurance mechanisms. These regulations derive from the MOE, which also considers carefully the quality assurance of the “Top-quality Courses” projects based on an ‘annual self-review form’ to report improvements in each course within five years, and has a committee to review the annual self-review forms with regard to the course proposals. As an example, UOOC has established relevant rules and regulations to ensure its successful and effective operation, including Charter of UOOC Alliance, Regulations on UOOC Alliance Construction and Operation, and Regulations on Quality Assurance and Mutual Recognition of Credits from UOOC MOOCs. UOOC members have also to follow UOOC Rules for MOOC Production, which covers identification of courses to be developed as MOOCs, course production, course uploading, organization of instruction, and quality assurance mechanism with an attachment detailing technical specifications for creating a video lecture. WEMOOC also puts Regulations on Course Quality Assurance in place to guide course development, management of instructional quality, quality evaluation, and research. China HEI Computer Education MOOC Alliance issued its Guidelines on Course Development and has three committees in relation to quality assurance, namely Training Committee, Quality Specification Committee and Course Development Committee, each of which has to obey their respective rules and regulations. Overall, the quality assurance measures of individual institutions may have nuances, varying slightly one way or another, but the core is basically the same (for example, Jilin University, Tonghua Normal University or Yanbian University).
In Korea, individual universities commonly set up their own quality assurance mechanisms for OER, but these are based on KERIS' centralized quality assurance system and guidebook for KOCW, and the NILE's standardized quality assurance mechanism and guidelines for K-MOOCs. Both government organisms (KERIS and NILE) are in charge of evaluating institutional KOCW and KMOOCs respectively. In the case of NILE, the two-stage evaluation (design and testing) is conducted by a team of both internal and external content experts and educational technologists. The existence of an institutional quality assurance mechanism for OER is one of the Ministry of Education evaluation criteria of universities. In addition, a plan for quality assurance is included as an important criterion for funding K-MOOCs during the initial MOOC selection stage. In addition, Korean universities have faculty manuals to ensure that university teachers would create and publish quality (O)ER, being used as quality assurance guidelines for (O)ER development and management. As an institutional example, SNU’s Centre of Teaching and Learning (CLT) developed internal evaluation criteria for OCW and other types of OER like MOOC and formed the Content Quality Management Committee, who is responsible for quality assurance of the university’s OER. The CTL has also developed a faculty manual in both Korean and English to help its faculty members to design, develop and utilize the online course management system linked to the academic management system, and also offers periodic faculty development sessions.
In Turkey, the issue of improving and securing quality in HE has become one of the main concerns. However, the quality assurance studies in HE carried out so far have not produced concrete results within the field of (O)ER yet. In Turkey, the quality assurance systems at HE level are regulated by the HEC’s Higher Education Quality Council (HECQ). Although this is a national level quality assurance mechanism, the policy and practices of this council directly applies to the individual higher education organizations. HECQ applies two quality assurance mechanisms: self-assessment (internal assessment) and external assessments. “Accessibility” (to (O)ER) forms an important criterion in the internal quality assurance of individual HE organizations in Turkey. For example, Anadolu University’s quality assurance mechanism is based on Higher Education Quality Assurance System, which sets out the principles that regards to the authorization of independent external evaluation institutions, accreditation processes, and internal-external quality assurance of education and research activities as well as administrative services of HEIs.
Among countries in b), we found cases in which own institutional quality mechanisms have been developed.
Unlike China, Korea and Turkey, there are no common quality assurance guidelines or criteria in Japan. Each member institution of JOCW and/or JMOOC is responsible for setting up its own quality assurance system. JMOOC has a committee consisting of three experts in instructional design and online learning from the universities to oversee the quality of MOOCs and examine if the courses fulfil the quality standards as a MOOC. This committee evaluates the course development plans (optionally) submitted by the universities in advance against a set of (internal) quality assurance criteria - this could be helpful to get funding from JMOOC. As an institutional example, UH’s Center for Open Education uses a set of key performance indicators related to well-established instructional design strategies for online courses for creating and implementing OCW and other OER. Another example is ICU, who does not have institutional level quality assurance guidelines or criteria for creating its OCW. In this case, its CTL contacts individual faculty members (known to be good teachers) across different disciplines to develop some of their class sessions as OCW. The CTL offers also a faculty development program that includes the integration of various types of OER in their class. On the other hand, some small-scale consortia have developed their own set of quality assurance guidelines in order to share online courses. For example, a consortium of Shikoku’s five national universities developed the “Instructional Design Guidelines for Common Online Courses” to be applied in efficient online course development in those five member universities (Nemoto, Takahashi, & Takeoka, 2015; Takahashi, 2018).
As in Japan, each university in Spain with services supporting the development of (O)ER has institutional quality assurance mechanisms/guidelines and guides to support faculty in that task. In some cases, these guidelines are derived from the to get funding for the creation and publication of (O)ER. For instance, the Institute of Educational Sciences (Faculty Training Unit) and the Area of Information and Communication systems (IT) of the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) have published a guide called "Learning objects as resource for university teaching: criteria for its creation". The criteria should be fulfilled by the (O)ER created within the Online Teaching Plan funding scheme of the UPV, and the quality of the materials is supported by the provision of multiple documents and templates for the development of (O)ER.
Another example is the Universidad de Alicante, which defines the criteria of the MOOCs and NOOCs to be created by the faculty members based on the call for OER funding: workload of 40 hours / 4-9 weeks (MOOCs) or 15-20 hours / 2-3 weeks (NOOCs), structure organized in modules, inclusion of resources (audiovisual, theoretical of support, and evaluation), incorporation of an introductory module, use of a communication channel, intellectual property (CC) and pedagogical quality (autonomous learning and diversity for presenting contents). Among the commitments of the beneficiaries are to publish the course materials in the institutional repository and host the course, with free self-enrolment, in one of the following platforms: Moodle formación-UA (part of the institutional VLE), Google Course Builder-UA or MiríadaX. The participants are also allowed to host the course in other open internal or external platforms. Another interesting case is the UC3M, which has a Review Committee that has developed a "Guide for the OCW Pedagogical Model" in order to help faculty with the process of preparing materials and creating courses that would meet a suitable degree of quality (Méndez & Webster, 2015, p. 3). Furthermore, the guide includes the rubric with the evaluation criteria used by the Quality Group. Additionally, the UC3M quality assurance of OCWs includes a peer review assessment system (Méndez & Webster, 2015). A rubric for evaluating OCW courses with ten items (distribution of course contents, study materials, practice materials, self-assessment tests, self-learning format, bibliographic sources and information resources, accessibility of supplementary materials, adequacy of the didactic proposal, coherence of the didactic proposal and clarity of the didactic proposal) to be evaluated on a scale of 0 to 2, and in some cases 0 to 3, was developed (Méndez & Webster, 2015, pp. 8-9). For this process, faculty that had already received an OCW award or mention were contacted to invite them to be enlisted as reviewers and the institutional platform was used to include the functionality of grading by rubric. In this sense, we can highlight both top-down and bottom-up approaches, depending on institutions.
Considering the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia in Canada, quality assurance processes are rather guided by recommendations and guidelines than by institutional mechanisms. In Ontario, the learning platform implemented in 24 publicly funded colleges OntarioLearn named Quality Matters™ as their indication of providing internationally recognized quality assurance tools and processes to evaluate design of online courses. On the other hand, the Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board (PEQAB) provides oversight to postsecondary institutions’ digitization and has developed standards (including for (O)ER) to assess institutional capacity to offer blended and online courses. Closer to the (O)ER product (and subsequent use), colleges and the universities each have their own individual quality services. At the institutional level in BC, there are likely processes and instruments used for evaluating (O)ER quality. These include internal checklists, but also checklists provided by external organizations like Quality Course Teaching & Instructional Practice from the OLC Quality Scorecard Suite.
Finally, we address the countries in c), which have rather bottom-up institutional quality assurance mechanisms.
In Australia, the quality assurance processes for the creation of OER in HEI can be described as sparse at best. In a previous study (Bossu, Brown, & Bull, 2012), poor quality of OER was identified as a serious problem, and a subsequent article (Stagg et al., 2018) found that no Australian university had a quality assurance framework for OER. The study based on a survey conducted by the expert show that this situation was still current, with most of the participants stating either that quality assurance is up to individual members of faculty (academic self-assurance) or that quality assurance processes are non-existent; some others indicated that some department or faculties have quality assurance processes for OER. When existent, apart from individual academics, actors involved often in quality assurance processes of OER involve the library services; less cases refer to specific committees for review, the OER review by Canvas Support Team, the copyright officer and teams for educational innovation and digital services. Open textbook initiatives seem to follow strict quality assurance processes based on the university’s press standard editorial processes.
Along the lines of Australia, South Africa does not count with institutional quality assurance processes for (O)ER and, therefore, the responsibility of the accuracy of the resources should be taken by the academic author, following the “pride-of-authorship” model.
Actors involved in institutional quality assurance
In China, the higher positions in the institutions are deeply involved in ensuring institutional (O)ER quality assurance, following MOE’s and Departments of Education’s regulations, according to a top-down approach. A concrete case is the Tsinghua University. To make sure that professors put maximum effort into course design, the project management for implementing the ‘Top-quality Courses’ Project took place under a system of unified planning, carried out by the university’s Office of Academic Affairs, focusing on designing instructor-led courses, as supported by professional and technical staff at the university (Yang & Duan, 2008). The Office of Academic Affairs was responsible for the selection of ‘Top-quality Courses’ and the organization and management of the courses, and the instructors were in charge of the actual design of the courses. The e-Learning Center provided technical support for the entire process. During the implementation period, a professional R&D team was also created, which included researchers from the Department of Educational Technology, as well as those specializing in the area of media art design and media production, and program designers, etc. (Yang & Duan, 2008).
Similarly, South Korea follows a top-down approach, where the CTL of each university are the responsible for ensuring (O)ER quality at the institutional level, following national guidelines. In Turkey, there is also present a top-down approach, in which the top management of the universities is in charge of institutional (O)ER quality assurance, considering national policies.
In the case of Japan, each member institution of JOCW and/or JMOOC is responsible for setting up its own quality assurance system. Some universities have centres similar to the CTLs in Korea, which are the responsible of ensuring (O)ER quality assurance at the institutional level (e.g. UH’s Center for Open Education). However, others depend on bottom-up approaches.
There is a similar situation in Spain, where each university sets up guidelines for ensuring (O)ER quality. Nevertheless, in terms of ensuring the quality of institutional (O)ER infrastructures (metadata, interoperability…), university libraries have a major role. Other actors involved in the (O)ER quality assurance in terms of pedagogical quality are the evaluation commissions of the annual calls for promoting the creation of (O)ER by faculty members. These commissions evaluate the applications and, therefore, the quality of the proposed materials, and ensure criteria compliance during the funding period and (O)ER publication. For instance, in the case of the Universidad de Alicante, the evaluation commission of the annual call for the creation of digital materials and online courses includes the vice-rector of Educational Quality and Innovation, the vice-rector of Studies and Training, the director of the Institute of Educational Sciences, the director of the Quality Secretariat, the director of the Secretariat of Technological Resources, the director of the Further Education Centre, and the area of Support and Assistance to Users. Technological and pedagogical support is offered by those services to faculty for approved projects, to ensure the quality of the final product during their production. In the case of the UC3M, the main quality actor in OER is the quality group for the OCW-UC3M project. This group is composed of representatives of the areas of graduate studies, postgraduate studies, quality issues, online education, OCW Office, and is coordinated by the Vice-Rector for Infrastructures and Environmental Affairs. The group is in charge of managing the annual call for OCW, selecting the OCW to be published in the institutional site, overseeing the quality of the course and fostering faculty participation in the OCW awards. Therefore, we can find institutional examples with both types of approaches to institutional quality assurance.
Institutional adherence to international e-learning standards
As mentioned in the macro level, in China there are not mandatory association and national standards in place for (O)ER development, and evaluation indicators as criteria for reviewing and awarding honorable titles to high quality educational resources issued by MOE. For example, MOE’s Evaluation Indicators for HEI State-benchmarking Courses, Technical Specifications for State-benchmarking Shared Courses Construction, and Evaluation Indicators for State-benchmarking Shared Courses (Undergraduate Level). Despite the fact that rubrics of this kind are for the purpose of evaluation and prize-awarding, individual institutions tend to stick to these criteria in their development of (O)ER. Institutionally speaking, many Chinese colleges and universities develop and implement their own specifications, standards, guidelines or regulations in their digitalization process. For example, South China University of Technology (SCUT) issued Specifications for Online Course Development, which provides detailed guidelines and (technical) requirements.
In Korea, KERIS guidelines for the development of OER do not follow a particular regional or international quality assurance standards. Instead, they integrate key quality assurance criteria for various standards and suggest common quality assurance guidelines. They also recommend OER developers to follow the Korean Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1, which are developed based on international standards. Similarly, NILE guidelines, based on edX’s course development guidelines, require MOOC developers to follow the same web content accessibility guidelines. OER should be created following the Korea Educational Metadata standard. Similarly, in Japan JMOOC’s quality assurance guidelines do not follow any international e-learning or OER standards specifically, but they are created based on instructional design principles.
In Spain, the standard used predominantly at the institutional university (O)ER repositories is Dublin Core (86.8%) and there is lower presence of the enriched Dublin Core (1.9%) and LOM (11.3%), which allow more educational description according to (Santos-Hermosa et al., 2019). For example, the faculty guide for creating OER by the UPV includes a metadata sheet based on the LOMv.1.0 metadata structure, which includes as categories a general descriptive part and the reference to the educational use and an evaluation sheet.
In Canada, there is not a single metadata standard that is actually the standard, despite existing many different metadata schemas. Library catalogues tend to use standard schema, such as the Library of Congress Subject Headings, and while some institutional repositories might use a variation on that, the headings are not necessarily consistent from one institutional repository to another. In addition to there being differences in the terms that are assigned to a particular item, some repositories take indexing seriously and assign multiple metadata terms to describe each item, whereas others will only have one or two terms assigned to each entry. This difference can impact the findability of resources.
In Germany, the topic of metadata or the underlying and necessary infrastructures remain issues that are not prominently addressed or that laymen’s attention is directed to. However, some examples of references to metadata in (O)ER repositories can be cited. For instance, as metadata specifications at HOOU, the Learning Resource Metadata Intiative (LRMI) is cited and described as important in learning offers (courses) to be able to use the OER in other contexts. In the case of Edu-sharing, it supports arbitrary metadata sets such as LOM and Dublin Core. In ZOERR, the following metadata are included as information on each OER (Figure 8):
Metadata in (O)ER available via ZOERR
In South Africa, the case of UCT should be remarked. With the Metadata and Information Architecture Policy (2012) of the UCT guidance on managing “metadata and its application to information assets and services to improve the governance, interoperability, retrievability, re-use, storage optimisation, structure and classification of information assets and services” is provided (p. 2). The Policy also states that “All content objects generated, managed and published by the University of Cape Town and its direct affiliates must be tagged and stored with sufficient metadata” (p. 5). Where applicable “metadata should support re-use and interoperability of content between content management systems and content publication media” (p. 5).
Concerning policy at the institutional level, we can distinguish between (see Figure 9): a) top-down policies for (O)ER derived from national regulations such as China; b) countries with HEI in which the policies are defined mostly by the university leadership positions (South Korea, Turkey, Australia); c) countries with HEI with policies mostly by the university leadership positions, but co-designed with the educational community to some degree (Germany, Spain, Canada) and c) countries with basically non-existent institutional (O)ER policies (Japan, South Africa).
Spectrum Presence-Lack of institutional digitalization plans (considering inclusion of reference to (O)ER).
Although not common, some HEI have even their own OER policies (in Germany, Spain and Australia).
In China, given that educational digitalization is a national strategy, all HEIs are assumed to have their own digitalization plans or measures accordingly to be in line with the national digitalization strategy. Most of these institutional strategies concede an overwhelming importance attached to administration, management and support services. Considering the 75 universities which are directly under MOE, innovation in instructional models and in modes of learning are specifically mentioned in the institutional digitalization strategies of 18 universities although as many as 74 universities specify their targets for instructional innovation elsewhere in their development plans. Staff capacity building, inter-university collaboration in resource sharing and instruction, as well as credit recognition and transfer are also specifically mentioned in the digitalization strategies of some universities. Only seven universities’ joint development efforts are concerning inter-institutional development of digital educational resources and 26 universities mention inter-institutional sharing of digital educational resources in their 13th Five-Year (2016-2020) Development Plans. As for sharing, slightly over one-third of the universities have plans to promote inter-institutional sharing of digital educational resources. In the remaining two-thirds of the cases (47 universities) where sharing is not concerning (O)ER, sharing is more often intra-institutional, rather than inter-institutional. For example, Renmin University of China (RUC)’s digitalization strategy includes the establishment of an agile, smart, open, and sharable digital environment that is intended to (1) explore IT-based approaches to inter-university cooperation; (2) develop an inter-university, joint accreditation system with the aim of integrated management of inter-university users; and (3) increasingly share library resources, courseware, and online courses among universities, innovate inter-university online instruction models, and explore mechanisms for credit accreditation, recognition and transfer among universities (RUC, 2016).
In Korea, each university develops its own policy on the development and uses of (O)ER and has its office of Academic Affairs & Information & Computer Centres at the institutional level, which are involved in the development of the institutional strategy for digitalization, and its Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at the operational level, supporting teachers and developing, sharing and evaluating OER. For instance, SNU has three different policy frameworks for (O)ER selection and management: a) for internal courses, b) for K-MOOCs, and c) for global MOOCs (edX). In the case a) the CTL receives applications from faculty members and selects courses considering its capacity to support (O)ER development. For b) the CTL receives applications from faculty members and selects courses with a stricter procedure than before, because the courses will be open to the public and represent the university. Finally, for c) the CTL selects a few courses from internal online courses and K-MOOCs and revises them to use them as edX courses, based on the degree to which they represent the quality of the university’s education and the learner satisfaction.
In Turkey, the Higher Education Law draws a general framework for the policy of towards digitalization. The Law states that HEIs should produce, develop, use and extend educational technologies and implies that individual HEI are autonomous in developing their own strategies in different domains, including digitalization practice. Under one of the decisions (2012/103) that was taken by The Scientific and Technological Research Council, the development of open digital course content at the undergraduate level was facilitated. However, only a few institutions have written policies for digital transformation. Ataturk University, for instance, established an office that directly works with the rectorate to lead the change in the institution. Also, newly established OpenMETU portal has clear policies on its side. On the other hand, Erzurum Atatürk University has also initiated another project to address the digital transformation of the University, which includes the establishment of the Digital Transformation and Software Office (DD Yaz). This office was identified as conducting research, development and dissemination activities on effective integration of digital technologies into education, research and development, social contribution, and governance processes. The office also wants to be the reference point of digital transformation in HE institutions (see Figure 10). The Office has been implementing several projects in the line of this Life Cycle, related to OER are Digital Literacy Course and e-Books project. Digital Literacy Core Course intends to help students improve their digital literacy skills and the E-Books project, on the other hand, can be considered as an OER project that focuses on transferring the academic works of the faculty members into digital resources (Atatürk University, 2019).
Atatürk University Digital Transformation Life Cycle.
In Australia, nine universities (21%) have a current digitalization or information technology strategy document, one university is currently revising their digitalization strategy, one has a Digital Literacy Framework, two have blended learning strategies, one university has a Library Strategic Plan relating to OER, and one university includes digitalization within their Learning & Teaching Plan. 55% of institutions explicitly mentioning maximising engagement with OER in their digitalization strategies. In their national audit of Australian HEIs and OEP strategies in 2016, Stagg et al. (2018) found that no Australian university had an open licensing policy, open assessment, or a quality assurance framework to support OEP, with only 37.5% of institutions having an open access policy. A mere 25% of institutions had an OER and/or OEP policy and 15% had OER/OEP guidelines, despite 65% of institutions using or making OER available. In a survey with 28 answers, from members of 14 different institutions from every Australian state except for Western Australia and Tasmania, participants were asked to rank how committed their institution is to use OER. 14.29% said that their institution is very committed, 35.71% that it is partially committed, 7.14% that their HEI is not committed at all, and 21.43% were unsure. One person indicated that OER practices have been incorporated in their institution’s current strategic plan, the 10.71% indicated that their institution has no plans to consider OER practice in future strategic plans, and the 14.29% indicated that their institution will incorporate OER practice into their future strategic plans. These results are far lower than results obtained in 2014 (Bossu et al., 2014). However, the universities do come together at the national level, to help drive policy and change forwards together. Universities Australia, for example, “make submissions, develop policy across the sector, represent Australia’s universities on government and industry-appointed bodies and partner with university sectors in other countries to enable bilateral and global collaborations”. In the 2016 policy document Keep it Clever, Australia’s weakening position in the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index was highlighted, alongside the need to strengthen digital literacy, provide flexible, online courses to support lifelong learning, and increased federal funding to support innovation and entrepreneurship. The potential of OER to support this, however, was not made (Stagg et al., 2018). At the moment, OER policy making is largely occurring through library staff and/or the university executive committee, with some institutions involving academics, although many respondents were unsure.
In the case of Germany, four federal states have their strategy for digitalization in HE (Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Thuringia and Saxony) and others are developing their strategy (e.g. Lower Saxony). Most of the regulations regarding digitalization in HE are proposed by and for the universities, based on the federal state’s digitalization strategy, when available. According to Gilch et al. (2019, p. 66), 13.6% of the German HEIs in the study (n = 110) have already designed a strategy or a concept for the digitalization in their institution during the three last years (2016, 2017 and 2018) and 40.9% are working on it. Therefore, only a few cases of institutional strategies of digitalization are available, and even less address OER concretely (for these, see below in OER policies). For example, in its “Teaching policy for teaching and learning with digital formats”, the University of Stuttgart makes reference to the digital transformation and the added value that digital media and educational technology can have for teaching and learning. The document includes a passage on “Fostering OER”, which encourages both the integration of quality-assured, externally created open contents into the university’s teaching as well as instructors developing openly licenced content to provide to others. The university also stresses its involvement with inter-institutional structures and networks in the field of promotiong and creating open educational materials. An example of combined development between university leadership, faculty and students is the Plan of the University of Oldenburg (2016), which proposes digitalization in the context of three thematic areas: research-based learning (through the support of individual and collaboration tools), teacher training (media competence, media education as cross topic and development of digital materials) and open university, further education and equal opportunities (flexibility of learning offer, development and use of OER and promotion of digital supported recognition processes).
Similarly, in Spain only few universities have developed or are developing digital strategies and plans to boost the digital transformation of the institutions. For example, as to July 2019, the Universidad de Murcia presented its Digital Strategy that includes five strategic lines and 20 objectives: transform users in ambassadors, build alliances that improve the university's competitiveness, transform data into managed assets, innovate through agile and intelligent experimentation and adapt the value proposition before it is too late. From this strategy a Digital Transformation Plan and with the collaboration of the educational community, who can send ideas, will be developed to give place to operational plans (e.g. the Digital Education Plan) with concrete actions. Another case is the Universitat Jaume I, which started a co-participative process with the educational community for the design of the digital plan in 2018. The Digital Education Plan, published in March 2020, points out four work lines: digital competence (of students, faculty members and staff), digital and online learning (which includes the development of (O)ER), digital transfer and research, and the digital processes and services. Although only a few universities were found to start moving towards the development (and implementation) of a digital strategy plan that includes (O)ER at the institutional level, many of them include strategic lines related to digitalization within their institutional strategic plans (e.g. the International University of Andalucia or the UC3M. On the other hand, the mention to OER is visible in 16 universities open access policies (out of 27 with OA policies) and there are some OER specific policies (these will be referred in the section OER policies). However, most of the universities do not have a specific policy for OER in their open access policies, as this kind of resources do not have any special consideration from the institution or because the policies were created thinking in research, not in teaching and learning. Nevertheless, Santos-Hermosa et al. (2019) point out the fact that several universities (30%) are planning to develop new strategies to correct this situation and to foster OER publication, through support calls with publication incentives; mostly as part of institutional digitalization strategies that the universities have developed.
As in Germany and Spain, in the provinces of BC and Ontario in Canada just a few universities have a digital planning framework. In 2019, Waterloo University (Ontario) addressed the question “What can HEIs do structurally to improve the uptake of OER and OEP?”. The result was the document “A Place for Policy: The Role of Policy in Supporting Open Educational Resources and Practices at Ontario’s Colleges and Universities“. In it, they itemized a list of OER policies in place and identified Ontario’s University of Windsor as the most progressive noting these developments there: a) the university’s tenure and promotion guidelines allow departments some freedom to establish department-level guidelines, allowing at least one unit at the university to include the use and development of OER, b) the university’s Senate passed a motion in 2016 advocating the use of free and open course materials in order to reduce costs to students, and c) the university has established an Office of Open Learning that supports the development and use of OER/P. Other Ontario institutions – Cambrian College, Queen’s University, and Ryerson University – are mentioned as being “active” in the “OER/P space, though often without formal, governance-driven policies in place to guide their work” (Skidmore & Provida, 2019). Digitization efforts and policies are pronounced in BC, which vary by institution depending on institutions’ aims and goals. For instance, since 2013 the University of British Columbia has invested in providing institutional support for faculty to enhance their courses with technology. At the institutional level, UBC formed a partnership with edX. Kwantlen Polytechnic University, on the other hand, has been a forerunner in the development of Zero-Textbook Cost degrees in the country, launching degrees that rely on a combination of open textbooks and library resources. Its new strategic plan notes that the University will “expand innovation in teaching, learning, and curriculum” as a specific goal, hoping to support educators in their classroom innovation efforts.
In Japan, as most OER initiatives are self-funded for a limited period and often are led by individual faculty members, institutional level OER policy development and changes are considered to be difficult or unnecessary. Therefore, institutional strategic plans for (O)ER are rarely developed and only a few HEI have developed their policies. For example, at UH, the institutional strategic plan for digital transformation is usually included in the university’s strategy report which is developed every few years. The most recent comprehensive future strategy report was prepared in 2014 and includes the promotion of open education with a great emphasis on “large-scale introduction of education employing ICT” to enhance UH’s teaching and learning environment. On the other hand, the JMOOC consortia has a set of policies for the development of MOOCs: a) in principle, MOOCs shall be developed in Japanese, b) in principle, MOOC content shall be provided and designed by full-time faculty members recommended by member HEIs, c) a MOOC shall be shorter than a 15 week-based university course, d) a minimum lecture unit shall be set at 10 minutes, and d) to sign up for each MOOC, a learner needs to provide their email address, password, nickname, and real name. To a learner who completed the course requirements, a course completion certificate will be issued under the name of the course instructor.
In South Africa, there is no “institutional policy that mandates that educational materials produced with public funds be openly licensed” (Hoosen & Butcher, 2019, p. 22). Some HE policies are supportive of academics and senior students who want to publish their work as OER, but there is not the same expectation to publish (O)ER as there is to publish research. Another factor to consider is that academics are already sanctioned to reuse copyrighted materials for teaching purposes and are not really required to engage with OER. An exceptional case is UCT, which is the only public HEI that “automatically assigns to the author(s) the copyright” with regard to “scholarly and literary publications” as well as course materials, “with the provision that UCT retains a perpetual, royalty-free, non- exclusive licence to use, copy and adapt such materials within UCT for the purposes of teaching and or research” (Intellectual Property Policy, UCT, 2011, p. 14). The UCT Open Access Policy (2014) “does not mandate that academics share their teaching and learning materials as OER, but simply encourages them to do so, as is befitting in a collegial cultural environment” (Cox & Trotter, 2016, p. 153). On the other hand, Unisa Intellectual Property Policy (2012) states that Unisa is the owner of all intellectual property created by members of the staff within the normal course and scope of their employment (Unisa, 2012). According to Cox and Trotter (2017a), this means that Unisa possesses the copyright over the lecturer’s developed materials and maintains the management of the creation side of OER adoption. The Unisa policy does however make provision for the individual lecturers to petition their relevant tuition committees in order that they may make their own creations available as OER. Cox and Trotter (2016, p. 25) found in their research that “while this appeal mechanism does not appear to be well advertised, it does offer an opening for some lecture-led OER”. The 2014 strategy document made recommendations that the policy on licensing of Unisa intellectual assets needs to be developed and an OER strategy was designed (which has not been implemented, described below).
Open Education policies
In Germany, the Strategy for Digitisation in Teaching and Learning of the University of Duisburg-Essen (2017) has as goals: assuring teachers with high-quality support in expanding their e-learning activities, enabling regular feedbacks, further improving quality of learning or promoting networking. UDE has developed an OER platform as a repository for the University, which is part of the UDE’ strategy for digitalization in studies and teaching, in collaborative design and implementation with the Digital Library Department of the University Library and the Learning Technologies Division of the Centre for Media and Information Services. Another case is the strategy for digitalization related to OER in HAW Hamburg, which concretely addresses OER in the objective connected to digitization in teaching, learning and continuing education: “HAW Hamburg also promotes the education of its students for a global digitized world of life and work in the spirit of Open Education”. In December 2019, the Hochschule Reutlingen was the first HE institution in BW and in Germany in publishing an own OER policy. This policy encourages the teaching members of the University to use OER and to publish their own teaching and learning materials as OER. The Central OER Repository of the Universities of the State of Baden-Württemberg (ZOERR) is recommended as the preferred place for publication. Contact for OER at Hochschule Reutlingen is the University Library.
In Spain, three related-open education policies are highlighted (UOC, UNIR and UC3M). The UOC’s Open Knowledge Plan (2019) shows a path to follow to reach a fully open institution: from teaching to research; from publication to dissemination, to reach by 2030. The Open Knowledge Plan establishes 6 main work areas (UOC, 2019), among which open learning is included. The teaching materials are to be published first under copyright during a specific time period; after this, they are published with Creative Commons licenses. The intention within this work area according to the Plan is to move from a closed model with OER as an exception by default towards an open model with possibility to make exceptions in copyright. It is clearly stated at this point in the Plan that there is an intention of commitment towards OER. Later in the document, it is also stated that the use of open platforms as open knowledge spaces and open management, including the promotion of the use of open source software, will be promoted (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, 2019, p. 22). Another example is the UNIR’s Open Education policy (UNIR, n.d.), published by the Research Institute for Innovation & Technology in Education, specifies that the institution's vision towards Open Education is focused on every form (OER, data, research results, policy, licensing, technology and content authoring) to reach by 2020. The strategic priorities of the policy are five: 1) increase the amount of UNIR resources released as OER, 2) integrate existing OER as appropriate into UNIR courses, 3) support the creation of OER as academic resources, 4) develop an open access approach for UNIR research data, and 5) contribute to the awareness of open education into society and the academic community at large. The UNIR policy refers also to sustainability as key activity, along with networking and dissemination. Collaboration with national and international partners to ensure the correct implementation of the policy are mentioned, including the support of the UNESCO Chair on eLearning and the ICDE Chair on Open Education Resources. A third example is the UC3M, which includes the fundamental guidelines of open education as part of the university's philosophy (Vida Fernández & Webster, 2014).
In Australia two cases of HE policies stand out in terms of OER reference: the University of Wollongong and the UTS. The University of Wollongong digitalization strategy (University of Wollongong, 2015) has explicitly made Open Learning a priority, including: 1) developing a policy on MOOC quality, an international MOOC platform, and focus on MOOC development and maintenance; 2) creating an open Graduate Certificate in International Studies on OERu and online postgraduate courses; 3) at least one faculty conducting an OER textbook pilot; 4) reviewing in teams to consider how in-course use of MOOCs might support students in their learning and reduce costs; and 5) Managing Open Education to maintain a repository of resources on the University YouTube channel and encouraging the creation and reuse of OER videos by faculty members. The UTS does not currently have a specific digitalization plan; however, an email response revealed that they do have a targeted strategy to openness along four domains (open education, open research, open platforms and community engagement), aligned to a key imperative within their 2027 Strategy of “transforming to a lifetime of learning”. Open education includes: a) the promotion and support for integration of OER into learning design; b) the support in relation to copyright provided via dedicated staff, as well as online tools and resources; and c) publishing OER (through UTS ePress) and distribution through global databases (e.g. Khan Academy). Open platforms include the leadership in the use of Open Source platforms (e.g. DSpace) and the UTS Open learning platform providing a range of free online courses to the public via micro credential study, alongside core curriculum.
In South Africa, Unisa Open is the only OER strategy, published in 2014. This strategy was developed to guide the university in terms of its use of OER, licensing of teaching and learning materials, as well as the management of its own intellectual property. It was set up as a special project in the office of the Pro-Vice Chancellor and was developed in order to align the university with the imperatives of the South African White Paper for Post-School Education and training in South Africa (2014). The 2014 Unisa strategy document focused on 5 strategies: 1) the development of an effective management system for intellectual property; 2) the establishment of an open licensing framework; 3) the systematic integration of high quality, available OER as appropriate into courses and their subsequent release for use by others; 4) the contribution to the global OER repository of resources; and 5) the evaluation and review of institutional policies to incorporate OER values and processes. The 2014 strategy was further developed in 2017 by the Centre for Professional Development (CPD) and approved by Unisa senate. According to Alice Goodwin-Davey from the CPD (Goodwin-Davey, 2017), the 2017 OER strategy supports the following: a) development of an effective in-house strategy for openness at Unisa, b) systematic integration of high quality available OERs into Unisa courses, c) uality Assured, targeted, open Unisa courses as contributions to the global OER repository of resources, d) contributions to the global OER repository of researchers, and e) Integrated campuses with other HE institutions.
Institutional agents based on cases
In China, all universities have an office of digitalization management, aka Office of Informatization if translated literally from Chinese, and/or computing / IT / network / educational technology center, in charge of digital transformation affairs. Individual universities may vary, to some extent, in governance and support structures for digitalization transformation, including educational resource development. Nevertheless, the big picture should be rather similar among public colleges and universities. In the process of developing MOOCs, many different actors, including university administrators, academics, educational technologists, instructional designers etc., knowingly and unknowingly played a role in shaping policy and designing MOOCs (Zhang, Sziegat, Perris & Zhou, 2019). For example, PKU has an Office of Informatization to manage institution-wide digitalization processes, including (1) implementing national laws, rules, regulations and policies and formulating the university’s policies, regulations and standards in relation to digitalization, (2) making and carrying out institutional plans for digitalization processes, (3) coordinating and managing institutional funds for digital construction, (4) overseeing the construction of digital projects.
In Korea, several committees and teams are involved during the process of establishing and implementing policies related to (O)ER development and use. However, the CTL usually play an important or decisive role. For example, in SNU, CTL works with the Curriculum Committee in making decisions on CTL activities following the policy directions of the university. Within CTL, three teams work closely together to implement such decisions: 1) Instructional Team, responsible for the design, development and management of online content and online courses together with faculty members and TAs, 2) Development Team, who produces high quality online content and courses often in collaboration with external e-learning companies, and 3) Planning & Support Team, who manages the selection and planning process for online contents and courses, communicates with NILE regarding K-MOOCs and edX on edX courses, evaluates and approves digital contents developed by the Development Team and external companies, manages internal online courses and supports the Instructional Team. In the case of C University, CTL, positioned under the Office of Academic Affairs, is responsible for the development, delivery and evaluation of CU’s online courses, OCW, MOOCs and other educational resources, and teaching and learning support. For its activities, CTL’s Committee for Teaching and Learning, consisting of CTL director and team leader and a few faculty members from different departments, sets up relevant policies.
Just like in the case of SNU in Korea, large research universities in Japan usually have a dedicated center or office for digital transformation at the university level. This office develops and implements the institutional strategic plans for digital transformation. For example, the Open Education Centre of the University H as a university-wide organization under the Institute for the Advancement of Higher education of the university, makes policies and action plans related to instructional design, the development and production of (O)ER and MOOCs, learning platforms, and copyrights. Another example is ICU, where a policy to promote the use of the university LMS has been established with other universities in Japan and other countries integrating various formats of (O)ER (university project “Top Global University Project”). In the case of UTokyo, the Information Technology Center (ITC) is responsible for campus-wide digital transformation in terms of infrastructure, while the development, maintenance and implementation of MOOCs and OCW are handled as “Special Educational Activities” and are managed by Center for Research and Development of Higher Education (CRDHE).
In Spain, institutional agents involved in (O)ER policy are related to the groups involved in the development of digitalization plans. As an exceptional case, the UC3M has the multidisciplinary working group MaREA, which is devoted to define policies and strategies for creating, managing and disseminating quality (O)ER and is composed of professors who are specialists in Intellectual Property Rights, Open Access and OERs and interactive technologies, as well as members of the Library and Communications and Computing Service (Malo de Molina, 2013).
In Canada, Ontario university libraries are rather connected and involved in OER policy, which is included as part of the White Paper Ontario Council of University Libraries (2017). Similarly, in BC, libraries are involved but often include mention of open access and not to OER (e.g., open access policies in Simon Fraser University and University of British Columbia).
Institutional change includes both top-down and bottom-up approaches, depending on the country, and sometimes even on the HEIs (see Figure 11). Clear institutional top-down approaches are followed in China, Korea, Turkey and to, some extent, Spain. In China and Korea, the government policies impact directly on university evaluations and various OER funding calls are derived from those policies. In Turkey, projects are usually initiated by the administrators of HE institutions rather than by the faculty members. Similar to Korea, most of the Spanish universities promote the use of OER infrastructures through institutional grants and prizes. Bottom-up approaches are common in Canada, where OER are not institutional mandated. Similarly, in South Africa, a bottom-up approach to institutional change is the standard.
A mixture of top-down and bottom-up approaches is shown in the case of Germany, Japan, Australia and South Africa, to different extents. In Germany, a predominant top-down approach can be observed deriving from funding schemes and strategies of digitalization of each federal state and HEIs. However, many bottom-up approaches are recognisable based on the involvement of local and federal organisations. In the case of Japan, a top-down approach is relevant but a bottom-up approach to institutional change is the standard, since most initiatives are self-funded for a limited period and often led by individual faculty members. This situation is similar in Australia. In South Africa, there are mostly universities with a bottom-up approach, although some exceptions are available.
Spectrum Top-down to Bottom-up approaches to institutional change.
Institutional strategic planning
In China, the calls for MOOC proposals from universities – derived from national policies and plans - offer an understanding of in what ways universities recruit or encourage their faculty members to offer MOOCs for free. As different universities seem to have very similar regulations, the majority of these documents are to some extent similar, with only minor variations - except in the case of PKU. The majority of universities followed a typical, routine procedure: first, the Office of Educational Affairs acted under the authority of the university leadership office and disseminated calls for MOOCs via emails and through internal/external websites, and second, the university called for MOOC proposals in a way that compelled attentiveness from potential course-creators, underlined the importance of the activity, and imposed restrictions on the process. The use of modal verbs in the calls, such as ‘should,’ ‘must,’ and ‘need, reflect demands to make sure that the proposed MOOCs were selected, designed, and implemented in such a manner as to ensure a high quality and a high impact worldwide. In contrast, PKU took a different strategy to encouraging its faculty members to offer MOOCs. Few prerequisite qualifications were required; instead, the university ‘welcome[d] all teachers to participate in the development of MOOCs’, and stated that ‘currently there is no restriction on teachers’ qualification or course type’ (Peking University, 2014, Official Document). Nevertheless, this is not to say that PKU did not intend to review the proposed MOOC offerings. Furthermore, quality assurance formed a part of the process of implementing MOOCs, e.g. offering technical support, and recruiting active and experienced instructors to provide tutorials.
Another popular measure in China was the call for “micro-teaching” competitions among universities (MOE, 2012) and a national university micro-teaching competition platform was created to curate all of the micro-course resources. The users of these resources can also rate them on the platform. Also, different universities have created their own micro-courses platform to host courses (e.g. Central South University). Taking Jianghan University as an example, in which the leading MOOC working group made the design and implementation of micro-courses compulsory as a way to push professors to get involved in this process. Also, universities encourage faculty member to participate by providing training for participations and recognizing 18 hours of training credits for annual evaluation. Those who win the first prize are awarded ‘Outstanding’ in the annual teaching quality assessment.
In Turkey, online master’s degree programs delivered through Distance Education Centers in HE institutions first emerged as part of institutional strategic planning as a change agent. However, the change winds could not go beyond using LMS and many offered programs suffer from quality mostly because of insufficient quality assurance and accreditation mechanisms. Individual institutions, especially those that have historically a long tradition in open and distance learning as well as educational technology, have been voluntarily taking action to create and disseminate (O)ERs and working on transferring their systems into a more digitized structure. Therefore, it can be claimed that investing in digital infrastructures is considered as an indicator of the change and strategic planning and, in a panoramic view, do not consider developing digital infrastructures for the use of OER initiatives. Turkish HEIs suffer from lack of awareness on OERs and strategic planning is operated from top-bottom from administrators of the HEIs and, therefore, the strategic plans are not welcomed with a wide participation.
In Korea, in general, HEIs first analyze the national policies and university evaluation guidelines and then create the institutional strategic plans accordingly at the top leadership level. Then, various committees and offices (e.g., Curriculum Committee, Student Association, Center for Teaching and Learning, Career Development Center, etc.) develop action strategies to realize the institutional plans in collaboration with the educational community (stakeholders), which is commonly practiced and encouraged. In particular, the policy and guidelines of the university evaluation, which is carried out by an evaluation team consisting of experts from academia and practical fields whom are appointed by the MOE, is considered to be vital as the evaluation result is directly linked to the MOE’s funding decisions (faculty evaluation and promotion). Key national policies affecting institutional strategic planning include the promotion of industry-university cooperation and the introduction of a flexible education system (K-MOOCs). As an example, in the SNU, based on the president’s vision and the university’s long- and short-term development plans, the Office of Information System and Technology (IS&T) develops and implements SNU’s institutional strategic plan for digital transformation. SNU’s digital transformation plan entitled ‘SNU Information Integrated Development Plan’ is developed every three years by IS&T in collaboration with other offices such as CTL (Office of Academic Affairs), Main Library, Office of General Affairs, and Office of Research Affairs. Like SNU, CH also adopts a top-down approach. Considering the national policies discussed above and the university’s long- and short-term development plans, the Information & Computer Center (ICC) develops and carries out an institutional strategic plan for digital transformation every few years.
In Spain, institutional strategic planning connected to funding (call for OCW, MOOCs and other OER projects) is also important for change at the meso level. This funding is usually connected to the digital plans or university’ strategy. For example, the Universitat Jaume I has an annual call for the elaboration and publication of OER in the teaching collection "Sapientia" (manuals) and in the OCW of the university (multimedia courses) and another one to support the elaboration and teaching of MOOCs. In its institutional strategic plan 2015-2020, the UPV includes as a strategic project the elaboration, dissemination, visibility and accessibility of information and results, which with regard to (O)ER, includes: 1) the production of digital contents, 2) the organisation of digital contents in the institutional repository, and 3) the promotion of MOOCs. The university has created the Online Teaching Plan (Plan de Docencia en Red), in order to incentivise teachers to create digital and reusable educational materials and publish them in the institutional repository. This Plan includes an annual call and an annual prize for acknowledging best quality and use of the produced materials in the previous call. A further example is the Institute of Educational Sciences of the Universidad de Alicante, which offers an annual call to support teaching development projects for the promotion of blended and online teaching, including support to university teachers for the development of MOOCs and NOOCs, and support for the faculties to develop blended and online teaching and learning processes in the official study programs of the university. As in other universities, the UC3M offers an annual call for the development of OCW for faculty. The OCW office of the university devised a system to provide teaching staff with the necessary resources for DIY course production, such as induction sessions, eduCommons (CMS) Workshops, Help Desk (e-mail, telephone, face-to-face), as well as manuals and reference guides (Webster & Pardo, 2011). Formal recognition in the form of certificates or authorship acknowledgment is also a recurrent way of promoting change. For instance, the funding calls of the Universidad de Alicante include the certification of having conducted the teaching development project.
Change in Australia is largely shaped by government policy and target setting, although this has been focused on open research and open research data. Institutional strategic planning is only being undertaken through digitalization strategies to a small extent, with 27% of institutions having a publicly accessible policy document. Whilst other institutions do include digital infrastructure within Learning and Teaching policies or their institution strategic plans, some of these are not publicly available, which makes it difficult to gain an accurate understanding of institutional strategic planning. On the other hand, funding to support the development of OER at the institutional level is rare (Stagg et al., 2018), although there are a couple of notable exceptions. For instance, the University of Southern Queensland funded an Open Textbook Grant Scheme in 2015, later renamed the Open Educational Practice Staff Scholarship Scheme (Stagg & Partridge, 2019). The focus was on building professional networks and facilitating communities of practice, alongside producing OER. Another example is the University of Wollongong, as previously mentioned, who have explicitly made the creation of open access textbooks a priority in their strategic plan. Nevertheless, the HEI survey indicated that change regarding digital infrastructure is largely occurring through bottom-up approaches, including a strong push from library staff and through teaching and learning communities of practice. Initiatives that are occurring at Australian HEIs concerning promoting OER change include: dedicated library staff to consolidating OER information and resources, providing increased library services to connect academics and educators about OERs, providing OER materials in the institutional repository, providing online courses for Open University, or a work group collaborating across the institution to raise awareness and promote creation and reuse of OER.
In Germany, change within the states is effected mainly through two measures, following rather a top-down approach: the strategies for digitalization developed in each federal state and increasingly across each HEI are a top-down approach to impulse further HE change and concrete measures are fostered through funding schemes that allow for project-based initiatives and structural implementation at the institutional level. Whilst change, in the sense of providing a policy frame and funding, is primarily effected in a top-down manner on the state-level, the extent to which this translates into practice is thoroughly dependent on the individual HEIs. As the report by Gilch et al. (2019) shows, HEI have picked up the impetus to digitalize - especially in the area of teaching with 18.8% of institutions having a digital teaching strategy in place and 50.9% working on it (n=112). In regard to developing and drafting digitalization strategies, this push is most likely affected by a great extent through institutions participating in the peer to peer coaching for strategy development in the context of the Hochschulforum Digitalisierung. This is an example in which a national initiative has somewhat “skipped” the state level and has directly infused individual institutions. On the state level, all the federal ministries of science and culture offer funding for institutional projects that propose innovative teaching and learning concepts that may include OER approaches (e.g. fellowships for digital teaching). Institutional strategic planning related to OER promotion (change) is the wide-institutional projects developed within the frame of funding derived from the digitalization strategy. For instance, with the intention to foster integration and implementation of digitalization into the main functions of HEIs, extended funding in NRW includes technical infrastructure - OER and the establishment of a state-wide e-learning portal are in the focus here. Another common institutional measure is the establishment of digitalization professorships at universities that receive additional support from the Volkswagen Foundation.
In Japan, in many cases, a university’s strategic planning regarding digital transformation at the institutional level happens via the university’s future plan presented by its president or a reform committee. Naturally, a top-down approach is prevalent across HEIs in Japan in bringing about institutional-level changes including those related to (O)ER. Japanese universities are likely to reflect the government policies in their future plan and vision, but not likely to develop specific action plans and allocate human and financial resources to implement such policies (Suzuki, 2009). Two policy directions are to create and deliver ‘diverse and flexible education programs’ (JMOOCs) to broaden learning opportunities using advanced technologies and sharing educational resources. However, a noticeable lack of funding is present in the case of OER, which is often indicated as a critical issue for their sustainable development. Aoki (2011) points out two funding issues related to OER in Japan: the inexistence of private foundations that support OER movements, and the government more likely supporting individual researchers instead of HEIs. Even if the government funds the institutions, funding ends in a few years and OER projects tend to stop there or disappear. One UH project titled Nucla-hokkaido is an example case: the consortium of seven national universities in Hokkaido has developed and shared MOOCs for their liberal arts education. Other problems are related to Japanese traditional culture of teaching and learning, the lack of positioning OER as an integral part of HE and a lack of skilled ICT personnel and support organizations within a university (Jung & Lee, 2015; Funamori, 2017). While UTokyo and UH employ a top-down approach combined with a bottom-up approach to developing and implementing strategic plans with regard to digital transformation, ICU as a small private liberal arts college where government subsidy is only a small part of its budget, often takes a bottom-up approach in making such decisions. At ICU, the process to make decisions on institutional strategic planning with regard to digital infrastructure is somewhat simpler than that of UTokyo and UH. ICU’s CTL plans which infrastructure ICU needs to establish for its education and services and applies for the special budget from the university.
In South Africa, Hoosen and Butcher (2019) found that the “adoption of OER is increasing at universities where either the institution or individual educators are able to attract funding from international donors and government to support OER initiatives” (p. 33). Examples of such are, the University of Cape Town (UCT), where OER initiatives are financially supported from funds in the office of the Vice-Chancellor and institutional seed funding for the development of a MOOC. The UCT’s Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) “has been able to attract donor funding each year from 2007 to date in order to pursue an OER and Open Educational Practices (OEP) agenda” (Hoosen & Butcher, 2019, p. 33). The South African Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) also supports cross-institutional OER development activities (such as the OER Term Bank). Some UCT initiatives are the Opening Scholarship project (2007-2009) funded by the Shuttleworth Foundation, the OER UCT project (2009-2010), the UCT Vice-chancellor’s OER Adaption Project (2012-2014), the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC)-funded Research on OER for Development (ROER4D) project (2013-2017) and the current Digital Online Textbooks for Development (DOT4D) project (2018-2020), which is also funded by the IDRC. In addition to these projects, UCT has also funded the development of MOOCs and UCT’s Vice-Chancellor’s OER Student Adaptation project provided funds for senior students for each Faculty to work with lecturers to make existing learning and teaching materials available as OER (p. 151).
In Canada, change is not institution- mandated; it is not large-scale or policy-driven. When it occurs in the area of digitization, it is individually initiated or, at best, program-initiated, usually led by an onboard faculty member. In his recent reports examining the digital learning landscape in Canada, Bates (2019c) notes that the majority of institutions have an online learning strategy and most of them see online learning as a strategic priority. To support such efforts, faculty are often provided opportunities for professional development through centers of teaching, learning and innovation and with awards and grants for a variety of changemaking activities (e.g., teaching and learning excellence in Royal Roads University; OER grants, at the University of Victoria, and funds, at the University of British Columbia). Professional learning also frequently occurs on an ad hoc basis as well, with faculty seeking professional development as needed and on-demand, either through institutional resources or through resources outside the institution (e.g., Twitter chats, offerings through eCampus Ontario, etc.) and it is delivered through workshops, talks, newsletters, and in some cases through a variety of media such as podcasts. Finally, a variety of bottom-up initiatives invariably exist across BC institutions, driven by faculty members, individual programs, and students.
Agents for institutional change based on cases
In some of the countries analysed (Spain, Canada and Australia), university libraries play a relevant role in institutional change related to (O)ER infrastructures. However, there are also present a number of other minor agents in those cases, and major roles in the other countries.
In Spain, the library services and staff were reported as the most important change agent at the universities (Santos-Hermosa et al., 2019) (84.9%) along with the technological/IT services (32.1%). Other actors are the teachers (28.3%), the virtual campus services (22.6%) and the educational innovation units (18.9%). In most of the cases, the library works together with one or more of the other services (Santos-Hermosa et al., 2019). An example of these other agents is the Centre of Education and New Technologies (CENT) of the Universitat Jaume I, which offers university teacher training and support to use the institutional LMS and multimedia tools. Support for creating the multimedia materials is offered within the OER and the MOOC calls. Another example is ULLmedia, which is responsible for producing promo videos, informative videos, and educational videos for the University of La Laguna, as well as for offering advice on how to prepare scripts and audiovisual materials, and how to successfully share content across the network. Technical support is offered by the multimedia service of the university ((O)ER production and intellectual property counselling). The teaching vice rector offers support to the participants regarding the organisation, content structure, technical and methodological aspects of the MOOCs through its technical support units. As an exceptional case, the UC3M has the UTEID (Unit for Educational Technology and Innovative Teaching as an important working group related to OER as institutional agent for change (Malo de Molina, 2013). The unit is integrated in the Library Service with support from the IT service and the Undergraduate Academic Support, to “a) support faculty in creating (O)ER, using new educational technology, and protecting, preserving and disseminating these resources; b) evaluate platforms and tools for course design, content creation and student evaluation” (Vida Fernández & Webster, 2014, p. 147). Other minor change agents at the meso level are the Group 9 of Universities. The G-9 is a non-profit association formed by nine Spanish public universities that has as objective the promotion of collaboration between the universities that belong to the group, in terms of teaching and research activities and services. The teaching activities include the development of training courses for students and university teachers in a shared platform. Beyond this interinstitutional agent, an institutional project that stands out in the field of (O)ER is Open Educators Factory (UNIR), which explores how to transform university educators from “agents of resistance” into “agents of change” for Open Education. As part of the project, a platform to allow university educators to self-assess their capacity and level of development in terms of Open Education and to provide them with some guidelines to further adopt openness in all dimensions of their activities has been developed.
In Canada, institutional change is promoted prominently by institutional libraries and many digitization projects are based on them. For example, the OER Toolkit (hosted by Ontario TechLibrary), which allows searching various pages for OER, has been developed by Colleges Libraries Ontario and the Ontario Colleges Library Service in collaboration with the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education. In addition, some organizations are initiating collaborative mechanisms that should encourage change (e.g. eCampusOntario in Ontario and BCCampus in BC). For instance, BCCampus is involved in open education changemaking efforts related to the Open Homework Systems project and the Open Textbooks project, and Learning and Teaching changemaking efforts which involve a set of courses designed to help instructors facilitate powerful learning experiences. Significantly, efforts surrounding openness have been encouraged by advocates at the institutional level. These individuals are often faculty, but a vibrant student advocacy body also exists that has launched public advocacy campaigns (e.g., University of Victoria’s student society efforts centering around a social media campaign called #textbookBroke). On the other hand, the majority of HEIs, if not all, provide guides and resources to support faculty and staff towards digitization efforts. Some institutions provide guides and resources to support openness. These efforts are often supported by Centers for Teaching and Learning. Typically, these centers also share information to support individuals in sharing OER (e.g. University of British Columbia).
In Australia, institutional libraries are leading the way in terms of developing and using (O)ER infrastructures in some universities, while in others they play no role or act more of a support function to academics, that provide “advice and is business process owner for repository systems”, or that they “are involved in this process and host the Creative Commons”. As part of the library, the copyright team and copyright officer play a role in advising on open licensing and copyright of OER in the universities where they exist. Liaison librarians can advise on the use of OERs in teaching. Some university consortia have an important role as institutional agents for change in (O)ER. Three universities are part of the Open Education Consortium and five offer online courses through OERu. As an example of strategy to openness, the UTS includes community engagement by being actively involved with the Council of Australian University Librarians in relation to FAIR principles and ongoing research and advocacy e.g. national repository infrastructure, cost of Open Access, and by being leader in the negotiation and implementation of transformational agreements.
In Japan, although individuals are usually the main actors for change in (O)ER at the institutional level, centers for teaching and learning (CTL) (if existent) are also relevant institutional actors for change for (O)ER. For example, in the case of the UTokyo, the Center for Research and Development of Higher Education (CRDHE) is in charge of the development and delivery of (O)ER, as well as of building an innovative university-wide educational infrastructure utilizing ICT. Specific projects include: a) online education (UTokyo OCW and UTokyo OCWx, MOOCs in Coursera and edX, TodaiTV), b) faculty development (workshops for and online training teaching staff, online training on interactive teaching), c) educational information (informational website on instructional design and teaching, UTokyo course catalog navigation system, UTokyo event navigation system). CRDHE plays the role of coordinator in developing and implementing MOOCs and OCW by working closely with UTokyo faculty and special project team members, and external forces. In the case of the ICU, CTL offers various means of support for faculty and students. It organizes and runs a series of faculty development programs. Upon completing this 10-week flipped and blended learning program, the participants experience effective applications of video lectures in flipped and blended learning and come to understand the effective use of OER and ICT for their classes. ICU’s CTL is also responsible for the creation and dissemination of (O)ER. It supports faculty members in creating OCW and producing digital content for their courses. In the case of UH, the Information Initiative Center (IIC) is responsible for university-wide digital transformation with a focus on research. It consists of seven divisions to accomplish these tasks, among which two are related to (O)ER: the Digital Content Research Division, which focuses on research and development on digital content storage, processing, disseminating and utilizing and their applications; and the Media Education & Research Division, which focuses on research and development on ICT use in education and support, e-system design, open education and their applications. Upon receiving a large grant from MEXT in 2013, IIC’s Media Education & Research Division created OEC and allocated resources necessary for the development and dissemination of OER including OCW and MOOCs. Since then, OEC has led open education initiatives such UH OCW, ACE open courses and UH MOOCs. Most of the decisions at the operational level are made by the director and staff of OEC in close collaboration with faculty members who engage in UH’s OCE and MOOC creation.
In Korea, the CTL at the universities are the main agents for change in (O)ER in a top-down approach. The following policies present in Korean universities are the main elements of institutional change: a) promoting and institutionalizing various ways of utilizing online courses and contents in the university courses through faculty development programs and academic associations’ conferences and seminars (participation is recognised and rewarded for promotion and evaluation), b) supporting a collaborative relationship building or a consortium building with other universities and award different types of degrees and certifications to MOOC learners (via inducing new lines of MOOC funding), and c) linking MOOCs to the national Academic Credit Bank System. However, some universities consider also a bottom-up approach to meet the emerging needs of student groups, departments and offices (e.g., CU). Actors involved in CU’s (O)ER development and dissemination include CTL’s two teams: 1) Teaching & Learning Support Team, responsible for CU’s overall planning on teaching and learning including (O)ER development, evaluation studies on various teaching and learning strategies and other teaching and learning support activities, and 2) E-Learning Support Team, responsible for the development and management of CU’s online content and courses and K-MOOCs, as well for offering ICT/e-class training sessions, digital material development workshops for faculty and TAs, among other. In the case of SNU, while IS&T oversees the university level digital transformation and digital infrastructure (including hardware, software and network), CTL focuses on informatization in education by developing and implementing strategic planning for the development, management and support for online learning and (O)ER creation and use. While following the Headquarters (IS&T)’ plans and guidelines, CTL can make requests to IS&T to change or improve digital infrastructure and the university plans that are needed for its tasks related to online learning and (O)ER. This part could be considered as a bottom-up approach.
In China, universities typically assign multiple roles to instructors: being responsible for online lecturing, participating in the development and implementation of MOOCs, and being ‘challengers’ who are willing to try new things and are seeking change. In the view of those who offer MOOCs, they participate in MOOCs as a result of their own personal interest, rather than simply being influenced by their university. Universities ‘provide’ funding/technological support, ‘encourage/guide’ teachers to participate in the development of MOOCs, and ‘implement/launch’ the registration of MOOCs. By doing this, the universities’ central offices play an important role in regard to initiating MOOC activities, supporting the process and deciding who will provide an MOOC and what to offer. Chinese universities usually count with faculty manuals to help in the process of developing (O)ER. When it comes to development of (O)ER, it tends to be a multi-department endeavor. For example, PKU establishes its Instruction Steering Committee for Online Education whose responsibilities include organizing and developing open online courses as well as coordinating the sharing of these resources both intra-institutionally and inter-institutionally. Its Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, which is a unit of the Department of Educational Affairs, is to provide professional training and technical support such as video production and editing to their open online course teams, as well as cooperate both intra-institutionally and inter-institutionally in supporting faculty to develop digital educational resources (PKU, 2018). In some universities, the computing/IT centers may play a role in the development of educational resources (e.g. Tsinghua University).
In Germany, the bottom-top approaches include the involvement both of the HEIs and different province organizations for change in (O)ER. For example, the Baden-Württemberg University Network for the Digitization of Teaching is an association of Baden-Württemberg‘s state universities for the cooperative further development of digitally supported university teaching and it is one of the main actors in the context of OER in BW. As a service for the network, a central OER repository has been developed, ZOERR, which is hosted at the library at the University of Tübingen. It also hosts one working group on OER, the intention of which is to disseminate information on OER amongst HEI in the state, train educators as well as discussing quality assurance issues of OER and ways to facilitate OER creation and production. Under the Baden-Wurttemberg University Network for the Digitization of Teaching, one project addresses the establishment and (non)usage of OER repositories, including questions of how to involve instructors and incentivize OER production and usage. In the course of this project, meta data and ease of use of repositiories are also considered. In Lower Saxony, many universities work together as members of the ELAN e.V. (E-Learning Academic Network), which is considered a change actor and infrastructure provider for the improvement of the quality of technology-enhanced teaching, and also a platform for exchange and cooperation for the distribution and facilitation of information. Other important associations for digital HE infrastructure are eCULT+ and Stud.IP e.V.. Examples of interinstitutional projects that have put OER at the table in HE are MOIN – Multiplicators for OER in Lower Saxony, OpERA (OER in the academic further education: open universities) and Teach4TU (OER training and a learning space to discuss and try out different technologies and ideas for teaching and learning for TU university teachers). Out of the 70 existing HEI in NRW, 42 have joined forces via the network Digitale Hochschule NRW (DH-NRW) and work towards the aim of fostering digitalization among the institutions across the state and also to permeate institutional structures, including teaching and learning, and HE management. The DH NRW constitutes an umbrella for both a range of projects as well as forms a platform for exchange and networking. For instance, the project “Development of annotation, review and incentive concepts for OER repositories with special consideration of university scenarios”, which aims at providing recommendations for the design, implementation and incentive systems for use of OER repositories for university teaching. Key factors to be considered in this context are a pronounced demand orientation and user-friendliness, a practice-relevant metadata concept, quality assurance via peer review procedures as well as a functioning social infrastructure ("user community") and embedding in other formats (such as face-to-face workshops). Another key agent for change is the University College in Hamburg, as central organisational unit of the University of Hamburg. Different OER-related projects are, for instance (Universität Hamburg, 2019a; 2019b): Synergies for teaching and learning through OER” (SynLLOER), HOOU@UHH (creation of OERs for different disciplines of the Hamburger universities), openLab at the Digital University College (UK Digital) or eManual Ancient History (2017-2019), among others. The HOOU interuniversity project is a key actor in the development and implementation of OER in Hamburg (see Figure 12). The special feature of the HOOU concept lies in the desire to create a digital space in which students, teachers and the interested public can meet in order to collaborate on interdisciplinary, cross-university projects with academic demands.
University libraries and research centres are also considered important actors to cooperate with universities in terms of integrating information competence in the study plans. For example, in NRW, the Scientific library center of the state of North Rhine-Westfalia assumes a prominent role in regard to provision and further development of digital infrastructures.
The HOOU consortium. Source: https://www.hoou.de/f/hoou-de
In Turkey, in practice change towards the use of (O)ER infrastructures comes from faculty. For example, Open Education Faculty and Computer Science Research and Application Center of Ataturk University actively contribute to the AtademiX MOOC platform. However, there are some exceptions, such as the HEC with the Digital Transformation project, in which an academic incentive regulation was arranged in order to encourage the production of open course materials and the participation of the relevant staff of the universities in the training meetings was ensured.
In South Africa, there are diverse institutional approaches to institutional change. In the case of the UCT, individual lecturers’ agency plays a much more important motivating role for change than policy - the latter being regarded as “merely a hygienic factor” (Cox & Trotter, 2016, p. 158). As such, institutional culture is more important than policy in motivating academics to engage with OER (Cox & Trotter 2016). “The behaviour and judgment of peers acts as a powerful mechanism in shaping academics’ own beliefs and pursuits” (Cox & Trotter 2016, p. 156) and the pressures of publishing in scholarly peer-reviewed journals in the context of the institutional and individual researcher prestige economy, partially explains “the relatively low levels of OER contribution at the university” (Cox & Trotter, 2016, p. 156). On the other extreme, Unisa utilises a top-down, hierarchical approach and the agency of the academics is controlled by the tightly-defined policies. In their study, Cox and Trotter (2017a) suggest that the institutional culture at Unisa is a demotivating factor for the uptake of OER for the staff in that they would have to deviate from their usual practices. Academic staff at Unisa are however, encouraged to make use of existing OER in their teaching. This is demonstrated through the Unisa library, which through their Library Guides, offers comprehensive information on OERs and guidelines for the academic staff on how to find suitable material for use in their teaching practices. The Centre for Professional Development at Unisa has been charged with providing capacity building for staff in OER and offers face to face workshops, roadshows and a free online course for staff who are interested in learning more about OERs (Goodwin-Davey, 2017).
[*] A reduced version of this chapter has been published in the following reference: Marín, V. I., Zawacki Richter, O., Aydin, C.H., Bedenlier, S., Bond, M., Bozkurt, A., Conrad, D., Jung, I., Kondakci, Y., Prinsloo, P., Roberts, J., Veletsianos, G., Xiao, J., & Zhang, J. (2022a). Institutional Measures for Supporting OER in Higher Education: An International Case Based Study. Open Education Studies, 4(1),
Previous work includes OER-Content.NRW for the integration of institutional LMS and different repositories.
 Although it was planned that UCT OpenContent would generally not host resources, but rather act as a directory, in order to reduce duplication and to maximise the use of existing infrastructure (emphasis added), the current reality is that it is a standard institutional (O)ER repository.
 However, since more universities and disciplines were constantly required to enter the competition to have their courses awarded with the ‘Top-quality Courses’ status, the state invested less funds per course, resulting in the quality of the courses being threatened.
 Email from K. de Hart to P. Prinsloo and J. Roberts 19 November 2019.
 Email from O. Mashile to P. Prinsloo and J. Roberts 20 November 2019.
 Related to K-MOOCs two further policies have been introduced: the offering of MOOCs through smart learning environments (development of K-MOOC mobile apps) and the development and sharing of MOOCs with other countries (English development of MOOCs).
 Contact North – Contact Nord features a Pockets of Innovation project which aims to highlight innovative projects in the country. The organization highlights projects across Ontario and across the country (e.g., a project at the Justice Institute of British Columbia).