How to gain merit from OE and OER?

Teachers are the most important promoters of open education, but many other parties also work for open education. For example, higher education institutions support and encourage teachers to use and produce open educational resources and to participate actively in promoting open education at the national level. This recommendation on gaining merit in open education and educational resources is primarily intended as guidance on how to take these matters into account in teachers’ merits, but the instructions given in the recommendation can also be applied to other tasks and roles that promote open education, such as:

  • researchers and research projects that produce open educational resources
  • students who have participated in promoting open educational resources and open education
  • persons supporting open education in their own work, such as library experts, researchers, education planners and other support staff
  • influencers who have communicated about open education and inspired others to promote open education
  • leaders and decision-makers who have made a significant contribution to promoting open education and whose input has had extensive impacts on open education.

It should also be noted that the same person can act in many different roles and promote open education in different ways in each of them.

Principles to be taken into account in recognising merit

From teachers, promoting open education requires time and competence, and it may constitute an important part of the teacher's work. It is recommended that organisations have clear criteria and guidelines on how the promotion of open education should be taken into account as a part of the evaluation of the teacher's work as a whole, for example, in recruitment, advancement on the career path, determination of pay, funding applications and award of prizes. In addition, it is recommended that higher education institutions in particular ensure that teachers have the opportunity to use their working time for promoting open education and take it into account in their work schedule planning. The most important instructions for recognising merits can be found in Table 1.

Depending on the purpose of the evaluation, it may vary how much weight and importance is given to open education. The persons being evaluated should always be informed about the criteria used and emphases given.

When evaluating merits in open education, many other factors should also be taken into account than the number of published open educational resources and other publications and merits. Things to be taken into consideration include:

  • Quality: Expert assistance should be used when assessing quality. In the case of open educational resources, the National quality criteria for open educational resources can be applied for quality assessment.
  • Impact: As far as impact is concerned, the assessment can be based on such factors as download or user volumes of educational resources, the number of people who participate in or complete open courses or lectures, and the feedback received from all of these. Even in terms of impact, the numbers alone do not tell everything, but, for example, the development of an individual learner's competence and the profound impact on a limited community can be more significant a merit than superficial influence on a wider audience.
  • Level of openness: In principle, the greater the merit, the more open education the teacher has promoted. For justified reasons, it is possible to stretch the principle a little and grant equal merit for, for example, educational resources with more restricted licenses (e.g. no derivatives) as for fully open educational resources. A reason for lower level of openness may be, for example, sector-specific practices or specific risks associated with the content of certain educational resources, such as data getting out of date or sensitivity of content.
  • Cooperation: One idea of open education is to enable cooperation between teachers and, for example, between teachers and students. In the evaluation, matters such as the use of open materials made by others in the preparation of one's own open educational resources, the co-development of open courses and lectures and educational resources, and the inclusion of students in the development of open education should be seen as a positive issue in the evaluation.
  • The workload and competence required for merit: As concerns courses, lectures and educational resources, the workload can be estimated based on their scope, for example. In the case of educational resources, the type of material may also be of significance; preparing, say, an online course or an educational game often requires more work and competence than publishing lecture slides.

Teacher competence levels

Open education and educational resources can be developed and promoted in many ways. Everyone can start promoting open education from their own level of competence. As competence develops, more ways and opportunities open up for teachers to promote open education and influence not only students but also other teachers, their own organisation, various national and international stakeholders in education and research, and the rest of society.

Organisations should make it possible for teachers to make use of their development in promoting open education, say, as part of advancement on their career. When assessing the openness of education, different emphasis can be given to ways of promoting open education suited for various levels of competence and the relevant merits. The following division can be used to define competence levels and the merits characteristic of them.

1. Every teacher can take, for example, following measures to promote open education:

  • develop their own competence in open education and related matters (see Competence requirements for open education);
  • make use of open educational resources and software in their teaching; and
  • apply educational practices related to open education in their teaching.

2. As they gain more experience, teachers can take, for example, following measures to promote open education:

  • peer review open educational resources made by others;
  • publish open and accessible educational resources;
  • participate in preparing online courses available for anyone (MOOC) or give lectures or courses open to the general public (e.g., Studia Generalia);
  • help others in open education issues;
  • participate as an expert in open education in the evaluation of other teachers;
  • engage students in producing open educational resources; and
  • openly share or publish their own educational practices (e.g., those related to the planning, implementation or evaluation of education).

3. Teachers with in-depth knowledge of open education can promote open education in a variety of ways, including:

  • conduct research related to open education;
  • participate in national or international open education networks or projects; and
  • lead national or international open education working groups or projects.

About recording of merits

Organisations should provide clear instructions on how to record the merits in open education and educational resources in evaluation situations. Merits related to open education and educational resources can be recorded in the CV, the teaching portfolio or the organisation's research information system. The aim is that, in the future, the data related to merits earned in promoting open education and educational resources could be harvested directly from different information systems.

In their guidelines, organisations can divide the merits in open education and educational resources into open educational resources, research outputs concerning open education, online courses and lectures open to anyone, and activities related to open education. If possible, the division should also be taken into account in the organisation's research information system. The same division can also be applied by teachers who want to maintain their own CV, for example.

Open educational resources

The author of the educational resources decides whether the materials are made available for open access. In accordance with the Policy Component 1 – Open Access to Educational Resources, it is recommended that the Library of Open Educational Resources (aoe.fi) be used for publishing the metadata of open educational resources. The library improves the findability of materials, and supports the production of metadata and the monitoring of references. In the Library of Open Educational Resources, in addition to the metadata, the educational resources are attached with a license describing their terms of use and other documentation that facilitates the use of the material. The library also creates a permanent identifier for the open educational resources, which enables them to be found and referenced.

In evaluation situations, it is worth highlighting some of the materials of particularly high quality among the published open educational resources. National Quality criteria for open educational resources can be used for selecting high-quality open educational resources. On the selected materials, more information can be given on:

  • how much impact the educational resources have had (e.g., download and use volumes, references and reviews received on the educational resources):
  • how the materials meet the quality criteria for open educational resources;
  • the scope of the educational resources and/or the workload their preparation has required;
  • collaboratively prepared educational resources and what has been the author's own role in preparing them; and
  • if the educational resources have been published under a more limited license (e.g., a licence prohibiting derivatives), why this license has been selected.

Research outputs

Oppimisen avoimuuden meriiteiksi kirjattavia tutkimustuotoksia ovat:

  • avointa oppimista ja oppimateriaaleja käsittelevät tutkimusjulkaisut ja
  • opetuksesta syntyneet avoimet tutkimusaineistot.

Näitä kirjattaessa on hyvä noudattaa tutkimusjulkaisujen ja tutkimusaineistojen kirjaamisen vakiintuneita käytäntöjä.

Research outputs recorded as merits in open education include:

  • research publications on open education and educational resources and
  • open research data generated from teaching.

When recording these, established practices for recording research publications and research data should be followed.

Courses and lectures available for anyone

On courses and lectures available for anyone, it is advisable to record such data as:

  • the topic and implementation method of the course or lecture;
  • the scope of the course or lecture and/or the workload required for planning it;
  • on online courses, potential permanent identifier;
  • how much impact the courses and lectures have had (number of participants or courses completed and feedback received),
  • on collaborative lectures and courses, the author's own role and input; and
  • on contact lectures and courses, whether they were free of charge or grounds for carrying a fee (e.g., covering organisational costs).

Activities related to open education

For example, the following activities can be recorded as merits in activities related to open education:

  • courses on open education and competence acquired by other methods (in addition to courses completed, authors can verify their competence with, for example, Open Badges);
  • use of open educational resources, and open educational practices in one's own teaching and feedback on them;
  • the development and sharing of open educational practices (e.g., a brief description of the practices developed and reference to where they can be examined in more detail);
  • peer review of open education and educational resources produced by others;
  • helping and training others in open education;
  • national and international cooperation related to open education; and
  • management of national and international open education projects (e.g., reference to project documentation).

Table: Summary of merits in open education.

Merit

Things to consider when recording merits

Things to consider regarding principles and competence level

Educational resources

   

Basic issues (for all educational resources)

   
 

The educational resources and their metadata should include a licence describing the terms and conditions of use of the material. Open licences include CC BY and CC BY-SA. It is recommended that the grounds be given if the material is not openly licensed or if it cannot be used free of charge.

The reason for lower level of openness may be, for example, sector-specific practices or specific risks associated with the content of certain educational resources, such as data getting out of date.

 

It is advisable to publish the educational resources or their metadata on a recognised national or international platform (e.g., aoe.fi), which guarantees a permanent identifier for the material and access to the metadata for the material – even if the material no longer exists – and a place from which the data can be harvested.

 
 

Sufficient metadata and other documentation of the educational resources facilitate reuse and are, therefore, an important merit.

 
 

As far as possible, glossaries, ontologies and standards should be taken into account in the metadata of educational resources, as well as the machine readability of the metadata.

 
 

The use of open file formats can be recorded as a merit.

 

On educational resources selected for assessment 

   
 

It is advisable to describe how the educational resources meet such requirements as the national quality criteria.

When doing quality assessment, use expert assistance and national Quality criteria for open educational resources.

 

It is advisable to specify the impact and significance of the educational resources (e.g., download and use volumes, references and reviews received on the educational resources):

Please note that download and use volumes alone are not the only indication of impact.

 

If necessary, descriptions on the scope of the educational resources and/or the workload required for preparing them can be given.

 
 

As regards collaboratively prepared educational resources, it is advisable to describe what has been the author's own role in preparing them.

 

Research outputs

   

Research publications on open education

Compliance with the established practices on research publications.

Can be taken into account especially in assessments focused on research on open education.

Open research data generated from teaching

Compliance with the established practices on research data.

Can be taken into account especially in assessments focused on research on open education.

Courses and lectures available for anyone

Issues such as the following can be recorded:

Can be taken into account especially in the evaluation of more experienced teachers.

 

the topic and implementation method of the course or lecture

 
 

the scope of the course or lecture and/or the workload required for planning it

 
 

on online courses, potential permanent identifier

 
 

how much impact the courses and lectures have had (number of participants or courses completed and feedback received)

 
 

on collaborative lectures and courses, the author's own role and input

 
 

on contact lectures and courses, whether they were free of charge or grounds for carrying a fee (e.g., covering organisational costs).

 

Activities related to open education

   

Courses on open education and competence acquired by other methods

Competence can be verified with courses completed and Open Badges.

Suited for evaluating all competence levels.

Use of open educational resources and educational practices in one's own teaching 

Can record examples and feedback received.

Suited for evaluating all competence levels.

Developing and sharing open educational practices

Can describe practices developed and provide references on where to learn more about them.

Can be taken into account especially in the evaluation of more experienced teachers.

Peer review of open education and educational resources produced by others

Can provide examples.

Can be taken into account especially in the evaluation of more experienced teachers.

Helping and training others in open education

Can provide examples.

Can be taken into account especially in the evaluation of more experienced teachers.