This is the final report of the project Learner Use of Online Educational Resources for Learning (LUOERL), funded by the Higher Education Academy and published in 2001.
It is a report of around 45,000 words, including all the references but excluding all appendices (including these, it rises to around 52,000 words). It has 134 pages in total.
Findings 1. The literature on learner use of online educational resources is very immature, with a lack of meta-reviews. The overwhelming majority of published studies do not generalise beyond their particular contexts of study. There is no consistent methodology. [O.21, O.25.c/h, O.26] 2. There are significant gaps in the literature: there are almost no meso-level studies, no international comparisons, and very little on learners other than university undergraduates. [O.19 and O.25.h; O.25.d/c/g; O.18, O.35] 3. The JISC/HEA OER Programme has so far produced relatively little data on learner use (some partial exceptions are noted). This is to a lesser extent true for all OER literature – but the non-OER literature is much richer. [O.23, 5.1.3; O.43; 5.3] 4. In formal learning, the rationale for searching online is dominated by assessment requirements, explicit or implicit. [O.30, O.32] 5. There is evidence for the following: a. learner need for structure in or above the resources [O.39]; b. the importance of a task-based pedagogy that guides learner use [O.39]; c. student use of multiple methods for discovery (browsing, search engine, tutor and peer guidance), but a particular approach is more shaped by pedagogical task context than by subject area differences (or other contextual variables) [O.42]; d. student preference for audio over video [O.31, 5.1.2]; e. student preference for tools that are previously familiar to them [18.104.22.168, 5.4.2.A/F]; f. positive student attitudes to sharing. [5.1.2, OTTER, MEDEV].
- Only one key study could be found that demonstrated OER having an impact on student attainment. [O.42, 5.4.2.C]
- Only one key study addressed how learners retain access to resources (around half of the sample used bookmarks). [O.40, 22.214.171.124]
- Students are found to be generally lacking in their understanding of provenance and quality. [O.41, 126.96.36.199]
- A more nuanced approach to digital literacy than the ‘digital natives/digital immigrants’ discourse is now gaining traction in the literature. [O.34, 4.2, 5.2.2, 5.3.1]
- Some evidence exists that the challenge of designing resources for users with unknown characteristics (including their level of prior understanding) acts as a barrier to OER development. [O.32, 188.8.131.52]
- There are few UK or EU universities with institutional policies on OER. [O.46]
The following recommendations are made: * Institutions should pay more attention to student views and experience of OER and online resources. (Quality and benchmarking schemes and associated survey instruments can easily be updated to accommodate a greater focus on content .) * Institutions should consider together with their external examiners how best to foster judicious use of resources (including OER) by students, especially in their project and dissertation work. * In course redesign, institutions should aim to make more use of OER and externally provided free-of-charge, non-open resources (e.g. via JISC repositories) in future programmes. * Institutions should ensure that when providing public information about their courses descriptions of ‘study time’ and ‘contact hours’ for courses do not get trapped into a classroom-based narrative that does not provide a realistic description of the learner experience in relation to OER and online systems .