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Beyond Distance at University of Leicester embarks on two new open educational resources projects: TIGER and OSTRICH

Following the successful completion of the OTTER project, the Beyond Distance Research Alliance at the University of Leicester has received further funding from JISC and the HEA to continue spearheading the creation and release of learning materials as open educational resources (OERs) via two new projects - TIGER (Transforming Interprofessional Groups through Educational Resources) and OSTRICH (OER Sustainability through Teaching & Research Innovation: Cascading across HEIs).

OERs are learning materials that can be accessed via the Web and carry a licence allowing others to reuse and customise them. Government funding has been made available for these projects with a view to promoting higher education in the UK, based on strong evidence from the Open University in the UK and MIT in the USA which shows that OERs can significantly boost student enrolment. The other major aim of the programme is to enable academics to share best practice and avoid duplicating efforts in learning design. Academics and learners in developing and emerging countries can also benefit by gaining free access to excellent quality learning materials from reputed HE institutions.

Beyond Distance established a reputation for its work in OERs through the OTTER (Open, Transferable, Technology-enhanced Educational Resources) project from May 2009 to April 2010, in which over 430 credits’ worth of learning materials were published as OERs, in 13 subject areas ranging from Politics through Law to Genetics. (See www.le.ac.uk/oer.) A major outcome of the OTTER project was a workflow and quality framework called CORRE , which includes step-by-step procedures for ensuring that there is no breach of third-party copyright, and transforming and formatting materials to make them reusable and customisable by other academics and students in different contexts. Beyond Distance is now leading the way for other institutions to apply the knowledge gained from piloting CORRE at the University of Leicester during the OTTER project.

TIGER is a collaborative project between the University of Northampton, De Montfort University (DMU) and the University of Leicester, and will release teaching resources amounting to at least 360 credits into Jorum Open , the main repository for UK Higher Education, and TIGER’s own repository. The three institutions will collect, develop and share OERs designed for Interprofessional Education (IPE) in Health and Social Care. IPE is an emerging field within Health and Social Care curricula, in which students learn about each others’ professional practice to enable more effective collaboration and improve health outcomes. The TIGER project aims to dramatically benefit IPE in Health and Social Care and to solve ongoing challenges in cross-professional collaboration. TIGER OERs will address topic areas for which there is a great and ongoing need, and will be easily accessible to clinical teams in their workplaces via the Web. The OERs will ultimately benefit patients, because they focus on improving the quality of care delivery.

In the OSTRICH project, the University of Leicester is supporting the Universities of Bath and Derby in creating and publishing at least 100 credits’ worth of OERs each, in a range of subject areas, following procedures based on the CORRE framework from OTTER. The OSTRICH project is also developing and testing a model for cascading knowledge about OERs and OER processes, enabling other higher education institutions to gain from the knowledge learnt during OTTER. Apart from the OERs themselves, all workflow templates and draft policy guidelines produced in the project will be made available for other institutions to customise to their contexts.

Beyond Distance is proud to be one of the institutions at the forefront of the OER movement in the UK, raising the profile of not only the University of Leicester but also of UK Higher Education in general, in the international Higher Education market.

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