There is no doubt that open education (OE) is here to stay, as it is underpinned by systematic research, policy frameworks, advanced open source technology, innovative open pedagogies, diverse capacity building strategies, and so forth. These developments are taking place all over the world, including developing and developed countries, and are supported by governments, international bodies and philanthropic organisation. In Australia, despite some important developments, there are still a limited number of open initiatives and programs at higher education levels. Several factors that might have contributed to this situation include lack of national support through funding and policy development, the competitive nature of Australian higher education, and restrictions based on national copyright laws.
However, some key developments have progressed OE in Australia over the past decade. One of the first centrally funded research projects in Australia investigated the state of play of OER in the higher education sector through a national survey and interviews with key stakeholders. This project titled “Adoption, use and management of OER to enhance teaching and learning in Australia”, was funded by the Australian Government Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) and data was collected mostly in 2011. The findings of this revealed that despite the fact that most participants were aware of OER, the majority had never used, reused or re-distributed OER. This despite the fact that most participants viewed the use of OER as having the potential to lead to new pedagogical practices, improvements in the quality of educational learning materials, and also the promotion of social inclusion across the Australian higher education sector.
A more recent study, also funded by OLT, set to find out and further understand the copyright and licensing challenges inherent in the adoption of OER in Australian, so that educational institutions and educators are able to take advantage of the full potential of openly licensed educational resources. Data from the Open Education Licensing project (http://www.oel.edu.au/) was collected in 2016, and similar to the previous project, data collection took place through a cross-sector survey and stakeholder interviews. Amongst other things, this data informed the development of the project’s key deliverable; the Open Education Licensing Toolkit – OEL Toolkit (http://oel.edu.au/toolkit/).
Although these two projects were built on each other, the purpose of each was not entirely the same; the first one aimed at understanding the state of play of OER in Australian higher education, while the second intended to assist and understand the extent to which open licenses, particularly Creative Commons licenses, were being applied to online resources in higher education in Australia. This paper aims at comparing some of the findings from these two similarly designed research projects, developed five years apart, to uncover the evolving pace, if any, of OE in Australian higher education, and to explore gaps for future research and developments in this space.
Bossu, C., Brown, M., & Bull, D. (2014). Adoption, use and management of Open Educational Resources to enhance teaching and learning in Australia. Sydney: Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. Retrieved from http://www.olt.gov.au/system/files/resources/CG10_1687_Bossu_Report_2014.pdf.