OER1120 Oral Presentation ppt

Friday 13 May 09.30 Cockcroft Theatre

Learning by numbers: trends in collective and collaborative activity on OpenLearn

Andy Lane, The Open University

Conference Theme: Collaboration and communities

Abstract: OpenLearn’s LearningSpace (http://openlearn.open.ac.uk) was originally set up to not only be a repository of OER from The Open University but also to have those OER set within an open learning environment to facilitate communication and collaboration between learner users (Gourley and Lane, 2009). Similarly, OpenLearn’s LabSpace (http://labspace.open.ac.uk) was designed to enable educators to create and repurpose OER from any source, not just The Open University, either individually or in collaboration with others. The open learning environment for both LearningSpace and LabSpace has been based on Moodle and has used both core and added functionality to enable registered users to undertake asynchronous and synchronous communication and to support collective or collaborative open content development. In general use of both LearningSpace and LabSpace is on a self-service basis as there is no proactive Open University moderation or facilitation of communications and collaborations and so it provides a test bed for why and how well communities of interest or practice can develop around OER. The OpenLearn Research Report (McAndrew et al, 2009) did examine some aspects of communication and collaboration over the first two years of the existence of OpenLearn (2006-08). With a further two years of operation this paper revisits and updates some of that data and also details trends in purposeful activities on the two sites.
The investigation of activity on a website is not always straightforward and much of the interpretation of analytics data or empirical observations has to be done with caution (Godwin et al, 2008). It is also not always straightforward to chart trends in activity over time when the site is also subject to many functional and content changes in response to internal and external feedback. Nevertheless this paper examines a number of activities that can be viewed as evidence of collective or collaborative behaviour which have been sustained and grown over time. It also examines activities that have not developed in any way. From this data some tentative conclusions are drawn as to the major factors that drive or inhibit such collective and/or collaborative behaviour and whether this truly represents communities of interest or practice.

Keywords: oer; communities; collective behaviour; collaborative behaviour


Godwin, S. McAndrew, P. and Santos, A. (2008) Behind the Scenes with OpenLearn: the Challenges of Researching the Provision of Open Educational Resources. Electronic Journal of E-Learning, 6(2), pp 139–148. Available at: http://oro.open.ac.uk/12121/

Gourley, B. and Lane, A. (2009) Re-invigorating openness at The Open University: the role of Open Educational Resources. Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning, 24:1, 57-65

McAndrew, P., Santos, A, . Lane, A., Godwin. P., Okada, A., Wilson, T., Connolly, T., Ferreira, G., Buckingham-Shum, S., Bretts, J., and Webb, R. OpenLearn Research Report (2006-2008). 72 pp. 2009. The Open University, ISBN 0780749229252 (20%) Available at http://oro.open.ac.uk/17513/