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Exploring reuse of open educational resource in art & design practice based learning & teaching.

SCORE presentation Designs on elearning 2011

This (updated paper, post conference) aims to encourage feedback and debate around issues of how we best identify and evaluate the most effective and efficient ways of using and repurposing open educational resources (OERs) for art and design practiced based learning and teaching. I've worked at the University of the Arts London for seven years, over the past year I have been working on the ALTO project and a SCORE fellowship at the Open University where I'm researching how we make explicit the unique tacit experience of art and design learning and teaching by identifying best practice in rich media OER use and reuse within the sector.

The Helsinki Designs on elearning conference was a great success and the conference provided a great platform to discuss OER reuse, there was lots of interest in the OER and Open practice movement. The issues around reuse of OER sparked lengthy and fruitful debate. There was a twitter cal from conference organiser 'Let us each upload 2 modules into and move collectively outside the institutions, said me #delhel

The issue of OER reuse was also added to the possible list for Themes for next Year.

Following the conference I would like to try and capture this interest and momentum and develop an OER arts community of practice to help identify a core cluster of national and international OER arts resource websites from across the sector using the following URL

Existing spaces

Under the current competitive climate for university places there is an increased and growing pressure to improve the overall student learning experience including the delivery of more open, flexible and blended learning opportunities. A particularly problematic area for practice based subjects such as Art and Design where the full attendance, face-to-face teaching model is traditionally seen as the only, and the best, way to teach, extending the range of study modes and options presents a real challenge. It is clear that the traditional teaching model as well as a wide range of associated institutional support systems needs to change, the tricky questions for institutions is how?

The University of the Arts London is predominately a making university; students are encouraged to be self-directed, reflective and engage in regular peer-to-peer and group critiques. Very few arts courses at UAL provide project briefs, most learning and teaching takes place in peer/tutor led small group collaborative discussions or one-to-one in an 'open' studio environment. Video, image and audio documentation is the preferred media for capturing and sharing art and design practiced based tutorials and resources.

Sharing resources

The primary online course communication tool at UAL is the internal VLE Blackboard, within Blackboard each subject area is locked into its own closed section; the VLE can be complex and difficult to navigate. Blackboard does not facilitate sharing or browsing across courses or colleges and is closed to external users. As a result over the past few years content for learning and teaching is being independently dispersed across the web using more familiar and user friendly Web 2.0 environments such as wikis, bolgs, group websites, personal youtube accounts, Flickr groups etc. However cross college 'shared practice' remains a problem, good quality learning materials are being produced and shared either internally, hidden away in Blackboard or lost in locally shared group blogs, these resources often become dormant and forgotten as the onus is often placed on one person 'the teacher' to maintain and develop this content, some content never leaves the classroom/studio.

Over the past three years I have experimented with the development and use of open resources as part my day-to-day teaching practice at UAL, during this period I developed Process.arts was developed in 2009 with the aim of creating a new user driven online studio community and collaborative resource that explores process in arts practice by showing the day-to-day studio/professional practice of staff and students at UAL whilst also sharing, informing and engaging with the wider arts community. Resources created for process.arts have been received well internally and externally, an average 40 to 60 unique visitors a day visit and one video tutorial alone on the process.arts youtube Channel received nearly 40,000 hits along with many comments and interest. Quantitative data such as views and downloads give little indication to how this content is being used.

New open spaces

A key hurdle of moving from a closed space to an open space to encourage flexible and blended learning opportunities was initiated by ALTO in the early stages of the project, the institutional adoption of creative commons licensees within UALs core policy was fundamental to the project and long term institutional change. Its hoped the introduction of Creative commons licensing will provide a sense of 'pedagogic' freedom for teachers and staff to experiment in all aspects of open educational practice. Although this does not necessarily mean people will participate, it is a important step in the right direction of encouraging those within the institution who are on the periphery of being an open practitioner. Creative commons provides multiple license options for the user, e.g. a user can share locally, institutionally or to the world, which means user can license their work to be as open and closed as they wish. These small steps into open practice can help overcome initial staff reluctance to create and share teaching resources. The primary issues for most academics and technical staff is the amount of time and effort it takes to produce and publish teaching material, some members of staff also have concerns regarding giving away their work fearing this will render them redundant in the long term. For teachers 'approaches and conceptions of teaching' to change regarding aligning open educational practice to match the existing face-to-face method practiced in studios, institutions would need to ensure their teachers hold the same 'commensurate conception of teaching' (Richardson, 2005) towards open practice as they do for current studio practice. To achieve this the institutions at policy level would have to adopt new 'approaches to teaching and conceptions of teaching' themselves in the form of OEP.

If we were to look at the notion of teachers as digital immigrants, who are learning to live with technology and students as digital natives, living with technology since birth. (Prensky, 2001) we begin to see a huge gap that divides learners and teachers. In my experience of teaching digital media over the past 7 years it is not true to say all students are digital natives or all teachers are digital immigrants, although we may see an increasing sway towards this being a problem in the future. As the pace of technology development increases emphasis should be placed on 'progressive practice' and addressing the problems of digital literacy and web 2.0 use in learning and teaching. Prensky (2007, forward to 18:10)


Sharing and reusing resources is nothing new in learning and teaching although the notion of OEP is, the University of Oxford recently released their JISC funded OER Impact report[1] the report illustrates the impact of resource use and reuse within learning and teaching.  An Iceberg metaphor is used to illustrate this landscape; the top of the iceberg (ALTO for example) is where the openly licensed modules, small pieces of OER are made officially available, visible reuse, institutionally endorsed and viewed as low risk. Below the water line we see the private spaces (VLEs) images in power point, websites, wiki, blogs, and licenses are not seen as important, resources are created from a selection of the 'best' random google finds, we could also relate this to the notion of artists sourcing found footage or objects in their practice. Below the water line is what Dave White describes as the 'learning black market',[2] staff and students copy, reuse and repurpose content as they find it, no process or practice governs this use, there's no other way. With the institutional adoption of OERs and individuals adopting open educational practice as a default starting point we can begin to address modes of operating effectively in this new open space.

One of the key challenges for open practice and research for teachers and students is finding or being directed to the useful open content. Random google searches will get you what you want but the content will be more than likely high risk and non-reusable in an OER sense. If as I did this summer wanted to find animation resources for use in my teaching, google searches even advanced searches returned little to no usable open content.

There is a real need for a federated subject based resource to assist the open search process. The time it takes to find, prepare, produce, repurpose and curate open learning materials needs to be addressed.

As Beethoven once wrote "There should be only one repository of art in the world, to which the artist would donate his works in order to take what he would need".[3]

Authoring published content which is 'open to the world ' presents new problems with how we manage feedback on our open content, by operating in this new open space we have to consider the new parameters of our practice.

How can we reuse OER content in art & design practice based learning & teaching?

Authorship as selection: I have used and reused resources myself effectively to support and enhance my teaching practice and the learner experience although I have little evidence of how others have used. It's generally unknown how OER content is going to be repurposed and reused and there is very little evidence of this happening. Its thought sites such as process.arts and ALTO will attract a mixture resources, mostly granular in nature, although these standalone pieces of content are interesting it is difficult to assess how 'useful' they are with regards to learning aims, objectives and outcomes. On there own, these 'informal' learning resources could be dismissed as having little or no academic significance or use to the curriculum framework.

Below are some possible questions for debate, please feel free to suggest new questions and/or contribute, thank you.


What are the main barriers to OER reuse?

How do we share and collaborate in this space and overcome the obstacles of use and re-use specifically when creating and designing complex rich media learning resources and objects?

Develop an Arts-OER 'reuse' community of practice, how would a discipline-based, cross-university online community of practice help to overcome staff reluctance to create and share teaching resources in an OER environment?

Examine the effective use of source files and edit notes in relation to producing better 'editable' learning resources.

What are the main drivers to OER reuse?

The ALTO project team[4] has concluded that there are many strong benefits for involvement with OER and its associated communities, because:

  • Support greater flexible and blended learning opportunities for future students in order to extend the range of study modes and options at the UAL and beyond.
  • It is an effective institutional and professional development tool in the context of externalizing practice, pedagogic conceptions and strategies in order to support reflection and development.
  • It provides a foundation to introduce and extend collaborative learning design skills amongst staff to support greater flexible and blended learning opportunities in order to extend the range of study modes and options
  • It brings external business and collaboration opportunities

What evidence do we have for OER reuse?

Observe and contrast current practice in the OER community.

Share stories, explore and exchange stories and examples of existing OER reuse practice which exploit the creation of new resources through the appropriation and reworking of existing content, ideas, materials and processes.

The arts have a strong tradition of creating new meanings through the appropriation and reworking of existing content, ideas, materials and processes, how can this tradition inform and encourage the development and reuse of OER rich media content.

Some examples of student and staff resource - Please forward links to OER arts resources online and I will add them to the following cluster -


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Brookfield, S. (1995) Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Casey. J (2011) abstract and presentation 'Taking Care of Business: Sustainable Engagement with OCW and OER' -

Chris Taylor - chr1staylor (Twitter) source:

Gauntlett, D. 2011. Making is Connecting: The Social Meaning of Creativity, from DIY and Knitting to YouTube and Web 2.0, Malden, Polity Press.

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Polanyi, M. 2009. Tacit dimension. London: The university of Chicago Press.

Prensky, M. 2007. Keynote Address at Handheld Learning Conference, London. [online]   <> [Accessed 22 July 2011]. (Forward to 18:10)

Prensky, M. 2001. Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. MCB University Press, Vol. 9 No. 5.

Richardson, J. 2005. Students' approaches to learning and teachers' approaches to teaching in higher education. Educational Psychology, 25(6), 673-680.

Ray Land, R. Meyer, J.H.F. and Smith. 2008. Threshold concepts within the disciplines. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Shreeve, A. (2008). Transitions: variations in tutors' experience of practice and teaching relations in art and design. PhD Thesis, Lancaster University, Lancaster.

Njenga, J. K. and Fourie, L. C. H. (2010) The myths about e-learning in higher education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(2), p206

Wenger, E. White, N. and Smith, J.D., 2009. Digital Habitats; Stewarding Technology for Communities. Portland: Cpsquare.

Wenger, E. 1998. Communities of Practice Learning, meaning and Identity. New Yotk: Cambridge University Press

White, D. Manton, M.  2011 JISC-funded OER Impact Study, University of Oxford, 2011 [Accessed 25 September 2011].

Wikibooks. Open Education Practices: A User Guide for Organisations [online] (last modified on 18 February 2011, at 00:18.) Avalible at: <> [Accessed 10 August 2011].

Wiley David (2008):





[4] John Casey, Hywell Davies, Chris Follows, Nancy Turner, Ed Webb-Ingall, University of the Arts London, Centre for Learning & Teaching in Art & Design, 272 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7EY


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This text, Exploring reuse of open educational resource in art & design practice based learning & teaching., by Chris Follows is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.