Shared challenges give a structure for the collective intelligence of the community and an opportunity to participate in OLnet research. OLnet has a portfolio of research activities within these strands to provide an infrastructure for the network.

Key Research Strands of the OLnet Project

  1. Participatory Learning


  2. Learning Design of OER
  3. Collective Intelligence
  4. The OER Effectiveness Cycle
  5. Integrating Pedagogies and technologies that support individual learning and group knowledge building
  6. OER Reuse
  7. The Professional Educator
  8. Connecting with Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa
  9. Fellowships
  10. Evaluation

Actitivites and Projects achieve:

  • The provision of research outcomes that enable discussions and enhance practices.
  • A pool of resources that exemplifies combined pedagogical approaches for the use and reuse of OER
  • Capacity building in the areas of methods, design and evaluation for teachers.
  • Insight into OER use in challenging contexts.

OLnet Researchers publications on ORO (The Open University, Research Repository)

Follow the links below to find research publications (not all OER related) from the OLnet researchers at the Open University:

Panagiota Alevizou :
Canan Blake :
Simon Buckingham Shum :
Doug Clow :
Grainne Conole :
Anna De Liddo :
Rob Farrow :
Ann Jones :
Kasia Kozinska :
Elpida Makriyanni :
Patrick McAndrew :
Chris Pegler :
Andreia Inamorato Dos Santos :
Eileen Scanlon :
Martin Weller :
Tina Wilson:



Participatory learning

Research Leads

Elpida Makriyannis, Doug Clow

What is it?

The overall aim of this strand is to understand how participatory learning - active engagement, participation and contribution by learners, often in social, open and creative ways - relates to open educational resources (OER).

iSpot forumThe research questions

  • How does participatory learning behaviour manifest?
  • How do their modes and types of interaction compare with those in traditional OER contexts?
  • What drives participation in these communities?
  • How do users participate?  What are the different modes/profiles?
  • Are there hidden elements effecting their participation? What are they?
  • Is there any learning taking place?  And what learning is that?

Progress to date

Daily observations were performed on user participatory behaviour in 50 online learning communities using public domains in order to determine how users participate in these communities and what drives participation.  The findings of the observational study resulted in the development of a new model for participatory behaviour in online learning communities.  To test this model, the iSpot community ( was observed.  The outcomes were:

  1. The development of a new framework (The Fairy Rings of Participation Model) that describes user participation in online learning communities
  2. Participatory activity in online communities falls into four modes: a) browsing, gathering and sharing content; b) giving and receiving feedback; c) collaborating and jointly deciding; d) sharing control over the community and content
  3. Participatory mobility in online communities is influenced by underground multidirectional activities and hidden elements i.e. reciprocity, identity, habits, real-world probes
  4. Initial findings show participation of iSpot members depending on the same underlying elements found in the model; recipricated activity encourages learners to add more content; real world probes - students asked to post observations as part of course requirements; and identity - experts who know each other's work will engage deeper and participate more often
  5. Young members mimic expert scientific style, making more accurate and in-depth descriptions as they become more involved in the community, showing increased confidence about their learning
  6. Students with initially limited knowledge improve so much taht they are able to challenge or suggest alternative descriptions to expert identifications

Some of this work has been published in a conference paper ('Fairy Rings of Participation', Makriyannis and de Liddo, Aalborg, 2010).  A full paper has been written ('iSpot analysed: Participatory Learning and Reputation') and presented at the Learning Analytics and Knowledge Conference in Banff February/March 2011.  More are planned.

OLnet has also been involved in contributing to existing external research projects.  This work forms a 'spin-off' to the Participatory Learning strand:

  1. TwHistory ( virtual re-enactments of historical events, broadcast via Twitter streams in real-time.  Research has been to explore opportunities for allowing learners new ways to experience and learn about historical events and figures, not only as re-enactment observers, but as active participants
  2. SmartHistory ( a free and open, not-for-profit, online art history textbook that uses multimedia to deliver unscripted conversations between art historians and the history of art.  The main objective of the research was to identify enablers and barriers in the creation and contribution of OER content to the site and to the SmartHistory OER community
  3. HESTIA (Herodotus Encoded Space-Text-Imaging Archive) open-source project using materials from an OER database on Herodotus with historical information across time and space using Google Earth and Google Maps.  The research was aroudn the tools (i.e. Herodotus Earth and Herodotus Narrative Timemap) and experiences of those researching, teaching and learning about the ancient world.
  4. OER Content and Discovery: How to make open content search and discovery an easier and quicker process for users worldwide.  OLnet, in collaboration with the HESTIA team, won the Google Digital Humanities Award in 2010.


Learning design of OER

Research Leads

Grainne Conole, Giota Alevizou, Patrick McAndrew

What is it?

The overall aim of this strand is to understand the role of design in OER and apply learning design tools and resources to the reuse of Open Educational Resources (OER).

PatrickResearch Questions

  • How can we support teachers and learners in adopting new and innovative approaches to learning and teaching whcih are pedagogically effective and make good use of new technologies?
  • What skills do teachers and learners need?
  • How can we help teachers and learners design, use and reuse open educational resources in different contexts to support both formal and informal learning, and in both individual and collaborative learning contexts?

Progress to date

The initial focus was to apply tools, concepts and resources developed as part of the OU Learning Design Initiative to the design and reuse of OER.  This included use of the conceptual design tools that the project has produced and the social networking site, Cloudworks, for sharing and discussing OER.

As part of this Grainne Conole and Patrick McAndrew worked closely with Professor Yannis Dimitriadis when he came to the OU for 4 months as an OLnet fellow.  The work included combing the learning design tools developed at the OU with the collaborative learning tools Yannis and his team have produced in order to enable use of OER in collaborative learning contexts.  This included running a series of workshops and evaluating participant discourse.  Representing learning designs helped communicate the intended way to use materials while the value of the pattern based approach was in encouraging changed ways to teach with OER.  Two papers, a chapter and a conference presenation arose from this work.

Work on the Learning Design strand was extended to include related projects on the use of Web 2.0 tools ("Pearls in the clouds") and the consultation with the EU-funded OPAL project examining concepts of quality in OER.  The Cloudworks site has become a core part of the OLnet technical infrastructure and has been used extensively over the past year by members of the OLnet team and others involved in the OER community.  The site was used to augment a range of real and virtual OER events and discussions around OER.  Giota Alevizou has produced a detailed evaluation report of these activities, which shows how the Cloudworks site has been used effectively to support evidence-based practices around the use of OER.  The design approach used to reuse OER in the Peer to Peer University (P2PU) brought out how there were implicit designs, such as 'read-think-reflect-share-comment' in how groups were expected to operate.

As part of a visiting fellowship, Professor Elsebeth Sorensen worked closely with Grainne Conole on a special issue about OER and creativity.  This will be published in EURODL during 2011.

Collective intelligence

Research Leads

Simon Buckingham Shum, Anna De Liddo, Michelle Bachler
(Knowledge Media Institute, Open U.)


This research strand investigates the concept of Collective Intelligence (CI) for OER research and practice.  In particular this strand aims at designing and developing a CI infrastructure which exploits social knowledge and collective thinking in order to build a network of organisatons, resources, claims and evidence which can scale as the OER community adds to it.

Research questions

  • How can we help researchers and practitioners in the OER field to contribute to the evidence of OER effectivenss and to investigate the evidence collaboratively?
  • What does CI for OER research and practice mean and what community issues can it help to address?
  • How can we design a CI infrastructure to enhance the ways in which researchers and practitioners contribute to the evidence of OER effectiveness?  How do we design this infrastructure to help investigate the evidence collaboratively?
  • What are the main issues related to the design and implementation of a CI infrastructure for the OER community?


  • The starting point for the project was the Cohere tool, which enables social-semantic web annotation and knowledge mapping. Cohere started development with Hewlett Foundation funding during the OpenLearn project which preceded OLnet, and provides the foundation platform for our CI research. Successive versions have been released, it was among the winners of the Mozilla Labs/MacArthur Foundation Jetpack4Learning Challenge, and in the process it served as a tool for analysing OER phenomena including:
  • A significant activity was the project's analysis of Hewlett Foundation grantee reports, as a source of insight into what has been learned, and what challenges remain. Specific information structure designed and implemented to import OER grantee project reports analysis
  • The Evidence Hub for Open Education evolved the user experience from Cohere (a generic and powerful knowledge mapping tool, but not tuned specifically for OER). This was informed by the results of the Hewlett Grantees OLnet workshop which took place in March 2011 in San Francisco.

    The Hub provides OER scholars, researchers and practitioners with an environment where they can literally put themselves on the map (as a project or organisation) and put their ideas on the map:

    • Challenges and Issues can be posted, explored and discussed
    • Proposed Solutions can be added, or relevant Claims from research
    • These are backed up by supporting and challenging Evidence and grounded in more detailed documents
    • People, Projects and Organizations can be added to map the OER movement geographically

Towards the end of OLnet, the Evidence Hub was presented to the OER community at the main conference:

  • De Liddo, Anna; Buckingham Shum, Simon; McAndrew, Patrick and Farrow, Robert (2012). The Open Education Evidence Hub: A Collective Intelligence Tool for Evidence based Policy. Presented at: Cambridge 2012: Joint OER12 and OpenCourseWare Consortium Global 2012 Conference, 16-18 April 2012, Cambridge, UK. Eprint:

This work has also placed OLnet at the forefront of the wider CI research field:

  • The concept of Contested CI was co-authored by OLnet researchers and one of the OLnet Fellows, Ágnes Sándor, in the primary journal in human-centred collaboration technologies:
    De Liddo, A., Sándor, Á. and Buckingham Shum, S. (2012, in press). Contested Collective Intelligence: Rationale, Technologies, and a Human-Machine Annotation Study. Computer Supported Cooperative Work. Eprint:
  • The team also chaired a very successful CI workshop at the ACM CSCW2012 conference.

Next Steps...

The Open Education Evidence Hub will of course continue to run, and we welcome contact from follow-on projects who see ways in which to build on it. The broader Evidence Hub concept is now exciting interest in other communities seeking a dynamic website to pool evidence and ideas from researchers, practitioners and policymakers. Examples of other Hubs will come on stream shortly, and an open source release is cheduled for June 2012, enabling anybody to set up their own customizable Hub.

OER effectiveness cycle

Research Leads

James Greeno, Renee Fisher (Carnegie Mellon University)

What is it?

We are developing a collection of case studies of OER travel and effectiveness that will contribute both to the knowledge base for designing and adapting open educational resources and to fundamental understanding in the learning sciences.

Research Questions

  1. What combination of factors promotes adoption of OERs into new contexts in a way that improves teaching and learning?
  2. Can we provide a framework for evaluating and improving the effectiveness of OER as it travels through various contexts?
  3. Can we develop effective best practices to aid developers who wish to evaluate their OERs and build in features to promote its transferability to new contexts?
  4. Can we develop best practices to aid potential adopters evaluate and integrate OER into their teaching?

Progress to date

During the summer of 2010 two OERs were selected on which to focus the study.  These OERs are both well established and respected within their fields.  Both OERs were currently travelling to new contexts and support at least a loose network of use where feedback from adopting instructors comes back to the development teams.

  1. The InterAct curriculum is a compilation of web development educational resources created by a variety of industry experts from around the globe and offered open and free online.  During this study, a subset of these authors published a book, intended to support and provide organization for the online materials.
  2. The OLI Statistics course is a full course developed for individual students and instructors.  It is offered online.  In this study, it is used in a blended mode, where the instructor incorporates the materials within their traditional course.

In the fall of 2010, the developers and adopters of the InterAct curriculum were interviewed during their use of the OERs.  The data includes observations of an instructor preparing to use an OER in his teaching as well as interviews with both instructors about their teaching and selection and use of OERs.  Both of these cases are largely positive, so the findings of these case studies are conjectures about aspects of the OERs that the researchers hypothesize to be contributing to successful use of these resources.

The researchers are interviewing a second round of faculty who are adopting one of the two OERs under study during the previous round.  This round of interviews encompasses four faculty from a variety of contexts within American formal higher education settings.  The faculty using the OLI statistics course are planning to use the OER for the first time while the faculty using the InterAct curriculum has experienced incorporating the OER during at least one previous term.

During the first round of interviews the researchers observed the OERs were useful in two different ways.  In one case the OER provided instructional activities with content that fitted well with the programme that an instructor had established.  In the other case, activities of interacting with web resources were the skills targeted by instruction.  The researchers plan to have enough data to begin constructing and testing a framework for evaluation as they continue the study of OER travel.


Integrating pedagogies

Research Leads

Marlene Scardamalia (University of Toronto), John Rinderle (Carnegie Mellon University)

What is it?

In this project strand we are layering Open Learning Initiative (OLI) courses with an open discourse environment - Knowledge Forum (KF) - developed at the University of Toronto, to encourage collaborative knowledge building.  Traditionally, a learner using an OLI course in an informal setting works independently, supported by frequent opportunities for practice and guided by targeted hints and feedback.  With KF, learners interact within a shared social space using tools designed to help structure and organise their ideas.  Learners in the blended OLI/KF environment collaborative in virtual cohort groups to modify and extend each other's ideas, creating public knowledge, thereby transforming and extending the OER and building a community of support.

We are examining and relating data from the frequent assessment opportunities in the OLI course with the semantic space and social network connections formed by the knowledge building discourse.  We are exploring ways these data can be used to provide feedback to students, instructors and course designers to influence achievement of desired learning outcomes.

Research questions

  • How do we effectively combine the individual learner pedagogy of OLI with the group learning pedagogy of Knowledge Forum?  How do we introduce educators and learners to knowledge building and assist them in incorporating social learning into their hybrid use of OLI?
  • How can we measure group knowledge construction and assess its effect on individual learners?  How do we relate actions in the knowledge building enviornment to outcomes from the practice opportunities in OLI?  How can we feed this information back to instructors and learners in meaningful, actionable ways which promote learning?
  • If the combined OLI/KF environment enhances learning for a few students, do their contributions to the collaborative space enhance the work of the group?  How can we assess growth and spread of ideas?
  • Can we use knowledge building to better support unaffiliated, individual learners utilizing the OLI OER by creating knowledge building communities around their use?  Can we keep ideas alive and improving in a worldwide open community?

Progress to date

A new implementation of the Knowledge Forum tool has been developed that addresses the technical and usability barriers to a rich integration with the OLI environment and provides a framework for exploring the artefacts of discourse for research and instructor feedback.  A usability evaluation of the new Knowledge Forum tool has been performed to identify and address human computer interaction issues and optimize the user interface for the learner.

An instructor manual and getting started guide has been drafted to provide a scaffold for new instructors and students in the activity of knowledge building.  A reporting tool for instructors was created to assess the participation and contributions to the discourse space by individual learners.

The following methods for evaluating discourse were identified for use in an upcoming pilot study: the community inquiry model (Garrison, Anderson and Archer 2001), the interaction analysis model (Gunawardena, Low and Anderson 1997), latent semantic analysis, clustering algorithms, social network analysis, etc.

The semantic space of the OLI statistics course were analyzed to explore the relationship between concepts and themes occurring in discourse, topics and locations in the OLI course, relating student contributions in each.

The project team are working with community college instructors to develop learning activities for the combined OLI/KF environment.  Through this process the team are refining the environment and support materials to better address the needs of community college educators and learners.

A team from the University of Hong Kong is also contributing to the design and development of the new tool.


OER Reuse

ReuseResearch Leads

Andreia Inamorato Dos Santos, Chris Pegler

What is it?

The aim of this research strand is to understand whether and how OERs are used and reused worldwide in a variety of contexts and target groups. Research in the Re-Use strand uses action research to analyse the use and reuse of OER in cross-cultural contexts.  Case studies into OER reuse have been carried out in the UK, Zambia and Brazil, in a variety of contexts and focusing on different target groups, such as HE lecturers, secondary school teachers and student teachers. The case studies provide a rich description of the contexts in which OER are used and how, as well as enabling the identification of the possible drivers and barriers to use and reuse.

The case studies carried out to date come from collaborations with the following institutions/projects:

  1. UnisulVirtual (Florianópolis, Brazil)
  2. Aisha Project School (Lusaka, Zambia)
  3. SCORE fellows (Open University, UK)
  4. OU Masters’ course H800 (Open University, UK)
  5. Universidade Federal Fluminense (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
  6. Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora (Minas Gerais, Brazil)

This work has been disseminated internationally, notably through a series of presentations and workshops in Brazil, and at the e-Learning Africa Conference, May 2010 alongside two other projects from The Open University: Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA) and Health Education and Training (HEAT).  Key findings to date include: 

  • Institutional support and strategy are essential for OER adoption and use.
  • Lecturers and teachers are often unclear of what are or are not OER.
  • OER support the use of new teaching practices.
  • Lecturers and teachers may perceive OER repurposing as a daunting task.  This confirms previous research into recontextualisation of reusable educational resources (e.g. Brosnan, K.D.B., (2006). Initial Participation in a learning-object exchange network: A practice theoretic perspective. Lancaster University.)



The professional educator

Research Leads

Tina Wilson, Andreia Inamorato Dos Santos

What is it?

The aim of this research strand is to understand the role of lecturers and teachers as professional educators in relation to the development of and use of OER.   Research is split into three themes:

Students learning Spanish in Alicante by Zador Spanish schools Spain, on Flickr
  1. Reuse: to carry out and support action research in the use and reuse of OER in next contexts looking at the cross-cultural issues that are involved
  2. Educators: to understand broadly how various stakeholders (managers, lecturers and students) can be involved in the creation, use and reuse of OER across educational levels and subject areas
  3. Information and Computer Science (ICS): to focus on a single subject and explore potential and actual use of OER for formal and informal learning from lecturers' and students' perspectives within the ICS discipline

Image: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  Zador Spanish schools Spain 

Research Questions

  • Do teachers and lecturers use OER and what is their role in the process of OER creation and reuse?
  • What are the main barriers to OER reuse (technical, support and design)?
  • What is the potential for reuse of OER across different disciplines in HE, FE and schools?
  • What are the main drivers for OER reuse?
  • What are the key impacts of OER on institutions and changes to working practices?
  • What is the potential for reuse of OER in the Information and Computer Science (ICS) discipline?

Progress to date


Case Studies into OER Reuse have been carried out in the UK, Zambia and Brazil, in a variety of contexts and focussing on different target groups, such as HE lecturers, secondary school teachers and student teachers.  The case studies provide a rich description of the contexts in which OER are used and how, as well as enabling the identification of the possible drivers and barrier to use and reuse.  The case studies come from collaborations with the following institutions/projects:

  1. UnisulVirtual (Florianopolis, Brazil)
  2. Aisha Project School (Lusaka, Zambia)
  3. SCORE fellows (open University, UK)
  4. OU Masters' course H800 (Open University, UK)
  5. Universidade Federal Fluminense (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
  6. Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora (Minas Gerais, Brazil)
Current status and findings to date:
  • Institutional support and strategy are essential for OER adoption and use
  • Lecturers and teachers are often unclear of what is or is not OER
  • OER encourage the use of new teaching practices
  • Lecturers and teachers tend to perceive OER repurposing as a daunting task

This work has been disseminated internationally, notably through a series of presentations and workshop in Brazil, and at the e-learning Africa Conference (May 2010) alongside two other projects from The Open Unviersity: Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA) and Health Education and Training (HEAT).

The Professional Educator

The role of educators and the barriers that have an impact on the process of OER creation, use and reuse have been investigated in three ways:

  1. An evaluation of the Project on Open Content for Knowledge Expoisition and Teaching (POCKET where course materials from three campus-based universities were transformed into OER and uploaded and published on OpenLearn (
  2. A comparison of OER production between The Open University, UK; Open Univesrity Netherlands and Delft University in the Netherlands
  3. The status of OER in Turkey

Educators are anxious initially about the quality of their materials if offered the opportunity to make them openly available.  Production methods can vary greatly between different OER initiatives and savings should be sought for sustainability.

The reuse of OER for teaching and learning across different disciplines in HE, FE and schools were investigated through two initiatives:

  • Curriculum and Pedagogy in Technology Assisted Learning (CAPITAL) investigated the potential of OpenLearn OER for five HEIs in the UK, Germany, South Africa and Kenya and the actual use of OpenLearn OER discussed as case studies by an FE/HE and a HE institution in the UK
  • The potential to reuse HE level OER from the OU Netherlands and the OU UK in schools to help final year pupils decide which courses they might like to follow at university.  OER have great potential for reuse and innovators adopt them, though in the main individuals need support to adapt OER to their context.  OER intended for HE can be tailored successfully for reuse by FE and Schools as a transitional approach.

Information and Computer Science (ICS)

The potential for reuse of OER for formal and informal learning in the Information and Computer Science (ICS) discipline was investigated through the potential and actual use of OpenLearn.  Three studies were conducted in parallel.  One was 'OER and Web 2 for HCI' which looked at possibilities for formal and informal learning from the perspective of two distance learning lecturers.  The second study formed a case study of possible and actual reuse of OpenLearn OER for formal learning by a campus-based lecturer.  The third study also uses the OpenLearn platform to look at the potential and actual use of Web 2.0 and OER by a lecturer and their students studying for their final year undergraduate project.  Another aspect of working with ICS is the sharing of open materials in the ICS discipline area across different countries; this work is being conducted in the European project OpenSE (


Connecting with Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA)

The OLnet-TESSA Fellowship scheme is closed. The OLnet project is not currently recruiting any more Fellows.

School Blackboard by H2O Alchemist, on Flickr


Strand Lead

Freda Wolfenden

What is it?

There were six special OLnet-TESSA Fellowships supported in partnership with the TESSA project, open to scholars and other educational professionals from Sub Saharan countries where TESSA already operates (Countries: Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia)


TESSA (Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa) brings together teachers and teacher educators from across Africa. It offers a range of materials (Open Educational Resources) in four languages to support school based teacher education and training.

TESSA is about wider dissemination of open resources for teaching, helping educators to use them effectively, and promoting culture change. At the heart of TESSA lies the introduction of student-centred approach and adaptation of educational materials to compensate for the shortcomings or a complete absence of technology. That shift in teaching culture is a key objective of the TESSA project whose advocates believe that it is possible to improve teaching practice. (Image: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  H2O Alchemist )

OLnet-TESSA Fellows

OLnet-TESSA fellows were able to take advantage of a two-week visit at the Walton Hall campus of the Open University (OU) in Milton Keynes, in the United Kingdom, where they were provided with resources for research, networking and collaboration.  They were offered further support upon their return to their home institution while they conducted field research and wrote papers and reports.  In addition to providing fellows with support, the OLnet-TESSA connection afforded various opportunities for researching the use and reuse of OERs in real communities of practice.

An additional piece of research work was funded in Uganda without a visit to the UK as it offered such great value for money.

OLnet TESSA fellows included:

  • Ms Pritee Auckloo (Lecturer at Mauritius Institute of Education)
  • Mrs Juliana Bbuye (Lecturer at Makerere University, Uganda)
  • Miss Anuradha Gungadeen (Lecturer in Open & Distance Learning at Mauritius Institute of Education)
  • Doris Kaije, (Lecturer at Kyambogo University, Uganda - piece of work without visit to UK)
  • Prof Fred Keraro (Professor at Egerton University, Kenya)
  • Dr Dele Yaya (National Teachers Institute, Nigeria)

A report summarising the work of these fellowships is in the process of being written by Pauline Ngimwa.  For reference the guidelines for the scheme are still available on at and links to Pauline Ngimwa's earlier report are available at


The OLnet Fellowship scheme is closed. The OLnet project is not currently recruiting any more Fellows.


Strand Leads

Patrick McAndrew, Karen Cropper

What is it?

OLnet fellowships were offered for researchers and practitioners who wish to contribute to the understanding of Open Educational Resource (OER) design and use worldwide. 

There were also six special TESSA Fellowships in partnership with the TESSA project

OLnet Fellowship Programme

OLnet invited applications for fellowships. OLnet fellows worked on projects that helped identify the value and evidence for use of OER, either a research project of their own or by joining one of the ongoing OLnet research projects.  The guidelines for the recruitment process are still available on this site for reference here.

The fellowships were flexible but usually lasted up to three months, with funding provided by OLnet. Fellows were expected to spend a period researching alongside the OLnet Research Team (based on the Walton Hall campus of the Open University, in the United Kingdom). This enabled fellows to familiarise with the OLnet goals and with the team, as well as with the Open University's infrastructure to support research. The remaining part of the fellowship period was flexible.

Fellowships featured:

  • Support infrastructure for research.
  • Connection with experts.
  • Output to the community via publications and online dissemination.

This element of the project is complete.  There are no further opportunites for fellowships in the current funding.

Types of OLnet Fellowship

OLnet offered three levels of fellowships:

  • Expert fellowships - Bringing in expertise and skills to address key issues
  • Fellowships - working alongside researchers to develop skills and apply them in practice
  • Internships - Developing skills through helping OLnet

Progress to date

OLnet Fellowships - on target
  • Target: Cumulative total of 7 by 1 March 2011
  • Target: Cumulative total of 12 by 1 March 2012
Expert Fellowships (formerly OLnet Professorships) - on target
  • Target: Cumulative total of 7 by 1 March 2011
  • Target: Cumulative total of 12 by 1 March 2012

For a list of OLnet fellows and some of their experiences see the OLnet fellows page.

Other Open University Fellowship Schemes

(Links correct as on 1 Feb 2012)


Research Leads

Ann Jones, Canan Tosunoglu, Eileen Scanlon

What is it?

Evaluation of specific projects within OLnet and the activities of the network overall.

Research Questions

  • How does OLnet address its overall aims?
  • How does OLnet address its research questions?
  • What are the motivations of OER learners?

Progress to date

There are three activities within the OLnet evaluation strand:

  • Use of a Generalised TEL Evaluation toolkit.  In conjunction with other projects and building on experience of complex projects, an evaluation framework is under trial.  Initial focus is on activity in another project (evaluating the use of games and sensors to improve business capability).  This framework provides a working collaborative model that uses participatory evaluation techniques to ensure a) stakeholder engagement and b) that the appropriate inputs go into the evaluation to provide meaningful and useful outputs. The Design and Evaluation framework operates on the macro-level and is supported by micro-level evaluation toolkits that are tailored to the needs of the object under evaluation.
  • Reflection on OLnet research questions.  A survey of the OLnet team was undertaken in 2009 to produce a meta-view of how the different strands of OLnet addressed its overall aims and research questions so far.  This exercise is being repeated and additional effort will be applied in year 3 to assist reflective reporting of OLnet.
  • Investigating motivations of OER learners.  Linked to the PhD studentship of Kasia Kozinska, this activity is examining the motivations of OER learners and is conducting a number of case studies including OLnet, OpenYale, OpenHistory and the Modern Poland Foundation.