What’s policy got to do with it? Desperately seeking survey responses on open education and institutional policies 

Leo Havemann, PhD Researcher at the Open University

This is a guest post by Leo Havemann, PhD researcher at the Open University and Programme Development Advisor at UCL / Twitter @leohavemann

A warning at the outset: this post is a thinly veiled attempt to drum up more survey responses. Some readers may already know I have been researching and talking about open education topics for a few years now, and in recent times much of this has been specifically in the area of my current doctoral research on institutional policies and the extent to which these support or enable open educational practices – or indeed, don’t. 

I am currently at that ‘nervously excited’ point of the PhD process when at last, I have a survey out – I have designed and tested and piloted the survey for – well let’s just say, quite a while – and am collecting data using the survey I’ve designed. 

The study takes a wide-angled view of what can be meant by ‘open education’, including but not limited to open educational resources (OER). I am also interested in related aspects such as what people think their institution is doing about no/low(er) cost online courses (e.g. MOOCs and microcredentials), opening up learning and assessment practices, fostering open communities and collaboration, and engagement with the wiki-verse. 

On copyright specifically, I’m specifically interested in whether employees in institutions own the copyright in works they create, and whether they are encouraged to licence these openly. I am also trying to find out whether the pandemic has had an impact in this space. 

I am also considering ‘policy’ in quite a wide sense, as including the extent to which activities or initiatives are promoted, supported or resourced, as well as referenced in explicit policy documentation. I am seeking grassroots views on these questions across a range of roles, including academic, library, learning development, education design and support – so please, don’t worry that you don’t have a concrete ‘open education/OER policy’ in place, or a bird’s eye institutional view.

Will anyone answer it? Have I asked the right questions? Happily, I can already say yes, people are answering it and it’s already interesting! On the second question, I am cautiously optimistic. I think there are always going to be more questions you might have asked, but you need to strike a balance between asking ‘everything’ in case it’s useful, and letting people respond and then move on with their lives. So I’ve tried to stick to what I see as the main areas, with a mix of closed (e.g. rating on a scale) and open-ended (free text) questions where those who have more to add can wax lyrical. All the questions are optional because ultimately, I am seeking people’s views and people may have views on some things but not others. 

For those who are interested in knowing more about the background to this research and related publications, please see this Twitter thread. If you are keen to complete the survey, then first of all thank you, and it can be found at the link below (until the 19th of July).


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