SP4: Academics’ views on sharing OER in South Africa

Factors shaping lecturers’ adoption of OER at three South African universities

Project overview
Project outputs

General objective: The key objective of this research is to understand why higher education lecturers contribute or do not contribute OER in South Africa.

Specific Objectives: This research initiative aims to contribute findings that can inform faculty or higher education institutions that are planning to establish OER initiatives and repositories. Findings may also be of use in an advocacy context in terms of identifying the locus of agency in OER adoption activity.

Primary research question:

Why do South African lecturers adopt – or not adopt – OER?
Subsidiary research questions:

  1. Which factors shape lecturers’ OER adoption decisions
  2. How does an institution’s culture shape lecturers’ adoption of OER?


The potential benefits of OER include increasing access to higher education, decreasing the cost of higher education, and improving the quality of materials that result from collaboration and peer scrutiny. Many institutions around the world now have OER repositories and portals.
The concept and practice of OER has evolved mostly in the Global North and there is a danger of a lack of knowledge of the potential benefits of OER in the Global South. For instance, there is little research coming for the Global South about the social reasons why people contribute or refuse to contribute or use or refuse to use OER. Hence, this project aims to conduct research that will provide a Global South perspective on the conditions under which OER might be considered culturally acceptable or unacceptable.
Focusing on academics’ teaching practices at three South African universities – Fort Hare University, the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the University of South Africa (UNISA) – this study analysed data gathered through a survey (n = 34), workshops (n = 43), and interviews (n = 18). The survey data provide quantitative analysis of each institution and a comparative analysis across institutions, while interviews and focus group discussions reveal a richness of opinion to supplement the more general survey results.
The workshops conducted by the research team at each institution were designed to guide participants through the process of creating and adapting OER and navigate the associated technical, legal, and pedagogical considerations.

Researcher: Henry Trotter









Project outputs

Research on Open Educational Resources for Development. Research into the Social and Cultural Acceptability of Open Educational Resources in South Africa 2015. (ROER4D Sub-project 4) [dataset]. Version 1.1. Cape Town: ROER4D [producer], 2015. Cape Town: DataFirst [distributor], 2015. Available at: https://www.datafirst.uct.ac.za/dataportal/index.php/catalog/555/related_materials.

Journal articles

Cox, G. & Trotter, H. (2016) Institutional Culture and OER Policy: How Structure, Culture, and Agency Mediate OER Policy Potential in South African Universities. International Review of Research on Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL), 17(5). Retrieved from: http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/2523


Cox, G. (2016) The OER quality debate: explaining academics’ attitudes about quality. Presentation at Open Education Global 2016. 12-14 April 2016: Krakow, Poland. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/oeconsortium/the-oer-quality-debate-explaining-academics-attitudes-about-quality-62107741

Cox, G. and Trotter, H. (2015). Ready of Not? OER workshops at 3 South African universities. Presentation at OEC Global Conference 2015, Banff, Canada, April 2015.

Cox, G. and Trotter, H. (2016) UCT, Fort Hare or UNISA: Which university is OER ready? Presentation at the University of Cape Town Teaching and Learning Conference 2015 (Cape Town: 30 March 2016). Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/ROER4D/uct-fort-hare-or-unisa-which-university-is-oer-ready

Trotter, H. (2015). Harmonising Research between South and North: Results from ROER4D’s Question Harmonisation Experiment (ROER4D). Presentation at Open Education Global 2016. 22-24 April 2015: Banff, Canada. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/oeconsortium/harmonising-research-between-south-and-north-results-from-roer4ds-question-harmonisation-experiment-roer4d

Poster Presentations

Trotter, H. & Cox, G. (2016) The OER Adoption Pyramid. Presentation at Open Education Global 2016. 12-14 April 2016: Krakow, Poland. Retrieved from http://open.uct.ac.za/handle/11427/18936

Workshop Presentations

Cox, G. (2015). Copyright & Creative Commons: With Regards to Open Educational Resources. Presentation at the University of South Africa, 18 March 2015.

Cox, G. (2015). Openness in Higher Education: Open Educational Resources. Presentation at the University of South Africa, 17 March 2015. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/ROER4D/openness-in-higher-education

Trotter, H. (2015). How and where to find Open Educational Resources. Presentation at the University of South Africa, 18 March 2015. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/ROER4D/how-and-where-to-find-open-educational-resoures-oer