SP4: Academics’ views on sharing OER in South Africa

Research into the social and cultural acceptability of OER in South Africa

Project overview
Project outputs

General objective: The key objective of this research is to understand why people contribute or refuse to contribute OER in South Africa.

Specific Objectives: This research initiative aims to contribute findings that can inform faculty or higher education institutions across the globe that are planning to establish OER repositories.


Many institutions around the world now have Open Education Resource (OER) directories. The potential benefits include increasing access to higher education, decreasing cost of higher education and improving the quality of materials that result from collaboration and peer scrutiny.

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 give 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 research will use Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) as a lens to analyse data gathered through surveys, focus groups and interviews. The survey data will be used for a quantitative analysis of each institution and a comparative analysis across institutions. Focus groups and interviews will be conducted with a sample of academics with a range of experience. These interviews will potentially reveal a richness of opinion that can be added to the more general survey results.

Once complete, the data will be compared with that gathered by Sanjaya Mishra, the principal investigator of Sub-Project 3, who will be replicating a similar study in India.

Furthermore, the research team will conduct developmental workshops at each institution to guide participants through the process of creating/adapting open educational resources and dealing with their associated technical, legal and pedagogical considerations.

Researcher: Henry Trotter









Methodology: Surveys and interviews

Estimated duration: 2 years

Mentor: Prof Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams


Project outputs

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