SP2: Survey on OER

OER differentiation in the Global South

Project overview
Project outputs

General objective: The key objective of this research is to understand how lecturers and students create and/or use OER.

Specific Objectives:

• Design a valid and reliable instrument to assess OER differentiation.
• Collect data about the variables from the four-level OER differentiation framework.
• Disseminate the results.


The major focus of this sub-project is to investigate the creators and users of OER. We need to understand their context, their educational system, their culture and their personal practices in order to establish how OER might meet their local needs. Although some studies speak of how OER might “eliminate the education divide” (Kurshan 2008:1), this study follows Singh who, in relation to the value of OER, recommends that the “parameters of the divide must be explored in depth in order to begin to close the divide” (2008:2). Instead of using the concept of a “digital divide” which has been critiqued for being too “binary” (Livingstone 2007), this study adopts a more sophisticated “digital differentiation” (Peter & Valkenburg 2006) perspective as a way of understanding the range of ways in which technologies and OER are adopted in the Global South. This research may help to provide evidence for scholars, policy makers, and the public to consider the potential of the OER to improve everyday life for those on the margins of society and as one way towards achieving greater social equity and empowerment.

Although OER have been around for over a decade, Hatakka (2009) comments that this open content is not being used by educational organizations in developing countries as much as anticipated. This may indicate that OER, that mostly emanate from developed countries, may not adequately address the needs of people from developing countries who may have different levels of access to information and communication technologies and OER, differing levels of digital proficiency and OER use. Students and lecturers may also have very different perceptions of the value of OER for their teaching and learning outcomes. Consequently the key objective of this study is to ascertain how students and lecturers in the Global South use or do not use OER and establish to what extent this is influenced by four key dimensions, namely Digital Access, OER Access, OER Proficiency, Perceived Value of OER.

This study will make use of a cross-regional survey of 4 universities in 3 countries in each of the 3 regions and aims to solicit responses from 200 randomly selected students and 20 randomly selected lecturers at each of the 36 institutions. The total size of the sample would be 7200 students and 720 lecturers. The survey instrument will be developed and translated into at least three languages and be available as a shareable resource for the other sub-projects and for further OER research.

Project Leader & South American coordinator: Prof José Dutra de Oliveira Neto (Brazil)

South/South-East Asia coordinator: Prof Daryono (Indonesia)

Sub-Saharan Africa coordinator: Judith Pete (Kenya)

Estimated Duration: 2 years (24 months)

Methodology: Survey instrument supplemented by follow-up interviews

Project website: http://oerdifferentiation.com/

Project outputs