When U-M began its international health OER activities in late 2008, one of the goals was to determine if institutions could collaborate on OER production. Faculty from each institution contribute specialized knowledge based on their experiences and geographic locations. How does one facilitate information exchange among these universities to efficiently produce contextually appropriate educational materials?
Between October and December 2009, researchers Airong Luo (U-M), Dick Ng’ambi (UCT), and Ted Hanss (U-M) interviewed 52 participants involved in various roles related to health OER from five universities: U-M, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, University of Ghana, University of Cape Town, and University of the Western Cape. The aim of their study was to investigate the sustainability of OER based on possible cross-institutional collaboration as well as to explore social and technical challenges in creating and sharing OER materials. The researchers found that individuals were interested in collaborating to learn more about diseases common to a specific geographical area, to connect with specialists in their field, to develop curricula, and to share best practices for OER production. They also identified challenges to collaboration, such as network connectivity constraints, competition between institutions, and lack of awareness of potential collaborators in their field. The report concludes with a proposed collaboration model for OER and specific recommendations for the next phase of the African Health OER Network, such as forming interest groups at the institutional level for various aspects of OER production (i.e. educators, learning technologists, instructional designers, researchers, subject experts, and learners) to devise shared OER goals.