Whilst the range and amount of published OER research has increased over the past few years with significant research initiatives have emerging including the OER Research Hub at the OU in the UK, ROER4D, the Open Education Group in Utah, and the continued success of conferences such as OEGlobal, OpenEd and OER showcasing research across a range of themes. However, the OER research community is, in academic terms, still a relatively new area of interest. It is also an area which is often characterised by advocacy and personal values. The combination of its novelty and the type of activity in the sector can lead to a research deficit. As the field matures, the need for high quality, objective research has become more apparent, in terms of effective approaches, and also developing a critical mindset within the field. However, given the globally dispersed nature of OER practitioners and researchers, it is often the case that any individual researcher will be acting in isolation within their institution.
In order to nurture and expand the OER research community, the Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN) network was founded in 2012, funded by The Hewlett Foundation. This is a global network supporting PhD researchers in the area of OER. The GO-GN set out to accomplish the task of developing a global network of researchers through five activity strands:
1. Conducting a series of face to face seminars at an international open education conference, eg. OEGlobal, attended by selected PhD researchers.
2. Producing a set of OER Researcher resources produced or assembled by the project, for use by all OER researchers.
3. Conducting a set of online activities such as monthly webinars and events designed to foster community.
4. Establishing annual GO-GN prizes, for best research paper and best open research practice.
5. Promoting and encouraging research outputs from GO-GN members that demonstrates the growing research field. This included PhD theses, journal articles, as well conference presentations, blog posts, media outputs and open data sets
There are currently over 100 GO-GN members, with 20 alumni, covering 16 countries. They have produced 30 publications in peer reviewed journals. The research tends towards qualitative, bringing different critical perspectives and methodologies to bear in the field, as well as global diversity in contexts.
This paper will set out how the network operates, the data representing the network, the range of research conducted by the members, lessons learned and plans for the future. It will also provide an opportunity to hear from the students themselves. This represents a model for techniques in developing and nurturing research communities and the use of open practices to grow and sustain the network.
The GO-GN will be developing an open guide to OER methodologies and this session will also be used to gain input from the audience on this.
Project website: go-gn.net