Open Access

OER in practice: Organisational change by bootstrapping

International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education201511:11030135

DOI: 10.7238/rusc.v11i3.2131

Received: 15 February 2014

Accepted: 15 April 2014

Published: 19 December 2015


In this paper, we investigate an approach to institutional change that aims to establish open educational practices (OEP) in a university and inculcate the use of open education resources (OER) as part of its curriculum work and teaching practice. Traditional practices that involve delivering knowledge resources for individualised learning within semester-length units of study are becoming increasingly ill-adapted to the demands of a dynamic and global educational landscape. OER offers a sustainable and equitable alternative to such closed arrangements, with the potential to meet the emerging demands of distributed learning settings. Nevertheless, changing educational practice remains a formidable challenge, and adopting OER is a radical break from legacy institutional practices. Our focus in this paper is on the starting point for embedding OER in curriculum work and teaching practice. We investigate change through emergent initiatives rather than a top-down program at La Trobe University in Australia: we ask what connections are necessary to establish open practices in a university. We trace three instances of OEP in one university that together build capacity in OER. We draw on Bardini’s strategy of bootstrapping, as an iterative and co-adaptive learning process that connects good practices in situ with institutional structures in order to build the groundwork for emergent change. These cases demonstrate how disparate innovations can be connected and re-purposed to establish a network of nascent OEP.


open educational resources open educational practices sustainable openness practice bootstrapping