Cultivating an inter-institutional community with a focus on OER: reflections from brokers :async:

Marjon Baas (Saxion University of Applied Sciences + ICLON, Leiden University), Robert Schuwer (Fontys University of Applied Sciences), Roeland van der Rijst (ICLON, Leiden University), Tjark Huizinga (Saxion University of Applied Sciences), Wilfried Admiraal (ICLON, Leiden University)

Teacher communities has gotten increased interest over the past decades on all educational levels as it is believed to be an effective way to impact teaching practice. These communities are potentially important in sustaining OER adoption within an institution. In this qualitative case study, we explored a community of practice (CoP) in which 17 institutes collaborate on sharing OER, practices and knowledge. We specifically were interested in the role of brokers who had the responsibility to increase the user group by encouraging colleagues to participate and to also create conditions within the institute to sustain this collaboration. While studies on OER partnerships have been conducted, we have not found studies examining the role of brokers in the process of cultivating an inter-institutional community on OER. Since brokers are positioned within and between activity systems, we applied the theoretical framework of cultural-historical activity theory. Through analyses of documents, process and reflection reports and a focus group, we were able to illuminate the role of the broker. The findings showed that brokers conducted actions to incite teachers, to foster the use of the OER repository and the online CoP and to organizational aspects. Brokers perceived the most effective actions to applying small-scale and individual approaches. By doing so, brokers could transfer their own enthusiasm about the project to others in an individual and personal way. Brokers perceived effects at four levels: at the national, institutional, broker and the teacher level. However, they also experienced tensions and challenges in relation to institutional support, their role and limited endorsement of the project within the institute. We provide practical recommendations to support brokers in their role to cultivate inter-institutional collaboration on OER.

Extended abstract: OE_Global_2021_paper_30.pdf πŸ“„

Activity Details

UNESCO OER Action Area: Sustainable OER
Format: Asynchronous Interactive Activity
Language: English


This activity can be completed at any time during (or after) the conference.

Instructions and materials for the activity will be added below by the authors. They will provide specific details on how to participate and what to share back as a response to the activity.

Welcome to our asynchronous interactive activity. We’re saying hello to all from the Netherlands :wave: and in this activity we would like to interact with you about the role of brokers in OER projects.

In the video below we provide more details about this specific role of brokers. We present the context and findings of our study in which brokers had the role to cultivate an inter-institutional community around OER.

Marjon Baas (
Robert Schuwer (

But of course this is an interactive activity, so please visit our Padlet as we would like to hear your experiences and insights on the role of brokers. Do you think the role of the broker is essential for sustaining collaboration across institutes? Or do you have experience with broker roles within your own OER projects? Please share your thoughts :slight_smile:

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This was an interesting presentation and I found the depiction of CHAT insightful. The presentation of contradictions as a positive factor was also refreshing because, as you pointed out, tensions and contraries can lead to change. Thank you for sharing your activity.

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