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Domestication of open educational resources by academics in an open distance e-learning institution of South Africa

Problem Statement: The emergence of open educational resources (OER) has gained popularity and acceptance in higher education institutions and beyond the basic education sector. This has brought a persistent shift in tuition and research provision. Higher education institution management and curriculum instructors are praising the existence of the OER initiative. In such a situation, the social capital has a role in promoting the adoption, development, and dissemination of OER. The institutional expectations concerning OER are met because they are relying on academics employed by the open distance e-learning (ODeL) institution. The social capital demands must be achieved through willing academics as they are expected to eventually deviate from their traditional methods of tuition and research because they have to utilise OER in their academic spaces. It is not known, however, how academics accept, feel about, perceive OER, and what skills, opportunities, challenges exist in terms of the domestication of OER.

Purpose of the study: The main purpose of the study was to establish how ODeL academics domesticate OER in fulfilling tuition and research provision. This was necessary because the ODeL academics have diverse backgrounds such as study fields, teachings, research interests, and demographics. The ODeL institutions have no uniform guidelines or tools in place for the domestication of OER. In the absence of guidelines and policy, the diverse academics may have different strategies of domestication or may do nothing concerning OER.
Research methodology: To investigate the essential perceptions and knowledge about OER as the main artefact the study adopted the exploratory approach guided by the interpretivism paradigm. The study employed Domestication theory as a guide and lens to understand and determine the domestication of OER as a main study phenomenon. This was achieved by the adoption of a heterogenous single case study, which is an ODeL. In the process of domestication, the study gathered qualitative data from academics to establish how they were domesticating OER for tuition and research practices. That was done in an in-depth investigation by relying on semi-structured interviews, focus group interviews, document analysis, and actual artefact analysis.

Key findings: The study found that the majority of academics play a role in the domestication of OER besides the minority who were unable to do so. The lack of experience and prior knowledge were found to be a factor hindering the domestication process. Besides that, the lack of OER policy was found to be a main contributing factor leading to non-appropriation and dis-appropriation of the artefact. ODeL was found to be a relevant space for OER intervention, and such institutions play a role in the promotion and adoption of OER. The ICT infrastructure was recognised as the main artefact to be considered in the domestication of OER and was found to be an enabler and disabler in the domestication process.

Originality or contribution: This study has made a positive impact as a contribution to the world of knowledge in theory and practice. From the knowledge perspective, the study suggested eight theoretical propositions answering how academics domesticate OER for tuition and research. These findings may be significant in an ODeL institution or any South African higher education institution and beyond. A contribution to theory emerged from the utilisation of domestication theory, which helped to understand the phenomenon. This led to the recommendation of two additional phases of domestication which are non-appropriation and dis-appropriation. This might be relevant in the field of information systems for the investigation of artefacts in any dual context. Also, the study recommended the actual process of adoption and development of OER. This guideline can be adopted by higher education institutions by infusing them in policy development or for general guidance in actual adoption and developments.

KEYWORDS: Open educational resources, domestication theory, open distance e-learning, academics, information and communication technology, South Africa, higher education institution

Full Name
Dr Lancelord Siphamandla Mncube