Cultural-historical factors influencing OER adoption in Mongolia's higher education sector
The research presented here investigates the strategies and practices of educators from six public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) in Mongolia in order to understand the role of Open Educational Resources (OER) in their work. It addresses the question: Which cultural–historical factors shape OER activities in Mongolia’s higher education sector? In addition, the study sets out to determine whether OER has the potential to move beyond a niche innovation advocated and funded by international donors to one that is broadly adopted, implemented and disseminated by local educators.
The study employed a sequential exploratory model in which qualitative interviews comprised the first stage of data collection, followed by quantitative surveys. The interviews were conducted with 14 participants recruited using a convenience sample from four Mongolian HEIs, two government organisations and three non-governmental organisations. In total, eight educators and six administrators were interviewed. A follow-up survey was conducted with 42 instructors and administrators at six HEIs, also recruited through convenience sampling. The study utilised Cultural Historical Activity Theory as a framework to analyse the data.
Findings indicate that despite recent efforts to promote OER by funding agencies and the government, OER awareness remains modest amongst higher education instructors and administrators. It is therefore not surprising that OER adoption rates in Mongolia are low. As a result, a culture around OER engagement has not yet emerged, with only isolated individual educators adopting OER. In contrast with many academics who often worry about the quality of OER, Mongolian educators appear to be more concerned about a particular sub-component of quality, which is relevance. In addition, many study participants expressed reservations about the potential value and utility of OER.
As a country, Mongolia has developed and supported large-scale educational resource projects, especially at the basic education level, and it may need to take a similar proactive stance regarding OER in the higher education sector if it seeks to improve the quality, relevance and cost-effectiveness of teaching content. As the first study on OER activity in Mongolia’s higher education system, this research has value and application for researchers and advocates pursuing an OER agenda, for policymakers seeking to understand how policy interventions might influence OER adoption in the national and institutional context, and for funding agencies aiming to boost educators’ OER engagement more broadly.