Peer Reviewing of OER in a Contested Domain – an Activity Theoretical Analysis

Anne Algers
Magnus Ljung
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences


Globally, we experience numerous initiatives to increase the adoption of open educational resources (OER), but quality concerns challenge the adoption. In this study we present an analysis of the peer review process of an OER. The OER under review is produced by the European Commission (EU). It has the goal to teach children about farm animal welfare. Following discussions with the EU about its quality, a panel review was conducted. The group of peers used a quality evaluation tool for initial individual assessment, which was then discussed in four consecutive meetings. Video recordings from the meetings and the final report constitute the research data. Cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) was used as the analytical framework. The results indicated that the main areas of negotiations were the content quality of the OER and the adoption of the OER in teaching practices. The examination of these concerns using CHAT indicated that the peer review process neither leads to accuracy nor legitimacy. In summary, OER and in particular the quality assessment of OER challenge the boundaries of higher education. A combination of peer review and crowd source review is suggested to underpin the openness and thus increase adoption of OER.

About the Author(s)...

Anne Algers is a researcher at University of Gothenburg. Her research concerns how higher education should act for a sustainable development in the areas of food production and animal welfare. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Magnus Ljung is a researcher and principal extension officer at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. He has a PhD in environmental communication, and his main research interest concerns adult, collaborative learning for sustainable development, especially in rural contexts.

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