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Emerging themes: Student engagement

Page history last edited by Anna Gruszczynska 12 years, 10 months ago

Below you will find excerpts from conversations during project meetings and responses to reflexive tasks which touch upon student engagement with OERs.


1. Excerpt from discussions during the 20 October 2010 partner meeting

We started discussing issues related to student engagement – this is something we will be taking up within the next couple of months as it is quite urgent to set up mechanisms for involving students with the OER project before the second term begins. How realisitic is it to say that students can ‘co-create’ their curriculum?  One of the key issues which kept coming up in the discussions was the relationship of OERs to assessment/validation. There is also a related question of student motivation – if we understand OERs as an add-on (i.e. part of formative but not really summative assessment, or maybe even something completely optional), why would the students choose to engage with OERs? Helen suggested that the use of OERs might be linked to a feed-forward mechanism and help students develop a set of metaskills, including a curriculum literacy, but it is certainly a discussion that will continue among the team.


How will approaches towards student engagement (as well as the choices that students are making) change depending on the institution? Craig mentioned that a number of students at his institution are non-traditional students, mature, making a second attempt at higher education.



2. Excerpt from discussions during the partner meeting on 20 January 2011

We talked about ways of exposing students to OERs, with the approaches ranging from recommending hand-picked resources to students (Phil commented on feeling overwhelmed himself when he started searching for OERs and that he found a number of resources of dubious quality that he would not want to recommend to the students) to encouraging openness. There is also a related issue of in-curricular vs. extra-curricular use, ties in with some issues which came up within student report on the use of technology commissioned by the NUS; one of the questions being  – where does OER fit in relation to technology-enhanced learning?


3. Excerpt from Dafydd and Delyth's response to reflexive task 3

Though the cohort of core students is small – a group of 5 Masters students – they are very engaged with the work and utilising the resources provided to not only develop their skills in quantitative research methods, but working on how to apply these methods in their day-to-day working environment. The student group has provided a robust test to our project – as two are based at the host institution and studying full time, while three others are geographically dispersed and studying part time alongside full time employment. The deployment of OER based learning resources at first sight appears ideal for such a group of students, but challenges have arisen due to the lack of initial engagement with the Porth OER. Our initial assumption had been that students due to their familiarity with the Blackboard system of their host institution would not need specific instruction and guidance on utilising the Porth OER. However, though similar, a number of basic issues emerged in the early months of deployment – with students for example not registering their Email addresses with the Porth OER and therefore not contributing fully to discussions. More recently students have begun creating their own content via an online forum for developing questionnaires. The intention in due course is to utilise the questionnaires and the discussion as teaching material within the OER. This is in its very early stages but the initial results suggest that the experiment will work and develop student skills more broadly.


4. Excerpt from discussions during the partner meeting on 2 June 2011

Craig  Because Phil and I were speaking about this on the way, on the journey here and my initial optimism and passion for the ideas of OER as in cascading information, prompted my initial approach with a group of new students, I thought OK, new students, new ideas, perfect place to initiate this approach of cascading OERs however it didn’t actually work out as intended because sort of the stock response from the students was one of, it was criticism they couldn’t quite understand the reasons, the rationale for them to access these open educational resources unless they actually are really rigidly grounded within learning outcomes, assessment criteria so that, I wasn’t kind of expecting that but that was the initial response, so that then leads on I suppose a more up to date initiative, so we’ve got, I suppose brand new students but not news students in the academic sense so that the students that I am now working with are second year students, they have much more experience in research, research methods and at least early indications seem to show that they are kind of more open to the idea of getting involved in this kind of initiative so we got them involved in a few of the tacit ones and then we will move them on to a more collaborative approach so we’ll get them  to begin to access them, engage with them and have a focus group and that will give me and Phil an idea as to what they actually liked about the open resources, what they can actually use the resources for, search mechanisms on Jorum, MERLOT, so that’s where we are up to at the moment where student engagement is concerned. 



3. Excerpt from related page on Learners and OERs.

According to the authors of the synthesis report from the OER pilot programmemost subject strand projects expressed frustration that they did not have the time or funding to research what learners actually want from open educational materials. Overall, the consensus from the individual strand projects was that students support the open sharing of teaching and learning resources and view OERs as supplementary resources that could improve the quality of their learner experience. In terms of potential benefits, OER can make it easier for students to access materials on topics that cannot easily be accommodated within the main curriculum. Furthermore, students can also benefit from applying knowledge in a wider context than their course would otherwise allow, such as for instance international dimension. Interestingly, in terms of students’ own readiness to share, according to the OTTER project at University of Leicester, a third of students say they would not be willing to turn their own materials (e.g. lecture notes) into OERs and share them with other students. At the same time, the involvement of students in producing OERs introduces additional issues related to IPR and copyright since not all universities have a clear IP ownership policy for student work.


OER has a broader potential for learning and teaching than simply making resources publicly availableWidely available learning content, is fundamentally changing the relationship between students and their institutions as sources of expertise. This presents a challenge to existing models of the production of academic knowledge and the role of the institution in supporting student learning.



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