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Reflexive task 3: Delyth and Dafydd

Page history last edited by Anna Gruszczynska 9 years, 2 months ago

Developing the Cascade Framework

The timing of the reflexive task fits well with our project timetable as we are currently in an intensive period of working with our students through the OER materials developed on the Porth (and the links to other materials such as the Open University resources). Our reflections are therefore based on where we are as a team, and focused on a number of the practical challenges of Cascading OERs rather on creating informed conceptual frameworks. Rather than mindmaps therefore, our contribution is based on reflections relating to the headings.

They speak to many of the themes identified in Richard’s model dated 28/2/11, ac may assist in illuminating some of the issues and challenges.


  • Influences from the pilot phase

Our project is based on enhancing and developing a resource initially developed in a previous CSAP project as an OER working with colleagues across institutions and utilising the resources developed specifically as part of Postgraduate Masters teaching in one institution. The main influence from our ‘pilot phase’ therefore has been the design of the resources. Specifically we have identified the need for much clearer planning for reuse and repurposing in various contexts of our OER resources. We developed a set of resources based on a certain set of assumptions about student use of the resources i.e. in hindsight – we uncritically planned on the basis of students with full access to a campus based University network – and therefore the advanced software available there. Our influence from our pilot phase therefore is an architecture of resources that isn’t necessarily ideally suited for OERs! In practice therefore our current work has become in effect a second pilot – following which a whole range of changes will be needed to our resources.

  • Being Cascaded to/Cascading

Our assumption as we begun this project was that we would cascade our knowledge of OERs to other colleagues and use the resources developed as a mechanisms for promoting specifically the Porth OER. In practice while we have given some presentations on the Porth and highlighted the Social Science Resources (most recently at a Reaching Wider Conference in Aberystwyth), we have found the information coming from the programme team at CSAP to be new and in some areas challenging. We’ve also found within the core project team engagement with different elements of the framework and therefore ended up developing each others’ knowledge in an iterative process.

  • Student Engagement

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.

  • OER Related Expertise.

As a project we’ve relied on the CSAP project office to provide guidance and support. Neither of the core team members had much engagement with OERs prior to this project. We have now had an opportunity to develop our knowledge, assess the various OERs that are available and their suitability for repurposing and repackaging in a Welsh Medium environment. Critically we have identified the Porth as a form of OER repository and are working with colleagues to develop the principles behind OERs as guiding principles for the future development of the Porth. If one could cascade sidewards – we think this would be an example of a sideways cascade!

  • Contributions from partners

Thus far our work has focused on our work in developing resources and supporting students in their use of those resources. The time initially planned to work in a broader context with social science colleagues has been taken up with implementation issues thus far. Notwithstanding the broader cascading work we’ve undertaken in presenting the Porth and the specific OER to interested audiences, our next stage will be to engage specifically with colleagues in other institutions so that the materials developed, along with the level 4/5 materials on introduction to research methods can be accessed by students and utilised in learning and teaching across Wales.


March 2011


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