This case study focuses on student engagement with Open Educational Resources (OER) and is based on the Cascading Social Science Open Educational Resources project (thereafter referred to as ‘cascade project’) undertaken by C-SAP (Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics) between August 2010 and August 2011 as part of the second phase of the HEA/JISC-funded UK OER programme. This project sought to cascade support for embedding Open Educational Resources within the social sciences curriculum. The project team strove to create opportunities for project partners to incorporate engagement with student perspectives on the use of OER to support learning. Where possible, partners have incorporated OER into their teaching, offering their students a chance to provide feedback through surveys and focus groups. Students were also involved in user testing of the resources being developed in the context of the project.
The project team worked with a small cluster of academic staff from three higher education institutions, including an HE in FE institution. The project team arranged for a number of opportunities for interaction between the partners through face-to-face meetings, workshops and phone conversations aimed at supporting partners in the process of developing their understandings of OER and articulating their approach towards OER creation and reuse. The project methodology was based on a collaborative method of working with project partners, with an emphasis on reflexive engagement with OER based around open sharing of practice and resources as well as inclusion of student voices. Accordingly, the C-SAP project team strove to create opportunities for project partners to incorporate engagement with student perspectives on the use of OER to support learning. Partners have incorporated OER into their teaching, offering their students a chance to contribute to the development of resources being created in the context of the project. Students also had a chance to express their emerging understandings of OER through focus groups and to participate in hands-on activities, which included evaluating selected resources.
All outputs produced in the context of reflexive tasks, meetings with partners as well as student engagement activities were captured on the project wiki (http://cascadeoer2.pbworks.com) and tagged with ‘student engagement’ keyword so that they are easily findable. Reports from student focus groups and guided OER-activities have also been released on the project SlideShare account (http://www.slideshare.net/CSAPSubjectCentre/).
All data emerging in the context of the project were reviewed by the project team for emergent themes, which were based on research questions identified at the outset of the project and focused on the sociocultural, institutional and pedagogical context for OER use and creation. Themes were then revised and extended to reflect the issues emerging from the data, with the team regularly taking stock of emerging themes to compile and refine a list of categories, which was then used to tag documents hosted on the wiki. Finally, the project evaluation plan combined formative and summative aspects of evaluation, which incorporated elements of student engagement; this plan will be explored in more detail in later sections of the case study.
The case study will argue that these findings should be interpreted as an encouragement for lecturers to openly share their teaching materials with the students and design those materials with openness in mind, to avoid costly retrofitting. Furthermore, student feedback indicates that OER should be introduced in a supported and structured way to increase the likelihood of students incorporating open resources into their learning. Finally, this case study emphasises it is important to spend time exploring student perceptions and attitudes on OER (with a view to perhaps start challenging them) in addition to equipping them with relevant technical skills. It would also be beneficial to explore ways in which personalisation can be achieved when lecturers use OER created outside their institutions.
This extract is from a case study by Anna Gruszczynska, published online at https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/oer_cs_anna_gruszczynska_open_educational_resources.pdf under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales Licence.
Anna Gruszczynska, Open Educational Resources as a pedagogical practice that enhances student satisfaction, Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales Licence.