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The Politics in Spires blog: Students as Producers of OER

Teaser

This report reflects on students as producers of Open Education Resources (OER) in relation to Politics in Spires (PiS), a collaborative blog between the Oxford Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR) and the Cambridge Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS). In particular, per the directives handed down in commissioning this case study, this report focuses on the actions taken and lessons learned in relation to three thematic areas: i) generating content authored by students and boosting blog awareness among the student communities, ii) developing rewards and recognition techniques and iii) managing the quality of blog content. All blogs posted by academic researchers (including students) and reader comments are published on the WordPress site under a Creative Commons UK: England and Wales Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 licence. This case study was part of the HEA/JISC Open Educational Resources case study: pedagogical development from OER practice project.

This report reflects on students as producers of Open Education Resources (OER) in relation to Politics in Spires (PiS), a collaborative blog between the Oxford Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR) and the Cambridge Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS). In particular, per the directives handed down in commissioning this case study, this report focuses on the actions taken and lessons learned in relation to three thematic areas: i) generating content authored by students and boosting blog awareness among the student communities, ii) developing rewards and recognition techniques and iii) managing the quality of blog content.

All blogs posted by academic researchers (including students) and reader comments are published on the WordPress site under a Creative Commons UK: England and Wales Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 licence.

1.1 Methodology

This case study is a collaborative effort among DPIR staff, the PiS Graduate Editor and a number of Oxford and Cambridge students. A focus group met to discuss the issues covered in this case study on 24 February 2012. The group of interested parties comprised: administrative staff, the Graduate Editor and Ambassadors, student bloggers and one Oxford Fellow.

The case study includes feedback from students – both bloggers and non-bloggers. Feedback came from bloggers with formal roles as well as those without. The information was gathered at the focus group and by email correspondence, and is evaluated in this case study.

1.2 Key lessons learned

1 The importance of establishing clear aims for the blog, in order to attract contributors, both student and academic, and of sustained publicity to communicate these aims to target communities.

2 The importance of getting the site infrastructure and design right.

3 Formal student roles are hugely motivating for those concerned; incentives such as prizes can help jumpstart additional student contributions.

4 Editorial review and content generation is resource-intensive and ideally requires at least one remunerated role.

5 Collaboration takes time and needs buy-in from top level down.

6 The importance of social media.

This extract is from a case study by Kate Candy and A. Blake Ewing, published online at https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/oer_cs_kate_candy_the_politics_in_spires_blog.pdf under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales Licence.