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Developing Students as OER Content Scavengers


Aim of the project: The aim of this project was to explore the implications of embedding the scavenging and evaluation of OER multimedia content (big and little) within the curriculum of an introductory anthropology class.


This project evolved out of a previous project which highlighted that students often use surprising and unhelpful criteria to evaluate the creditability and value of an online resource. It focused on the need to provide support to students to enable them to develop effective digital literacy skills by honing their skills as OER content scavengers. An introductory anthropology course was used to test the effectiveness of the approach to developing these skills.


  • Initially students were encouraged to identify resources that were useful to their learning experience through a tutor created YouTube playlist, however students were already found to be making use of both YouTube and other sources to do this.

  • In-class and online activities were therefore adapted to encourage students to find relevant materials and share them via the university’s blog tool on the VLE and a YouTube playlist. The process of students scavenging for content was embedded into the introductory anthropology course.

  • Focus groups were used to explore issues such as quality control, digital literacy, course design and course flexibility

  • The results from the practical activities and focus groups were fed back to the OER and anthropology communities.


A number of outputs including workshops, presentations, articles and publications were produced as part of this project. They include:

  • A YouTube playlist compiled by staff and students and which had been viewed 380 times by the end of the project.

  • “Clickolage: Rethinking Bricolage through the use of social media in teaching anthropology” conference presentation

  • “Beyond Good and Evil: Openish Educational Practice” conference presentation

  • “Open-ish Educational Practice: Being open in a closed world” conference presentation

  • “Developing Students as Content Scavengers” conference presentation

  • “Clickolage: Encouraging the Student Bricoleur through Social Media”, Teaching Anthropology, will be available at http://www.teachinganthropology.org/ (forthcoming publication)

Outcomes and conclusions

There were three key findings resulting from this project. The first of these was the development of the ‘clickolage concept’. This refers to the self-directed creation, curation and linking of multimedia content through social media sites and tools. The second finding was that it can be difficult to capture the activity from the clickolage process in a VLE. This could be because the VLE isolates content for specific courses to specific students and doesn’t encourage the sharing of resources amongst different student groups or the wider public. Finally, the third finding highlights the need for continued digital literacy support. This is required to enable students to engage effectively with online content through critical evaluation of resources based on scholarly content rather than superficial judgements based on things like aesthetic appeal.

The Fellowship project identified further evidence suggesting that students are using online resources to support their learning. It also provided further evidence that students are sharing their findings with their peers and teaching. Ways to encourage this activity still need to be identified and will continue to be explored.

The outcomes of the project resulted in a successful proposal for funding to continue to explore openness.

More information on this project can be found at http://www8.open.ac.uk/score/fellows/nick-pearce

Nick Pearce, Developing Students as OER Content Scavengers, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.