C-SAP cascade project final report


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This document outlines outputs and findings of the C-SAP "Cascading Social Science Open Educational Resources" project undertaken as part of second phase of UK OER programme.

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C-SAP cascade project final report

  1. 1. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:The Higher Education Academy (HEA)/JISC Final Report Project InformationProject Identifier To be completed by HEA/JISCProject Title Cascading Social Science Open Educational ResourcesProject Hashtag #csapoerStart Date 30 August 2010 End Date 30 August 2011Lead Institution C-SAP (Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics)Project Director n/aProject Manager Anna Gruszczynska (from 1 February 2011), Darren Marsh (until 30 January 2011)Contact email a.gruszczynska@bham.ac.ukPartner Institutions Teesside University, University Centre at Blackburn College, Bangor University, Cardiff UniversityProject Web URL Csapopencascade.wordpress.comProgramme Name Open Educational Resources Phase 2Programme Manager Heather Price/ Maggie Stephens Document InformationAuthor(s) Anna GruszczynskaProject Role(s) Project managerDate 22 August 2011 Filename Page 1 of 41Document title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 - v1
  2. 2. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:URL n/aAccess This report is for general dissemination Document History Version Date Comments1.0 17 August 2011 Draft version1.1 19 August Version incorporating feedback from Helen Howard, C-SAP director1.2 22 August Version incorporating feedback from the project team – Richard Pountney (project consultant) and John Craig (project partner)Document title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 2 of 41
  3. 3. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:Table of Contents ......................................................................................... 11. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ...................................................................................................... 52. PROJECT SUMMARY ............................................................................................................ 52.1. PROJECT OUTPUTS AND OUTCOMES ................................................................................. 62.2. OVERVIEW OF PROJECT METHODOLOGY ....................................................................... 122.3. THE CASCADE FRAMEWORK ............................................................................................ 132.4. OVERVIEW OF CASCADE TOOLS....................................................................................... 13 2.4.1. INFLUENCES FROM THE PILOT PROJECT .................................................................................13 Reflexive tasks in the pilot phase..............................................................................................13 The relevance of pedagogical frameworks .............................................................................14 Existing OER resources developed in the context of UKOER pilot phase ............................14 2.4.2. CASCADE TOOLS: REFLEXIVE TASKS ......................................................................................14 2.4.3. CASCADE TOOLS: WEB 2.0 TOOLS ........................................................................................16 2.4.4. CASCADE TOOLS: STUDENT ENGAGEMENT .............................................................................172.5. APPROACH TO EVALUATION ........................................................................................... 173. PROJECT FINDINGS AND LESSONS LEARNT: EMERGING THEMES ................................. 19 3.1. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OERS AND THE CURRICULUM ...........................................................19 3.2. STUDENT ENGAGEMENT............................................................................................................21 3.2.1. Account of student engagement at Bangor University ...........................................22 3.2.2. Account of student engagement at Teesside University .........................................23Document title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 3 of 41
  4. 4. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date: 3.2.3. Account of student engagement at University Centre at Blackburn College ......24 3.3. INSTITUTIONAL CONTEXT: HE IN FE ........................................................................................26 3.4. INSTITUTIONAL CONTEXT: TEACHING THROUGH THE MEDIUM OF WELSH .................................29 3.5. CRITICAL ENGAGEMENT WITH OERS ........................................................................................304. IMPACT .............................................................................................................................. 32 4.1. IMMEDIATE IMPACT .................................................................................................................32 4.2. FUTURE IMPACT.......................................................................................................................335. CONCLUSIONS ................................................................................................................... 33 5.1. GENERAL CONCLUSIONS ............................................................................................................33 5.2. CONCLUSIONS RELEVANT TO THE WIDER COMMUNITY ..............................................................34 5.3. CONCLUSIONS RELEVANT TO THE HEA/JISC ............................................................................346. RECOMMENDATIONS........................................................................................................ 35 6.1. GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS .................................................................................................35 6.2. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE WIDER COMMUNITY ...................................................................35 6.3. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE HEA/JISC .................................................................................357. IMPLICATIONS FOR THE FUTURE .................................................................................... 358. REFERENCES ..................................................................................................................... 369. APPENDICES ...................................................................................................................... 379.1. APPENDIX 1: ANALYTICS.................................................................................................. 37 C-SAP CASCADE RESOURCES ON SLIDESHARE.......................................................................................37 C-SAP PROJECT BLOG: NUMBER OF VIEWS ..........................................................................................389.2. APPENDIX 2: DISSEMINATION EVENTS ........................................................................... 38 DISSEMINATION EVENT AT UNIVERSITY CENTRE AT BLACKBURN COLLEGE, 1 SEPTEMBER 2011 ........................38 DISSEMINATION EVENT AT TEESSIDE UNIVERSITY, 16 SEPTEMBER 2011 ........................................................41Document title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 4 of 41
  5. 5. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date: 1. AcknowledgementsThe “Cascading Social Science Open Educational Resources” was undertaken as part of the secondphase of the HEA/JISC-funded UK OER programme. The C-SAP project team would like to thank anumber of individuals and groups who have contributed to the project, including: - All project partners - Richard Pountney (project consultant) - Helen Jones (project critical friend) - Sahm Nikoi (project evaluator) - C-SAP team – Helen Howard, Frances Worrall and Laura-Jane Harvey - Other projects participating in the second phase of the UKOER programme, who contributed their insights and kindly offered feedback at various programme meetings 2. Project SummaryThis project sought to cascade support for embedding Open Educational Resources within the socialsciences curriculum, focusing on the relationship between the use of OERs and student engagement.The project worked with a small cluster of academic staff from three HEIs, including an HE in FEpartner and relied on a collaborative methodology embedded within the paradigm of communitiesof practice. Accordingly, the project team worked alongside project partners and supported them todevelop their own understandings of the cascade framework rather than offer prescriptivetemplates or ready-made solutions. Reflection was at the core of project methodology and sopartners took part in a series of reflexive tasks posted on the project wiki, built around promptsdesigned to introduce partners to OER-related concepts, explore their understanding of openeducation as well as aid them with articulating the emerging cascade framework.Throughout the lifetime of the project, we focused on three priority areas closely linked to projectobjectives; which were student engagement, OER release and cascade framework. Thecollaborative nature of the project methodology meant that our work within those areas was alsoinformed by issues that project partners identified as relevant to their own practice, such aschallenges specific to HE in FE or the Welsh-medium context in the curriculum. We believe that ourwork emphasises the relevance of addressing issues related to pedagogy and tacit elements ofacademic practice, and that crucially, those are as important as issues related to technicaldevelopment.Document title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 5 of 41
  6. 6. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:The cascade framework developed in the context of the project is a model of release, discovery andreuse of Open Educational Resources which can be “cascaded”, that is, taken up and incorporatedinto new contexts by academics wishing to engage with Open Educational Resources. The modeloffers a set of tools, all of them available from project wiki, which will allow academics to reflectupon their own practice and examine conditions in which their teaching resources can beused/reused and shared, including but not limited to their institutional culture, technical skills,knowledge on how to find/(re)use OERs and their individual orientation towards pedagogicalinnovation. This way, the C-SAP cascade model focuses more on the “why” rather than the “how” ofOERs; that is, it emphasises the broader context in which OERs are created and (re)used and anyresulting issues and/or tensions rather than addressing solely the technical aspects of opening upteaching resources. 2.1. Project Outputs and Outcomes Output / Outcome Type Brief Description and URLsKnowledge and expertiseCascade frameworkhttp://cascadeoer2.pbworks.com/w/page/44124084/About%20the%20C-SAP%20cascade%20frameworkThe cascade framework developed in the context of the project is a model of release, discovery andreuse of Open Educational Resources which can be “cascaded”, that is, taken up and incorporatedinto new contexts by academics wishing to engage with Open Educational Resources. The frameworkis based upon a critical understanding of OERs where users can examine their own academic practiceand subsequently articulate a rationale for using OERs, with use interpreted quite broadly in termsof identifying, locating, releasing and embedding Open Educational Resources into curriculum.Methodology for developing a cascade frameworkhttp://cascadeoer2.pbworks.com/w/page/41288922/Project%20methodologyBuilding on our experiences from the OER pilot project, we have developed a collaborative methodof working with our partners, with an emphasis on reflection in the process of learning about OERs.The cascade project methodology was based around a critical engagement with OERs, embeddedwithin the social sciences framework of knowledge production. It encouraged an exploration of tacitelements of OER creation, with an emphasis on issues related to pedagogy.Articulations of the cascade frameworkDocument title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 6 of 41
  7. 7. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:In the process of developing the cascade framework, project team has produced a number of draftversions of the cascade schema.Draft of cascade frameworkhttp://prezi.com/mkkn3_k6-zgb/cascade/This Prezi—based presentation formed part of our efforts to articulate the emerging cascadeframework.OER cascadehttp://voicethread.com/?#q.b1815037In this presentation, the cascade project consultant uses VoiceThread to articulate the “problemspace” for the cascade framework, focusing on issues of pedagogy.Mindmap of the cascade frameworkhttp://www.mindmeister.com/78727474/cascade-framework-draftThis mindmap was created to help the project team visualise the emerging cascade framework andidentify priority areas.Cascade framework toolsDocument title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 7 of 41
  8. 8. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:Cascade toolshttp://cascadeoer2.pbworks.com/w/page/44124727/Cascade%20toolsThe C-SAP cascade framework model offers a set of tools which will allow academics to reflect upontheir own practice and examine conditions in which their teaching resources can be used/reused andshared, including but not limited to their institutional culture, technical skills, knowledge on how tofind/(re)use OERs and their individual orientation towards pedagogical innovation. The tools aredescribed in more detail in section 2.4. of this report.Reflexive tasksReflection has been a core element of our project methodology. Through reflection,academic practice can be critically reviewed and better understood and helping to make this clearerto others and to oneself, in order to enhance the potential of OERs to be shared and re-used. Through the use of reflexive tasks, the project team aimed to develop a collaborativeframework for cascading OERs within the social sciences. The tasks, posted on the project wiki, werebuilt around a series of reflexive prompts designed to introduce partners to OER-related concepts,explore their understanding of open education as well as aid them with articulating the emergingcascade framework. The project wiki hosts both the full text of partners’ responses to the tasks aswell as an overview of issues emerging from a reflexive approach towards OERs.All tasks have been released as OERs on project Slideshare account:Task 1 - Introducing Open Educational Resourceshttp://www.slideshare.net/CSAPSubjectCentre/cascadetask1forpartnersintroducingoe-rsTask 2 - Exploring Open Educational Resourceshttp://www.slideshare.net/CSAPSubjectCentre/cascadetask2forpartnersexploringoe-rsTask 3 – Developing the cascade frameworkhttp://www.slideshare.net/CSAPSubjectCentre/csapoer2reflexivetask3developingcascadeframework3-feb2011Task 4 – Peer reviewhttp://www.slideshare.net/CSAPSubjectCentre/cascade-reflexive-taskpeer-reviewWeb 2.0 based outputsProject wikihttp://cascadeoer2.pbworks.comThe wiki provides an overview of the tools and approaches which comprise the C-SAP cascademodel. It also documents the process (and the resulting challenges) involved in developing thecascade framework. During the lifetime of the project, the wiki functioned as a space fordocumenting our ideas, storing relevant documents and resources and maintaining a smallcommunity of practice, which was part of our small-scale attempt at creating shifts and culturalchanges across the sector. It remained closed to the core project team until the end of August 2011,Document title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 8 of 41
  9. 9. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:when a revised version aimed at a more general audience was released as one of project outputs.Cascade project blogCsapopencascade.wordpress.comThe project team has used the blog as a space to inform the wider OER community of work-in-progress on the cascade project as well as to comment on issues of relevance to the largerprogramme such as open textbooks, accessibility, challenges specific to the HE in FE institutions etc.For information about blog analytics, see Appendix 1, page 37.Project Twitter account (@csapoer2)http://twitter.com/#!/csapoer2The project team has used the Twitter account to interact with the wider OER community and topublicise information about resources produced in the context of the projectProject slideshare accounthttp://www.slideshare.net/CSAPSubjectCentreAll resources produced in the context of the project have been uploaded to our Slideshare accountunder a Non-Commercial-Attribution-Share-Alike Creative Commons license.Project netvibes accounthttp://www.netvibes.com/csapoer2For the purposes of the project, we created a dedicated netvibes account to manage informationcoming through blogs created by projects within the UKOER programme as well as wider OERcommunity.Project delicious accounthttp://www.delicious.com/csapoerphase2Online resources of relevance to the cascade project have been bookmarked on our deliciousaccount.PresentationsOERs Across Sectors (FE)http://www.slideshare.net/CSAPSubjectCentre/oers-across-sectors-csap-oer-cascadeThis presentation was delivered as part of an Elluminate session that took place on 12 April 2011 andfocused on challenges specific to HE in FE in the context of the cascade project.Mapping the curriculum through shared representations of intentions to teachhttp://www.ucel.ac.uk/oer11/abstracts/1162.htmlThis presentation was delivered by the cascade project consultant, Richard Pountney as part of theOER2011 conference (11-13 May 2011, Manchester) and focused on the development of acurriculum mapping toolkit over two phases of C-SAP OER projects. The presentation focused on thepotential of the toolkit for integrating OERs within curriculum design and review as part of thecascade framework.LeafletsDocument title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 9 of 41
  10. 10. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:OER fact sheethttp://www.slideshare.net/CSAPSubjectCentre/oerfactsheet15-oct2010The fact sheet provides an overview of the aims and objectives of the OER programme (both pilotand second phase), introduces some of the OER key initiatives such as MIT OpenCourseware, Jorumand MERLOT repositories. It also focuses on key points and benefits of OERs as well as issues realetdto IPR, copyright and Creative Commons licensing.Resources on open textbookshttp://www.slideshare.net/CSAPSubjectCentre/csapoer2cascaderesourcesonopentextbooks31-jan2011The leaflet covers major US-based open textbooks initiatives, including the Open Access TextbooksProject, Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources and College OpenTextbooks. It also signposts relevant resources on finding, authoring and sharing open textbooks.Open Educational Resources: Cascading Knowledgehttp://www.slideshare.net/CSAPSubjectCentre/open-educational-resources-bookletThe leaflet is aimed at a general social sciences audience and provides information about theinvolvement of C-SAP in the UK OER programme.Working papersAccessibility issues in the context of C-SAP cascade projecthttp://www.slideshare.net/CSAPSubjectCentre/accessibility-issues-in-the-context-of-csapoer2-projectThis working paper makes the case for developing OER-specific accessibility guidance and focuses onincentives for embedding accessible practice. It also discusses the relevance of communities ofpractice framework for supporting accessibility in the context of OER programme.ReportsStudent engagement activity at University Centre Blackburn Collegehttp://www.slideshare.net/CSAPSubjectCentre/csap-student-cascade-activity-feedbackThis report documents the involvement of students at University Centre Blackburn College (C-SAPcascade partner) with OER-related cascade activities. Two groups of students were invited toundertake an activity based around searching for and evaluating OERs. A total of 19 students wereinvited to complete the activity, 14 students accessed their documents in the shared folder, and 7successfully completed the tasks.Focus group with members of staff at Teesside Universityhttp://www.slideshare.net/CSAPSubjectCentre/focus-group-with-staff-at-teesside-university-csap-cascade-projectThe focus group was conducted by Michael Teague and John Craig from Teesside University whowere involved in the project as academic partners and their aim was to explore how the publicationand use (and reuse) of OERs is perceived within their institution.Document title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 10 of 41
  11. 11. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:Teaching resources deposited into JorumWelsh partners (Bangor/Cardiff University)Cyflwyniad i Ddulliau Ymchwil (Research methods)http://dspace.jorum.ac.uk/xmlui/handle/123456789/15794Welsh Medium resource designed to provide a set of reusable and repurposable resources forstudents and lecturers to introduce research methods.Dulliau Ymchwil Meintiol (Quantitative Research Methods)http://dspace.jorum.ac.uk/xmlui/handle/123456789/15795This course is a set of reusable and repurposable Welsh medium resources designed to introducestudents to the use of Excel and SPSS in quantitative research methods.Teesside University partnerDoing Policyhttps://dspace.jorum.ac.uk/xmlui/handle/123456789/15796Understanding Public Managementhttps://dspace.jorum.ac.uk/xmlui/handle/123456789/15797Both modules were created as part of the Foundation degree in Community Governance and PublicSector Management, a course delivered by the Politics team at the University of Huddersfieldbetween 2002 and 2009. The repurposing and publication of these learning materials as part of theOER project has been approved by the University of Huddersfield. The course was designed anddelivered in partnership with local authority employers and third sector organisations.University Centre Blackburn College partnerCreativity for edupunkshttp://dspace.jorum.ac.uk/xmlui/handle/123456789/15798“Creativity for Edupunks” is a pbwiki-based resource aimed at HE in FE staff that comprises of elevenactivity-based sessions, covering issues related to identifying, locating, releasing and putting OERsinto curriculum, understanding the concept of “openness” as well as pedagogical issues aroundstudent engagement and in particular innovative assessment. This resource seeks to develop OERliteracy and encourage the use, reuse and subsequent production of such resources, putting forward‘anarchogogy’ as a pedagogical position. In its entirety, it is intended to be a staff developmentprogramme for lecturers working at HE in FE institutions but its composite parts can be individuallyused by anyone interested in different approaches to teaching and learning.OER release: overview of partner depositshttp://cascadeoer2.pbworks.com/w/page/44567490/OER%20release%3A%20Overview%20of%20partner%20depositsThis dedicated wiki page provides additional information about resources deposited within thecascade project, including an overview of pedagogical approaches and motivations.Document title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 11 of 41
  12. 12. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date: 2.2. Overview of project methodologyThe project worked with a small cluster of academic staff from three HEIs, including an HE in FEinstitution. Building on our experiences from the OER pilot project, we have developed acollaborative method of working with our partners, with an emphasis on reflection in the process oflearning about OERs.In the context of the project, the project team strove to create opportunities for the partners toreflect on the process of opening up teaching materials and explore issues around tacit practice, thatis, the “story” of what is being taught, the institutional and pedagogical context in which theteaching process takes place, etc. Those opportunities included a set of four reflexive tasks (seesection 3.4.2, page 14 for more information) addressing issues related to OER release, pedagogicalframeworks, curriculum design and quality assurance. Through the tasks, project partners wereencouraged to expose and challenge some of the tacit assumptions about academic practice andsharing teaching resources. There were also a number of opportunities for interaction between thepartners through face-to-face meetings, workshops and phone conversations aimed at supportingpartners in the process of developing their understandings of OERs and articulating their approachtowards OER creation and re-use.Face-to-face meetings took place in October 2010, January 2011 and June 2011. Project partnersalso had a chance to participate in an additional workshop in May 2011 devoted to technical issuessuch as the use of VoiceThread and depositing Blackboard-based content into educationalrepositories. Furthermore, the project team (project manager, consultant and critical friend) provedon-going support as and when requested by the partners. All outputs produced in the context ofreflexive tasks and partner meetings were captured on the project wiki which functioned as a (closedand password-protected) space for documenting ideas, storing relevant documents and resourcesand maintaining a small community of practice. The public blog was used by the project team todocument the process and the resulting challenges involved in developing the cascade framework aswell as address issues of wider relevance to the cascade project.Importantly, the project team supported the partners in making the transition from being “cascadedto” to becoming “cascaders” and so provided opportunities for academic partners to get involved inthe activities of the UK-based OER network. For instance, we supported the participation of ourUCBC [University Centre at Blackburn College] partners in the OER2011 conference, which enabledthem to broaden their academic network and importantly to get in touch with other HE in FElecturers undertaking OER-related research. Our partners then drew on those networks whenorganising a dissemination event due to take place in September and two of the invited speakers(keynote speaker Diana Laudrillard and a SCORE fellow, Esther Ehiyazaryan based at an HE in FEinstitution, for more information about the event see section Appendix 2, page 38) are contactsmade whilst at OER2011. The event will hopefully demonstrate that the framework we developed inDocument title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 12 of 41
  13. 13. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:the context of the project is transferable and reproducible; the nature of that framework will beexpanded upon in more detail in the following sections. 2.3. The cascade frameworkThe cascade framework developed in the context of the project is a model of release, discovery andreuse of Open Educational Resources which can be “cascaded”, that is, taken up and incorporatedinto new contexts by academics wishing to engage with Open Educational Resources. Throughdevelopment of the C-SAP model (i.e. the “cascade framework”) the project sought to develop acritical understanding of OERs where users can examine their own academic practice andsubsequently articulate a rationale for using OERs, with use interpreted quite broadly in terms ofidentifying, locating, releasing and embedding Open Educational Resources into curriculum. Themodel offers a set of tools which will allow academics to reflect upon their own practice andexamine conditions in which their teaching resources can be used/reused and shared, including butnot limited to their institutional culture, technical skills, knowledge on how to find/(re)use OERs andtheir individual orientation towards pedagogical innovation. The next section provides an overviewof tools, all of which can be accessed from the project wiki, which comprise the cascade framework. 2.4. Overview of Cascade tools 2.4.1. Influences from the pilot projectThe first tool that we relied upon when developing the cascade framework was the conceptualapproach and project methodology we developed in the context of the C-SAP pilot phase project(“Evaluating the practice of collective endeavour in opening up key resources for learning andteaching in the social sciences”), which took place between April 2009-April 2010. The pilot projectadopted a critical social science perspective on the processes of sharing digital educationalresources, as well as related challenges. The project team has endeavoured to explore ways ofmaking educational resources more “open” and less reliant on tacit pedagogic practice by usinginsights gained from the process of peer review and social science knowledge production. Within thecascade project, we have embraced and/or expanded upon the following elements of the pilotproject:Reflexive tasks in the pilot phaseWithin the pilot project, we were experimenting with tools that would aid the partners inarticulating tacit elements of their academic practice and decided to experiment with a peersupported review exercise. We paired up the partners and asked them to review a sample modulefrom the other partner’s contributed materials. The pairings were made on the basis of overlaps inpartners discipline, pedagogic approach and topics covered. This review was based around aDocument title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 13 of 41
  14. 14. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:checklist and series of prompts. The exercises yielded in-depth accounts of ways in whichpedagogical practice is challenged by the process of opening up teaching resources. We built uponthis approach in the cascade project, where reflexive tasks (see section 3.4.2.) were a core elementof the project methodology and were designed to support the partners in articulating a rationale forembedding OERs within their individual and institutional context.The relevance of pedagogical frameworksThe pilot project generated rich discussion and debate amongst the project team about pedagogicalframeworks to support releasing material in the social sciences, and questions of the intended usersand what types of contextual information (both tacit and explicit) about the “history” of thematerials is required to support discovery and re-use. We built upon those discussion in the cascadeproject when designing reflexive tasks; for instance, cascade reflexive task 4 (“Peerreview”) explicitly focused on pedagogical approaches in the context of student engagement withOERs.Existing OER resources developed in the context of UKOER pilot phaseIn the spirit of Open Educational Resources, throughout the cascade project we drew on resourcesdeveloped in the context of the pilot phase. For example, in cascade reflexive task 2 (“ExploringOERs”) we signposted project partners to materials on searching for, reusing and repurposing openteaching resources produced by projects in the pilot phase rather than (re)create new materialsfrom scratch. 2.4.2. Cascade tools: Reflexive tasksAs mentioned earlier, the use of reflexive tasks as a cascade tool can be traced to a conceptualapproach developed in the context of the C-SAP pilot project. Overall, reflection has been a coreelement of cascade project methodology. Through reflection, academic practice can be criticallyreviewed, better understood and tacit understandings can be made clear to others and to oneself,enhancing the potential of OERs to be shared and re-used. Through the use of reflexive tasks, theproject team aimed to develop a collaborative framework for cascading OERs within social sciences.The tasks were built around a series of reflexive prompts designed to introduced partners to OER-related concepts, explore their understanding of open education as well as aid them witharticulating the emerging cascade framework.The tasks followed the principle of increasing complexity, while being progressive and formative innature. The first task (“Introducing OERs”1) was aimed at introducing colleagues to the concept ofOERS and the idea of examining academic practice in a reflexive and critical way. The second task1 All tasks can be accessed from project wiki, see section 3.1. for more information.Document title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 14 of 41
  15. 15. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:(“Exploring OERs”) was designed to equip project partners with relevant technical skills inpreparation for creating/repurposing their own teaching resources and depositing them as OERs aspart of the cascade process. The task also addressed issues related to accessibility, licencing andtagging. The project tasks then shifted the emphasis from the focus on individual aspects ofacademic practice and relevant technical skills to the more communal facets of open education.Accordingly, the third task (“Developing the cascade framework”) was aimed at supportingcolleagues with the development of the cascade framework, with a view to creating a frameworkthat could then be cascaded on to other academics past the end of the project funding. Finally, thefourth task gave the partners an opportunity to engage in peer review and discuss their practice witha colleague. All of the conversations related to the reflexive tasks have been captured andcontextualised in the project wiki and we anticipate that they can be of use to the wider communityand anyone interested in adopting a similar approach or wishing to reuse/repurpose that element ofthe cascade framework in their own context.The use of reflexive tasks as a cascade framework tool stemmed from our social science orientationand the belief that creating a space for reflexivity and conversation between colleagues opens up aspace where ideas can be raised to the surface, shared and to some extent shaped. The potentialbenefits of this approach are reflected in a comment posted on the wiki after one of projectmeetings: The event demonstrated one of the most powerful aspects of the OER movement, namely the benefits arising from open communication between colleagues. The illustration of various tools such as wallwisher was helpful but the sharing of teaching and learning experiences was the most beneficial part of the day. The discussion about assessment methods was particularly useful as it demonstrated support for the creative interpretation of regulations but also revealed the different approaches adopted by different institutions with regard to things such as assessment criteria.Furthermore, we believe it is within the space of conversation/reflection that tacit ideas related toacademic practice can be teased out, exposed and then possibly challenged. This would hopefullylead to long-lasting changes in academic practice so that teaching resources are designed withopenness in mind and sharing is more of forethought rather than a costly and problematicafterthought. While the reflexive approach has not been without its challenges, as will bedemonstrated in the section devoted to evaluation issues, nevertheless we believe that the criticaland reflexive approach towards OERs has been one of the strengths of the project. This approachwas accompanied by a strong engagement with Web2.0 based tools, which will be described in moredetail in the next section.Document title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 15 of 41
  16. 16. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date: 2.4.3. Cascade tools: Web 2.0 toolsWeb2.0 tools constituted another important element of our methodology and the cascadeframework and so we have maintained a Wordpress-based project blog(csapopencascade.wordpress.com) to document work-in-progress and reflect on issues of broadersignificance to the OER programme. All of the relevant online resources have been bookmarked onour delicious account (http://www.delicious.com/csapoerphase2) and we also have created adedicated netvibes account (http://www.netvibes.com/csapoer2) to manage information comingthrough blogs created by projects within the UKOER programme as well as wider OER community.Any resources produced in the context of the project have been uploaded to our Slideshare account(http://www.slideshare.net/CSAPSubjectCentre ) under a Non-Commercial-Attribution-Share-AlikeCreative Commons license. We have used tools such as prezi and mindmeister in order to capturethe process of developing the cascade framework.In particular, Twitter is one of the tools that the project team embraced quite early on in the projectand found it to be an extremely useful project management tool. We used a dedicated Twitteraccount (@csapoer2)2 both as a tool for getting access to vetted, high-quality resources comingthrough the broader OER network as well as a method of communicating work-in-progress andsignposting to resources produced in the context of the project. We also successfully used Twitterduring project meetings to demonstrate its potential for offering space to explore issues around tacitpractice and to reflect on the processes involved in opening up teaching resources: The project meeting yesterday saw a renewed commitment to Twitter on the part of our academic partners. While we continued our conversation about pedagogy and critical approaches towards OERs, we simultaneously tweeted some of the questions that arose (using the #csapoer hashtag for the meeting) and this way went from sitting in a small room with six people to interacting with a much broader audience who retweeted our comments, responded to some of the questions and kept the conversation going (Gruszczynska, 2011).Both Twitter and our project blog have given us a chance to increase involvement with the widerOER network (UK-wide and beyond) and the quotes below demonstrate some of the conversationsthat took place as a result:2 As of August 17th 2011, the statistics are as follows: 72 followers, 115 following, 68 TweetsDocument title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 16 of 41
  17. 17. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date: Great post, interesting initiative. OER in different languages, and within different cultural contexts, is a very interesting question to explore. (…) I am very happy to hear that there are plans to localize OER into Welsh, very exciting! (Haklev, 2011). Your point on research is spot on – (…) OER I can imagine are similar – during teaching I always found resources not quite what I wanted so continued the never ending search! I’d appreciate it if you could let me know when and where the wiki will be available – it will definitely be worth a read! (Habib, 2011).Overall, our engagement with Web2.0 tools was closely related to our attempts at modelling bestpractice with regard to copyright and open education, especially given that one of our projectobjectives is sharing and developing deeper and wider expertise in the significance of social scienceopen educational content. 2.4.4. Cascade tools: Student engagementStudent engagement was a core element of the C-SAP cascade framework, given that the projectstrove to articulate a rationale for using open resources to help lecturers develop modules that aremore engaging of students as well as work with students to evaluate and reflect on use of OERs incurriculum development. Where possible, partners have incorporated OERs into their teaching,offering their students a chance to provide feedback through surveys and focus groups. Studentswere also involved in user testing of the resources being developed in the context of the project.This aspect of the cascade framework will be addressed more in detail in sections 4.2., whichpresents different approaches to involving students with OERs taken by partners in the context ofthe project.2.5. Approach to evaluationOur reflexive approach towards the project methodology also extended to evaluation. We arrangedfor an external evaluator3 to undertake summative evaluation of the project and specified within thebrief that the evaluator should explore partners’ understanding of the collaborative/reflexiveapproach towards developing a cascade framework.At the same time, formative evaluation has been on-going within the lifetime of the project and sopartners had the opportunity to engage in informal evaluation through reflexive tasks designed bythe project team and offer feedback on their emerging understanding of the cascade framework.Furthermore, through partners’ responses to the reflexive prompts within the tasks, as well as3 Our formal evaluator was Dr Sahm Nikoi, previously involved with the University of Leicester’s pilotphase project OTTER and currently academic services librarian at Aberystwyth University.Document title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 17 of 41
  18. 18. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:follow-up phone conversations, the project team had a chance to gain an insight into partners’contributions to the project and their progress. This is where the contributions of the projectconsultant were particularly valuable in terms of drawing out the tacit elements of partners’pedagogic practices in the context of OER production.Yet another element of formative evaluation was the internal evaluation undertaken by projectcritical friend in April 2011 which focused on issues around project methodology. While only two ofthe partners took part, those conversations offer a useful insight into partners’ perceptions ofproject methodology, as reflected in the quotes below: There are times that I would sooner focus on getting the resources into the correct format for JORUM rather than take the time to complete tasks but they have been useful and my response at the end of the project will probably see the tasks much more positively. When the project first began it all seemed quite daunting and uncertain. As the project has progressed we have grown in confidence and we have really benefitted at a local level and even at the level of being able to spend time working together (…) Overall the project‘s methodological approach has been very positive experience and there is a sense that partners do not want the project to end as that will return them to the ‘real world’.The above quotes reflect some of the issues involved in adopting a more reflexive approach to OERcreation/release as well as some potential problems with the transferability of the cascadeframework outside of the context of OER programme. The C-SAP cascade framework seems to bechallenging what our partners consider to be part of their “normal” academic practice and pushingthem beyond their comfort zones. There are some positive elements to being challenged in that way– hence possibly the comment about unwillingness to return to the “real world”. At the same time,the approach we have chosen could be seen as potentially too time-consuming and at odds with theneeds of busy lecturers who might only be interested in gaining technical competence in creatingOERs. This was also brought up in the context of formal evaluation (Nikoi, 2011) , where one of thepartners reported that they joined the project simply to develop OERs but found themselvesinvolved in activities for which they had not budgeted time for. Furthermore, while not mentionedhere explicitly, the institutional diversity of our academic partners might have made it more difficultat times to engage in reflexive activities and identify commonalities in that context. At the sametime, both partners quoted above seem to recognise the long-term potential of the C-SAP cascadeapproach and the perhaps less tangible awards of being able to spend some time on reflexiveactivities and focus on the “why” rather than “how-to” of OERs. Those issues will be further exploredin any future conference and research papers emerging from the project.Document title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 18 of 41
  19. 19. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date: 3. Project findings and lessons learnt: emerging themesThroughout the lifetime of the project, we focused on three priority areas closely linked to projectobjectives: student engagement, OER release and the cascade framework. The collaborative natureof our project methodology meant that our work within those areas was also informed by issues thatproject partners identified as relevant to their own practice, such as challenges specific to HE in FE orthe Welsh-medium context in the curriculum. Accordingly, those issues are reflected in the OERsthat the partners have released (for more information, see section 2.1Error! Bookmark not defined.)as well as the project blog.4 In addition, our engagement with issues related to the social sciencescurriculum has focused mostly on exploring ways in which institutional context affects “readiness”for OERs and the process of OER creation and (re)use. In the context of the project, we have alsoexplored the challenges of engaging students with OERs, especially when those resources arepositioned outside of the core curriculum. The next section of the report focuses on themes whichemerged in the context of partner engagement with the cascade priority areas, starting with issuesrelated to the relationship between OERs and the curriculum. 3.1. Relationship between OERs and the curriculumCurriculum development is defined as the activities and processes by which courses are designed,reviewed and updated on an on-going basis, within institutional and national requirements. The C-SAP cascade project aimed to gain a better informing of the process of using OER to supportcurriculum development and the role of pedagogical insights in this process. Overall, ourengagement with curriculum issues has taken the form of examining the impact of institutionalcontext on academic practices which shape the curriculum and their relevance for OERs. It has to benoted that the given the short timeframe of the project, especially when contrasted with the overalllength of the curriculum lifecycle, project partners were unable to formally embed OERs within theirown curricula. Much longer funding period would be needed to create conditions where projectpartners could for instance design and validate a new course based around OERs, and so the cascadeproject relied primarily on partners using OERs as supplementary materials with regards to existingcore curriculum. At the same time, we believe we can offer relevant insights into factors that couldpotentially have an impact on the process of embedding OERs within the social sciences curricula.For instance, our Bangor University partner, when reflecting on previous experiences of attemptingto validate a course that would be based on materials developed at a different institution, pointed tothe problems involved with sharing OERs at the granularity of the module. The courses she wasteaching on (BA in Sociology and Social Policy and MA in Policy) had been validated at BangorUniversity. When she attempted to incorporate into her teaching a module that was developed atTrinity St. Davids University (prior to the beginning of the cascade project) this turned out to be4 See posts tagged under “cascade framework”http://csapopencascade.wordpress.com/category/cascade-framework/Document title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 19 of 41
  20. 20. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:problematic – the module had to be revalidated and there were questions raised about payment forthe students taking the module at a different institution. This example illustrated ways in whichinstitutional constraints clash with the vision of an open curriculum based on OERs where learnershave the flexibility to select a range of individual units or courses to suit their personal needs for thedevelopment of expertise (Yuan, et al. 2008).Yet other aspects of institutional constraints on the process of curriculum design and delivery havebeen revealed in the context of our work with the UCBC partner. During one of our partnermeetings, we encouraged the participants to share the “typical” process of developing a newmodule and embedding it within the curriculum. The quote below illustrates quite starkly thecontrast between the relatively more open approach taken at an HE institution (a post-92 university)with the rigid and micro-managed context of HE in FE sector: John [Craig, Teesside University partner] described the process of creating a new module at Huddersfield which started with a very general brief to create "something international". While planning the course, he kept asking himself the following questions: what should somebody at the end of level 4 know about local/global politics? What level are they at now? What do they expect from the course? What would academic colleagues expect a first year student to study? The course covered some rather basic issues - what is a war, how many wars are there, what is the UN, what are the other international organisations, what is globalisation etc. In the second term, there were more case studies looking at China; Iraq war; there was also a week that was left blank in the curriculum and students voted on what they wanted to see covered. Phil’s [Johnson at University Centre Blackburn College] experiences of curriculum development at his institution are quite different as at Blackburn this is a very top-down process. The initiative to develop new courses will usually stem from managers who identify potential areas of growth, such as for instance security management. The process of writing new courses is all about the procedural elements - get the keywords in, assess, apply, put together the book list, there is very little creativity involved and then people within the college have to teach what Phil has written. Phil had only one opportunity within 15 years to develop his own course which looked at forensics.Those differences in academic practice will undoubtedly have an impact on how lectures areapproaching OERs and on their readiness to work with open content. Issues of tacit practice arecontextually bound by the institutions and relate to the following aspects of practice: what is taught;how it is taught and ways in which teaching is organised and managed. At the same time, our UCBCpartners were at least able to begin a dialogue with their curriculum development team, asevidenced by the following account from an e-mail correspondence:Document title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 20 of 41
  21. 21. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date: I’ve kept our curriculum development team informed throughout the year about the research and they have supported our plans for developing our work in future years. This support has not yet extended beyond verbal approval but discussions are taking place for a more formal level of support. Curriculum development organised a meeting for staff in July in order to promote the use of OERs in enhancing teaching and learning. The feedback was positive and several people subsequently told me they found the whole approach to be thought provoking.Yet another element of curriculum design and delivery which emerged as relevant to the OERcontext had been that of disciplinary context (as mentioned previously, the project emphasised thespecificity of social sciences disciplines), as reflected in the comment from Teesside Universitypartner posted on the wiki: When we are thinking about what works best as an OER, we are invariably asking questions about our discipline and how we think about teaching and learning. (…) students might bring to the study of criminology representations about victimisation, offending, and the major criminal justice agencies which respond to offending, as found in the media (…)I have a very clear idea of what works in that face to face situation, and that has been honed each year by the responses of students. There are often debates within criminology about how best to teach, conceptualise and explain the subject. (…) This raises wide ranging questions about learning and teaching in criminology, and how we might acknowledge these questions in OER design.This comment emphasises the relevance of the approach undertaken by the C-SAP project thatattempts to articulate the tacit understandings of academic and pedagogic practices within socialsciences disciplines. At the same time, the above quote also points to the importance of consideringthe disciplinary context in which OERs are produced and (re)used. The next section expands onthemes related to student engagement in the context of the cascade framework. 3.2. Student engagementAs mentioned previously, student engagement was one of the cascade framework priority areas andso the C-SAP project strove to create opportunities for project partners to incorporate engagementwith student perspectives on the use of OER to support learning. Furthermore, as mentioned in theproject bid, in the context of developing the cascade framework we were also keen on cascading arationale for using open resources so that lecturers can develop modules which would be moreengaging of students.To start with, the theme of student engagement was a running thread through the reflexive tasksand the discussions we had with the partners throughout the project. Accordingly, with the firstDocument title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 21 of 41
  22. 22. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:reflexive task we encouraged the partners to start thinking about the ways in which they wouldexplain/introduce OERs to their students. In the third reflexive task partners were prompted toenvisage ways in which students as key stakeholders could be involved in the development of thecascade framework. Finally, the fourth task (based around peer review) included the followingprompts: In our draft mindmap of the cascade framework, we have indicated a number of approaches to using OERs with students: “hand-picked”, “letting students loose” and “students as producers”. Each of these implies rather different priorities for content production and release, as well as for reuse of content. Which approach have you adopted when introducing OER resources and/or open education-related concepts to your students? Have you identified any particular resources, strategies etc. that others might find useful? Finally, what conditions need to be met to enable students to understand the purpose and their relationship with OERs and how might we deal with any issues they might have about loss of contact with teachers?The next section of this report provides accounts of the ways in which project partners haveincorporated elements of student engagement in the context of the project. 3.2.1. Account of student engagement at Bangor UniversityThe first approach, taken by the Welsh partner, was that of involving students in the evaluation ofthe open teaching resource, where the resource in question was a 10-credit SPSS module in Welshto become part of the MA in Language Policy and Planning (see section 2.1. for further information).Students were expected to provide comments on the resource itself as it was being developed aswell as on the questionnaires that they would be producing after working through the resource. Theintention of the partners was to utilise the questionnaires and the resulting discussion as teachingmaterial within the future versions of the SPSS resource.The cohort of core students on that course was quite small, with five students, where two werebased at the host institution and studying full time, while three others were geographically dispersedand studying part time alongside full time employment. Importantly, the students were veryengaged with the course and interested in utilising the SPSS resource to develop their skills inquantitative research methods, and also to apply the newly gained skills in their day-to-day workingenvironment. This way, they were more likely to remain committed to engaging in a participatoryway with the resource by providing comments and contributing to the online discussions.Partners reported on a number of issues that emerged in the first couple of months of working onthe resource, where students failed to contribute because of difficulties with accessing theuniversity’s Blackboard, where the discussion forum accompanying the resource was hosted, or theDocument title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 22 of 41
  23. 23. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:relevant version of SPSS. Therefore, student engagement in that context highlighted the relevance oftechnical infrastructure as key in terms of students successful (or not) engagement with OERs. 3.2.2. Account of student engagement at Teesside UniversityThe Teesside University partners took a different approach to student engagement. Given that theresources repurposed during the cascade project were not originally developed at Teesside, theydecided instead to organise a focus group to explore how students used technology and whatexperience, if any, they had of OERs. The group was conducted by Michael Teague and PhilipMakinson (Education Officer at Teesside Student Union) in March 2011, the report from that focusgroup was later posted on the project wiki and subsequently released into Slideshare.5In general, students have not been exposed to the concept of Open Educational Resources andinitially argued that they had never used OERs in their learning. At the same time, further discussionshowed that they had in practice often used learning, teaching, and research resources that were inthe public domain, given that this definition included course materials (often but not alwaysaccessed via the VLE), YouTube videos, streaming videos, textbooks including Google books, andother material which provided knowledge and information. Therefore, it could be argued that thestudents were using “grey OERs” – that is, resources in public domain which are freely accessibleonline and often shared informally but not licensed in a way that would allow for reuse orrepurposing (Brent, 2011).As the Teesside partners reported, the students in the focus group did not feel that a greateremphasis on OERs (for instance, by formally incorporating them into the curriculum) might assistthem. In fact, one of the students articulated the perception that the use of OERs by staff mightsomehow be “cheating” because those resources would not have been explicitly designed with theneeds of particular students in mind. Within this understanding of OERs, open resources are seen aslacking in the personalised element of the interaction between the students and the lecturer andtherefore inferior. We believe this is a relevant finding in terms of indicating student preconceivednotions of OERs and potential barriers to larger uptake of this type of resources, especially given theimpending changes to tuition fees. Within the changing funding landscape, where students areconceptualised as consumers, the perception of OERs as “less than” the actual interaction withlecturers in an institutional context might create barriers to supporting the inclusion of OERs withinthe curriculum. The experiences of the UCBC partner discussed in the next section provide furtherinsights into student perceptions of OERs.5 The report is available from http://www.slideshare.net/CSAPSubjectCentre/focus-group-with-staff-at-teesside-university-csap-cascade-projectDocument title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 23 of 41
  24. 24. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date: 3.2.3. Account of student engagement at University Centre at Blackburn CollegeIn terms of student engagement at UCBC, project partners had two quite contrasting experiences,which provided relevant insights into student preference for personalised and/or “hand-pickedOERs” offered in the context of guided discovery and their reluctance to engage with OERs within aless structured, informal learning context.At the outset of the project, one of the UCBC partners (Craig Hammond) hoped to explore thepedagogic potential open education and the concept of students as creative co-producers ofknowledge (Neary and Winn, 2009; Winn, 2011). This rather radical vision clashed with students’general unwillingness to engage with OERs even at the level of use, let alone re-use and creation.This was illustrated very vividly through the findings from an informal focus group aimed atintroducing students to OERs, which included an overview of OER repositories as well as ideasaround open education such as edupunk (Downes, 2008). While initially the students seemed toappreciate the concept of using OERs, their interest was short-lived: virtually all members of the group had not really interacted with the materials in any way whatsoever. So, I asked them why this was the case, and the various (though quite standard) responses related to the ‘context’ (or perceived rationale) to actually embark upon such activities. The group (even the few students who had made at least some attempt to access the OERs) identified as part of their feedback, that, as undergraduates, their preference is to focus upon specific and directed research, self-directed activities that can ‘clearly’ (and positively) influence the grades attained in assignments (and exams).Thus the main issue was that students struggled to see the relevance of OERs and perceived them asextracurricular and external to their learning. Overall, this is an important finding in terms ofpositioning OERs within the curriculum, at the same time the quote points to challenges involved inrealising the full potential of OERs for learning and teaching.The second attempt at engaging students with OERs at UCBC took place towards the end of theproject as part of a guided activity for third-year students on a research methods module6. As part ofthe activity, project partners emailed the students with instructions to access a Word file containinga set of prompts inviting them to evaluate three different OER resources: • How useful/accessible did you find the presentation of the information in these resources? • Explain the likelihood of you using this/similar resource(s) as part of your future studies (i.e. in assignments, presentations etc.).6 Full report which includes links to OERs mentioned in this section can be accessed from projectSlideshare account at http://www.slideshare.net/CSAPSubjectCentre/csap-student-cascade-activity-feedbackDocument title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 24 of 41
  25. 25. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date: • Would you recommend the use of these OER resources to other students/learners? Please explain your answer. • What could be ‘improved’ (if anything) in order for you to use/recommend these OER resources as part of future studies?Two of those resources were Voicethread-based presentations uploaded to vimeo, where a UCBClecturer explained how to create a contents page, and how to reference using Word 2007. The thirdresource was an OpenLearn module on the topic of French Revolution. At the outset of the task,students were provided with basic information on OERs and the OER movement. That informationemphasised the potential benefits of OERs for student learning and offered a rationale for studentsto engage with OERs both in the context of the task and beyond: The Open Educational Resources (OERs) movement has received major backing from governments in both the UK and USA and has the potential to do to the education industry what the web 2.0 has done to other information industries such as news, music and publishing. Education will have to increasingly confront (and utilise) these changes; (…) The OER field is evolving and it is therefore prudent for us to engage with it now, so that we, as students and educational practitioners can be prepared to meet the immediate and future changes in H.E.The most important finding stemming from that activity was that students overwhelminglyenthusiastic about the video-based resources produced by a lecturer that they knew in comparisonto the opinions expressed about the OpenLearn resource. The reactions to the videos were verypositive with students claiming that they would use the resource again for their own learning: Easily accessible and extremely useful, particularly if students are embarking on their initial assignments and need guidance ... (Student 1). I would use these resources for other things in my studies. I think they are really helpful, and I especially like how I can access them so easily at home and watch as many times as I needed to ... Moreover, I would use them as it gives me the opportunity to pick my learning environment to ensure I get the most of the information, unlike in a classroom where I am less likely to learn it. (Student 2).The reactions to the OpenLearn resource were mixed and significantly more critical: The likelihood of using a similar resource in a future assignment would be quite high as there is a lot of information given and you would be able to reference it. However it would take up a lot of time to read which could potentially put people off! (Student 3)Document title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 25 of 41
  26. 26. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date: I’d say it’s highly unlikely that I would use this type of source to try and teach myself any new skills but I may use it to extract the odd reference from. (Student 4).The difference in format might explain some of the difference in reactions especially as otherresearch points to student preference for video-based resources which might be connected with thefact that it offers a means of catering to different learning styles (Kuhn et al., 2010). It has to benoted that student comments about their intention to reuse any of the resources are purelyspeculative and have to be taken at face value. It is quite possible that the approach of the studentswould be exactly the same as in the first rather unsuccessful attempt of project partners at engagingstudents with OERs described earlier in this section. At the same time, the results of this activityclearly demonstrate student preference for OERs which are “home-grown” and personalised - thetwo videos in question have been produced by a lecturer that the students knew in order to addressthe gaps that the lecturer had identified in student study skills.This poses somewhat of a dilemma in terms of how best to cater for this preference – given theabundance of already existing teaching resources in the public domain, it would not be sustainableor cost-effective for lecturers to invest time and resources in producing new OERs from scratchinstead of re-using ones that are available. At the same time, those findings should be interpreted asan encouragement for lecturers to openly share their teaching materials with the students anddesign those materials with openness in mind, to avoid costly retrofitting. Furthermore, studentfeedback indicates that OERs should be introduced in a supported and structured way to increasethe likelihood of students incorporating open resources into their learning. Finally, it is important tospend time exploring student perceptions and attitudes on OERs (with a view to perhaps startchallenging them) in addition to equipping them with relevant technical skills. It would also bebeneficial to explore ways in which personalisation can be achieved when lecturers use OERs createdoutside their institutions. The next section will shift the focus to exploring the role of institutionalcontext with regard to the processes around OER production and release. 3.3. Institutional context: HE in FEOne of the aims of the project has been to examine and critique the ways in which the use of OERswithin the curriculum impacts on boundaries between HE and HE in FE contexts. The experiences ofour UCBC partner point to a number of challenges specific to that sector; at the same time, thecascade project has demonstrated that it is possible to successfully cascade OERs within thatchallenging context.Some of the challenges specific to HE in FE reported by our partners included the previouslymentioned lack of flexibility in terms of curriculum development (see section 4.1., page 19) and veryhigh teaching workloads leaving little time to engage in research. This was coupled with anDocument title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 26 of 41
  27. 27. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:institutional culture where lecturers were micro-managed and for the most part discouraged frombeing creative or innovative in their teaching practice. At the outset of the project, one of the UCBCpartners commented on the institutional barriers he encountered on a daily basis in his academicpractice, and the ways in which those barriers could impede the uptake of OERs: I am not sure that the administrators in my institution will see the benefits in OER as the lack of a transparent financial reward may be an obstacle in encouraging them to provide the time for colleagues to contribute. However, I will argue that the current drive to use OER means that if my institution seeks an inclusive image then relevant support should be given to participating colleagues.At the same time, despite those anxieties, our partners were hoping that their participation in theproject will equip them with skills and knowledge that will have a positive impact not only on theircolleagues but also their students: I will encourage my students to get involved via stating that extra resources could help with their grades and I would give examples of where OER has benefited the learning experience in terms of increasing communication skills and confidence levels. I hope that the students’ involvement will mean that their confidence levels improve as this can be a common problem for HE in FE students and hope that this self-empowerment will develop their levels of critical thinking and creativity. Thus OERs were seen as having the potential to address some of the challenges that the partnersexperienced with regard to teaching in a context where retention was a huge problem and a largeproportion of the students had never undertaken A-levels, or were mature students making asecond attempt at education. In particular, our partners were concerned about the low level ofdigital literacy skills, as evidenced in the exchange from the development workshop in May 2011quoted below: Phil mentioned that his students are not very digitally advanced and he wondered what relationship this had to his students’ class/socioeconomic status. At the same time, Richard mentioned that the situation at SHU is similar and the general level of Blackboard use is very low-level; there are also issues around accessibility/readability when it comes to the postgraduate students he works with. Similarly, John mentioned issues that he discovered in the context of the foundation degree, in particular social access to IT.Thus through participation in the cascade project, the UCBC partners were able to have some oftheir assumptions challenged, such as the belief that the low level of digital literacy of their studentswas unique to their institutional context. Therefore, the C-SAP cascade project strove to focus moreon the strengths of HE in FE sector, such as an emphasis on teaching and student satisfaction as wellDocument title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 27 of 41
  28. 28. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:as high level of pastoral support for students, and potential synergies with the HE sector rather thanview these sectors as diametrically opposite.Accordingly, project partners have responded quite creatively to the restrictions imposed on themby their institutional context and decided to use the space of the project to create a staffdevelopment resource which will be used at UCBC as part of staff research-protected time (at UCBC,staff receive a 33 hours release from teaching duties to engage in broadly conceived scholarlyactivity). “Creativity for Edupunks” is a wiki-based resource aimed at HE in FE staff that comprises ofeleven approximately 3-hour long activity-based sessions, covering issues related to identifying,locating, releasing and putting OERs into curriculum, understanding the concept of “openness” aswell as pedagogical issues around student engagement and in particular innovative assessment.More broadly, the resource also encourages reflection on the space of research in the working livesof teaching professionals. The resource is also a way of cascading what our partners have learnt inthe context of the project both to colleagues within their institution and beyond.Furthermore, throughout the process of developing the resource and seeking formal accreditationso that it can be used for staff development purposes, our partners have engaged in a dialogue withone of project key stakeholder, senior management at their institution. Our partners drew oninsights from that dialogue when organising a cascade dissemination event due to take place inSeptember 2011. Accordingly, the event will focus on the time-saving qualities of OERs as well asexpress OERs ability to improve curriculum design and review processes, as reflected in a commentreceived in an email during the planning process: We would like the event to convey a sense of the powerful potential of OERs and how openness could reduce the replication of work already done before, probably on numerous occasions. As regards powerful potential we feel that OERs can improve the visibility of HE in FE and have potential for increased student numbers and improved engagement and retention. The audience will presumably know little about the amount or types of OERs and this kind of information will be extremely useful for lecturers with weekly teaching responsibilities of 24 hours a week.As the experiences of other projects in the context of the UKOER programme have shown, seniormanagement buy-in is crucial in terms of ensuring long-term support for OERs.Document title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 28 of 41
  29. 29. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date: 3.4. Institutional context: teaching through the medium of WelshThe Welsh-medium context featured quite prominently in the context of the cascade project. Ourcolleagues argued that overall, Welsh-speaking academics should in general be quite receptive tothe ideas of OERs due to a cultural context within which sharing is essential to sustain teaching themedium of Welsh, they also pointed to the potential synergies between the development of WelshMedium HE teaching and the OER agenda, as evidenced in the write-up of one of the reflexive tasksquoted below: The Welsh Medium teaching is undertaken across a number of HEIs in Wales. However, even in those institutions with a strong tradition of Welsh Medium teaching initiatives in the past have been piece meal and dependent on the active engagement and enthusiasm of a small number of Welsh speaking staff who are committed to delivering education in Welsh. This context is changing as the Welsh Government has committed to the establishment of a Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, which will provide increased resources and national strategic planning for the development of Welsh Medium HE. As part of the emerging Welsh Medium agenda colleagues have become increasingly interested in developing and sharing Welsh Medium resources – and in securing an effective repository for material developed for particular courses that may be retained and / or reused in the future.Our colleagues added that because there are so few resources in Welsh at the moment, there is ahigher chance for reuse since importantly; OERs are seen as a means by which the curriculum can beaccessed and also to facilitate the development of Welsh language skills. The experiences of ourWelsh partners emphasise the need to examine the cultural context in which teaching practice isrealised; it is also imperative to build on already existing examples of good practice and supportthose efforts in an organised manner to move from a piecemeal, scattergun approach to a moreencompassing one.Our involvement with the Welsh partners also demonstrates the relevance of taking into accountthe cultural context of sharing with regard to repositories and technical infrastructure. Our partnerslocated within the Welsh Federal College (http://www.colegcymraeg.org/) are creating andrepurposing OERs in the context Y Porth learning gateway (http://www.porth.ac.uk/en/), which hasbeen developed to allow universities across Wales to share Welsh medium resources nationally anddeliver cross-institutional university modules using innovative e-learning technologies. There arecomplexities in terms of three levels of access to Y Porth, which hosts resources that are freely andopenly available to anyone regardless of their institutional affiliation; resources available to anystudent or member of staff across the federation of Welsh colleges and finally resources that can beaccessed only by students and staff on a particular module. While it could be argued that resourceshosted within Y Porth are not truly open, nevertheless, the repository meets the needs of its usersDocument title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 29 of 41
  30. 30. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:and supports the creation of a Welsh medium academic community in which students can receivehigh quality Welsh medium university education. The Welsh case study has also prompted anexploration of issues related to the predominance of English with regard to OER production and(re)use and future funding might be needed to address the challenges of offering courses in abilingual teaching context.7 3.5. Critical engagement with OERsThe reflexive approach undertaken by the project team meant that there was space for bothpartners and stakeholder involved in the project to voice opinions that were at times quite critical ofOERs. Some of these contributions also brought up a number of doubts and fears related to OERs. Atthe same time, opening up the debate means that it becomes possible to challenge assumptions thatare being taken for granted or misconceptions related to sharing resources openly.For instance, members of the focus group undertaken with members of staff at Teesside University(see section 3.1., page 6, for more information) have brought up a number of concerns around OERs,some of which were rooted in a lack of understanding of copyright in the context of sharingresources openly: Is it not risky? Could things not be stolen? I was just thinking about what has been on the news, that New College of Humanities, are they not plagiarising? There must be a risk, if your stuff is there as an available resource. I’ve got stuff now from when I taught in Manchester, which was given to me by a colleague who was there. Sharing resources doesn’t bother me... but something about it being available to anybody, anywhere, is quite strange. You have put quite a lot of time and energy into thinking about how you might deliver and share those resources with students. I don’t know how I would feel about sharing them. What about staff from other universities? If you are at a different university and thinking, how can we attract postgraduates? If you’ve got a lovely course, well thought out, and the reading list is there... I think it’s a bit barmy, to be honest, to give it away. It’s more about it being copied by other institutions – I think that’s the more dangerous thing. You want to differentiate yourself in the market. How do you defend that? I don’t know.7 See also related blog post “Parlez-vous OER? Open Educational Resources in multilingual contexts”http://csapopencascade.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/parlez-vous-oer-open-educational-resources-in-multilingual-contexts/Document title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 30 of 41
  31. 31. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:While there is an acknowledgment that informal sharing is a common and widespread practicewithin academia (for instance, reliance on existing materials when teaching a course for the firsttime), the responses above indicate a rather high level of anxiety around the risk of plagiarism,stealing intellectual property or losing competitive edge. Some of those fears could easily bedispelled by educating academics about the nature of Creative Commons licensing; this could beachieved by for instance signposting colleagues to existing case studies which document theexperiences of academics involved with OERs and the quite often positive impact of sharingresources on their practice.8 At the same time, there is a clear need for an intervention which wouldgo beyond the level of individual practice where ideally OERs would be incorporated into formalmechanisms of reward and recognition. This way, the emphasis would shift from perceivingengagement with OERs as a risky endeavour where the academic is likely to lose out (for instance byhaving their ideas stolen or their effort unacknowledged) to a practice which enhances studentexperience and the profile of the institution as a whole.Acknowledging the effort related to creating/reusing/teaching with OERs would also supportlecturers in taking risks with their pedagogy, and this is an area where a number of anxieties havesurfaced in the context of the project, as evidenced in the following comment from one of thepartners: one of the dilemmas myself and Craig talked about on the way here and we talked before, is the dilemma of the tutor and that the OER you are recommending is better than you, now, you know, I think now, I can cope with that kind of criticism but if I was new to teaching, no way.This comments points to the relevance of the approach undertaken by the C-SAP cascade projectwhere a discussion of pedagogical frameworks was an essential element of creating and repurposingOERs. We also see the value of the project in approaching OERs in a critical and reflexive way andchallenging some of the taken for granted assumptions when it comes to entrenched academichabits.8 One example would be case studies developed in the context of C-SAP pilot project which areavailable from the project website http://www.c-sap.bham.ac.uk/oer/case_studies/index.htmlDocument title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 31 of 41
  32. 32. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date: 4. Impact 4.1. Immediate ImpactWhile we have experienced a number of challenges when it comes to realising the full potential ofproject methodology (and by implication, OERs), we can already report on a number of positivechanges related to our participation in the UKOER programme. To start with, the formal evaluationreport has concluded that the participatory process of the C-SAP project of cascading support forOER embedding has had a positive impact on partners as shown in the following interviewcomments. - This project has exceeded our expectation in the sense that it has enabled a deep level of thought that I did not think would have been possible. - The reflexive approach of this project was the right choice although difficult at first. - Anything that brings people together and gets them to work together is a good thing. - I am more aware about a variety of OER production tools such as Voicethread and Prezi. - The project has influenced us with regards to OER.Partners have plans to cascade the knowledge gained in the context of the project in their respectiveinstitutions and are organising dissemination events due to take place in September 2011. We seethose events as an essential element of “cascade in action” where partners adapt elements of thecascade framework to suit their needs and reflect their institutional context. The events alsodemonstrate the realised potential of the cascade framework to make an impact on academicpractice in terms of embedding OERs on an institutional level. The event organised by UniversityCentre Blackburn College partners involves colleagues from local colleges and focus on challenges ofopen education in the context of HE in FE. The Teesside partners plan to emphasise issues related tothe disciplinary context for embedding OERS within the social sciences curriculum (for moreinformation about these events, see Appendix 2, page 38). In organising these events, partnersstrove to engage the project key stakeholders and so both events will feature current SCORE [OpenUniversity Support Centre for Open Resources in Education] fellows. Any resources produced in thecontext of these events will be deposited on the project wiki and released openly.Importantly, we are embedding OER-related issues into other areas of work undertaken by C-SAP,such as our early careers workshops aimed at PhD students and post-doctoral researchers within thesocial sciences. During the 9-10 June 2011 workshop we included a session on OERs and copyright.Following positive feedback from the attendees, the session on open education will now be includedin the forthcoming early careers workshop planned for November 2011. We are also ensuring thatDocument title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 32 of 41
  33. 33. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:the booklet “OERs in social sciences: cascading knowledge” produced in the context of the cascadeproject is added to delegate packs for all C-SAP events. OER dissemination will also be embeddedwithin events planned for later this year, including a C-SAP showcase day planned for 24 October2011. Importantly, all participants at that event will be encouraged to release their posters andpresentations openly and so the joining instructions include guidance on Creative Commonslicensing and the benefits of sharing resources9. 4.2. Future ImpactWe are aware of our obligation to maintain the resources for three years past the end of project, atthe same time, C-SAP will be wrapping up its activity in December 2011, given the restructuring ofthe Higher Education Academy. At the moment, we are finalising plans for maintaining the resourcesafter the closure of the centre; one option being considered at the moment includes depositingrelevant resources (such as for instance the set of cascade tools) into JISC Design Studio.Importantly, all of the resources produced in the context of the project are offered withcontextualising materials, guidance notes, and observations on institutional differences etc. so thatthey can be easily reused and repurposed by others.All of our partners have expressed their plans to continue their involvement with OERs past the endof the project funding, whether in the form of creating and releasing more resources ordisseminating the results of the project via academic papers and presentations. For instance, UCBCpartners are planning to write an article outlining their experiences of releasing the “Creativity foredupunks” resource and the challenges of embedding OERs within the HE in FE sector. Similarly,project manager will begin a SCORE fellowship in October 2011 where she will focus on ways inwhich images are repurposed in the context of creating and releasing OERs. 5. Conclusions 5.1. General conclusionsOverall, we believe it is important to encourage a broader discussion on issues related to the openeducation principles and the transformative potential of OERs for pedagogic and academic practices.The suggested reflexive yet critical approach towards OERs should also engage with the questionconsidering under what conditions individuals will take risks with their pedagogy. Given ouremphasis on teasing out tacit elements of academic practice we believe it is vital to make space forthose critical voices and anxieties and include them as part of a debate on the understandings ofOERs and even more broadly, the meaning of open education. This is of particular importance9 The full text of guidance has been uploaded to C-SAP slideshare accounthttp://www.slideshare.net/CSAPSubjectCentre/guidance-on-creative-commons-licensingDocument title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 33 of 41
  34. 34. Project Identifier:Version:Contact:Date:especially in view of the forthcoming challenges in the higher education sector and the climate ofheightened student expectations. 5.2. Conclusions relevant to the wider communityWe believe that our work has identified some problems related to the current academic practice ofviewing OERs as supplemental. The implications of this practice are two-fold – first of all, it informsstudent attitudes towards OERs and results in their rather low uptake; secondly, viewing OERs assupplemental means that issues around assessment, accreditation or embedding OERs within thecore curriculum fail to be adequately addressed. Our project has offered relevant insights intostudent preference for personalised and/or “hand-picked OERs” offered in the context of guideddiscovery and their reluctance to engage with OERs within a less structured, informal learningcontext. Our work has also revealed that certain assumptions about using online resources remainunchallenged, such as for instance the belief on the part of staff that sharing resources is inevitablyconnected with the risk of plagiarism or intellectual property theft or the concerns voiced bystudents that OERs are inferior to other types of teaching methods and could be seen as a “cop-out”on the part of lecturers. These assumptions need to be articulated and challenged so that studentsand academics stop missing out on a chance to enhance their digital literacy skills and engage withmore innovative teaching and learning practices. 5.3. Conclusions relevant to the HEA/JISCOur work has demonstrated that there is a need to address the institutional, cultural as well asdisciplinary context in which OERs are produced and re-used. Importantly, we believe that thereshould be more of an emphasis on addressing issues specific to the HE in FE sector. At the sametime, we have attempted to highlight not just the challenges experienced by our colleagues in FEinstitutions such as for instance very high teaching workloads, low priority given to researchactivities etc. but also potential contributions that they could make to the sector in general, giventhe high priority of teaching and providing support to the students. On a related note, our colleagueshave suggested that within HE in FE institutions OERs could function as a valid alternative topublishing in a situation where producing peer-reviewed research is often not a feasible optionbecause of a huge teaching workload. Therefore, there is a clear need to explore ways in which OERswould be incorporated into formal mechanisms of reward and recognition.Document title: HEA/JISC Final Report TemplateLast updated: May 2011 – v1 Page 34 of 41