Cambridge 2012 presentation


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A presentation given at the collaborative conference of the Open Courseware consortium and the Support Centre for Open Resources in Education. Cambridge 2012: Innovation and Impact - Openly Collaborating to Enhance Education (16-18 April)

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Cambridge 2012 presentation

  1. 1. Developing open academic practices inresearch methods teaching within an HE in FEcontextDr Ester of Humanities, Education, Social and Sports Science,University Centre DoncasterSCORE Fellow, Open University
  2. 2. Aims of the project•Raising awareness of UCD staff of the value of OER,through actively involving staff in the evaluation andembedding of OER in academic practice•Working towards the embedding of OER in teachingpractice across several disciplines, with a focus onresearch methods skills and knowledge.•Developing an understanding of the elements of thechanging learning blend where OER are introduced.This includes understanding learners’ needs andpreparedness for OER as well as exploring the use ofonline and physical spaces and forms of dialogue tosupport the use of OER.
  3. 3. HE in FE contextStudent profile:•Widening participationstudents;•Mature learners in full timeemployment with familiesand children•A majority are firstgeneration entrants to HE.•Need for accessible,sustainable and openeducation provision
  4. 4. HE in FE contextLearners’ needs: Barriers:•A move from extended face time to •Blended learningflexibility practices are still•Blended, networked learning unfamiliar to staff•The open learner premise (McAndrew, •Learners’ digital literacy2010) skillsNeed for sustainable, flexible and How can OER and openaccessible forms of education, such as academic practices helpopenness in academic practice strives to with this?deliver.Content open for adaptation by tutorsand free to access for learners enhancesstudents’ opportunities to access a goodquality education experience.
  5. 5. Challenges of research methods teachingDrive from HEFCE and ESRC for better preparation of undergraduatestudents with research methods skills:‘Beyond economics and psychology, social science undergraduatequantitative methods teaching ranges from the absence of any provisionat all through to specialist options, mostly taught in Year 2. The latterteaching does not give students enough contact time to developconfidence in their skills…’(MacInnes, 2009)Issues with the research methods knowledge and expertise of staff in HEin FE contexts :‘FE staff may not be exposed on a daily basis to institutional debates onresearch… Partner HEIs may offer free standing modules or workshops onresearch methods, or could be invited to present a workshop to introducestaff to current discourse on research approaches and methodology’(HEFCE, 2009, p.29).
  6. 6. Challenges of research methods teachingChallenges for the learnerKey difficulty in RM learning – the The role of OERknowledge and concepts are notimmediately related to professional or • Contextualising abstractsubject contexts which students have conceptschosen to study. • Discursive resources and stimuli which createRM constitute troublesome knowledge: opportunities for the learner to think like a‘when what is to be assessed lies outside researcher.their prior knowledge and experience’(Land and Meyer, 2010, p. 62)‘Liminal’ or ‘stuck’ places experiencedwhen complex theory or abstractknowledge are involved.
  7. 7. OER evaluation by tutors Teacher Education Applied Social Sciences Criminal Justice •Questions focused on the pedagogical effectiveness/ responsiveness of the OER (LOAM tool, Windle et al, 2010) •Questions focused on pedagogical, technical and quality issues (ORIOLE project) •Collection of existing OER set up through Cloudworks •OER on Cloudworks were selected to provide a range of pedagogical and technical attributes allowing tutors to explore OER with different granularity, context specificity, adaptability, interactivity.
  8. 8. OER evaluation by tutorsOER attribute explored Research questionsQuality How would you qualify the resource Would you use this OER as part of research methods (RM) teachingFlexibility Can the OER be adapted to the purposes of your RM module? What would this adaptation involve?Interactivity Does the OER encourage/afford for students to collaborate? Does the OER afford dialogue between learner and their community? How should this be supported?Constructive alignment Is there a match between the OER content and specific learning objectives? Which ones? Briefly describe the framework for teaching and learning and the use of the OER within it.Pedagogic effectiveness Does the OER facilitate learners in internalising knowledge? Would learners be able to use the OER autonomously (little introduction or explanation from tutor)? Does the OER address broader learning needs? Does the OER provide access to resources which you would not usually be able to provide?Tutor’s role Would using OER save you time in creating new content? Would OER be able to supplement content where you perceive this as weaker?Table 1. Research questions
  9. 9. Student experienceAspect of teaching and Research questionslearning exploredChallenges of learning How do you feel about studying research methods? Do you enjoy it, are there any partsresearch methods that are difficult?Resource provision for What do you think about the resources available for the research methods modules –RM teaching and do you have access to enough resources? What kinds of resources do you use?learning Is there an area of research methods where you feel you need more tuition and guidance? Is there an area where you feel you could do with more/more versatile resources? How do you feel about the online resources available from the LRC – academic journals, Ebrary books? Are they accessible/ do you use them? Are there any advantages or drawbacks to using these resources rather than printed textbook material?OER use strategies How did you use the OER - was it in the session or as self-directed learning at home? Which do you think was more effective – using the resources as self-directed learning or within the taught lecture?OER interactivity How did you feel about the interactive exercises on the online QDA website – did you learn from these?Effects of OER use on What are the challenges of using NVivo?ability to work with Were you able to apply your theoretical knowledge to the practical analysis withNVivo NVivo? What helped with this transferring theoretical knowledge to practical tasks such as data analysis?Table 2. Student interview questions
  10. 10. OER and understanding abstract concepts in RMSituating knowledge in context – this can be achieved through creatinginterdisciplinary links to subject specific knowledgeinterdisciplinarity discovery and explorationEducation tutor: Well it is whatever Sociology tutor: Yes I found that I had ais around that can help us look at his external links … and it gaveunderstand the case, whatever is me this link to FreeFind, where they canaround which can help us refer to other sources and I thoughtunderstand learning, whatever is that was a really good useful link. Notaround that can help us understand only for research methods. What I havechange and innovation … if you look found … So I typed in ‘feminism’ I foundat it from more interdisciplinary information on feminism… which I thinkpoint of view – you start with a is useful as yet another source, not onlyproblem, and say who can tell us for research modules – what I foundabout that problem. pretty much with all of these that I looked at is that there are uses in other modules as well.
  11. 11. The tutor’s role in introducing OER – access to knowledge oraccess to information? The tutor’s role in teaching and learning with OER: •OER provide access to material which tutors would find it difficult to provide themselves •Human contact is a necessary element in the knowledge construction process (Njenga and Fourie, 2010) •Maintaining the boundaries between providing access to information and constructing knowledge Tutors’ stance: OER provide access to information. The tutor’s role is to facilitate the underlying knowledge construction.
  12. 12. The tutor’s role in introducing OERTutors’ stance: OER provide access to information. The tutor’s role is to facilitate theunderlying knowledge construction.Education tutor: These Criminology tutor: Sociology tutor: As thatare fantastic resources. ‘would learners be able particular one says it isThe clever bit surrounds to use [the OER] about improving the use ofhow you will actually autonomously’ – questionnaires. Whichuse them and integrate undecided because might be a skill that needsthem into your obviously if they sit for to be spread across threeteaching. That also half an hour then they years – if they are choosingdepends on the nature are going to find things questionnaire for theirof the open resource as but I would have to dissertation then they mightwell. Some are more guide them as to why I want to revisit to improveflexible than others, need them to read or on their design ofsome you will have to listen to, things like this. questionnaires. So I havedo more background So it would have to placed this as being both forpreparation and some have some guidance. Level 5 and for Level 6 theafter-work. Others are E-moderating/ guiding Dissertation as an update.kind of almost Linking across levels offreestanding. studyPrefacing/ embedding
  13. 13. Concerns regarding reuse•OER could be trigger for creative re-thinking of outdated delivery – howeverwhen external pressures are involved tutors may reuse for time saving ratherthan engaging in reuse which offers potential for rethinking and innovating Engaging in reuse which offers potential for rethinking and innovating curricula Prioritising OER which are quick and easy to reuse (time saving)
  14. 14. Some technological barriersUsing iTunesU on campus:‘iTunes cannot be installed as our infrastructure is not currentlyenabled to support the technology iTunes requires i.e. Firewall issuesand Compromising network security.’(Computing and IT Services)• The tutor’s role of introducing, prefacing, contextualising is disabled• No opportunity for embedding the resource in teaching and learning delivery• A low level of openness (of the resources and of the IT infrastructure) creates a form of digital divide for smaller HE institutions
  15. 15. Using OER with sociology students: Grounded theory andcoding with NVivo •Level 5 Social Sciences students; Social Science Research module – qualitative methodologies •Online QDA – Huddersfield University, Graham Gibbs. •A stronger element of structured independent study beyond the classroom •A combination of media: •video lectures •interactive exercises on coding •step by step video guides on using Nvivo •video case studies for postgraduate students doing research in different areas
  16. 16. Using OER with sociology students: Grounded theory andcoding with NVivo OER provided: •Support with conceptually difficult material (research methods theory) •Support with the development of skills in applying procedural knowledge within the coding of text Temporal sequence, based on Oliver et al. (2002) framework for describing learning designs.
  17. 17. Using OER with sociology students: Grounded theory andcoding with NVivo •Key challenge – learners need to Student 4 Female: I watched acquire theoretical knowledge as some of the videos on QDA. It well as procedural skills – OER was was useful because you could seen as supporting self directed pause it if you didn’t catch it study and make notes; sometimes in a lecture it is really fast and you can’t obviously pause it, but •Advantages - interactivity and when you are watching a video learner control – being able to you can pause it and make pause, rewind, take notes at their notes and carry on to your own own pace. Supportive of self pace rather than everyone directed learning. else’s. So I thought that was quite useful. When I watched on QDA I could make my notes how I wanted to make them.
  18. 18. Using OER with sociology students: Grounded theory andcoding with NVivoThe value and dangers of interactivity Researcher: Did you do some of•OER - useful as they allow the learner to the interactive coding exercisespractice interactive coding exercises. – where you had to assign the code word and …•Danger – students may learn the Several: Yes.procedural layer without understandingthe underlying principles of constant Researcher: How did you feelcomparison, or stages in coding. about those? Student 1 Female: When welearning of troublesome knowledge started doing the NVivo Irequires some form of transformation in remember going back to it andthe learner. Unless this transformation thinking ‘oh it’s just as simpletakes place, the learner may be unable to as that then – literally justacquire knowledge and could instead copying words and giving it aengage in a form of ‘mimicry’ or title.ritualistic/surface learning (Meyer andLand, 2005: 382).
  19. 19. Using open data with Sociology students and Early Childhood Studies students•Growing Up in Scotland– large scale childdevelopment survey.The equivalent of theEPPE study; similar tothe Millennium CohortStudy•Freely accessible datathrough the Economicand Social Data Service(ESDS)
  20. 20. Using open data with Sociology students and Early ChildhoodStudies studentsAdvantages of using realworld data:•Addresses troublesomeknowledge – the data issubject specific andsituates learning incontext.•Statistical analyses returnresults which learners canrelate to knowledgeacquired in other modules(examples: social policy;child development)
  21. 21. Using open data with Sociology students and Early ChildhoodStudies students Learners explored: •Food and nutrition – formation of healthy eating habits •Neighbourhood and community – active citizenship; social policy •Activities with others – distributions of outdoor/ indoor play •Demographic factors – work, employment and income
  22. 22. Further work•OER can help address the difficulties of research methodsteaching as troublesome knowledge•Develop OER supporting the exploration of open data (availablethrough ESDS)•Explore further the relationship between tutor role and learnerautonomy in OER use.
  23. 23. References Higher Education Funding Council for England (2009) Supporting Higher Education in Further Education Colleges: Policy, Practice and Prospects. HEFCE.March 2009. . Land R. and Meyer, J. (2010) Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (5): Dynamics of Assessment. In Eds. Meyer, J., Land, R., Baillie, C., Threshold Concepts and Transformational Learning. London: Sense Publishers. MacInness, J. (2009) Proposals to Support and Improve the Teaching of Quantitative Research Methods at Undergraduate Level in the UK. Economic and Social Research Council. McAndrew, P. (2010) Defining Openness: Updating the Concept of ‘Open’ for a Connected World, Journal of Interactive Media in Education. JIME Njenga, J. K., &Fourie, L. C. H. (2010) The Myths about e-Learning in Higher Education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(2): 199-212. Oliver, R., Harper, B., Hedberg, J., Wills, S., Agostinho, S. (2002) ‘Formalising the Description of Learning Designs’, Edith Cowan University Australia, *Online+, ECU Publications, HERDSA, Available from:, Accessed: 30/11/2011. Windle, R, Wharrad, H., Leeder, D., Morales, R. (2010) ‘Analysis of the Pedagogical Attributes of Learning Objects’ *Online+, SONET: Educational Technology Group, The University of Nottingham, Available from:, Accessed: 30/11/2011.