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OER & staff perceptions final rev


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This is a report on a focus group of criminologists and sociologists at Teesside University discussing their experiences of and views on OER.

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OER & staff perceptions final rev

  1. 1. OER & Staff Perceptions<br />Cascading Social Science Open Educational Resources- Dissemination Event<br />Mike Teague<br />E-Learning Coordinator, School of Social Sciences & Law, <br />Teesside University<br />September 16, 2011<br />
  2. 2. Aims Of The Group <br />To explore: <br />Understanding of OER<br />How publication & (re)use of OER is perceived by academic staff<br />Views on development of open learning & the wide distribution of OER?<br />Whether there is unease & apprehension (e.g. at possibility of losing control over resources into which staff have put substantial energy in creating?)<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />2<br />
  3. 3. What We Talked About When We Talked About OER<br />We did not use a specific definition of OER but talked about these attributes:<br />access to open content provided cost-free of charge for educational institutions, academic staff, students & lifelong learners<br />licensed for (re)use in educational activities, mainly free from restrictions to modify, & repurpose the content<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />3<br />
  4. 4. The Focus Group<br />Focus group of staff from criminology & sociology at Teesside –interactive group setting, participants free to talk with colleagues<br />Dual moderator model (JC & MT)<br />Focus group: type of qualitative research in which a group of people (in our case, academic colleagues) are asked about perceptions, opinions, beliefs & attitudes on a particular subject (in our case, OER)<br />We invited all 23 colleagues from criminology & sociology to participate – 6 accepted<br />Group representative of overall staff team – incl. colleagues at differing levels of seniority – but what about those who did not participate?<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />4<br />
  5. 5. No Script – Remaining Open To Responses<br />No interview script (though we did use some prompts)<br />We asked the group:<br />Do we know what OERs are? (Is it a strange term for something which is very familiar - or a strange term for something which is actually quite strange?)<br />What do we think when we hear OER?<br />How we as tutors might use OER (whether we use that label or not)<br />How we might produce OER ourselves<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />5<br />
  6. 6. Do you use the term ‘OER’?<br />Did anyone use the term on a regular basis?<br />The initial answers - unequivocal & universal<br />“No”.<br />“Never.”<br />“Not really sure what it is.”<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />6<br />
  7. 7. OER – What It Might Mean<br />While no-one recognised the term ‘OER’, some freely speculated on what it meant. A sample of responses:<br />“OER – doesn’t mean a thing to me. It might be like Moliere’s ‘Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme’ who have spoken grammar all their lives & know how it works.”<br />“It may be something we are all perfectly familiar with, we have just never given it that name before.”<br />“A wiki, a thread, a chatroom, where people can contribute. Is that an open educational resource? A discussion forum?”<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />7<br />
  8. 8. Some Anxieties About OER<br />These issues around OER came up:<br />“Is it not risky? Could things not be stolen? That new college of humanities, are they not plagiarising? There must be a risk, if your stuff is there as an available resource.”<br />“I’ve got stuff now from when I taught in Manchester, from a colleague there. Sharing resources doesn’t bother me... but something about it being available to anybody, anywhere, is quite strange.”<br />“You have put quite a lot of time & energy into thinking about how you might deliver & share those resources with students. I don’t know how I would feel about sharing them.”<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />8<br />
  9. 9. But Don’t We Already Share?<br />One colleague stated that we already effectively share resources:<br />“But don’t you use information on the web like that anyway? I know I did, in thinking about teaching a study skills course. I went online & looked at lots of different courses. I didn’t think, okay, I will wholesale steal that, but I was informed by what I read.”<br />“We have podcasts on Apple & they are free. There are public lectures.”<br />“It is good because you can listen whenever & however often you want to.”<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />9<br />
  10. 10. “We’ve Got A Different Norm…”<br />Some gave examples of academics putting work in public domain (Columbia University lectures on YouTube & American Economics Association reading lists)<br />Seen as socially useful – a type of public good philosophy<br />If we share our knowledge, expertise & good practice (‘knowledge without borders’), it is hugely socially beneficial:<br />“It’s about seeing knowledge as a public good, I suppose, rather than private. And you are not controlling access to it. In a way we do that with academic work. We trust that other people are not going to nick it & say it’s there. But we’ve got a different norm.”<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />10<br />
  11. 11. Does It Feel Like It’s Stealing?<br />“Lots of thing I read, they’re not ‘stealable’. But Notown University’s programme on intimate relationships - you could steal that if you wanted to. It’s there if you wanted it: reading lists, assessments, essay questions. I found it quite shocking that all that was available in a PDF when I was looking for a reference through google scholar.”<br />But would it feel like stealing?<br />“I don’t know. I’m sure they’re aware, if it’s out there... I think it depends on the module.”<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />11<br />
  12. 12. A Different Approach In Languages? (According To A Sociologist)<br />“It’s a common practice on language courses to share & exchange information. There are collections of lectures & materials which other tutors are willing to contribute, & they know that others will be using it. There are plenty of lessons online for others to use… in languages they maybe have a different approach.”<br />“I have been using been using it in teaching research methodology – using interview techniques & interview guides. I think it’s good that some people do put them online. It means that they are aware of it being possibly used. Warwick & Cambridge Universities have got these sociology resources…”<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />12<br />
  13. 13. HE: ‘A Different Culture?’<br />No one was widely aware of criminology or sociology resources in OER<br />A colleague observed that in her view OER were not widespread in HE, but she knew of wide usage elsewhere:<br />“It’s much more the cultural norm at different stages of education. At secondary school, at primary school, you would see these things as a shared resource. People download lessons plans for lessons & they are freely available. There’s a different culture in HE.”<br />All agreed: <br />“Yeah. It’s more about intellectual property. How you created that module, & especially if you have used innovative methods - & having some kind of control.”<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />13<br />
  14. 14. The Social Responsibility Argument…<br />Social responsibility argument for using OER supported by group<br />Seen to be positive to enable access to our learning materials <br />Also element of suspicion - academics perceived they might make themselves redundant if they put everything ‘out there’<br />Advent of fees & marketised environment made group consider why they entered academic life - mainly motivated by helping improve society overall via HE, but money (not altruism) was now an increasingly relevant factor<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />14<br />
  15. 15. … But Also, How We Sell Ourselves<br />“… how we sell ourselves. We’re saying, come to Teesside, trying to market ourselves as something unique. If we put all our learning resources out there, another university could deliver the same courses that we do. How do you look great in that marketing system, if you are giving everything away.”<br /> “The reality is we’re charging them for education.”<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />15<br />
  16. 16. Who Owns Teaching?<br />There was a huge swathe of material that we felt was ours in some way. As one colleague put it,<br />“Should we disclose everything in OERs? Or should we keep something back to encourage the purchase, as it were?”<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />16<br />
  17. 17. OER-Helping Career Development?<br />Concern about whether academics developing OER might enjoy the same traditional career development opportunities as their peers who were more focused on research (in a university with a research focus in a research-intensive school like SSSL)<br />Enhancing your teaching reputation & credibility via OERs not rewarded in the way that publishing a journal article is<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />17<br />
  18. 18. Quality Control-Unspoken Concern?<br />No-no one in the group raised quality control as a concern (no one suggested that they releasing a lecture which they might have recorded might subject them to the judgement/assessment of others with regard to their teaching skills)<br />While there might have been concerns about the possibility of others commenting in an unflattering way about learning materials which were made publicly available, these were not articulated<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />18<br />
  19. 19. Why Pay If You Can Get It For Free?<br />“With the Open University, the view was, why would I pay fees if I get the material for free? The OU may give you the material but not the qualification, or the tutoring. If you don’t sign up, you can’t do the assessment. Putting the material up there doesn’t detract from their core business.” <br />Also questions about referencing of open resources<br />Comparisons made with referencing of journal articles (& peer review)<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />19<br />
  20. 20. So We Do Use OER After All…<br />Colleagues use OER-type materials which they may not call OER<br />Usability, ‘handiness’ & accessibility - key to making decision to use OER<br />Group made clear that OERs as a term may not have particular resonance in HE, but when we actually talked about it, colleagues were aware of the reality of the term, & most produce some materials with free access themselves<br />Group recommended these sources for criminology & sociology: You Tube; Edinburgh University; Cambridge University; ESDS qualidata(University of Essex); & Warwick University<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />20<br />
  21. 21. Why We Use OER: It’s Fast, Accessible & Convenient<br />“Sometimes I feel if I don’t explain well enough, these resources offer me other ways of explaining things. In tutorials I need to use a variety of resources & methods.”<br />“I use bits & pieces from other academics’ websites. But I do not systematically use teaching materials as such. It’s probably a matter of convenience really.”<br />“In criminological theory Sutherland has 9 ways in which people learn how to do crime… You could just get his book & type them out, but as somebody has already done it online, you might as well use it. It’s that sort of thing; it’s handy, rather than anything else.<br />“I used some of the OU’s approaches to study skills. The advantage is that you don’t have to remake the wheel. It’s activity based. They use some good ideas & activities. You are thinking, what’s available? That’s there, you can use that. It’s fast.”<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />21<br />
  22. 22. On Sharing Knowledge<br />A colleague on using OER from another university:<br />“It wasn’t the knowledge sharing that surprised me, it was the creativity & the way that they crafted a programme. If everybody felt like that, they are teaching MAs for free.”<br />We discussed the range of ‘Creative Commons’ licences, but our group was unaware of them<br />Awareness of Jorum limited (group positive about Jorum in principle, noting that if was accessible, they would use & contribute to it):<br />“I think I would contribute to a free site where you don’t need to subscribe. But I don’t know if I feel ok about it being out there. I think I would like it to be under an umbrella of, this is an OER site.”<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />22<br />
  23. 23. What Academic Staff Want To Get From OER<br />What colleagues would most welcome on OER was:<br />Reading Lists<br />Content of a module/programme/course<br />General structure & outline of a course<br />Summary of the key arguments/issues/areas which it addressed<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />23<br />
  24. 24. Technology - Changing Our Understanding Of The Impact Of Knowledge?<br />“I think, actually, knowledge is getting to be a bit different from what it was. I am now the proud possessor of a Kindle. With Kindles, essentially you can do the cutting & pasting our students do from the internet from your kindle to your computer. So it’s not just internet resources that are going to get plagiarised now, it’s books as well, via Kindles.”<br />“I’m increasingly feeling we’re going to have be a bit more laid back about plagiarism, & to say, you’ve plagiarised it from a good source (or not such a good source).”<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />24<br />
  25. 25. Whose Work Is It Anyway?<br />Some colleagues developed & designed a module they were proud of, then saw that module used by another university:<br />“I suppose if you put it on Blackboard & students are using it, it can end up anywhere anyway.”<br />“It happened to me, actually. Someone who had been studying here had taken a domestic violence module & taught it in a different context, in a community context. On the one hand I thought, that’s nice. But on the other hand, it would have been nice to be asked. I didn’t mind so much, obviously it’s public knowledge anyway, but it did feel like a courtesy was missing.”<br />“The same has happened to me. A student on my first year criminology module asked me, is criminology taught the same way everywhere in the country? They had seen the module before, at another university… geographically close to here. Part of me felt it was good that they felt it was good enough to use, & the other part of me felt really annoyed.”<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />25<br />
  26. 26. But Putting It Online May Be Good…<br />Another colleague suggested that this might be related to the Open University model, which he defined as promoting the OU’s courses & programmes (not undermining demand for them by giving them away)<br />“Come & sign up with us, you will not just have this material but the expertise that created it. If our material is that good, think how good our tutors are. You will also get a qualification.”<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />26<br />
  27. 27. Copyright Concerns<br />Some concerns about copyright (from both moral & legal perspectives)<br />E.G. when using You Tube, do staff distinguish between someone uploading their own stuff & using a BBC programme, i.e. clearly not produced by them? <br />“If somebody has uploaded a lecture to YouTube, they are pretty much accepting that that’s going to be shared.”<br />“I did check that out actually, because I wanted to put something on Blackboard from YouTube – a police video on the treatment of rape victims. I looked at the legal position & discovered that I couldn’t.”<br />“As long as you’re not claiming the material as your own… there’s no worry.”<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />27<br />
  28. 28. OER- ‘I felt quite uncomfortable reading it’<br />“When I came across the course guide from the MA from Notown, I did note the ease of access to it. Not just core reading, but doing maps of relationships, real proper learning tools that have been thought out & created. Not just stuff that exists, but that has been put together. I felt quite uncomfortable reading it. I had only been looking for a reference, but once I started to read it, I just couldn’t understand why this leading university was making an MA so readily available for other people to copy & operationalise in the market that we are in now.”<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />28<br />
  29. 29. Other Universities Stealing?<br />Another concern was that colleagues from competitor universities might ‘lift’ their material.<br />“What about staff from other universities? If you are at a different university & thinking, how can we attract postgraduates? If you’ve got a lovely course, well thought out, & the reading list is there...”<br />“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.”<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />29<br />
  30. 30. Summing Up 1<br />We covered key areas re. how academic staff in criminology & sociology view OER, & their experiences of using them<br />Staff not immediately familiar with the term “OER”, but they do use them in their work<br />Some anxieties about potential riskiness of using OER (“Could things not be stolen?”, one staff member said) <br />A colleague felt that the wide availability of resources in some academic areas was “quite shocking”<br />Some felt OERs were not as widespread in HE sector as in, e.g., schools<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />30<br />
  31. 31. Summing Up 2<br />There was an awareness of the marketisation of higher education & a sense that OER might offer good promotional openings for universities<br />The public good philosophy of freely sharing knowledge was explored<br />Staff felt that those developing OER should enjoy similar career development & advancement as their colleagues<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />31<br />
  32. 32. Any Questions?<br />16/09/2011<br />OER & Staff Perceptions: MT <br />32<br />