Institute of Educational
Information for applicants
Post title: Research Associate
Salary: £29,704 - £35,469 pro rata
Post reference: 6187
Contract type: 12 month temporary contract (Part time
approximately 15 hours a week)
Part time and job share applications will be considered
Closing date: 12 noon - 12th Jan 2010 Interview date: 18 January 2010
Information included in this pack:
Section: 1.0 University and Institute information
1.1 The Open University
1.2 Institute of Educational Technology
2.0 Benefits and facilities
3.0 The post
3.1 Post details
3.2 Job description
3.3 Person specification
4.0 Applying for the post
4.1 How to apply
4.2 Application information
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Section 1.0: UNIVERSITY AND INSTITUTE INFORMATION
Section 1.1: THE OPEN UNIVERSITY
The Open University transforms lives through education. It has become by far the
largest university in the UK, now teaching well over 200,000 people every year. We
have expanded our activities throughout Europe and our highly rated teaching
materials are used by other institutions in many parts of the world. We are
consistently achieving high rankings both in research and teaching quality
Teaching is through the provision of specially designed, high quality, materials
encompassing traditional print texts, television, video, CD-ROM, internet and
electronic conferencing together with first class personalised tuition, learning feedback
The success of the Open University is due to our outstanding staff. There are around
13,000 staff (including 7,500 Associate Lecturers). Staff and potential staff are
treated solely on the basis of their merits, abilities and potential, regardless of gender,
colour, ethnic or national origin, age, socio-economic background, disability, religious
or political beliefs, family circumstances, sexual orientation or other irrelevant
We are also committed to the development of our staff to their full potential through
lifelong learning, offering a range of formal and informal training and development
activities to ensure that staff are able to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities
and to help meet individual and University objectives. Our objective is that all staff
undertake a minimum of 5 days development activity in each year.
Section 1.2: INSTITUTE OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY
IET’s vision places it at the hub of the OU, connecting together a network of innovation and
expertise in learning and teaching and using this collective power to change the face of
education. We have around 80 staff who collaborate with teams across the OU and
The Institute is:
o A centre of expertise in educational technology, promoting and embedding
good practice and driving professional development of staff
o At the heart of the OU, directly influencing the OU’s strategy
o Outward looking and responsive to our clients: CAUs and VCE
o Respected within the OU as providing strategic advice and support
o Delivering a significant volume of high impact, internationally renowned
The Institute also plays an important role in institutional research, course development and
evaluation. It works to inform, promote and support institutional learning by helping the
University increase its understanding of the needs of adult learners and of its own
development as a teaching institution. It seeks to achieve this through its research and
evaluation work which also contributes to the University’s Quality Assurance systems and
plays an important part in the external QA procedures required by the Quality Assurance
Agency. The University’s external ratings rank it in the top ten teaching institutions.
The Institute provides advice on the use of modern technologies to support effective learning,
particularly distance learning and e-learning, in higher education. It is committed to
developing expertise in teaching and learning and to applying it, particularly to the benefit of
the Open University.
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In addition to studying, evaluating and influencing OU practices, we carry out basic research
into learning and e-learning, and applied research into the use of new technologies. We also
work in the field of professional development in Higher Education and have a strong and
successful record of postgraduate teaching.
Implicit in our work is the idea that IET is a knowledge translator. It seeks out knowledge and
understanding, whether from outside the OU and UK, or from within, works on it and then
shares it with course teams, teachers, designers and policy-makers so that they can act on
the basis of research evidence. It is outward-facing and OU-serving.
There is a thriving research higher degree programme with 26 students, 14 of whom are full
time and benefit from an onsite programme of seminars and supervision. We have research
activity in a number of areas; including computer assisted learning in science education,
portable computing in learning environments, computer based concept mapping, use of
computer mediated communication in humanities HE, Academic literacies, assessment
design and learning outcomes. The Institute also has ESRC recognition for research student
training, and full-time students study an MSc in Research Methods for Educational
Technology for their first year, tutored by members of IET. Research student supervision is
complemented by the MA in Open and Distance Education and the Postgraduate Certificate
in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.
Members of IET work within a programme structure which is divided into two main themes,
Learning & Teaching and Research & Scholarship. IET’s programme structure is flexible to
be responsive to changes in the environment and in the OU’s strategic direction. Staff work
collaboratively with each other across programmes on a variety of projects and activities:
Learning & Teaching
IET’s expertise in pedagogy and technology is co-ordinated by the Associate Director
(Learning and Teaching) who has overall responsibility for the Learning & Teaching
Programme in IET.
IET works closely with other faculties and units in the Learning and Teaching area to develop
the University’s curriculum and pedagogical effectiveness.
The Institute is engaged in strategic collaborative relationships across the OU that have
impact on how courses are taught. This includes leading roles on a number of institutionally
strategic projects, such as:
o BioDiversity project
o Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
o Learning Design project
Projects in the Learning & Teaching programme concentrate on one or more aspects of
understanding the student experience and how it affects student learning.
The IET Learning & Teaching programme delivers educational and professional development
activities to enable staff to support the University’s e-learning and e-teaching strategy.
IET offers a qualification for staff members in higher education who teach or directly support
Our experience and knowledge of using new technologies to support good learning, teaching
and assessment practices are presented and developed in the following taught course
• Masters in Online and Distance Education
• Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice
• Open University's Masters in Research Methods programme
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Other key activities include developing new software for use in teaching and learning as well
as making practical use of existing technologies.
Research & Scholarship
IET’s programme of Research & Scholarship is co-ordinated by the Associate Director
(Research & Scholarship). All IET research is aligned to one or more of the University’s
strategic objectives and is geared to targeting a portfolio of high value, high impact bids. IET
fosters collaborative research networks with Faculties and service units across the OU and
Projects in the programme include research into learning in a more open world, digital
scholarship, e-assessment, researching how the net generation learns, social networking in
education, learning design and mobile technologies such as the use of mobile devices in
teaching and learning.
Planning and Resources
IET’s programme of work is supported by the Planning and Resources Team, led by the
Associate Director (Planning and Resources) enabling the effective running of the
programme through provision of financial, staffing, research and project support.
IET’s programme of work is tailored around the needs of the OU and external clients. IET’s
Senior Client Partner liaises with internal and external clients, scoping and developing
strategic strands of work, promoting IET innovations and services and enhancing IET’s
Institute Services brings together academic-related staff providing generic services across
Centres and is headed by the Associate Director (Planning and Resources). Within Institute
Services there are four sub-teams: Communications and Information Technology, Resources
and Planning,, Learning and Teaching Development and the Course Management Team.
Further information on the Institute may be found on its website at http://iet.open.ac.uk/
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Section 2.0: BENEFITS AND FACILITIES
The following is a summary of staff benefits and facilities. Full details will be provided on
Staff We have a strong commitment to providing training and development in
development: and beyond your current role. This includes thorough induction into the
organisation and regular reviews of your training and development needs.
The objective is that all staff should undertake at least five days’
development activity in each year – this may include attendance at formal
courses or other learning e.g. use of self-study material. We invest
substantial time and money in our staff development provisions and we
waive fees for staff wishing to study our own courses.
Annual leave: The annual leave entitlement is 30 days (for secretarial and clerical staff)
or 33 days (for academic, academic-related and research staff) in addition
to all bank and other public holidays and an additional 3 days at Christmas
when the University is closed.
Study leave: Permanent central academic staff (those on contracts of two years or
more) are entitled to study leave on full salary for research or other
approved academic purposes for two months in each leave year. For
regional academic staff the entitlement is to study leave on full salary for
two months within each period of two years’ completed service.
Pension Staff have the option of contributing to a Final Salary pension scheme and
schemes: the University contributes around 14% of salary. Full details will be sent
with any offer of employment but any preliminary enquiries should be
addressed to the Pensions Section, Human Resources Division 01908
652431 or 652957.
Relocation Staff are normally expected to live within a reasonable travelling distance
expenses: of their place of work. The University will make a grant for expenses
necessarily incurred for removals and disturbance, within certain rules and
subject to a maximum payment. Full details will be sent with any offer of
employment. The removal grant does not apply on appointments of less
than two years’ duration.
Family friendly Staff are entitled to 52 weeks’ maternity/adoption leave. Statutory
policies: maternity/adoption pay will be paid for a maximum period of the first 39
weeks, made up to full pay for the first 18 weeks, subject to minimum
service conditions. Staff have the right to return to work at any time
within 52 weeks of the maternity leave start date, again subject to
Staff are entitled to a maximum of 10 days’ paid paternity leave in
connection with their wife’s/partner’s confinement in any one leave year
in addition to normal leave entitlement, again subject to certain
Pre-School Childcare Subsidy: we have a means-tested childcare
subsidy scheme. Those eligible are provided with a Childcare Voucher
that can be used as part payment for the care of children under 5 years
of age. For further information about the scheme contact Human
Resources on 01908 655050.
Childcare Vouchers: our salary sacrifice scheme enables staff to take
advantage of tax and NI exemption on up to £243 of childcare vouchers
per month. The scheme is managed by Busy Bees. Further
information will be provided on appointment.
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Local education Information on local schools can be obtained from the Learning and
(Milton Keynes): Development Directorate, Milton Keynes Borough Council on 01908
253489 or visit their website at www.mkschools.net.
Nurseries (staff The Mulberry Bear Day Nursery and Pre-School is a purpose-built nursery
based in Milton on the Walton Hall campus. It is an independent charity supported by The
Keynes only): Open University and managed by parents. OU staff applications are given
priority and, whilst there are full and part-time places available now, there
may be a waiting list in some age groups. For further information, please
telephone Milton Keynes 01908 653867, e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org or see their website at
There are a number of other private nurseries in the Milton Keynes area.
Facilities: Catering facilities at Walton Hall provide meals, snacks and
drinks. Facilities in regional centres vary.
Open University Club (offering a number of club and society
events, sports and social outlets).
Facilities Occupational Health Department provides professional advice to
located at the individuals and managers on all work related health issues.
Walton Hall NatWest bank sub-branch.
Shop selling general provisions.
Smoking policy: Please note that smoking is not permitted in University buildings, bars and
catering areas. Smoking is permitted only in designated outdoor areas.
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Section 3.0: THE POST - 6187
Section 3.1: POST DETAILS
Post Ref: 6187
Post title: Research Associate
Reports to: Dr. Anne Adams and Dr. Trevor Collins
Unit and/or team: Technology Enhanced Learning Group
Salary details: AC2 £29,704 - £35,469 pro rata
Location: Walton Hall, Milton Keynes
Contract type: 12 month temporary contract – 15 hours per week
Job share Yes
Criminal Record N/A
Section 3.2: JOB DESCRIPTION
Out There In Here (OTIH) project outline
This presents an exciting opportunity within world-class research to advance ubiquitous
technologies and our understanding of equity in distributed learning. Funded by the Digital
Economies programme (EPSRC led) and collaborating with Microsoft and the Sea (a Mobile
learning company) this project seeks to link multi-touch table top and mobile technology to
support distributed teams in geology field trip learning. These systems will support mobility
impaired and disadvantaged students who are excluded from this type of learning and lead to
alternate ways of knowledge sharing in other domains (e.g. healthcare, safety critical
State of the art developments will integrate mobile and table-top hardware, software and
middleware technologies based on in situ user studies. Interlinked methods should allow
distributed teams to build up a dynamic shared picture of the geological field site through, on
the one hand, observing, accessing, and collecting physical data about certain aspects of the
geological site (e.g. rock formations, existence of fossil types in certain locations) and on the
other, gathering clues and generating inquiries, via interacting with digital information on the
tabletop. The orchestration of the activities with the technologies and locations will be
essential to development and an analogy of the 1980s TV series ‘Treasure Hunt’ has
benefited appropriate understanding of these developments.
There will be three main aims and thus outputs from this project:
i) to develop prototype middleware for synchronous collaboration between
mobile devices and table-top technologies (i.e. Microsoft Surface)
ii) to establish an understanding of how this can be done equitably and
iii) to develop a business case for how this technology can support distance learning models
to supplement expensive field trip learning.
Main purpose of the post
You will be involved in organising and coordinating research using the set-up of off-the shelf
mobile systems (e.g. OOKL software on Nokia mobile phones to log information from the field
to a website). This post will also investigate the use of other mobile tools to record and
transmit field-trip information for synchronous remote collaboration (e.g. Netbooks, mobiles
phones like the Apple iPhone or Android phones, and data loggers and sensors).
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During this project you will be responsible for collaborating closely with another RA and other
research team members on developing synchronous communication between mobile and
table-top systems and the collection of field trip evaluation data. The post holder will be
required to complete short technical reports for publication and collaborate with industrial
partners on the developments.
Section 3.3: PERSON SPECIFICATION
1. A background in computing or other related subjects, at Bachelors degree level or
equivalent, preferably with experience in mobile communications, and human
2. Good system development skills – in particular with regard to mobile computing; web
development scripting (e.g. PHP, Perl, Python), Web server configuration and
administration (e.g. XAMPP) and computer network configuration (TCP/IP)
3. Demonstrably good research project management skills including; organizational
skills, completing work to tight schedules and report writing
4. Ability to work well as a member of a team
5. Ability and willingness to travel to the research locations, and for other work-related
purposes such as conferences
1. Experience of field trip evaluations and recording equipment
2. Experience with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) server configuration (such as
3. Experience of Phone or softphone applications (such as X-Ten, Ekiga or Twinkle)
4. usage of Video streaming from IP cameras or IP video encoders
5. Experience of Webcasting technologies
6. Research and / or publications in an area of Mobile Communications, Human-
Computer Interaction, Ubiquitous computing, interface design, educational technology
7. Driving licence and access to a car.
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Section 4.0: APPLYING FOR THE POSTS
If you would like an informal discussion about these posts before making an application
please contact Dr. Anne Adams, e-mail email@example.com or Dr. Trevor Collins, e-
PLYING FOR T
Section 4.1: HOW TO APPLY
The following guidelines are designed to help you submit a job application in line with our
requirements. Applicants who do not follow the procedure set out below will be at a
disadvantage. All applicants will be automatically considered for both roles.
a) Completing the application form:
It is in your interest to show how your experience and personal qualities address the person
specification for the role.
Please ensure that you complete all the sections of the form, giving as much detail as
possible, including your date of birth. The latter will not be used/seen by members of the
appointment panel during the selection process. It is, however, required for administrative
purposes in connection with the University’s retirement policy (see section 4.2) and we will
have to contact you if you do not complete this part of the form.
CV’s will not be accepted on their own and other submissions cannot be taken into
account during the shortlisting process unless specifically requested by the Open University.
Once completed, you must sign and date the application form to confirm that the information
and any attachments are correct.
Internal applicants only - information about references: When completing the ‘References’
section of the application form, please ensure you specify your Head of Unit as your ‘current
employer’, as he/she is responsible for providing this reference or nominating an appropriate
alternative referee. Please be advised that the employing Unit is responsible for requesting
references from your referees.
b) Covering letter or supporting statement
Your covering letter or statement should clearly identify how you meet the person
specification. Please ensure you provide relevant examples as evidence to support your
You will need to read carefully any specific instructions concerning what should be included in
your application (this will be in the additional information you have concerning the job).
Please ensure you comply with these instructions, as if you do not the panel will not shortlist
The selection panel will consider how well the information you provide demonstrates that you
meet the capabilities identified in the person specification.
c) Curriculum Vitae (CV):
Applicants for academic posts may wish to enclose a CV with their application. This should
include details of relevant publications but it is preferable not to duplicate information included
in the application form.
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Please do not include any information in your CV that might give an indication of your race,
religion or belief, or sexual orientation, as these details are irrelevant to your application.
d) Submitting your application:
Please send completed applications to:
Institute of Educational Technology
The Open University
If you wish to send your application electronically please e-mail it to:
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Section 4.2: APPLICATION INFORMATION
Eligibility: The post is open to both internal and external applicants.
Closing date: 12 noon – 8 January 2010. Applications received after this will not
Shortlisting: Shortlisting will be completed as soon as possible after the closing
Interviews: Interviews will be held on 18 January 2010 and will take place in
References for When completing the ‘Referees’ section of the application form
shortlisted please give the name of 3 referees, one of whom must be your
candidates: current or most recent employer.
All referees whose details are included on the application form will
be contacted before the interview unless you have indicated that
you wish otherwise.
Disabled The Open University welcomes applications from disabled people. If
applicants: you require any adjustments to enable you to attend the interview
please ensure that you have provided this information on your
If you are called for interview, please discuss any adjustments you
may require to carry out the duties of the role with the interview panel
so that the appropriate arrangements and any adjustments can be
made if necessary
(Under the Disability Discrimination Act, a disability is defined as a physical or mental
impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability
to carry out normal day to day activities).
Please let us know if you need your copy of the further particulars in
large print, on computer disc or on audio cassette tape. Access
details for disabled applicants are available from Priya Punchihewa
on +44 (0) 1908 655808.
Proof of There are legal restrictions on who may undertake employment
eligibility to in the United Kingdom. Residents of the European Economic
work in the UK Area and Switzerland are permitted to work within the UK,
however citizens of other countries normally need to be
sponsored by a UK employer and granted permission to stay in
the UK by the UK Border Agency, in order to undertake
employment with the sponsoring employer.
When applying to the UK Border Agency in order to sponsor
someone, the University will be required to demonstrate that the
job is at skill level S/NVQ level 3 or above, and that there are no
other suitable candidates for the post who are ‘settled workers’,
i.e. resident in any of the countries as stated above.
Candidates who are invited for interview will be required to
provide proof of their eligibility to work in the UK by producing
verifiable documents. Details of the required documents will be
sent to those candidates who are invited for interview and the
relevant original documents must be brought along to the
interview for checking and copying.
If you require sponsorship this will be processed should your
application for appointment be successful. To find out what visas and
permissions you may require in order to work in the UK please see
http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/ or telephone 0114 207 4074, the
general enquiries line is open from 09.00 to 17.00, Monday to Friday,
excluding public holidays.
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Retirement age: The Open University operates a normal retirement age of 65.
Applications can only be accepted from people up to the age of 64
years and 6 months at the date of their application. This is in line with
the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006.
Recruitment If you have any comments or concerns about any stage of the
Process recruitment process please write to the HR Adviser Central
Academic Units, Human Resources, The Open University, Walton
Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, who will look into the matter.
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