Revisiting the Reusability and Openness of Resources in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Open Courseware

Author: Bernard Nkuyubwatsi

The marketing of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Open Courseware gives the impression that it has the potential to contribute to quality open learning and opening up higher education globally. It is from this perspective that the potential contribution of Open Educational Resources (OER) units in the MIT Open Courseware to opening up higher education in Rwanda was investigated. Ten OER units were sampled as objects of the study.

I took the role of an archive analyst, giving full attention to any item that constituted each unit. Results indicate that only one unit had enough openly licensed resources to enable its potential adaptation for use in opening up higher education.

In other units, only metadata (course information, the syllabus, course calendar, and the list of required and suggested readings), assignments and/or quizzes/exams were openly licensed. Most (if not all) of the required and suggested readings, which are the core learning materials learners need to engage with for quality learning, had to be purchased, mostly from the Amazon website.

On the basis of these findings, I argue that the MIT Open Courseware served the marketing agenda (probably for the purpose of acquiring funding), rather than the open access agenda.

The study may benefit funding organisations, educators and institutions that are interested in supporting or engaging in the production, adaptation and use of OER with an agenda to contribute to opening up higher education.

URL : Revisiting the Reusability and Openness of Resources in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Open Courseware

DOI : http://doi.org/10.5334/jime.447

Secondary Students’ Perceptions of Open Science Textbooks

Authors: Rebecca Morales, Alesha Baker

In an attempt to align instructional resources with new state standards and to increase teacher awareness of these standards, one large suburban public school district piloted the development and adoption of open secondary science textbooks.

Open textbooks created by teachers in grades six through nine replaced conventional science textbooks provided by mainstream publishing companies. Therefore, grade nine students were not included in this study.

At the end of the first quarter, middle school students (grades six through eight) who used the open textbooks were surveyed. Survey responses required respondents to consider their learning before and during the use of the open textbook. The survey included quality and presentation of content questions, as well as an opportunity for students to explain their responses.

There were qualitative and quantitative indications that students’ perceptions of an open textbook in place of a standard textbook are improving students’ attitudes and behaviors toward learning.

URL : Secondary Students’ Perceptions of Open Science Textbooks

DOI : http://doi.org/10.5334/jime.455

 

 

Striving Toward Openness: But What Do We Really Mean?

Author : Vivien Rolfe

The global open education movement is striving toward openness as a feature of academic policy and practice, but evidence shows that these ambitions are far from mainstream, and levels of awareness in institutions is often disappointingly low.

Those advocating for open education are seeking to widen engagement, but how targeted and persuasive are their messages? The aim of this research is to explore the voices often unheard, those of the teachers and professional service staff with whom we are engaging.

This research presents a series of interviews with those involved in open education at De Montfort University in the UK, with the aim of gaining a better perspective of what openness means to them. T

he interviews were analysed through an interpretive lens allowing each individual to create their own story and reflect their own personal view of openness. The results of this study are that in this university, openness is represented by five elements – staff pedagogy and practice, benefits to learners, accessibility and access to content, institutional structures, and values and culture.

This work shows the importance of adopting critical approaches to gain a deeper understanding of the philosophical and pedagogic stances within institutions. By giving a voice to all those involved we will be able to develop appropriate and more persuasive arguments to widen our sphere of influence as a community of open educators.

URL : Striving Toward Openness: But What Do We Really Mean?

Alternative loation : http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/3207

Effectiveness of OER use in first-year higher education students’ mathematical course performance : A case study

Authors : Werner Westermann Juárez, Juan Ignacio Venegas Muggli

This chapter aims to understand the impact of Open Educational Resources (OER) on first-year mathematics students at the Instituto Profesional Providencia (IPP) in Santiago, Chile, where more than half (52%) of first-year students typically drop out of their studies. In order to address this, the institution established an innovation fund and a project to profile, assess and monitor student performance through an early warning system.

IPP stakeholders envisioned that a strategy to promote OER uptake could complement these efforts. By looking at an OER intervention amongst firstyear students, this study seeks to identify ways in which OER can provide new tools, opportunities, and contexts to improve student performance and lower dropout rates by answering the following research questions: What is the effect of OER use on firstyear students’ mathematics course performance? In face-to-face instruction, what is the effect of OER use on first-year students’ class attendance? What are teachers’ and students’ perceptions of the OER adoption process?

To answer questions one and two, this study used a quantitative method to estimate the effect of OER use on students’ mathematical course performance and class attendance. Five groups of first-year students were compared based on the analysis of two scenarios.

In Scenario 1, a control group and two treatment groups were in a traditional face-to-face classroom setting. The control group relied on a proprietary textbook; the first treatment group was taught with the help of a Khan Academy OER collection; and the second treatment group was taught by means of a custom-designed Open Textbook.

Scenario 2 compared two classes in blended-mode Algebra and Calculus courses. The control group relied on a proprietary resource, and the treatment group used a Khan Academy collection of OER in addition to the proprietary resource. In order to estimate the effectiveness of OER use on students’ mathematical performance, the impact analysis focused on three result variables: (1) students’ marks before the final exam, (2) students’ final exam marks, and (3) students’ final course marks after the exam.

To answer research question three, a mixed-methods approach was applied in the form of a series of semi-structured interviews, a focus group discussion and a student survey. The students who used the Khan Academy OER collections or the Open Textbook were asked to participate in this study in order to better comprehend learners’ and teachers’ perceptions of OER.

Students in Scenario 1 who used Khan Academy resources obtained statistically significantly better exam grades than those who used the proprietary resource or the Open Textbook, suggesting that not all kinds of OER have the same effect on student performance.

In Scenario 2, there was no improvement in mathematical course performance amongst students using OER. In terms of student attendance, face-to-face mode students who used Khan Academy OER had significantly lower attendance levels than those who relied on the proprietary textbook, which may be due to the fact that when students have access to the infrastructure required to access OER remotely they tend to work more from home.

With regard to student and teacher perceptions of the OER adoption process, the qualitative and quantitative data confirmed the assumption that OER can be relevant and useful to Chilean students.

The chapter concludes with the insight that “openness” does not necessarily produce an impact in and of itself, but is instead part of a greater set of tools and practices in which many variables exert an influence. Neither the intrinsic nature of information and communication technologies nor openness are tools or instruments that can be said to result in a specific outcome.

URL : Effectiveness of OER use in first-year higher education students’ mathematical course performance : A case study

DOI : https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.601203

Willingness to Engage in Open Educational Practices among Academics in Rwandan Public Higher Education and Responsive Actions

Author : Bernard Nkuyubwatsi

Academics’ engagement in Open Educational Practices (OEPs) is critical for opening up higher education. It is in this perspective that the willingness to engage in such practices among academics in Rwandan public higher education was investigated with an agenda to trigger responsive actions.

Via convenience/availability and volunteer sampling, 170 academics were invited to participate in the study and 85 of them completed and returned an email self-completion questionnaire. The results revealed that the majority of participants were willing to contribute to Open Educational Resources (OER) by publishing their work under an open licence.

Participants were also willing to engage in diverse OEPs including 1) finding OER and evaluating their quality, 2) participating in and evaluating open courses, 3) aggregating OER, 4) adapting OER and open courses, and 5) assessing accomplishment from open learning based on OER and open courses for credit.

National and institutional policies were found to be the potentially most important enablers of academics’ engagement in those practices. In the light of the findings, the researcher argues that the inclusion of more learners in the higher education system would make academics more impactful than simply the citation of their work, a stance that was reflected in subsequent responsive actions.

This study may benefit institutions and policy makers who are interested in opening up higher education, especially the University of Rwanda that is expected to contribute significantly to the transformation of the country into a middle-income, knowledge-based society.

URL : Willingness to Engage in Open Educational Practices among Academics in Rwandan Public Higher Education and Responsive Actions

Alternative location : http://www.jl4d.org/index.php/ejl4d/article/view/223

Turkish Teachers’ Awareness and Perceptions of Open Educational Resources

Authors : Ozgur Ozdemir, Curtis Bonk

The purpose of this study is to explore K-12 teachers’ awareness of open educational resources (OER) as well as their perceptions of its potential opportunities and challenges for teaching practices.

Data were gathered from 99 online survey respondents and six interviewees in this study. Findings showed that teachers are aware of OER to a certain degree; however, a misunderstanding exists between digital educational content on the Internet and openly licensed content compatible with the OER definition.

Lack of knowledge regarding licensing mechanisms of OER is a major issue among teachers. Whereas, teacher perceptions that the use of OER leads to the improvement in student performance is highly beneficial, the time required to search, select, edit, and apply OER was discovered as the greatest challenge to OER utilization.

Results of this study can inform potential OER movement contributors, such as teacher professional development specialists, developers of OER repositories, and academics interested in OER.

URL : Turkish Teachers’ Awareness and Perceptions of Open Educational Resources

Alternative location : http://www.jl4d.org/index.php/ejl4d/article/view/224

 

Use of Open Educational Resources and Print Educational Materials by Federal College of Education Katsina, Nigeria: A Study

Authors : Rufai Danmusa Gambo, Sani Masanawa Aliyu

This research work investigates the usage of Open Educational Resources (OER) and Print Educational Materials by the students of Federal College of Education Katsina, Nigeria. Using descriptive survey, 358 students were sampled as respondents.

The research find out that while print section still remain relevant, an alarming negative attitudes by the students toward print educational materials have been found. Factors including students’ learning needs and interest, infrastructural decay, outdated books stocks, under equipped nature of the print sections and the unfriendly attitudes of the librarians toward clients are responsible this attitudes. However,

OER enjoy an overwhelming patronage of students. The unrestricted nature of open educational resources coupled with its ease of access, freeness, proximity, relevance and IT infrastructural advancements are what make it an educational hotcake of the time.

Better funding of education, inculcation of reading culture in younger generation, massive development of print materials into open educational resources and in-service training of library staff has been recommended.

URL : Use of Open Educational Resources and Print Educational Materials by Federal College of Education Katsina, Nigeria: A Study

Alternative location : http://publications.drdo.gov.in/ojs/index.php/djlit/article/view/10628