Now that we are in our second term of producing OER we are really moving forward with evaluating our experiences and reflecting on what this means for the rest of the project. Thus far our main activities have been an initial baseline survey of our weekly class tutors, surveying students and tutors involved in our first pilot in Hillary term, and a focus group of our main stakeholder groups. We have also been engaging with the OER synthesis and evaluation team and our “evaluation buddy” the FAVOR project. I hope to blog about all of these over the next few weeks, but for the moment just wanted to revisit our starting point, the weekly class tutor baseline survey.
For this we canvassed the opinions of our weekly class tutors on issues around teaching and learning, technology use, open resources and more. To begin, it is worth noting our tutors teach all subjects (we had responses from 62 tutors covering 23 disciplines), are all ages (with 40%+ over 55), and have teaching experience from under 2 years to over 20. However the vast majority (just under 80%) are employed sessionally on part-time contracts.
In terms of engagement with OER, nearly 40% had heard of OER prior to our project which was higher than anticipated. This continued with nearly 30% having used OER in their teaching and learning and 7% already producing OER. This may be a function of a self selecting sample but still indicates a relatively high level of engagement.
Generally our tutors felt that OER were ‘a good thing’. However they were clearly more comfortable simply putting content online rather than making it fully open, as just over half expressed concern about what happens when content is openly released. In terms of reasons to engage with OER, our tutors self-reported being far more interested in the altruistic reasons for engagement: “it is a good thing to do”, “student learning will be improved” or “[it brings] benefits to the institution”, rather than the potential personal gains, either financial or reputational. Interest in training was highest in the area of how to find good resources and how best to use them.
On a more pragmatic note, the survey confirmed our initial thoughts that one of our biggest challenges in terms of making content associated with our weekly class courses online and open is the fact that, with the exception of reading lists, those resources which tutors most often currently make available to students in hard copy are often those which cannot usually be openly licensed, such as photocopies of book chapters and journal articles, copies of photographs, diagrams, maps or illustrations and copies of primary sources. Thus much perfectly legitimate classroom practice thwarts the promise of seamless sharing and openness.
While getting the survey written at the start of the project was not a trivial task, we were able to put reuse in action, using Chris Pegler’s Oriole survey as a basis for many questions. There is also no doubt this sort of information was great in terms of understanding our key audience from the start, as well as specifically helping us shape our communications and training plans.
Photo: Golden Genie (http://www.flickr.com/photos/phototacular/487233900/) / Mustafa Al-ammar (http://www.flickr.com/photos/phototacular/) / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/)