OER Synthesis and Evaluation / Evidence-ImpactsAndBenefits3
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Evidence - Impact and benefits (students)

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Impacts & benefits - benefits, and appreciation of benefits by stakeholders, institutions, students


Themes strand

CORE-SET (CORE-SET final report) | ReACTOR (ReACTOR Final report) |  Opening up a future in business (Future in business Final Report)COMC (COMC Final report) | PARIS (PARIS Final Project Report)  HALS OER (HALS OER Final Project Report)PublishOER (PublishOER final report) | Great Writers (Great Writers Final Report)|  ALTO UK (ALTO UK Final Report)  | ORBIT (ORBIT Final Report) | DEFT (DEFT Final Report)    | FAVOR (FAVOR Final Report) | SESAME (SESAME Final Report) |


OMAC strand

BLOCKeD (BLOCKeD Final Report) |   Digital Literacy and Creativity (Digital Literacy and Creativity Final Report | Academic Practice in Context (Academic Practice in Context Final report) | Teeside Open Learning Units (Teeside Open Learning Units Final Report)


What has been the impact of OER development and release on the student experience?

  • Students as producers of multiple choice questions is very effective, popular and constructive in terms of encouraging reflective practice. (HALS OER Interim Report)
  • As a result of this project, increasing numbers of undergraduate science students are aware of open education, know how to search for and evaluate the use of OER to support their studies, and have been involved in producing OER as part of their science programmes. (HALS OER Final Project Report)
  • School and college students local to Leicester have been involved in OER activities, again raising awareness of the availability of resources to help with studies, and have become familiar with university courses and cultures to inform their career decisions. (HALS OER Final Project Report)
  • A broader wealth of high-quality resources are used in undergraduate science teaching within De Montfort: (HALS OER Final Project Report)  
  • The student worked with library staff to compile an “OER Evaluation Matrix” (OEREM) to enhance student digital literacies around the use of OER and indeed any online electronic resource. A number of student focus groups helped developed the matrix from an existing text-based tool “Information Source Evaluation Matrix” currently recommended by the university library. Details of the approaches taken and results of the work have been discussed (Hurt, Towlson and Rolfe 2012 ). In the focus groups, students soon realised the limitations of the text-based matrix, and it made them question their choice of electronic resources. (HALSOER Final report)
  •  HALS also aimed to involve undergraduate science students more widely in OER. One area through lacking is the production of assessment materials. Linking to an Open University SCORE Fellow project by Stylianos Hatzipanagos , we felt that most OER was instructional material and there was an opportunity to explore how assessment could be embedded into OERs to produce a more effective learning opportunity. As part of lectures, practicals and after viewing our science OER on-line, students were invited to produce one multiple choice question. This was good reflective practice, and helped students understand the nuances of MCQ which for some were being introduced as assessment and examination in the 2011 academic year. Over 100 MCQs were produced and these were released as OER. (HALSOER Final report) 
  • Students were involved in the project in a range of activities – either as enthusiastic volunteers, employed as part of the university “Frontrunners” scheme, or within activities and assessments embedded within science programmes. OER was produced as part of widening participation activities with local schools and colleges.(HALSOER Final report)
  • Our six Student Ambassadors have fully embraced the openness agenda and are truly inspired by the project. We have been impressed by the quality of their outputs, their commitment and the ideas they are generating on a daily basis. They value the opportunity to be involved in a public-facing project which allows them to publish alongside academic contributors. Their contributions can be found on the Wordpress blog. (Great Writers Interim Report)
  • Involving students as producers and users of OER has been a particular success of the project. It provided a simple framework to allow them to communicate and publish, increasing their digital literacy and introducing them to the benefits of open academic practice. By recruiting graduate students the project was assured of academic-level content from contributors who were closer to the target audience. (Great Writers Final Report)
  • One of the great successes of the project has been the involvement of the Student Ambassadors. Seven graduate students from the Faculty of English fully embraced the openness agenda and were both inspired by, and an inspiration to the project. They proved a fantastic asset producing academic-level content, coordinating school engagement activities, devising a social media campaign and supporting the project team throughout. They valued the opportunity to be involved in a public-facing project which allowed them to publish alongside academic contributors

“They were by far the most active members and took a lot of careful thought about the materials … Will be beneficial for them, good on their CV to be chosen for that role and they have written for a wide community” Academic Lead
“They get things done in quicker time than asking someone else, and with enthusiasm … When piloting the site with school children they have been much better than most academics at facilitating feedback; they’re less intimidating, not so far away in age, more approachable” Academic Lead  (Great Writers Final Report)

  • Several of the Student Ambassadors indicated in their evaluation interview how important this work was in making them appear more employable:

“I’m aware that universities want people to get into public engagement activities and impact assessments. Hope it will help my CV” Student Ambassador
What was most rewarding? “creating something I can show my colleagues and future employers … Academia is often working on things for months and publish where it is not generally read, but this is much more in the public domain; a key concern when you are thinking of future jobs” Student Ambassador
At the time of writing, three of the Student Ambassadors were continuing with their courses at Oxford and offering continued support for the project, and the rest had completed their studies. Of these, two were looking to study further elsewhere (e.g. a creative writing course) and the others were seeking employment (as a lecturer, engagement work, or performance/theatre work). (Great Writers Final Report)

  • They are now fully aware of the benefits of OER, both as producers and users:

“Material we are engaged with is made available to the public who otherwise would not have access … general lack of awareness of the uses of research, this can help academia to get its message across”
“Great to be able to use something online which would otherwise be obscure. I’ve been using other [OER] sites”
“[I] will use in summer schools. I’m also on the Developing Learning and Teaching Course and can use these in my portfolio for the course”
“I’d like to teach and would use the materials. Ebooks are especially helpful”
One Student Ambassador has already reused Great Writers Inspire as part of her summer school teaching. (Great Writers Final Report)

  • Through their involvement in the project the students gained skills in digital literacy and open awareness, one reflected on her involvement in the project and discusses the ‘revelation of open resources’35

“It’s like falling down Alice’s rabbit hole, but into a world that makes total sense- a world that allows for exploration of strangely specific topics, and most importantly, a world that caters to all learning types. The variety of types of material means that there’s a point of access no matter what your core sense. This material is just out there, waiting to be explored, to be incorporated into the classroom, waiting to prompt ideas and discussions and whirlwinds of more clicking.” Student Ambassador (Great Writers Final Report)

  • Again the experience of the Student Ambassadors showed that peer-to peer influence was the most successful in gaining additional contributors. A number were able to attract contributions from friends and the project recorded several talks at the English Graduate Conference. The contribution of the Student Ambassadors to Oxford podcasting was recognised at the University’s annual OxTALENT Awards. (Great Writers Final Report) 
  • When asked about the key factors influencing their use of the site, all options received a high rating average, with the highest being ‘quality of content’. The ‘ability to reuse the content’ was the second highest which is an encouraging indicator of the willingness and desire to reuse content. Respondents indicated that the themes were of most value closely followed by the library and ebooks, with timelines being of the least value. These ratings are influenced by the high numbers of students responding to the survey. If just lecturer/teacher responses are analysed it shows a different set of preferences: ability to reuse, themes, ebooks, audio/video, writers, timelines, library, essays. (Great Writers Final Report)
  • Working with students and teachers as co-designers of OER results in final resources that are highly relevant to the curriculum, with a focus on usability. Students respond positively to being included in this way, increasing a sense of ownership of the OER and increased potential for end use.  (ReACTOR Final report)
  • The College benefited from the project experience in establishing a mechanism for employing student interns. This approach brought significant advantages for the team and for the students, not least because of the flexible responses needed to respond to our staffing challenges. We would recommend this approach to other institutions as the work experience has been valuable for the students CVs and paid work reflects the value that they can bring to projects.

This internship has given me a tremendous amount of knowledge about multiple different fields within the roles and responsibilities of running a design studio. During my time working with the team my role changed and grew bigger; along with my responsibilities; it was then that I gained insight into the true working nature of the studio and its many roles. Overall my time a REaCTOR has allowed me to gain experience that could help with job prospects in the future. (Business Management Student Intern)

Working with the REaCTOR Project gave me valuable insight into the design industry by allowing me to experience ‘real world’ practises in a professional environment. I was able to gain and partake in a variety of experience; such as disseminating project information and giving presentations, as my role expanded and changed during my time with the team. (Design Student Intern) (ReACTOR Final report) 

  • Use OERs to help students make more informed choices. There seems to be emerging evidence (from colleagues at Oxford) that students are using OERs to assess their choice of HE applications, making a successful choice and transition into higher education more likely
  •  Students, at all the academic partners have been involved in courseware creation and consulted through focus groups. There is now a wider awareness amongst students about OERs and the benefits to be derived from them, although there is much more to be done in this area (ALTO Final Report)
    • Future students at the UAL should benefit from:
      o    Access to a growing number of Open CourseBooks that help them to make more informed course application choices and result in fewer students dropping out of course and greater student satisfaction ratings
      o    Redesigned course handbooks that are simple and more consistent
      (ALTO Final Report)
  • The project has raised a number of both logistic and ethical issues involved when it comes to pupil involvement with OERs; for instance, issues of copyright become even more complex in the school context where issues related to e-safety and e-safeguarding are of key importance and parent permission has to be secured. (DeFT Final Report)
  •  the open release of resources produced by learners involves securing permission from parents/guardians who may have little understanding of issues involved in open licensing and sharing of online teaching materials; this may raise complex ethical issues. The issue of attribution can be problematic with regard to learner-produced work - as a safety precaution, school pupils are cautioned not to release personal details online.  These concerns surfaced during the discussions taking place at the teachers' meetings, with teachers pointing out that each of them has to make their own ethical and moral judgements on how open their practice could/should be as there is no official guidance on these issues because they are so new to this sector. The following quote illustrates the range of issues that had to be considered by project participants:
    I guess what I am saying is once you put an image or a voice or something out there when its in a public space, now it might be private, in the future that might be open to manipulation , and those images and things can be used in a way that can be manipulated
    (DeFT Final Report)
  • Overall, the teachers decided to be pragmatic in their approach and to recognise that it was impossible to "futureproof" their own or their learners' contributions to the project.  Decisions were taken on a case-by-case basis and where images or recordings of pupils are being used, permission has been explicitly granted. Wherever possible, the project team talked to the pupils in the schools explaining the purpose of the case studies; in a number of schools, the teachers have organised dissemination events in the form of open evenings for parents/carers to create space for discussing potential concerns as and when they arose. (DeFT Final Report)
  • Many of the tutors involved their students in the creation of materials for this project. This entailed raising awareness of open practice amongst students and also including them in the design, planning and realisation of new resources.(FAVOR Final Report)
  • All of the FAVOR tutors are engaged in a large amount of teaching throughout the academic year. They began to put their project knowledge and experience into practice with their students immediately by re-evaluating their teaching resources and creating new resources – and this activity continues into the new academic year. Tutors also involved students in the planning and creation of resources, which students greatly enjoyed (tutor comment, meeting, Sept 20th,). This is bound to have a positive impact on the student experience within each partner institution. Evaluation sessions with students in the next few months will capture this more clearly. (FAVOR Final Report)
  • However a few students were sceptical of the value and 26% responded that online resources to support their course will not add value to their learning experience. However, there are signs, even among those who don’t use technology, that attitudes are changing:
    “I have not yet come fully to terms with the internet …So I am not representative… but I am aware how much I am missing. I plan to do better.” (Student commenting in pilot student survey) SESAME Final Report)
  • Certainly students were generally interested with 26% clicking through to the Sesame online resources within the first two days of us sending out an email to announce the site. SESAME Final Report)
  • On a related note, some of our part-time tutors commented on the way engaging with OER has allowed them to consider new ways of supporting and engaging with students:

“It could be very useful in language teaching to put resources online so students can better judge the level of a class; to provide continuity between classes; and to make collaborative teaching and student transition easier.” (Tutor participating in final focus group)
“It made me look for online resources specifically suitable for recommending to students, rather than just using resources in the preparation of lectures. In recent years, I had always included some relevant websites along with reading lists given out in class, but this project has made me focus more on specific learning objectives that can be followed through web links.” (Tutor commenting in final tutor survey) SESAME Final Report)

  • More generally, our final focus group provided many suggestions on ways to help students to understand and use OER, focussing in particular on ensuring that the routes they already take to seek help with resources and study skills, such as libraries and handbooks, were ready to support this. SESAME Final Report)
  • An important element of the Weekly Classes programme is that the courses are accredited and require students to engage in independent study. Therefore, the fact that the Sesame platform will provide opportunities for this online, at both the individual course level and at a programme level through the subject collections, will be a major benefit to our students. SESAME Final Report)
  • During a month-long summer school at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 15-year-old students developed ‘real life’ GeoGebra mathematical software applications. GeoGebra  (http://www.geogebra.org/cms/en) is a free and multi-platform dynamic mathematics software for all levels of education that integrates geometry, algebra, tables, graphing, statistics and calculus in one powerful yet easy-to-use package. It has received several educational software awards in Europe and the USA and is used all over the world. (ORBIT Final report)
  •  The GeoGebra software applications developed by students are for a range of users of varying technical confidence. The summer school activity consisted of three 4-hour workshops interspersed with home-working and online collaboration. In addition to excellent GeoGebra applications, the students also demonstrated target user awareness, communication and collaboration skills, and learning insights. The project is the first exemplar of a proposed, larger-scale, three-year development of 20 such authentic learning activities aligned with the STEM curriculum for Key Stages 2 and 3 (ages 7-14). The objective is to extend learning through technology and cross-curricular, ‘real life’ activities impacting on a wide audience with students, teachers and organisations working together. It has been agreed that all CCITE resources resulting from this collaboration will be held posted on teh ORBIT wiki (http://orbit.educ.cam.ac.uk/wiki/CCITE).  (ORBIT Final report)
  • Pupils, students and staff involved in OER production have improved skills in terms of understanding content and copyright, and in terms of the use of technology to support learning and teaching. (HALS OER Final Project Report)
  • Students are anxious about online learning and worried that it will replace face-face contact with academics. They are much more positive about blended learning.

Students struggle to distinguish between online learning per se and open educational resources

Students have few problems with the technology behind OERs

Students would make more use of third party OER content if their tutors drew their attention to it.

Students like the idea of Nottingham sharing via OERs.
Students identify strongly with Nottingham and like to feel part of Nottingham initiatives (PARiS Final Report)

  • Work was coordinated within the RVC (with input from the SVMS) by ‘student researchers’ employed on a retainer basis to organise focus groups, liaise with academics, promote specific resources to target audiences and feedback to the project. This feedback and evaluation of the work would inform investigations in other subject areas. (PublishOER Final Report)
  • Despite the project team creating only one prototype lecture, this concept proved successful, and was popular with students and academics alike. Possible content to be incorporated in the mash-up could include existing teaching resources, OER from other institutions and commercial publisher content with permission. The focus group research and students/recent graduate surveys indicated that repurposing content in this way was a popular way to learn. In particular students valued the succinct nature of the resource with its media rich content and links to other content on OER sites such as WikiVet as well as the embedded commercial content. Whilst this mash-up learning resource, or eLecture as it had been termed, is still at the prototype stage, it is clear that it could be a significant new type of resource. Work has commenced to develop this model for use by undergraduate students as a revision tool as they moved from pre-clinical to clinical studies. It was additionally intended to use it as a wider OER for access outside the veterinary school domain. The concept of marketing these eLectures on a micro-payment system is being explored as a way of financing the development of more free-to-view content on WikiVet. Clearly this commercialisation of OER presents a number of significant challenges, not least in encouraging the publishers to agree to licence their content for resale in a different context from that originally intended and agreed with the author. (PublishOER Final Report)
  • Better understanding of how students see and use content, and to get feedback about what they want. There is plenty of scope to extend this work to map where students are aiming to be, and what technology they have versus what staff would like them to achieve, or think is good for their students! (PublishOER Final Report)
  • The student consultation project showed a real lack of knowledge from 16-19 year olds on what SMEs were and of business awareness.  Whilst not surprising, it shows the value of this project in aiming to better inform these students on what it means to either start a business or to be effective in contributing to its growth. (Future in business Final Report)
  • Raising commercial awareness amongst 16-19 year olds is at the heart of the project.  Utilising time in taster day events to disseminate the OER to the local community is one method of spreading knowledge of the resource and obtaining feedback.  We have worked with our community liaison officers in this project and they have provided us with contacts in other universities that we can use to spread knowledge of the project nationally.  The production of the showreel is also a key element in the dissemination strategy as we want to reach out as widely as possible.  As an example we have had a number of parents enquiring as to when the resource might be fully available as something they might use to help inform their teenagers thoughts about a future career. We will also explore other ways to disseminate to this group with our own school/liaison officers and JISC-RSC. (Future in business Final Report)
  • Having been made for use in education the resource can be used/ approached in a variety of ways.  We accept that for some students the resources may encourage them to opt to work in a large organisation and we see this as an equally valuable outcome in that the project aims to increase commercial awareness and encourage 16-19 year old students to make informed decisions about their future and their needs.  The material is also leading students to consider what they want out of HE, be it opportunities for placement, to be more academic or become involved with local business. It helps them to consider how to move their part-time jobs nearer to their eventual career goals and how to build work experience and to look beyond the job description to the opportunity the job will provide to engage in new tasks and responsibilities. (Future in business Final Report)
  • It has been important to keep the student perspective throughout which has been helped by having students working in the project team.  (Future in business Final Report)
  • The students have been very engaged with each of these classes – it is difficult to quantify precisely, because numerous factors inform students perception of the value of any one class (most are subjective and all are experiential factors, which are necessarily affected by complex and multiple factors. Nonetheless, it is safe to say that these classes enjoyed some of the best module evaluations of the year and also produced some of the most interesting and exciting student work. For many students and more so in specific classes, there was little sense they were participating in an “Open Class”. Students were informed, but this ethos had relatively little value to them, what mattered was the quality and richness of the experience our approach enabled. In one case there was some anxiety over / resistance to the Open Class approach. (COMC Final Report)
  • Each Open Class is working with a slightly different emphasis, different process of content generation and a distinctive balance of media/platforms; but all students have very actively contributed and participated. This is evidenced within each of  the Open Class sites. The staff have also been very highly engaged with these projects. All the sites have a richer range depth and mix of resources than has been the case with conventional modules. (COMC Final Report)
  • Overall the outcome of the Open Classes project has been an excellent student response. Students have been hugely engaged with the classes and the projects they have undertaken within them. It is right to acknowledge that this may not be the same thing as being highly engaged with the Open Class ethos -  or with OER/OEP per se.  In all three classes students were very engaged with the projects undertaken within them, they achieved good results and recorded high levels of student satisfaction.    (COMC Final Report)
  • In particular, the class has shown that, around the lectures and practical workshops – given by both Coventry Tutors and visiting practitioners and Scholars – the collaborative production of content can be both fast, and can drastically expand the experience and learning of students. This often began with the simple aggregating of hash-tagged, tweeted, notes, questions and observations. But when connected through the various social media platforms these notes became powerful means of articulating themes and learning the students want to pursue. The Lecture is a collaborative production rather than a ‘broadcast’ artefact which students respond to.   (COMC Final Report)
  • However, in this class (Creative Activism) some Coventry students expressed concerns about external participants having access to the class. Their initial perception being that for ‘normal’ fee paying students – their “Paid for ” and “Open access” shouldn’t go together; also that their work should not be “given away. This was somewhat ironic given the value they also attached to the input of external contributors – who were not paid. These perceptions did shift through the class. It is notable that some of the same students were also not happy about the Activist stance of the module – there was clearly some difference of expectation about what their film-making direction should be and the team’s view that it should be informed by diverse experiences.    (COMC Final Report) 










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