Open Education

A key component of the Open Education movement is Open Educational Resources (OER), which are defined as any digital objects that are commonly shared in online repositories and can be freely accessed, reused and adapted by a community of users for educational purposes using an open license scheme. Existing research on OER has focused on how to make digital objects available and re-usable for educators and learners. Currently, there are millions of resources for basically all subjects, education level. However, their adoption has been limited, the consumption of them is passive, and there are still many barriers towards the uptake of OER. Amongst those are the lack of involvement and recognition of users who feel that they do or cannot contribute appropriately. In our research project, we focused on tweaking the steps that are accomplished before having the resources complete and shared. In particular, in situations when ideas are initiated, shaped, and shared with like-minded people in order to create new educational outcomes, such as OER.

The limited adoption of (OER) has kicked off the launch of several projects to search for possible solutions. One of these projects is “Open Educational Ideas and Innovations” (OEI2).

The goal of this project is to find alternatives for increasing the uptake of OER and facilitating the collaborative development of OER. To enhance the experience of the users of open education, we interviewed educators and researchers from different higher education institutions across Europe focusing on gathering insights about idea sharing experiences. We presented our key findings and outlined some recommendations for our open educational platform in the paper: AbuJarour et al. (2014): “Enhancing the Experience of Online Users of Open Education.”

User studies have shown that collaboration is a main success factor for successful open educational activities. However, effective collaboration in open educational contexts requires well-planned processes and platforms supporting collaboration, in particular in physically distributed settings. We have been investigating the value of such platforms, their main features, and user requirements to enable collaboration from immature ideas to completed resources. We used quantitative and qualitative research methods to collect insights from potential users of such collaboration platforms to validate our approach. Based on these insights, we developed a collaboration platform for open education. We validated our platform using observation groups and focus groups to identify the key design principles of powerful collaboration platforms for Open Education. Examples are the need for a simple tool, use of a common terminology, and considering Intellectual Property Rights. We presented our findings from an initial validation of our collaboration platform and gave recommendations towards powerful collaboration platforms for open educational contexts in the paper: AbuJarour et al. (2015) “Design Principles for Collaboration Platforms for Open Education.”

The main idea of our approach is to emotionally attach educators to OER by engaging them at an early stage of the OER development process when the resources are still in the ideation phase. This engagement is enabled through our proposed collaboration platform “Idea Space”, where educators can collaboratively create and share ideas of OER. This platform is described from an application point of view, by showing a typical use-case that describes its functionalities, in the paper: AbuJarour et al. (2015) “Idea-Space: A Use Case of Collaborative Course Development in Higher Education.”

Idea Space (www.idea-space.eu) is an online collaborative platform encouraging collaboration in early stages and sharing new ideas, before resources are complete. One of the main principles of our platform was providing an end-to-end platform that supports educators right from the very beginning to the very end, instead of focusing on the content delivery only. An open education initiative starts with a preliminary idea whose owner shares with the other interested educators who in turn collaborate altogether to sharpen the idea and generate the content so that it becomes suitable for an open educational course. In particular, in situations when ideas are initiated, shaped, and shared with interested parties in order to create new educational outcomes, such as OER, open e-textbooks, MOOCs, etc.

This research has been co-funded by the European Commission through the LLP Erasmus program. The OEI2 project partners included: JYU-Finland, ESCP-Germany, NSCR-Greece, VMU-Lithuania, and DHBW-Germany, for the period (1 October 2013 – 28 February 2016).

Related publications:

  • AbuJarour, S., Pawlowski, J., Bick M., Bagucanskyte, M., Frankenberg, A., Hudak, R., Makropoulos, C., Pappa, D., Pitsilis, V., Pirkkalainen, H., Tannhauser, A. C., Trepule, E., Vidalis, A. and Volungeviciene, A. (2015). “Idea-Space: A Use Case of Collaborative Course Development in Higher Education.” In Proceedings Wissensgemeinschaften 2015, Dresden: TUDpress, ISBN: 978-3-95908-010-1, S. 149-156.
  • AbuJarour, S., Pirkkalainen, H., Pawlowski, J., Bick, M., Bagucanskyte, M., Frankenberg, A., Hudak, R., Makropoulos, C., Pappa, D., Pitsilis, V., Tannhauser, A., Trepule, E., Vidalis, A. and Volungeviciene, A. (2015). “Design Principles for Collaboration Platforms for Open Education.” In Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Computer Supported Education, ISBN 978-989-758-107-6, pages 349-359. DOI: 10.5220/0005451003490359.
  • AbuJarour, S., Bick, M., Pawlowski, J., Volungeviciene, A., Trepule, E., Bagucanskyte, M., Pirkkalainen, H., Ehlers, U. D., Hudak, R., Makropoulos, C., Pappa, D., Pitsilis, V., Vidalis, A. and Tannhauser, A. C. (2014). “Enhancing the Experience of Online Users of Open Education.” In Web and Open Access to Learning (ICWOAL), 2014 International Conference on, Dubai, pp. 1-6. DOI: 10.1109/ICWOAL.2014.7009217.