Open resources for case studies and assignments

Jones, Allan; Bissell, Christopher and Chapman, David (2012). Open resources for case studies and assignments. In: EADTU (European Association of Distance Teaching Universities) 25th Annual Conference 2012 ‘The role of open and flexible education in European higher education systems for 2020: new models, new markets, new media’, 27-28 Sep 2012, Paphos, Cyprus.


Resources not designed for educational use can be successfully used educationally. For example, publications by bodies such as the United Nations or government departments can be rich resources for case studies and assignments in an educational context. Such resources are often freely available on the web, and so can be considered open educational resources.

The use of this type of resource for case studies and assignments is considered in the context of two related level-3 modules (final year undergraduate) produced by the UK Open University. Both modules are concerned with digital technology, and both situate the technology in a wider social context. Both courses are also concerned with developing students’ skills of independent investigation.
The prime benefits of this type of resource are shown to be their authenticity and authority. In using these resources, students are dealing with materials that are often produced and used by professional practitioners. However, there are potential pitfalls: students often need a great deal of help to make good use of these resources, and the resources are liable to change or disappear from the web unpredictably.

The paper concludes that using this type of open educational resource should not be seen as a time-saver or an easy option for course designers. Instead, as with other open educational resources, using these resources can present course designers with problems of location, selection and incorporation. That is, where can suitable resources be found, which parts can be used successfully, and how can these resources be incorporated into resources created by the course designers themselves?

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