Open Science Happens Somewhere: Exploring the use of Science OER in Schools

Macintyre, Ronald; Edwards, D.A. and Smith, A. J. (2015). Open Science Happens Somewhere: Exploring the use of Science OER in Schools. In: OER15, 14-15 Apr 2015, Cardiff.



This paper concerns a pilot exploring the use of openly licensed content in secondary schools. Specifically it looks at the use of the Open University’s (OU) OpenScienceLab (OSL) in two remote rural schools in the West Highlands of Scotland. OSL is a series of online experiments openly licensed for anyone to use, they are about learning through experimentation, and are part of a wider OU interest in how to support and develop inquiry based learning at a distance (Scanlon 2012). This area is of particular relevance to Scottish schools, as the underlying pedagogy of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) promotes interdisciplinary thinking and learning through inquiry (Macintyre 2014).
The idea of the pilot was to work on how “open content” might be used in schools to understand what openness might mean in and for educational practice. While our initial intention was simply to run these in schools after the first workshops it became apparent while the technical and licences were open and it was relatively clear how to do the experiments, people were uncertain how to use them in their educational practice. Emphasising the need to attend to Educational Practice as well as Openness in OEP.

The pilot took a participatory design approach (Sanders and Westerlund 2011; Mor 2012), to developing and support practices around the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) in classroom. Through a series of workshops and schools visits we looked to solve these problems from the classroom out, using the teachers experience to develop learning journeys that worked for teachers and pupils. With teachers we created a learning journey using the OU’s free platform OpenLearnWorks to wrap the experiments in a mixture of existing and newly developed OER.

Two journeys were created, these will be run in two locations with with two sets of teachers in December 2014. The paper will report on the outcomes for pupils and teachers of this final stage. In doing so it will reflect on the participatory design process, highlighting the practices developed to support the use of open content, drawing out broader conclusions might support the use open materials in the classroom.

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