Capacity-building for the adoption of OEP in higher education

Bossu, Carina and Fountain, Wendy (2015). Capacity-building for the adoption of OEP in higher education. In: Open Education Global Conference 2015 Program, 22-24 Apr 2015, Banff, Alberta, Canada, Open Education Consortium, p. 1.



Despite recent federal investments and important developments in Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Educational Practices (OEP), the Australian higher education sector lags behind other countries in these endeavours. The US, UK and some other European countries have already developed regulatory frameworks and established institutional and national support, including funding, that are widely available to institutions and academics interested in working with OER and OEP. Considering the evolving pace and demonstrable impact of OER and OEP on higher education globally, the need for further professional development and capacity-building to facilitate the adoption of OER and OEP in Australia is critical. In fact, previous research has identified a lack of appropriate academic staff professional development programs available for academics as one of the main reasons for the limited adoption of OER and OEP in Australian universities (Bossu, Brown & Bull, 2014).

This presentation features a project funded by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) that attempts to bridge this gap and make a significant contribution to the adoption of OER and OEP in higher education in Australia. The project team aims to design, develop and pilot a free, open and online professional development course focussed on supporting curriculum design in higher education. Our specific aim is to develop the capacity of academics in Australia to adopt and incorporate OER and OEP to underpin innovative, engaging and agile curricula across the Australian higher education sector. This course is a micro Open Online Course (mOOC) where 'micro' refers to a sub-component of a full course or subject. The micro course developed in this project will lead to micro credentials, which recognise learning on a smaller scale than traditional university courses. The advantage, in this case, is that the micro course targets curriculum design in the context of technology enhanced learning (TEL) and is therefore able to provide just in time development for academic staff involved in contemporary curriculum design and renewal. The demonstration of learning outcomes by participants can also be assessed and validated for articulation into larger courses for credit. Such recognition of 'small batch learning' is well-suited to a model of course design which brings together learning across multiple partners, and can be readily adapted and incorporated into the professional development programs of different universities.

The project comprises two stages: (i) the Design and Development Stage, and (ii) the Pilot and Evaluation Stage. The first stage consists of the design and development of the micro course, including the identification of related open practices and existing OER for reuse in the micro course, and the development of new resources for future reuse. The course has an OEP-based learning design and has been developed in an open platform (WikiEducator). This stage also includes the planning of the course pilot and evaluation strategy. The second stage involves conducting the pilot, and collecting and analysing participants' feedback on their experience participating in the micro course through an evaluation activity, which is further discussed below. Outcomes of the evaluation will guide modifications to the micro course and will form the basis for the research component in this project. As an attempt to capture important and current curriculum design concepts and connect them with OEP principles, the following learning design approaches have been developed:

Learning Design Focus 1 Five open educational practice (OEP) concepts are explored through five key curriculum design topics. Learning pathways for each topic enable learners to approach the course sequentially, or sample specific topics based on need and interest. This also supports formal and informal learning, and for-credit and not-for-credit reuse options.

Learning Design Focus 2 The learning activities and major tasks utilise existing OER, applied to learners' own contexts and practice. Individual learning activities contribute directly and indirectly to the major tasks. In the first major task, for example, learners locate and evaluate relevant OER and curate these for an authentic learning and teaching scenario. Learners' expertise is shared via peer feedback on the process of OER evaluation and the resultant curated artefact.

Learning Design Focus 3 The project team's experience of designing and developing the course, and the decisions taken, are woven into the course as a meta-commentary. We highlight emergent issues in open educational practice, and the challenges for course design in particular. These include designing for culturally diverse learners, multiple institutional settings, open platforms, and the complexity of personal learning environments (PLEs) in action.

Evaluation Strategy The evaluation is embedded within the second major task - the Open Micro Course Reflection - in which learners may give consent for their responses to also serve as anonymous research data. The reflective writing task (max. 1000 words) is structured to prompt reflection on:

• Course experience
• Applicability of the course to learner's learning and teaching context
• Scope and relevance to learning and teaching in higher education
• Learning design
• Curation of resources and tools
• Opportunities to connect and share with course colleagues
• Specific improvements for future course iterations.

Following a thematic analysis of learners' responses, the micro course will be revised, and all learners will be informed how their collective feedback has shaped the next iteration of the course.

The presentation will discuss key issues faced by the project team while designing and developing the micro course. We will also explore the course design, development and evaluation strategy in detail. The intended audience for this paper and presentation spans academic staff, educational developers and educators in general.

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