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Curriculum Advancement (Three Short Papers 0264, 0163, 0226)


09:00 - 10:00 on Wednesday, 7 September 2011 in 8.90
0264 Curriculum Design: An approach for successfully embedding Technology Enhanced Learning in the curriculum Natalie Parnis, Phil Alberts, Maria Papaefthimiou
0163 The Distributed, Web 2.0 VLE? Incorporating External Content Platforms into the Institutional VLE Ian Glover, Shane Wohlers
0226 OER: Community reuse, impact and resource creation in health sciences. Richard Windle, Heather Wharrad, Helen Laverty
0264 Curriculum Design: An approach for successfully embedding Technology Enhanced Learning in the curriculum Natalie Parnis, Phil Alberts, Maria Papaefthimiou

Research-led Brunel and Reading Universities have been developing and adopting an innovative approach for embedding technology enhanced learning within their teaching and learning processes, more specifically at the stage of curriculum design. The focus of the institutions was to address a common need – to educate lecturers to think more profoundly on ways of embedding learning technologies as part of their teaching. This would lead to an enhanced student learning experience, and one which better meets the needs of the ‘digital natives’.

This presentation provides an account of the institutional approach developed by Brunel and Reading as part of their involvement in the Open University Learning Design Initiative (OULDI) project, http://ouldi.open.ac.uk, which is funded by JISC. The approach consists of three steps:

  1. Identifying ‘touch points’ during the curriculum design process, and possible interventions where advice and support to academic staff is deemed necessary.
  2. Workshops for academic staff, with the aim of introducing a new methodology for learning design. This methodology aims at providing support and guidance to programme / module designers in making decisions about creating blended learning activities.
  3. Exposure to a range of learning design tools (such as the OULDI toolbox http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloudscape/view/1882) and other resources to enable academic staff to make informed decisions about creating or adapting blended learning opportunities, and to document and evaluate the academic staff user experience.

After describing the approach, the presentation will give an account of the commonalities and variances of the approach as implemented in the two institutions, and describe its impact on the teaching process. Case study narratives are used to provide evidence of the participants’ experience and perception of the approach. Other evaluations of each of the above stages will be described, and gathered recommendations will be listed. The presentation concludes by discussing some of the benefits observed, such as improved stakeholder engagement, stronger collaboration within course design teams, and increased opportunity for creativity and innovative design approaches.

Further information can be found at www.brunel.ac.uk/about/acad/apdu/researchprojects/ouldi, www.open.ac.uk/blogs/OULDI/?page_id=277.

0163 The Distributed, Web 2.0 VLE? Incorporating External Content Platforms into the Institutional VLE Ian Glover, Shane Wohlers

The use of institutional Learning Environments has been growing steadily over the past decade and it now seems likely that there are few education institutions in the developed world that don’t have some VLE provision (OFSTED, 2009), especially in Further and Higher Education. However, there are also an increasing number of software platforms ‘in the wild’ that provide educationally useful functions that are either better than those in most VLEs, e.g. Blog facilities, tagging/bookmarking or Photo/Video sharing, or don’t have equivalents in the VLE, e.g. Twitter (FutureLab, 2006). This concept of incorporating the systems that people may already be using to generate and share content is one that has recently been taken up by VLE developers themselves, particularly in the Open Source world. For example, the current version of Moodle, 2.1, utilises an extensible repository model that allows users to draw material from external services such as Flickr and YouTube.

One the authors of this paper highlighted that the blurring of boundaries between the ‘locked-down’ institutional platform and the more organic platforms on the Web was both a great opportunity to use the best tools available and also a potential source of technical and legal/moral issues (Glover & Oliver, 2008). While it doesn’t seem likely that the institutional VLE will disappear entirely, it is likely that more of the facilities will be delegated to other platform, perhaps invisibly to the user (Stiles, 2007). This paper will take a brief look back at that original paper and show how that vision has proved both correct and incorrect. It will then show how lecturers at City University London have been making use of external online tools and how the authors and their team have been surfacing this content in the institutional VLE, Moodle, in a structured, attractive and coherent way. The paper will conclude with some recommendations for other institutions about advantages and pitfalls of the approaches taken, suggested platforms to use or avoid, and how best to integrate external content into the institutional VLE. This paper is based upon observations and non-systematic research, rather than a formal research process.

0226 OER: Community reuse, impact and resource creation in health sciences. Richard Windle, Heather Wharrad, Helen Laverty

Much has been written about the potential benefits of OER initiatives for the institution and groups that engage with them (D'Antoni 2009). Here we discuss the benefits of wider community engagement arising from OER release within health sciences. We have been developing and releasing health-related OER for approximately 9 years. However, much of our research and evaluation has focused on the benefits of the reuse of materials within the host institution, such as meeting identified learning needs and reducing duplication. We have also collated evidence for the reuse of these materials from other HE institutions across 20 countries worldwide (Windle and Wharrad 2010). However, the release of these resources under a Creative Commons licence has led to significant discovery and reuse by unintended stakeholder groups such as patients, carers, health practitioners, patient groups and charities; sometimes with powerful impact. In many cases this has led to on-going engagement with such stakeholder groups, with some adopting our community-of-practice centred development approaches (Windle and Wharrad 2010) in order to create and release their own OER. Thus, a virtuous cycle is created in which unintended reusers in turn become advocates and resource creators. The cycle is completed by the fact that the resources created provide contextual resources for reuse by the original intended learner groups within HE.

In this paper we will follow aspects of this virtuous OER cycle through a number of case studies involving community reuse within the health service and charitable sector. We will explore how factors such as advocacy by the original creators lead to the discovery and wider reuse of the resources. We will discuss the attributes of the resources such as their authenticity and realism that supported this wider reuse. We will also explore the drivers that have encouraged community groups themselves to become involved in resource development, the barriers that need to be overcome, the qualities of the resources that have been developed, and evaluate their adoption back within the HE curriculum. Lastly, we will discuss the impact and sustainability of such community-based reuse-creation and sharing cycles.