User:Drksrk/Temp/OER and OEP of Secondary School Teachers DEPSSA paper.doc

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OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES AND OPEN EDUCATIONAL PRACTICES OF TEACHERS – A STUDY
Dr. K.S.Ramakrishnan
Assistant Professor, School of Education
Tamil Nadu Open University, Chennai – India
Contact – drksrk@gmail.com

Abstract: Open educational resources are largely digital assets (music, images, words, animations) put together into a logical structure by a course developer who has attached an open license to it. In other words, the content is openly available, accessible and re-usable and is allowed under the license to do certain things with it without having to ask the creator’s permission first. The OER movement has been successful in promoting the idea that knowledge is a public good, expanding the aspirations of organizations and individuals to publish OER. However as yet the potential of OER to transform practice has not been fully realized. Their use in primary and secondary education has not yet reached the critical threshold. The current focus in OER is mainly put on building more access to digital content, infrastructure, tools and repositories. There is little consideration of whether this will support educational practices, promote quality and innovation in teaching and learning. To provide educational opportunities for all children, the focus should be extended beyond 'access' to 'innovative open educational practices (OEP). They are defined as practices which support the (re)use and production of OER through institutional policies, promote innovative pedagogical models, and respect and empower learners as co-producers on their learning path. OEP address the whole OER governance community: policy makers, managers/administrators of organizations, educational professionals and learners. There is a need for innovative forms of support for the creation and evaluation of OER, as well as an evolving empirical evidence-base about the effectiveness of OER. The present study presents the findings of a quantitative study on the uses of OER and the barriers faced while using them by teachers in some Secondary and Higher Secondary schools in and around Chennai. A questionnaire consisting of items related to i. Use of OERs and ii. The barriers in using them were prepared and data was collected. The data was analyzed with statistical tools.

Key Words: Open Educational Resources, Open Educational Practices

Introduction: The National Knowledge Commission Report 2008 targets Right To Education (RTE) for all the children up to the age of 14, Universalisation of Secondary Education and 15 % GER at higher education by 2015. It reiterates education and knowledge resources should be accessible to a large number of people through various means in a seamless way so that the gap between demand and supply should be narrowed down. At the primary level, the success of SSA in achieving large scale enrolment of children in regular and alternate schools has thrown open the challenge of expanding access to secondary education. Due to paucity of funds ICT combined with other new methods is a good alternative for imparting knowledge in a short time with less cost.

Open Educational Resources: The emergence of Open Source Initiative (OSI) has created a new era in the field of ICT, particularly in education. Open Source software, Web 2 and Web 3 tools, social networking, Open Educational Resources, etc are some of the outcome of OSI. Open education educational resources (OER) are learning materials and resources that are freely available in the WWW. Anyone may use and under some licenses re-mix, improve and redistribute. All kinds of learning contents, tools and implementation resources are available in OER. Learning contents include full courses, course materials, content modules, learning objects, collections, and journals. Software to support the creation, delivery, use, improvement, searching and collaboration of open learning content and on-line learning communities come under tools. Implementation resources include intellectual property licenses to promote open publishing of materials, design-principles, and localization of content.

Wikipedia, MIT Open Courseware, blogs, Wiki Educator, etc are some examples. In 2007, ‘The Open High School of Utah’ an online high school has been established at Utah State University in USA. It is committed itself to use OER exclusively throughout the entire curriculum and rejects traditionally copyrighted materials. These educational resources play an important role in implementing pedagogy in classroom. There is a need for innovative forms of support for the creation and evaluation of OER, as well as an evolving empirical evidence-base about the effectiveness of OER. Whatever the resources available, whether the teachers are using them properly is a major issue. The present study presents the findings of a quantitative study on the uses of OER and the barriers faced while using them by teachers in some Secondary and Higher Secondary schools in and around Chennai. A questionnaire consisting of items related to i. Use of OERs and ii. The barriers in using them were prepared and data was collected. The data was analyzed with statistical tools.

Competencies needed: It is widely accepted that certain core competences are essential for individuals to participate successfully within a knowledge-based society. These core competences, which learners’ should strive to acquire, are: self-direction and creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, collaborative team-work and communication skills. It is not necessary that all the teachers possess these competences. The teachers who are not proficient in these skills perceive themselves as dispensers of knowledge.

Need for the study: The present study is concerned with secondary and higher secondary teachers’ usage of OERs. They should know what the OERs available are, and know how to use them. They are responsible for educating their students how to use them for their studies. In that process, they may encounter some barriers also. The present study, by examining the usage and barriers, will help identity the problems and improve the situation in a better manner.

Objectives of the study: The objectives of the study are as follows:

  • To prepare a tool for finding and measuring the usage of OERs by the secondary school teachers in and around Chennai city.
  • To analyze the data to find out any significant differences in usage patterns of teachers among various categorical variables such as i. Age, ii. Gender, iii. Socio-Economic Background, iv. Teaching Subject, and v. Locale.
  • To find out the barriers encountered by in the use of OER by the teachers working in Secondary and Higher Secondary School teachers in some schools in and around Chennai City.

Literature Review: Snoeyink and Ertmer (2002) in researching three technology-novice elementary teachers noted the overall pattern of responsibility shifting. They felt that the teachers attributed their lack of computer use in accessing latest technological advancements rather than accept responsibility for themselves. Through a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods

Bariso (2003) established that motivation and attitudes were not preventing faculty from using technology into their teaching. The faculty seemed to have confidence, positive attitudes, and high motivation to embrace Information and Learning Technologies. Responsibility, however, was again placed on external barriers such as lack of time, training and computers.

Cuban, Kirkpatrick, and Peck (2001), found that decision makers believe creating abundant access to technology resources would lead to an increased level of technology use in the classroom. However, abundant access to technology was not enough to ensure technology integration.

Brinkerhof (2006) pointed out that barriers are grouped into four main categories: resources, institutional and administrative support, training and experience, and attitudinal or personality factors.

Gulbahar (2007) concluded that teachers and administrative staff felt themselves competent in using ICT resources available at the school; they reported a lack of guidelines that would lead them to successful integration into the curriculum. On the other hand, students reported that ICT is not utilized sufficiently in their classes.

Zhao (2007) conducted a qualitative research to investigate the perspectives and experiences of 17 social studies teachers and found that teachers held a variety of views towards technology integration. These views influenced their use of technology in the classroom. Most teachers were willing to use ICT, expressed positive experiences with ICT integration and increased their use of technology in the classroom in a more creative manner.

Mejias (2005) observed that social software can positively impact pedagogy by inculcating a desire to reconnect to the world as whole, not just the social part that exists online. He classified the tools according to the following categories.

Mejias’ Classification of Social Software


Social software category
Examples
Multi-player online gaming environments / virtual worlds Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs); Massively-Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) such as Second Life, Active Worlds, World of Warcraft, Everquest
Discourse facilitation systems Synchronous: Instant messaging (IM, e.g. Windows Live Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Instant Messenger, Google Chat, ICQ, Skype); chat Asynchronous: Email; bulletin boards; discussion boards; moderated commenting systems (e.g. K5, Slashdot, Plastic)
Content management systems Blogs; wikis; document management systems (e.g. Plone); web annotation systems
Product development systems Sourceforge; Savane; LibreSource
Peer-to-peer file sharing system BitTorrent; Gnutella; Napster; Limewire; Kazaa; Morpheus; eMule; iMesh
Selling/purchasing management systems eBay
Learning management systems Blackboard/WebCT; ANGEL; Moodle; LRN; Sakai; ATutor; Claroline; Dokeos
Relationship management sytems MySpace; Friendster; Facebook; Faceparty; Orkut; eHarmony; Bebo
Syndication systems List-servs; RSS aggregators
List-servs; RSS aggregators Social bookmarking: del.icio.us; Digg; Furl

Social cataloguing (books): LibraryThing; neighborrow; Shelfari

Music: RateYourMusic.com; Discogs

Movies / DVDs: Flixster; DVDSpot; DVD Aficionado

Scholarly citations: BibSonomy; Bibster; refbase; CiteULike; Connotea

Most of our students are already actively involved in content creation and conversation outside of school. In one study with students of ages 11 – 16, it was found that 74% reported that they had at least one social networking site account and 78% reported having uploaded pictures, video, or music to the web and 50% did so in the previous week. Most youth participated on the Web without much guidance from adults.

These studies indicate that most of the school teachers are using ICT in their classroom, but they have not integrated them into their curriculum. They do not have the proper guidelines about their usage. So far in India, no such studies have been conducted regarding the usage of OER in schools. So, the author had undertaken this study.

Method: Survey method of research has been used in the present study. A sample of 130 teachers working in secondary and higher secondary schools in and around Chennai city was selected by random sampling methods. As OERs are mostly used in the urban areas at secondary and tertiary levels only, the rural schools and primary schools were not considered for the study; only the urban and suburban teachers were considered. The sample comprises of all strata of the sub groups.

Developing the instruments for the study: A tool to find out the type of OERs, the purposes of their usage, and the barriers encountered by the teachers was designed. It consists of Current development and usage of social software based tools and services are highly supportive of open learning practices and processes. Social software, such as Weblogs, Wikis, RSS Feeds, social book-marking, podcasting, Wikipedia, Open Application Programming Interfaces (Open APIs), Web 2.0 tools such as You Tube, Twitter, etc, are some OERs being used by the teachers. Actually there are thousands of OERs used by the people. But, we have taken only the popular ones among them. They have an enormous impact as they are ideally suited to learner-centered and collaborative approaches.

It was found that the majority of the OERs are used mainly for the following purposes: Education, Entertainment, Communication, and Business. Each category comprises of many activities. Table 2 depicts some of the activities which fall under each of these categories.

The survey took the OER usage scores of the Student teachers and Teacher educators. The questionnaire consists of many items. For each item, there are 5 choices, 1 – Very Rarely; 2 – Rarely; 3 – Average; 4 – Frequently; 5 – Very Frequently. We assign score 1 for Very Rarely; 2 for Rarely; 3 for Average; 4 for Frequently; and 5 for Very Frequently. The perception of barriers is fundamental to this research. For each items, respondents use a 5-point scale (i.e., 1= Strongly Disagree, 2= Disagree, 3= Undecided, 4=Agree, 5= Strongly Agree) to indicate the degree to which they perceive an item to be a barrier. The Strongly Disagree item was given a score of 1 and the Strongly Agree was given a score of 5. There are no dichotomous items. The total score is the aggregate of the individual scores. So, the total score possible may vary from a low of 5 to a high value of 100. The normalized value of the score is taken for all statistical calculations. The normalized score is calculated by

Normalized Score = (Total Score /100)

For example, if a teacher educator gets a score of 16, her normalized score is (16/100), i.e., 0.16.

It was decided at the starting of the study that the scores should be rounded up to 4 decimals. For example, if the number is .77271, it will be treated as 0.7727. Similar rules were applied for all other calculations. The Means and Standard Deviations of the OERs scores of various sub-categories of the Teachers are tabulated in Table-1, and Table 2 below.

Results

Usage: Some of the OERs used by the teachers are given in Table 1.

Table – 1: Social Software Usage among the teachers


OER
(%) of teachers
Wikipedia
57
You Tube
52
Twitter
36
Flickr
32
Facebook
33
Orkut
48
LinkedIn
14
Skype
36
Blogs
13
e-Bay
28
Windows Live Spaces
7
[[Image:]]

Purposes of usage of OERs: It is not that all the OERs are used for teaching and learning process. Most of the applications of OERs are coming under the following categories:

  • General applications: These include sharing of photos and videos, to build an online identity, customize their personal profiles, interact with existing contacts and establish new relationships.
  • Connectivity and social rapport: Some social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook and Friendster are used to facilitate connections between people. People acquire social and communicative skills, and become engaged in the participatory culture. Users engage in informal learning, creative, expressive forms of behaviour and identity seeking, while developing a range of digital literacy.
  • Collaborative information discovery and sharing: The users share their resources, collaborate among them to build up collections of web resources or bookmarks, classify and organize them and share the knowledge with others. In this way, they actively contribute to the ongoing growth and evolution of the web-based content and knowledge.
  • Content creation: Web 2.0 emphasises the pre-eminence of content creation over content consumption. Anyone can create, assemble, organise and share content to meet their own needs and those of others. Open source and open content of Massachusetts Institute of Technology initiatives, as well as copyright licensing models like Creative Commons are helping fuel the growth of user-generated content. Wikis enable teams and individuals to work together to generate new knowledge through an open editing and review structure.
  • Knowledge and information aggregation and content modification: The massive uptake of Really Simple Syndication (RSS), as well as related technologies such as podcasting and vodcasting (which involve the syndication and aggregation of audio and video content, respectively), is indicative of a move to collecting material from many sources and using it for personal needs. The content can be remixed and reformulated.

Purpose of usage: The following table depicts the usage patterns of the group. It was found that the majority of the OERs are falling under the four categories:

  1. Education
  2. Entertainment
  3. Communication
  4. Business

Each category comprises of many activities. Table - 2 depicts some of the activities which fall under each of these categories.

Table – 2 : Purposes of OERs used by teachers


Purpose of Usage
Activities
Education Information searching and retrieval,

Teaching-learning process, Knowledge Processing and Manipulating,

Assignment sending, submission and correction, Testing & Evaluation,

Content creation, collaboration and dissemination

Entertainment Music, Video, Video production, capturing and recording, Video games, Podcasting, Games and sports
Communication Communication between peers and colleagues, Personal communication within friends, relatives, Academic related communication,

Communication related to classroom management, examinations, time table, arrangements, important events, etc,

Any other communication among students and teachers

Business Purchase or sales or services related information, Product search
Table – 3: Mean OER usage scores of Teachers for various purposes


Purpose of Usage
Mean
S.D.
Education
0.7032
0.1156
Entertainment
0.7213
0.1344
Communication
0.7412
0.166
Business
0.5972
0.1396
[[Image:]]

Inferential Statistics: The hypotheses in the present study were tested by using ANOVA or ‘t’ test at 0.05 level of significance. It indicates that a difference in means as large as that found between the means have resulted from sampling error in less than 5 out of 100 replications on the survey. The results are summarize below:

Table – 4: Mean OER usage scores of Teachers according to categorical variables


Variable
Category
Definition
Mean
Sig.
Age Youngsters Age 18 - 25
0.7415
.001
Adults Age 26 - 40
0.7240
Senior Adults Age 40 - 60
0.6066
Gender Male Male
0.6976
N.S.
Female Female
0.6838
Socio Economic Status Low Income Less than Rs. 2000
0.6635
.001
Middle Income Rs. 2000 – Rs. 10,000
0.7156
High Income More than Rs. 10,000
0.693
Subject Science
0.7214
.001
Arts
0.659
Commerce
0.6392
Computer Science
0.7432
Locale Semi Urban
0.6721
N.S.
Urban
0.7093

The results show that there are significant differences among various sub groups of the sample in their OER usage patterns with regard to the age group, Socio-Economic Status, and their teaching subject. But there are no significant differences among them with respect to the locality and gender. Both urban and semi urban teachers and both genders use the OERs in the same manner.

Barriers for usage of OERs: For finding out which factors act barriers in arresting the teachers from using the OERs to the fullest extent, a tool consisting of the following items was constructed. The normalize scores are calculated and arranged in the descending order.

Table – 5: Normalized Barriers to OER usage scores of Teachers


Barrier
Normalized Score
Lack of technical support
0.8689
I am unable to cope up with the fast changing technology
0.8397
Lack of training
0.8208
Lack of suitable recognition / reward for utilizing
0.8132
Syllabus does not allow enough time to use OERs
0.7974
Unsure about how to effectively use the resources
0.7871
Lack of support from teachers / administration
0.7699
Technology is unreliable
0.7596
Software is not adaptable for meeting out needs
0.7512
Technology training is irrelevant to student needs
0.7416
Lack of program standards
0.7052
Not interested in using OERs
0.7032
Scarcity of resources for students
0.6996
Lack basic usage skills
0.6972
Lack of sufficient time to use
0.6868
Inadequate financial support
0.6592
Classroom situation is more difficult for use
0.6552
OERs do not fit well for all the subjects
0.6432


From Table – 5, it is understood that the lack of technical support, unable to cope up with fast changing technology, lack of training, etc are the major barriers in the use of OERs for regular teaching-learning process. So, providing the technology alone is not sufficient; the teachers should be given continuous training and support. Time, financial support, etc are not the major barriers.

Conclusion: This paper discusses various Web 2 tools available now. Till 5 years back, the Internet penetration was very low. At that time, it would be very difficult to imagine using the Web 2 tools for online collaboration. But nowadays the Internet is easily available at many parts of the country, even at small towns and villages. It is not a problem. Many companies are providing Broadband Internet connection through cable or wireless mode. The teachers and teacher educators can use them in an efficient way for collaborative assignments. The mechanisms of interaction, communication tools and design are the major areas to be concentrated by the users. Based on these aspects and their main components, training should be given to the teachers. This will make effective online collaboration.

References

Brinkerhof, J. (2006). Effects of a long-duration, professional development academy on technological skills, computer self-efficacy, and technology integration beliefs and practices. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 39 (1), 22-44.

Cuban, L., Kirkpatrick, H., & Peck, C. (2001). High access and low use of technologies in high school classrooms: Explaining an apparent paradox. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 813-834.

Gulbahar, Y. (2007). Technology planning: A Roadmap to successful technology integration in schools. Computers and Education, 49 (4), 943-956.

Mejias, U. (2005). A nomad’s guide to learning and social software. TheKnowledge tree: An e-journal of learning innovation. http://knowledgetree.flexiblelearning.net.au/edition07/download/ la_mejias.pdf

Snoeyink, R., & Ertmer, P. A. (2002). Thrust into technology: how veteran teachers respond. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 30(1), 85-111.

Zhao, Y. (2007). Social studies teachers' perspectives of technology integration. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 15 (3), 311-333.