Online Educa Berlin edition:18 location:Berlin date:28-30 November 2012
Students' Agency in Open Courseware
Perspectives of students in taking responsibility over open courseware
In our research, under the umbrella of the European Open Courseware (http://opencourseware.eu) effort, we are focusing on how open courseware changes the game in higher education. New tools in the interconnected world entail new roles for any of the stakeholders in educational practice; including students. Students continue to be advanced consumers of formal education and technology. Yet open content means a shared responsibility, and presents the student with new tasks of assessing, filtering and comparing content, so as to match it optimally with their own insights and curriculum. Next to this, active contribution to online resources by students has gone unacknowledged in official courseware, for example in student editions of available courses. A more formal approach from the university could go a long way to support this naturally occurring collaborative effort and offer opportunity to each student to develop their potential as independent, critical, self-sufficient learners in a structured manner. In the community, this innovative content strategy would further promote peer learning and mobility to benefit the student population as a whole. Relevant remix and re-use of content by the primary users can generate courseware which responds to changing needs of education. However, the advantages of this intellectual crowdsourcing in the open courseware movement are apparent, but do the students' views match the ideals of this approach?
Through targeted surveys, we assess whether students are aware of the challenges, willing to take up the responsibilities, and whether it fits their understanding of open courseware, education and their own roles in learning. It is important to understand their point of view if they are to take up an active role in transforming educational practice in responding to the social call of open courseware and responsibility of their own learning process. The relevance of their views can hardly be underestimated in the fast-paced, flexible lifestyle of the global village in which education plays a vital part.
An overview of best practices and some in-depth case-studies of large universities willing to embrace open courseware will help to contextualize the survey results.