From Amazon books to LinkedIn colleagues we are continually encouraged to like, favourite and comment.
This perceived desire for a ‘Google-like experience’ and the socio-cultural mediation of educational experience and resource sharing has become commonplace and is evident through the adoption of socio-technical affordances in repositories of open educational resources (ROER) such as Merlot II (California State University, 1997).
Previous research has shown that user behaviour, user-centred design and effective quality assurance are fundamental to the development, visibility and sustainability of ROER. Whilst we are confronted with a plethora of opportunities to ‘click and collect’, Clements and Pawlowski (2012) have found that ‘the most effective single (quality assurance) approach seems to be peer review of the content.’ However many repository users fail to contribute much beyond the tick in the box, with limited motivation to meaningfully connect with resource providers and users through dialogue and online critical discussion. Developing critical digital and network literacy skills through social media affordances are therefore essential in encouraging participation and sustained engagement.
Jenkins (2006) identified 12 skills as critical digital literacy characteristics, involving a negotiation of online tools and texts to encourage active contribution. The key element of Jenkins’ notion of participatory culture is that ‘members believe their contributions matter and feel some degree of connection with one another’ (p.3), thereby highlighting the socio-cultural participative elements crucial to the online environment. Nevertheless, as Clements (2016) comments, ‘it is vital to remember that user-generated quality assurance instruments can only make repositories successful if the community around the repository is strong enough to support it.’
Whilst there has been extensive research into the mechanistic nature of systems, quality assurance frameworks and the challenges of ROER in education, (e.g. Manouselis, 2012; Clements and Pawlowski, 2012, and Clements, 2016), encouraging a rise in active participation within ROER has been largely predicated upon awareness raising practices, such as training workshops and information campaigns with limited success.
This doctoral research has sought to address this knowledge gap, investigating the perception of ‘digital detachment’ between social media affordance, critical digital/networked literacies and the production of user-created content such as online reviews. The research was conducted using a community-based qualitative approach, including the use of cultural probes.
Cultural probes (or diary studies), are used as a method of gathering information from participants, allowing them to self-report/reflect on their online experiences; in addition to a reflective diary participants created screencasts providing audio and video evidence of their exploration of ROER. Using this predominantly qualitative approach with 45 participants has provided the foundations for identification of the optimal lean ROER environment conducive to effective reciprocal interactivity and participation, and with it the potential to enhance discoverability, through the application of accessible and inclusive design elements and the generation of richer metadata.
This session presents an opportunity for delegates to discuss research findings and to consider their own digital and network literacy skills, through the provision of a self-evaluation checklist against which they can assess their digital communication, collaboration and participation within the ROER environment.
California State University (1997) Merlot II: Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching. Available at: https://www.merlot.org/merlot/index.htm [Accessed 29 November 2018].
Clements, K.I. and Pawlowski, J.M. (2012) User-oriented quality for OER: understanding teachers’ views on re-use, quality and trust. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28(1), 4-14.
Clements, K. (2016) Why Open Educational Repositories Fail: The Contribution of Quality Approaches to the Success of Repositories. Jyväskylä, Finland: University of Jyväskylä.
Jenkins, H. et. al (2009) Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
Manouselis, N., Drachsler, H. and Verbert, K. (2012) Recommender systems for learning: Springer briefs in Electrical and Computer Engineering. London: Springer.