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Sharing open practice

Foundations of Self-Directed Support course on OpenLearn

Foundations of Self-Directed Support course on OpenLearn

In September 2016 we published a post on the openly licensed, online course ‘Foundations for Self Directed Support in Scotland’. The course was commissioned by the Scottish Government and developed by the Open University in Scotland together with the Open University’s Faculty of Health and Social Care.

The evaluation report produced by the development team describes how engagement with the course was fostered through the use of workplace and community ambassadors.   The course has been successful in attracting a large number of users.  Moreover there is evidence from the evaluation that where learners were able to engage in peer interaction in the workplace levels of retention and achievement were high and had an impact on wider workplace culture.

The course team has now published an annexe to the evaluation report that provides templates for the face-to-face workshops that were used to encourage successful participation. The report and its annexe provide a valuable insight into the value of combining well designed open online courses with supportive and contextualised practice.  The annexe includes the full set of six workshop designs as a single pdf document and also as a Word file that is openly licensed and can be disaggregated, edited and reversioned.

OEPS team

New report on use of free online courses published

New report published on the use of a free, online course in workplace and community settings

Screenshot Foundations for self-directed support in Scotland course (hosted on OpenLearn)

Screenshot Foundations for self-directed support in Scotland course (hosted on OpenLearn)

Evidence from a small number of free, openly licensed courses, developed by staff at the Open University in Scotland prior to the launch of the OEPS project in 2014, has played a part in how the project team has understood open educational practice in the context of life long learning.  One such course is ‘KG097 Foundations for self-directed support in Scotland’.  The course was commissioned by the Scottish Government, and launched in April 2013, to support the dissemination of knowledge and understanding of self-directed support (SDS) in Scotland.  An in depth evaluation of the way in which the course was used and the ways in which a small project team engaged with learners and potential learners has now been published.

In the OEPS project we have tried to understand the barriers to the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) and to develop good practice to overcome these.  Across the Scottish sector there is significant interest in the use of openly licensed courses for professional development.  However, potential learners often assume that learning online will be individualised, isolated and ‘tick box’.  The evidence collated in this report provides valuable insights into how such fears can be overcome.

The use of SDS ‘ambassadors’ builds on practice from widening participation that shows the importance of ‘trusted intermediaries’ in encouraging individuals in workplace and community settings to begin studying.  The evidence also suggests that combined with this support, and once on course, designing the course material to support reflection in and on practice was crucial.  The report shows how workplace settings afford opportunities for social interaction.  This was encouraged by the project and by the ambassadors, and was effective in keeping learners engaged.  Importantly there is also evidence that the online course was effective in increasing knowledge and understanding and effecting changes in practice.  There is also some evidence of transfer of knowledge into the wider workplace setting.

If you are interested in effective practice in the design and use of open, online courses or in learning in workplace and community settings then this report is a valuable and timely resource.

Report on Foundations for ‘Self-Directed Support in Scotland’ open online course

Pete Cannell