New report published on the use of a free, online course in workplace and community settings
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.
Understanding Parkinson’s is a free openly licensed online course developed by OEPS in partnership with Parkinson’s UK. The course is aimed at front line health and social care staff, many of whom will be working in the residential care sector. We are currently analysing data from an evaluation of the experience of a pilot group based in the Western Isles and distributed across a number of workplaces and community settings.
In an extended discussion of some of the preliminary findings of the evaluation, Ronald Macintyre from the OEPS team notes how combining qualitative evidence from personal experience with analytic data provides for a richer picture of the learner journey and sheds light on issues which are not accessible through analytics alone.
You can download Ronald’s discussion of the preliminary findings at:
A short case study about how Understanding Parkinson’s was created can be found on the OEPS hub at Building an OER in partnership – Understanding Parkinson’s.
You can view the video featured in figure 1 at What is the impact of Parkinson’s on people’s daily life?
Caring Counts is a self-reflection and planning course developed with and for carers. Working with carers and carer’s organisations, The Open University in Scotland has developed a badged free online course to support carers to reflect on their caring journey and identify the skills and abilities they have gained and continue to gain in their caring role.
The course features the stories and experiences of a range of carers from very diverse backgrounds and caring circumstances, who share their lives in text and on film. Users have the option of completing a series of quizzes to gain a digital badge marking their achievement in completing the course.
This course is for carers of any age and at any stage in their life or caring role, it is flexible and adaptable to fit into your training and support programmes.
As well as helping carers recognise and value their skills and experiences and suggest opportunities for learning and other ideas for personal development, the course includes detailed information about career planning for those thinking about employment, or those thinking about returning to work and/or study that they may have had to put on hold.
Learners can gain a Caring Counts digital badge which recognises their learning through completing online quizzes that lead to a digital badge that acknowledges successful course completion. Digital badges are a useful way of demonstrating participation and recognising informal learning.
The OU in Scotland are working with a range of partners at national and local levels to support carers and carers centre staff to make full use of the course as well as to develop professionals’ knowledge and understanding of carers’ experiences.
You are welcome to explore the course and share details about it with others, or talk to the course team about opportunities for training and development and how they might be able to support you to make the best use of this free online resource.
Caring Counts is available at www.open.edu/openlearnworks/course/view.php?id=1688
The Open University supports carers in a range of ways, which you can read about in this leaflet designed for carers http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/LearnDevDist/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/OU_Carers_2014.pdf – the OU in Scotland are sending copies of this leaflet to carers centres across Scotland.