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Global 21 fourth quarter 2015

www.global global four th quar ter 2015 -br ief ing.org l 81 commonwealth network Commonwealth in Action Perryman presented the findings of this research at the Open Education Global Conference in Banff, Alberta, Canada, earlier this year. The collected data provides proof that VUSSC educators and learners are benefiting from the VUSSC model. For example, 56 per cent of VUSSC educators said that they collaborate more with colleagues as a result of OER, compared with 30 per cent of educators using open content from the UK Open University’s OpenLearn platform, and 36 per cent of educators using the Saylor.org platform. Furthermore, 72.5 per cent of VUSSC educators have adapted resources to fit their needs, demonstrating that collaboration has had a positive impact on the educators’ likelihood of contextualising OER. Modifying OER to meet specific needs and local context is a key goal of OER as it increases the resources’ usefulness and likely impact on the learner. While VUSSC educators have positively responded to OER, they are not alone; formal students of VUSSC consistently showed higher use of OER, and higher perceptions of the value of OER than students using OpenLearn and Saylor.org did. When asked if studying OER had led to an improvement in their grades, 90 per cent of VUSSC learners agreed that it had, while only 36 and 32 per cent of OpenLearn and Saylor.org-using students, respectively, gave a positive answer. VUSSC students also rated their collaboration with peers and enthusiasm for future study higher than other learners. Of particular note for developers of online courses, including massive open online courses (MOOCs), which have high sign-up and dropout rates, VUSSC students gave a 91 per cent positive score when asked if studying OER had increased their likelihood of completing their course of study, compared to 58 and 41 per cent for OpenLearn and Saylor.org. Perryman cautions, however, that the VUSSC respondents could have given more positive responses because they are being taught by trained educators who value OER or because the learners may only be studying via OER. Regardless of this, the data captured demonstrates that VUSSC educators and learners are positively gaining from the VUSSC model. While Perryman and Lesperance’s research highlighted many areas in which VUSSC and its users may be unique, the key findings have greater implications for the OER community. Perryman believes that the VUSSC model demonstrates that when the user community’s needs are not being met by mainstream OER, development and sharing through open, transnational collaboration can offer a solution. She notes that the VUSSC model is “presenting a compelling view of the potential of open collaboration in growing small states’ educational capacity and in helping increase educational and social inclusion in remote and isolated areas of the world”. You can read Leigh-Anne Perryman and John Lesperance’s full paper on COL’s website at: www.col.org/news/ speeches-presentations/collaborating-acrossborders. Alicia Swinamer is the stakeholder relations manager at the Commonwealth of Learning © Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com


Global 21 fourth quarter 2015
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