The Openness In Education Education Essay

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According to Alene Fink, a literature review is a systematic, explicit and reproducible method for identifying, evaluating and synthesizing the existing body of completed and recorded work produced by researchers, scholars and practitioners [i] and therefore in this chapter I am going to look into the literature which has helped me to do this study. It has been divided into 10 sections. In section 2.1, openness in education, the origin of OER and research on OERs has been reviewed. Self-directed learning has been discussed in section 2.2. Section 2.3 reviews the literature on student autonomy. Literature connected to motivation theory has been reviewed in section 2.4. Section 2.5 presents literature on learner-centered approaches. Section 2.6 reviews literature on self-efficacy and the following section is on instructional design methodology. Section 2.8 is about the relationship between all these concepts while section 2.9 puts some light on the implications and findings related to the literature and finally the last section contains some recommendations.

2.1 Openness in education

Openness in education is mostly about sharing, reducing barriers and increasing access to education. According to Brown and Adler (2008), open education has been 'enabled and inspired' by the Internet and it is the Open Educational Resources movement (OER) which has had the biggest impact in this area. The education system over the last decade has been subject to policy pressures for expansion of formal routes for education (e.g. Dearing, 1997). The impact of the Internet and online access changes the way that people interact with each other and information (e.g. Anderson, 2008).

When it comes to our country, remarkable efforts have been put by the government in order to give quality education and transform Mauritius into a knowledge hub. Access to tertiary education has been extended to a larger number of learners so as to meet the growing demands of the job market. Unesco Institute for Statistics has recently published that 88.5% of adults and 96.7% of youth are literate in Mauritius. [ii] 

Literacy rates

1990

2010

2010 (Regional average)

Adult (15+)%

MF

79.9

88.5

62.6

M

85.1

90.9

71.0

F

74.7

86.2

54.2

Youth (15-24)%

MF

91.2

96.7

71.8

M

90.7

95.7

76.4

F

91.7

97.7

66.8

Table

Source: http://stats.uis.unesco.org/unesco/TableViewer/document.aspx?ReportId=289&IF_Language=eng&BR_Country=4800&BR_Region=40540

The table clearly indicates that the rate of literacy has increased since 1990 and therefore we can deduce that education has become more accessible to all Mauritians.

According to a report published by Pauline Ngimwa, although the concept of open educational resources is rather new, it is already making a remarkable contribution to education in the Sub-Saharan Africa.

2.1.1 The origin of Open Educational Resources

According to Conole et al, educational resources are classic social objects which help to mediate interactions between teachers and learners especially when they are not physically present in the same room. The term OER was first adopted at UNESCO's 2002 forum which was on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in developing countries funded by the Hewlett Foundation and this term refers to freely accessible, openly formatted and openly licensed document and media that are useful for teaching, learning, education, assessment and research purposes according to Wikipedia. [iii] 

2.1.2 Research on open educational resources

Research done on OERs mostly concern tertiary education and to some extent their findings can be transferred to the secondary education. The terms open content, open educational resources, open courseware and open textbooks are more often coined to HE discourse which refers to all the teaching and learning resources provided for free under the copyright licenses.

Researches which have been done till now have shown many advantages of using OERs in classrooms.

OERs are free and accessible to anyone on the internet and they improve the quality of learning content. Furthermore they can be adapted, re-purposed, re-used or localized for different environments and they free the users from copyright and licensing issues. They allow a higher return on investment of taxpayer's money because of better cost-effectiveness as the resources are re-usable. They promote digital competence and enrich the pool of resources.

According to the OLCOS roadmap published in 2012, open access to educational resources promotes education as well as lifelong learning and this is one of the major aims of the Prevocational curriculum. OLCOS has also explored how OERs can make a difference in teaching and learning and has come to a conclusion that these can empower teachers and learners given that necessary policy and organizational frameworks favor so. It has been mentioned that OER promote innovation and asks for change in educational practices.

In 2008, Wolfenden stated that OER have the potential to contribute considerable support where there is scarcity of high quality and pedagogically sound learning materials.

2.2 Self-directed learning

In the past decades, self-directed learning has been encouraged in developed countries. The Plowden report (1966) in United Kingdom had outlined a philosophy based on Piagetian stage theory which emphasized children as individuals and supported a move to child-centered methods and "curricula" suited to the needs of the child who was encouraged to be self-directed.

In 2005, Christina Gitsaki stated that self-directed learning was more present than ever in Japan and in her study she found out that pupils were more enthusiastic when they were allowed to participate actively in their learning process by doing research work, writing reports and interacting with peers. Through her study she also found out that although pupils enjoyed using computers and do research on the web, they could not appreciate such activities since the language used for the websites were in English and they could not understand all the information.

2.3 Student autonomy

According to Henri Holec, autonomy is the ability to take charge of one's own learning while David Little states that it is essentially a matter of the learner's psychological relation to the process and content of learning. For Leslie Dickinson, autonomy is a situation in which the learner is totally responsible for all the decisions concerned with his [or her] learning and the implementation of those decisions and our educational system does not always encourage pupils to do so.

According to Dunlap (1997), increasing students' control and responsibility over the learning process is and important skill for lifelong learning. For instance this can be done by allowing pupils to assess what they need to learn, choose and research in order to build their knowledge.

I wanted to use OERs as additional learning resources for certain lessons and allow my prevocational pupils to work on their own to explore the resources and carry out the activities autonomously but since OERs are often designed for specific context, I had hence to edit the resources in order to adapt them to my actual classroom context. The language used is mostly English and not all Prevocational pupils can understand this language well. Thus I had to use simpler language and translate to the mother tongue [iv] very often during the activities.

2.4 Motivation theory

In 1981, Harter stated that research across the preschool to high school classes have shown that children's intrinsic motivation decreases and they feel more alienated to learning and I fully agree with this statement when it comes to my pre-vocational pupils. It is very hard to get them interested in their studies and unless the learning resources presented to them are not meaningful; they lose interest very rapidly in their lessons.

As long as learners are actively engaged in authentic tasks where they are involved in discussions, taking decisions, preparing presentations and collaborating they get to apply their existing knowledge and explore new knowledge, the former are excited and motivated. Educators often prefer intrinsic motivation to extrinsic motivation and according to research by Ryan, Conell and Plant (1990), learning outcomes of intrinsic motivation are better than those obtained under extrinsic motivation. The use of hands-on activities helps to enhance intrinsic motivation and the NCFS states that a variety of strategies must be used in prevocational as well as mainstream so as to motivate learners.

I have tried to look for some creative ways to include technology in my teaching resources as nowadays students are exposed to it daily for communication and for interaction but since most of my pre-vocational pupils don't have a computer at home and thus they cannot have access to the internet. Therefore all the educational resources which I have used have either been distributed (in the form of hard copies) or viewed in the classroom. I have tried to bring variety in the teaching aids since my pupils could not have access to all the OERs selected.

2.5 Learner-centered approaches

For this study, I have used OERs as learning resources to support the teaching process. When integrating these resources in the existing educational practices, I have tried new approaches and practices in organizing education and learning; and one approach is the learner-centered one.

The role of a teacher within a learner-centered approach to instruction is that of a facilitator or coach (Wang, 2006). Learner-centered approaches to teaching have emerged from the learning theory "constructivism". Constructivist learning is based on an understanding that learners construct knowledge for themselves (Hein, 1991: Krause et al, 2003).

In 2002 Weimer was mostly concerned learner-centered teaching as an exercise in changing teaching practice. Weimer identified learner-centered teaching as encompassing 5 changes to practice:

shifting the balance of classroom power from teacher to student;

designing content as a means to building knowledge rather than a 'knowledge end' in itself;

positioning the teacher as facilitator and contributor, rather than director and source of knowledge;

shifting responsibility for learning from teacher to learner; and

promoting learning through effective assessment.

Learner-centered teaching is not so easy with the pre-vocational pupils because there are many pupils who are slow learners and although they are allocated some additional time for certain tasks, the teacher still needs to be present. Therefore it is not very obvious to give greater autonomy and control over the choice of subject matter, the pace of learning, and the learning methods used as suggested by Gibbs in 1992.

2.6 Self efficacy

Bandura in 1982 defined perceived self-efficacy as judgments of how well one can execute courses of action required to deal with prospective situations while in 2002 Eccles and Wigfield define it as an individual's confidence in his or her ability to organize and execute a given course of action to solve a problem or accomplish a task. Self-efficacy is important as it helps to determine effort and persistence as well as to set goals.

Self-regulated learners use a variety of strategies and have high self-efficacy; setting goals for themselves, monitoring their own activities, evaluating their own performance and furthermore reacting to their evaluation outcomes. In 2007, Schunk and Zimmerman formulated the self-regulation theory which states that individuals can fortify their own motivation by engaging themselves in setting appropriate and achievable goals, applying learning strategies, and monitoring and evaluating progress towards goals. In our country as I have already mentioned earlier, much emphasis is laid on exams-oriented studies which nurtures a culture of competition and very often educators end up spoon-feeding their learners. Thus such actions discourage learners from being autonomous and self-regulated.

2.7 Instructional design methodology

Instructional design specifies a method which will facilitate the transfer of knowledge, skills and attitudes to the recipient. [v] Instructional design, for an educational setting, is a system of procedures for developing educational programs to ensure the most effective and efficient learning environment. Various models have been developed and implemented to build systematic instructions and these can be traced back to the 60's. According to Ryder M. of University of Colorado, models help to form a picture of the problem so as to split it into manageable units. Each unit/ element interacts with each other so as to 'give structure and meaning to an I.D problem.' Although there are a variety of models, most of them include the core elements of ADDIE model- the acronym for Analysis Design Development Implementation and Evaluation.

The ADDIE model is iterative in nature and hence during the project, the developer can bring revision among the various activities of the model.

Revise

Revise

Revise

Revise

Figure : The Core elements of ADDIE model (Gustafson,k& Branch,R) [vi] 

According to me, instructional design is important in an educational setting as it:

encourages whole-class approach,

takes into consideration pupils with special learning needs,

allows teachers to devise activities which will suit pupils with different learning styles (auditory, visual or kinesthetic),

allows teachers to review the delivery of the lessons so as to improve in the future,

encourages stepwise planning and this helps the teacher to consolidate parts of the lesson which pupils could not understand.

We take the different levels of our pupils into consideration while devising activities, preparing teaching aids or choosing learning materials. We try to provide pupils better learning experiences and enhance their engagement in the learning activities.

Since the idea behind OERs is allowing users to adapt, edit, use and re-use the concept of instructional design fits in perfectly. As educators we can use the resources and adapt them according to the needs of our learners so as to meet their respective learning needs.

2.8 Relationship between these concepts

Open educational resources are repurposed in order to meet the needs of pupils. The user keeps part of the resources which are relevant and discards the remaining and if needs be some other pieces of information or media are added so as to be in line with the specific objectives.

Self-directed learning leads to autonomy. We can encourage student autonomy and self-directed learning by adopting learner-centered teaching in our classroom. The literature reviewed above is directly related to openness in education and the usage of open educational resources in classrooms.

2.9 Implications and findings from the literature

To summarize, I have looked into the various theoretical aspects of the usage of OERs in classrooms. I can conclude that according to the literature I reviewed, OERs:

encourage lifelong learning,

encourage use different strategies and teaching aids to attract and retain attention of pupils,

can open new avenues for learners,

2.10 Recommendations

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