PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT GUIDELINES FOR OER: A CASE STUDY OF BRAZILIAN FUNDAMENTAL EDUCATION PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS

A long overdue and quick update on the evolution of my thesis.  After a rather tough year (2016) on the field conducting research for my thesis, at the beginning of the year I decided it was time to make changes to it in order to achieve more effective results and better contribute to the body of knowledge in the field of open education.

I started out this project believing that my target population, Brazilian K-12 public school teachers, would be willing and able to take an online OER Development Course (ODC) that I would develop for them but eventually found out that I was somewhat blinded by my own personal ignorance and naivety  in regards to the reality and status quo of the Brazilian K-12 public school environment.

In my thesis proposal I had planned to use design-based research (DBR) to design the online ODC with basis on quantitative and qualitative data collected from Phase 1. Now I am using case study methodology and my research questions as well as the title of my study have changed. I am still using mixed methods for data collection and analysis.

The purpose of my study is to investigate what could be a set of guidelines for a teacher professional development (TPD) on OER uptake in the context of one Brazilian elementary public school by undertaking an intervention in the school. This intervention is aimed at planning, designing, and implementing a pilot blended-learning OER Development Course (ODC) for the teachers who participated in this study, and measuring its effectiveness in terms of awareness-raising strategies, content taught, and instructional approaches utilized so as to extract a set of guidelines for a TPD programme that may more effectively foster the adoption and use of OER in this unique and complex environment.

My research questions are (although they are subject to change):

  1. What are the factors influencing Brazilian fundamental education* public school teachers’ adoption and use of OER in their professional practice?
  2. What role, if any, can TPD play in teachers’ OER adoption decisions?
  3. Based on research findings from RQ1 and RQ2 what could be a set of guidelines for a TPD programme on OER uptake to be adopted by Brazilian fundamental education public schools?

*The fundamental education cycle in Brazil is equivalent to elementary or primary school.

I used the Design Thinking for Educators framework to conduct face-to-face workshops. Design thinking is quite an interesting approach as it enables the researcher to establish empathy, curiosity, constructiveness and a good rapport with the participants; see the problems and challenges through the eyes of participants; is designed specifically for K-12 schools; its structured approach through use of spaces and phases enables the researcher to raise awareness on the use of OER and ICTs in a more active and collaborative fashion; and this approach holds the potential to tap into the capacity of individual teachers to solve current school problems beyond conventional problem solving techniques and to bring out divergent thinking. Overall, the use of this approach afforded me an invaluable opportunity to understand better the problems and challenges the teachers in this particular setting face on a daily basis.

I have already developed the online ODC, which is focused on teaching teachers how to locate, use, adapt, remix and license OER using open licenses and Creative Commons licenses. The course is a very practical hands-on course and is currently being hosted on the Moodle site of the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR). The course is unique and the first of its kind in Brazil inasmuch as it offers teachers an opportunity to learn how to use and create OER through step-by-step video tutorials and other collaborative activities such as Wikis and discussion forums. The course was developed based on some effective practices for TPD and a mix of different learning theories: cognitivist/behaviorist, constructivist, andragogy, CoPs and a fractionlet of connectivist theories.

The duration of the online ODC is twenty hours and it is estimated that in order to complete the course in one month five hours of study per week is required. The course comprises five modules. Each module consists of an introduction, texts to be read, one or more videos to watch based on the specific module, a discussion forum for the exchange of ideas about the subject of the module and tasks to be completed. Complementary readings and links to relevant sites are also provided to aid the learning process. The main topics addressed in the course are:

  • Module 1: What are OER and the 5Rs of OER
  • Module 2: Open Licenses and Creative Commons Licenses
  • Module 3: How to find OER and characteristics of a good OER
  • Module 4: How to use, adapt, and remix OER
  • Module 5: How to assign a license to the OER, how to share your OER and how to correctly license your OER

If you are interested in checking out the course I have developed here is the info needed (Apologies but it’s in Portuguese):

User ID: 06382885843

Password: emotional61

Under the tab Cursos (Courses), choose CDREA – Curso de Desenvolvimento em REA, which stands for ODC – OER Development Course in English.

Here is how I hope to contribute to the Open Education field:  (a) by gaining new insights on TPD for OER implementation and uptake within K-12; (b) by developing capacity on OER use; and (c) by providing a set of guidelines for a TPD programme on OER uptake to be adopted by Brazilian fundamental education public schools.

In August I will be on site again to conduct focus groups aimed at assessing the overall quality and quantity of the intervention. Subsequently, all data will be triangulated and I hope findings will provide insight into what kind of TPD works in terms of OER uptake in this particular context.

By the end of this year, I plan to submit my thesis to my supervisor and committee members and hopefully during the first semester of 2018 I will defend it.

Will keep all updated with my future progress.

Fingers crossed and the journey continues. 😉

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