SP10.6: Impact of OER in Sri Lanka / Impact of integrating OER in teacher education at the Open University of Sri Lanka

Project overview
Project outputs

General Objective
To investigate the impact of integrating OER in educational practice of student teachers, in terms of changes in the quality of teaching-learning materials teachers use, as well as changes in their pedagogical perspectives and practices.

Specific Objectives and Research Questions
To investigate the:

  • changes in the quality of teaching-learning materials teachers use
  • changes in pedagogical perspectives of student teachers
  • changes in the pedagogical practices among student teachers

Specific Hypotheses:

  1. Integration of OER will improve the quality of teaching-learning materials student teachers use
  2. Integration of OER will change the pedagogical perspectives of student teachers
  3. Integration of OER will change the pedagogical practices of student teachers

Overview
Two of the most substantial obstacles to education and training in developing contexts are: 1) access to reliable and useful learning resources which students and teachers can readily deploy in their learning and teaching; and 2) the costs of these learning resources. The increasing availability of open educational resources (OER) offers some answers and a viable way forward to these challenges. The 2013 OER Asia Research Report which investigated OER developments and issues at regional and national levels recommends that the use and adaptation of OER would be a very cost-effective way to invest in curriculum development and quality teaching-learning material development (Dhanarajan & Porter, 2013).

In Sri Lanka, several initiatives have been progressing during recent years to address the needs of its education system and meet the challenges of the new millennium. Under various projects funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), ICT usage in educational institutions has been enhanced. While the Secondary Education Modernization Project (SEMP) has attempted to strengthen ICT integration into school education through various strategies, the Distance Education Modernization Project (DEMP) has attempted to extend higher education opportunities through expansion of online learning (Gunawardena, 2008). However, there is a dearth of initiatives and research conducted on the adoption and integration of OER in Sri Lanka.

Findings of a case study conducted in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh on the use of open content revealed several inhibiting factors that prevent course designers from using OER such as educational rules and restrictions, English language problems, lack of relevance, difficulty in access, problems with technical resources, concerns about quality, concerns about copyright issues, lack of awareness on OER, limitations in computer literacy, teaching capacity and teaching practices and traditions (Hatakka, 2009). However, the focus of attention on open education needs to extend beyond access to resources, to innovative open educational practices (OEP), which are ‘practices which support the (re)use and production of OER through institutional policies, promote innovative pedagogical models and respect and empower learners as co-producers on their lifelong learning path’ (Ehlers, 2011). This requires a change in pedagogical practices as well as pedagogical beliefs.

A study conducted at OUSL exploring the current pedagogical practices of educators and their preparedness to adopt OER revealed that awareness of OER was extremely low among educators. The influence of educators’ existing pedagogical beliefs on their practices was evident, and it did not reflect a sharing culture. However, their preparedness and motivation to learn was a positive element towards achieving ‘change’ in pedagogical practices (Karunanayaka, 2013). A project implemented at OUSL on designing, developing and evaluating an Online Learning Environment on OER for Science education, resulted in raising awareness, developing competencies and enhancing use of OER among a group of senior secondary Science teachers (Karunanayaka, Fernando & De Silva, 2013).

During 2013-2014, the Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL), in partnership with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) engaged in a project to build the capacity of the academic staff in the Faculty of Education in integrating OER into its teacher education programs. This work has involved the redesign and development of five online courses from five key professional development programs for student teachers and teacher educators at OUSL. These courses were developed by five course teams consisting of academic staff in the Faculty of Education at OUSL. These five OER-integrated online courses were piloted with small cohorts of student teachers/teacher educators at OUSL.

As part of this work, a notable change has taken place in participants’ development of understanding around key concepts on OER and their relationships, with remarkable capacity building around a ‘learning-centered’ approach to course design, and confidence in the application of OER and ICT in their teaching (Karunanayaka & Naidu, 2013). During this process, a considerable amount of new thinking has emerged among the participants, revealing astounding developments in the breadth and depth of understanding and of mindsets in relation to the various concepts related to OER and OEP. The key outcomes of the process comprised enhanced knowledge of OER, OEP and related concepts, attitudinal changes, new perceptions, and views, skills in searching, identifying, evaluating and integrating OER, into course design using a situated learning approach (Karunanayaka, Naidu, Dhanapala, Gonsalkorala & Ariyaratne, 2014). The above project not only restricted to capacity building academic staff, but also led to the enhancement of quality of teacher education programs at OUSL.

Raising awareness among educators in Sri Lanka about OER and encouraging use and creation of OER within the education system in the country is identified as a current need (Karunanayaka, 2013). The OUSL, being the premier Open and Distance Learning (ODL) institution in Sri Lanka can play a major role in this regard, especially through the Faculty of Education, that caters to professional development needs of personnel in the field of education.

Currently, the Faculty offers a number of study programs ranging from Early Childhood and Primary Education, Secondary and Tertiary Education to Special Needs Education. The Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) Program, is an in-service professional development program for school teachers, in which around 3000 student teachers enrol each year, in three media of study – Sinhala, Tamil and English. The PGDE program is offered in all the Regional Centres and a majority of Study centres of OUSL, located throughout the country. The proposed research will seek to engage student teachers of the PGDE Program with integrating OER in the teaching-learning process, and study the impact of integration of OER in their teaching.

The research will be conduct at the nine Regional Centres of OUSL ensuring that the benefits of this work do not remain confined to the central campus of the University, and that it filters down to remote areas too where teaching and learning is taking place. It is anticipated that the participant student teachers of the proposed study will develop their competencies in identifying, using and creating OER in their profession, as well as sharing and use of freely available quality learning materials in an innovative manner, thus becoming effective professionals.

Project Leader/Co-lead researcher: Shironica Karunanayaka, EdD

Co-lead researcher: Som Naidu, PhD

Recipient Institution: The Open University of Sri Lanka

Estimated Duration: 18 months

Methodology: Design-based Research (DBR) study using questionnaire surveys, concept mapping, focus groups, interviews, reflective narratives and content analysis

Mentor: Patricia Arinto

Project outputs

Books

Journal articles

  • Karunanayaka, S. P., Naidu, S., Kugamoorthy, S., Ariyaratne, A., Dhanapala, T.D.T.L. & Gonsalkorala, L.R. (2015). Opening up Access to Education with Open Educational Resources (Paper submitted to be considered for being published in the Journal of NSF – Sri Lanka Journal of Social Sciences.
  • Naidu, S. & Karunanayaka, S. P., (under preparation). Developing an index (OEP-IE) to evaluate changes in the impacts of adopting Open Educational Resources in teaching and learning

Keynote Presentations (Related to ROER4D Study)

Blog Site published

Conference papers

  • Karunanayaka, S. P., Naidu, S., Kugamoorthy, S., Ariyaratne, A., Dhanapala, T.D.T.L. & Gonsalkorala, L.R. (2015). Openness in Education: Teacher perspectives through concept mapping. Research paper presented at the 29thAnnual Conference of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU), Kualalumpur, Malaysia, 30 November- 02 December, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/ROER4D/openness-in-education-teacher-perspectives-through-concept-mapping
  • Karunanayaka, S.P., Naidu, S., Kugamoorthy, S., Gonsalkorala, L.R., Ariyaratne, A., Dhanapala, T.D.T.L., Rajini, M., Wanasinghe, S., Weerakoon, S. , Karunanayaka, S., Sudarshana, M.L., Nawaratne, R., Fernando, M.N.C., & Gnaneratnam, K. (2015). Perspectives and practices of student teachers of OUSL in the use of OER in teaching and learning. Research paper presented at the OUSL Annual Academic Sessions-2015, held 19-20 November, 2015, at OUSL, Nawala.
  • Naidu, S. & Karunanayaka, S. P. (2015). Impacts of OER: What difference does it make & how? Research paper presented at the International Conference on Distance Education (ICDE), held 14-16 October, 2015, at Sun City, South Africa, hosted by the University of South Africa (Unisa). Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/ROER4D/impacts-of-oer-what-difference-does-it-make-and-how
  • Karunanayaka, S. P., Naidu, S., Kugamoorthy, S., Ariyaratne, A., Dhanapala, T.D.T.L. & Gonsalkorala, L.R. (2015). Opening up Access to Education: Role of Open Educational Resources. Research paper presented at the International Conference on Promoting Socio-Economic Equity in South Asia: Challenges and Prospects, held 15-16 July 2015, National Science Foundation, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Abstracts submitted for Conferences

  • Karunanayaka, S. P., & Naidu, S. (2016). A design-based approach to support and nurture open educational practices. Abstract submitted to be presented at the 30thAnnual Conference of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU), Manila, Philippines, 26-29 October 2016.
  • Karunanayaka, S.P., Naidu, S., Kugamoorthy, S., Dhanapala, T.D.T.L., Ariyaratne, A., Gonsalkorala, L.R., Rajini, M., Weerakoon, S. , Wanasinghe, S., Karunanayaka, S., Sudarshana, M.L., Nawaratne, R., Fernando, M.N.C., & Gnaneratnam, K. (2016). Towards open educational practices with reflective practice. Abstract submitted to be presented at the Open University Research Sessions (OURS)-2016, 17-18 November, 2016

Poster Presentations (Related to ROER4D Study)

 

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