We held our first participatory design workshop with teaching staff at LJMU on the 24th May. With representatives from Education Studies, Outdoor Education and Tourism and Leisure Management we demonstrated a variety of prototypes and discussed potential pedagogical uses. As a research project investigating the use of Open Educational Resources (OERs) in Higher Education we wanted to start with showing how a browser-based online tool could be used to represent an OER and help to link it to other sources. The tools demonstrated were previously developed collaboratively between the SIMILE team at MIT and the ESRC/EPSRC ‘Ensemble’ project in the UK. They extend the established SIMILE Exhibit web application framework, to enable easy integration of OERs with other types of online content.
Workshop participants were interested to know what kinds of videos could be used with this sort of tool. Issues with accessibility, stability and copyright were discussed. All workshop participants described ways in which they currently use video and the advantages and constraints of their current methods. It seems that having the additional functionality to link to related sources at specific points in a video is seen as pedagogically useful. The current Virtual Learning Environment that is being used tends to force files to be uploaded into a tiered folder based system, which may not match the route that the lecturer wants to guide students through in exploring the resources to put them into context and make links between different topics. In their words they can see the functionalities of this new tool, ‘helping them [students] to make the connections at the same time’. The resource was also seen as having potential for enlivening documents that may seem dry with the extra audio-visual context that can be provided by video.
The lecturers described diverse uses of video in their current teaching including showing very recent news clips to put lecture topics into current contexts, video to show educational contexts at different historical points, clips of researchers describing their methods to enliven the topic and show the value of different approaches and clips of documentary and natural history programmes that are related to lecture topics. The new functionalities of this tool were seen to allow enlivening of policy documents through links to video of researchers explaining their findings, student productions of presentations along with links to supporting materials, which could be assessed asynchronously, student videos to show critical analysis of field trips, students linking additional video resources to pre-existing online timelines, lecturer produced field based video with links to papers and production of online video and materials to replace a live lecture.
We plan to follow up this meeting by trialling the production of video with links to additional resources based on ‘bundles’ of sources provided by lecturers and further workshops to evaluate and adapt the functionalities and visualisation of the resulting tools.