The dissemination of open educational resources. A case study of research methods

This blog post was compiled by Graham Gibbs ( and it discusses his work developing OERs for teaching research methods. Lots of useful links too :-)

As part of a Jisc/HEA funded project, we investigated the needs of academics wanting to use Open Educational Resources in their research methods teaching.

The field of Social Research Methods is shared not only by the social sciences, but also by many other disciplines. There is therefore enormous scope for the creation and re-use of open educational resources (OERs) in this area. However, our work with social scientists on a number of recent projects suggests that barriers exist to OER creation and use in social research methods teaching. Although there are now a number of national and institutional projects which have created learning resources in research methods and made them openly available for teachers and students to use, many still use licences that restrict re-use and, in particular, modification. We refer to these as grey OERs. We also found that, in contrast to the well-developed practice of citation in research work, academics and teachers had a narrow notion of licensing and copyright of teaching materials, consistent with a limited experience of sharing teaching materials. Academics conceived of potential users mainly as other academics who were subject experts like themselves. That meant that they gave little weight to the role of broad description and metadata in making resources findable. At the same time, when academics looked for resources, the provenance, quality and relevance of those resources and the ability to judge that quickly were paramount.

We examined an approach that attempts to tackle these issues, namely the development of a website based on Web 2.0 technology. (Methods) We were concerned that there was a barrier to academics’ re-use of open educational resources particularly in terms of judging appropriateness and quality and in finding high quality resources. So this site exploits the contributions of academics using and reviewing research methods OERs. Users can find resources by quality, pedagogy, and other metadata as well as content.

There are some other similar sites attempting similar things for broader areas in education: EdMediaShare  and Cloudworks. But a common problem for all is sustainability and curation. So we suggest a different solution; use University Repositories for OERs.

Most universities now use repositories for research outputs and they will be around for a long time. In most cases library staff tend to curate (and add meta-data) and mechanisms for licensing are in place. So that covers most of the curation issues. But an additional benefit is that repositories are searchable using Google and it is a simple matter to create a customised search which will only examine these repositories. However, there are still some limitations to this solution. It excludes the large amount of good resources that are to be found on You Tube and (unless the resources in the repositories point to sites like Vimeo and You Tube) there is still no quick and easy way for potential users to inspect the resource.

Resources and websites mentioned in the talk were:

Resources that were displayed in the virtual gallery at the conference

Online resources to support the learning of qualitative data analysis and CAQDAS (Computer Assisted Qualitative Data AnalysiS)

This video introduces the resources available for postgraduates and researchers on two web-sites: OnlineQDA and QUIC. The use of video (in this case produced using Camtasia) shows how online resources can be explained and disseminated.

Online QDA is a set of learning materials which addresses common issues of undertaking qualitative data analysis (QDA) and beginning to use Computer Assisted Qualitative Data AnalysiS (CAQDAS) packages. The site aims to complement courses run by, for example, the CAQDAS Networking project, many independent trainers and the large number of undergraduate and postgraduate social sciences research methods training courses.

The CAQDAS Networking Project resource concerns itself with the use of software to assist in the processes of qualitative data analysis. In particular it aims to provide researchers with face-to-face training events at introductory level and online resources which will enable simple/complex and innovative aspects of data integration and project design to be considered and planned. Producers of the two sites have collaborated closely and the sites are intended to provide a rounded service to qualitative researchers.

The use of video in teaching research methods in the social sciences

The resources below demonstrate the use of Camtasia to produce video learning resources, one in qualitative research (the use of NVivo) and the other in quantitative research (the use of SPSS).

There is now a considerable number of video resources (particularly on YouTube) produced by teachers of statistics and SPSS and of qualitative analysis and qualitative analysis software. Most notably these now include resources from Andy Field, the author of a best selling text on SPSS. These resources included here have been produced by the author and used in lectures, in lab work and by researchers for their own study. One is aimed at undergraduate users the other at postgraduates and researchers.

The resources demonstrate how teachers can easily produce good quality resources that address the learning needs of their students.



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