Open education news from Las Vegas conference

Open education conference news

Students making their own textbooks with open content!
(Afnan-Manns, Mickelsen and Medrano, Paradise Valley Community College, US).

This talk on open education from Paradise Valley Community College (http://www.pvc.maricopa.edu/) was a nice example of students being involved in open educational activities and gaining many benefits. Library staff worked with students to provide them with digital literacy skills to search for open educational materials and content on the internet, and then worked with them to evaluate the quality and critically appraise the content. These skills themselves are critical today for our information-driven society and are important for all university leavers to grasp.

Open Education

How did they change their courses?

They replaced face-to-face lectures on international business with interactive sessions supplemented with lectures. Through this, students became curators of their digital information and compiled an open textbook to replace an existing recommended text. Why do this? It seems that with high fees, the prospects of students buying expensive course books is a barrier to them enrolling and taking courses in the US. Also in some subjects, the books cannot keep up with say medical advances, current affairs and global activities. This is where open education has the advantage of being continually shared and added and updated on the internet.

How were the teaching sessions structured? Students formed teams and each decided upon a book chapter, e.g. product life cycles, globalisation etc. They then searched for OER and retrieved a bundle of good quality materials. As their text book chapter contribution they reviewed the OER with a summary, wrote keywords and a headline. The chapter was correctly cited and referenced to attribute the OER. Students produced their work in Blackboard on a WIKI so could view each others work and provide comments.

The work was monitored by library team and module academic Dr Morano. As he commented, the wealth of material retrieved by the students was amazing, and found new items and information that he couldn’t have possibly read. Also, the module was brought alive by real-time events and news.

Open education practices – the downside?

As always, new advances take an investment of time, and open education practices are no exception. Time was required to up-skill the students in digital literacy, and time was needed to encourage them to write WIKIS and comment. Dr Morano to transfer from a diactic content delivery to more interactive teaching sessions, which were backed up by lectures. This resulted in changes to module assessment because learning outcomes were not static year on year and changed with the nature of the resources found. This would have implications for writing examination questions early in the year before content was delivered.

The upside!

Through being involved in open education and by becoming partners in learning, the business students learnt practical skills of managing information, and experienced team-working and working collaboratively in an on-line environment. Their test scores improved, although the longer term impact on enrollment or retention where “text book-free” courses are seen as a popular choice remains to be seen.

 

Biology Courses in Las Vegas Day 1

Biology Courses in Vegas!

I can hardly believe I’m here and what a contrast to the peace of the Vale of Belvoir in Leicestershire where you are occasionally disturbed only by the clip clop of horses hooves. Here you are continually disturbed by erupting volcanoes, fireworks and the rattle of slot machines 24-7. I have already lost track of what is night or day. There are continual crowds of people but the great thing about the Venetian Hotel is that it is full of Italian music and Louis Prima on a permanent loop…..”Angelina, the waitress at the pizzaria”. Fantastic.

Biology Courses Vegas Trip

The Venetian Hotel is based on something between The Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. There is marble everywhere, fountains in the foyer and, and wall and ceiling frescoes copied from Michelangelo;s work that go on forever. Or are they murals? I wouldn’t dare call them that. My hotel room is larger than my entire house, with two plasma televisions and gold plated taps in the bathroom! The hotel the size of a small town. But I could get used to it if I had to! And restaurants, bars and shops open 24 hours a day, I could certainly get used to that.

La Venetian Hotel

The hotel is better than your average Holiday Inn I guess. It contains two theatres, a Madame Taussards, art gallery, a golf course and three swimming pools including one beach. Oh and I think there are two nightclubs and numerous casinos. Did I say it was like a small town, well actually, it is more like a small city, in fact I think already has more attractions than Nottingham. And yes it does have a river running through it with gondola rides.

Last night I spoke to a lovely Italian gentleman who for $400 a month rents an apartment with swimming pool which is both considerably cheaper and larger than my rented property back home. Would I swap places, well I’d give it some serious thought.

Post by Viv

Forensic scientist skills – ballistics!

Forensic scientist skills and understanding of ballistics.

Forensic scientist ballistics
Image: Bullets and images
Creative Commons BY SA.

Content Authors:

Dr Mark Fowler

Level:

College, University, Specialist

OER Features:

A set of 18 photographs showing a series of fired and unfired bullets. Click through to Flickr to download them and REUSE them!

Forensic scientist training photographs

OER Description:

An important area that the forensic scientist needs to learn about and understand, and that undergraduate students on forensic science degrees will study is ballistics. This is the understanding of firearms and types of bullets that may well have been used at the scene of a crime, and the understanding of the trajectories of bullets to provide further clues and information.

An important step in finding the perpetrator of a gunshot crime will be identifying the weapon, and even if the weapon is not still at the scene of the crime, much information can be gained from the bullets which will provide valuable evidence. The bullets themselves will leave burn marks and traces of substances on the individual firing the machine. If the gun has any indentations of features, this will be transferred onto the bullet, so the bullet can lead the forensic scientist and crime team to a particular fire arm.

This open educational resource simply comprises of a series of photographs of different fired and unfired bullets. These are free to use and reuse in your own teaching or learning context – so feel free to package them up into other educational resources if you are a tutor, lecturer or professor. If you are a student studying to be a forensic scientist you are welcome to use these images as part of a coursework assignment.