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Technologies for STEM learning

Are we making progress? Progression through learners’ interaction in OpenStudio across a qualification

Project leader(s): 
Nicole Lotz
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Archived
Body: 

The project set out to better understand how learners in the Design and Innovation Qualification at the Open University progress in OpenStudio as they move through their qualification. OpenStudio is primarily a social learning space, in which students share their work, view others’ work and comment and engage in discussion around the work that has been shared.

The design of the OpenStudio at the OU has attempted to translate the design studio culture from a physical to a virtual space. In traditional design pedagogy, the studio model has been in place since the start of the 20th century (Webster, 2005). Problem-based learning is its signature pedagogy (Crowther, 2013). Research into design pedagogy in traditional design education shows how students develop from being novices to final year students, becoming more independent learners (Ashton & Durling, 2000), (Garner & Evans, 2012). However, little is known about how this is achieved at a distance (Jones, 2014).

The project builds on the premise that social learning is key to student success and progression in online learning (McAllister, Whiteford, Hill, Thomas, & Fitzgerald, 2006)  (Hill, Song, & West, 2009). However, surprisingly little is understood about exactly which social behaviours and interactions support learners’ engagement and success in the OpenStudio. Our seminal work on social engagement in the OpenStudio (Lotz, Jones, & Holden, 2015) revealed that at level 1, there is a positive relation between viewing and commenting on the work of others and the student’s success.

To extend the validity of this finding onto further levels of study, to better understand the criteria for engagement throughout a qualification and construct a progression pathway for the Design and Innovation Qualification, the project team collected two sets of quantitative and qualitative data about engagement with the OpenStudio (work packages 1-4) and devised a OpenStudio STEM workshop to construct OpenStudio progression pathways (work package 5).

Work package 1 collected statistical data from OpenStudio usage of nearly 3000 students distributed over 5 presentations of U101, 2 presentations of T217, and 1 presentation of T317 between 2012 and 2014. Work package 2 devised a Consensual Assessment (CAT) of the quality of the work uploaded to OpenStudio by these students. Work package 3 collected qualitative data on the perceptions of OpenStudio by interviewing 11 qualification students. Work package 4 analysed the conversations around students’ uploads by some of the interviewed students qualitatively. Work package 5 was a workshop held to construct STEM OpenStudio progression pathways, which helped to devise a Design progression pathway.

The project team found valuable social engagement with OpenStudio in U101 at level 1, which did not extend to levels 2 and 3 of the qualification. Social engagement in OpenStudio at level 1 is linked to the gaining of confidence, skills development and student success, and unexpectedly, found that this is also true for students who adopt the more passive engagement approach of ‘lurking’. Engagement decreases at higher levels, which may be explained by a shift in studio culture (influenced by learning design, and activity design, student cohort and background) in these levels.

The findings have impact on efforts to improve the student experience across the qualification, including designing module specific inductions to OpenStudio, the redesign of modules and OpenStudio module activities in the qualification, and the implementation of the Student Advisory Website. A wider audience of STEM academics and LTI staff benefitted from the project findings in the workshop which took thinking beyond the implementation of OpenStudio in individual modules to think about progression strategies across a qualification. Finally, the project opened up new avenues for collaboration with external academics and bidding for external funding to investigate the design of social online learning environments in design and innovation.

Related resources

Lotz,N., Jones,D. and Holden, G. (2017). Are we making progress? Progression through learners’ interaction in OpenStudio across a qualification. eSTEeM Final Report. (PDF) 

Completed interview template

A conversation analysis example

Progression in OpenStudio workshop: Poster 1 - Consensual Assessment TechniquePoster 2 - Looking at the numbersPoster 3 - Qualitative Research: InterviewsPoster 4 - Conversation Analysis.

Lotz, N., Jones, D. and Holden, G. (2017) Are we making progress? Progression through learners' interaction in OpenStudio across a qualification. Presentation from the Progression in OpenStudio workshop. (PowerPoint)

Lotz, N., Jones, D. and Holden, G. (2017) Lurking and Learning: Progression through the Design and Innovation Qualification. Presentation from the 6th eSTEeM Annual Conference, 25-26 April 2017 (PDF)

Lotz, N., Jones, D. and Holden, G. (2017) Lurking and learning: Making learning visible in a Virtual Design Studio. Cumulus paper. (PDF)

Holden, G and Lotz, N. (2017) Learning in an online studio. Presentation from the Digitally Enhanced Learning (DEL) Conference, 14-15 September 2017, London. (PowerPoint)

Lotz, N., Jones, D. and Holden, G. (2018) Engaging qualities: factors affecting learner attention in online design studios. Paper submission for the Design Research Society Conference 2018, University of Limerick, 25-28 June 2018. (PDF)

Scholarship Series - video showcasing Nicole's eSTEeM project which investigated how learners in the Design and Innovation qualification progress in OpenStudio.

Video length: 6 mins 43 secs 

  

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The ‘Touching Creativity’: a proof of concept project

Project leader(s): 
Lisa Bowers
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Archived
Body: 

Virtual reality (VR) is becoming an increasingly popular tool to stimulate learning in new and varied ways. However, often VR landscapes use is limited to two sensory channels e.g. sight and sound. This limitation creates barriers to learning for sight impaired students. The Open University (OU) has a history of designing accessible teaching and learning materials for all. However it was recognised, by the project leader, that OU sight impaired design students are limited to interacting with hands-on learning materials via a single sense e.g. sound.

This project hypotheses that through the inclusion of haptic VR learning tools, OU students with sight impairments, can be facilitated to better access of VR teaching tools. Thereby through this project the OU would be able to facilitate a wider sensory access to appropriate teaching and learning VR materials, and maintain a ‘student first’ approach.

Related resources

Bowers, L. (2018) The ‘Touching Creativity’: a proof of concept project. eSTEeM Final Report (PDF)

Bowers, L., Braithwaite, N., Hayle, R., Amirabdollahian, F. and Jefferies, A. (2018) Haptic Prototype Assembly Tool for Non-Sighted, Visually Impaired and Fully Sighted Design Students, Studying at a Distance. Paper submitted to the Eurohaptics Conference 2018 (PDF)

Bowers, L., Braithwaite, N., Hayle, R. and Amirabdollahian, F. (2018) Haptic Prototype Assembly Tool for Non-Sighted, Visually Impaired and Fully Sighted Design Students, Studying at a Distance. Abstract submitted to the 7th eSTEeM Annual Conference, 25-26 April, The Open University (PDF)  

Bowers poster (PDF)

Scholarship Series - video highlighting Lisa's eSTEeM project and the use of haptic virtual reality learning tools.

Video length: 9 mins 11 secs

 

Transcript

The impact of technology on the teaching and assessment of ‘systems diagrams’

Project leader(s): 
Andy Lane
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Archived
Body: 

Diagramming is a creative process where the context and tools used to create the diagram may hinder or help students in learning both how to create diagrams that represent a situation and how to learn about diagramming and the situation. These tools equally provide opportunities and challenges to tutors in teaching about and assessing these diagrams and providing feedback, particularly for students studying at a distance.

There is a long history of teaching systems diagramming as a ‘thinking and doing’ technique at the Open University and of evaluating the mediating effect of technologies on this technique. A recent manifestation of teaching systems diagramming has been in two mainly online undergraduate modules, T219 Environmental management 1 and T319 Environmental management 2, where students share diagrams with other students throughout the duration of the module, have to work collaboratively on diagrams in small groups for one part of the module and include diagrams in all assignments. This report describes the rationale for this study, the means by which data was collected and how it was analysed. It looked at student postings in online forums; samples of assignments with specific questions about diagramming as a practice; an online survey of students who studied one or both of the modules; and telephone interviews with a small sample of students and tutors.

The study focused on students’ experiences of using diagrams before, during and outside their study of both modules to better understand the main factors that influence their educational value, in particular the part that familiarity, experience and confidence in the technique and the technology played in supporting learning and whether the act of sharing helped or hinders that learning.

It was found that few students seriously used diagrams before their study of the modules; that they were either enthusiastic or sceptical about their value although most said they would use them in future; that the number of diagrams and the technologies used to create and share them were often burdensome in the two modules investigated; and that the group work could provide a better experience for using diagrams but that this too could be blighted by timing and technical issues. In addition many students disliked the mainly online delivery of the two modules, wanting printed books, and would like to have seen face to face tutorials where diagrams could be created and discussed. Open Design Studio has not proved helpful as a sharing technology compared to other modules and more work is needed to understand this and to find a technological solution that does suit students and ALs alike to compensate for the lack of face to face events.

 

Related resources

Lane, A. (2016) The impact of technology on the teaching and assessment of ‘systems diagrams’ eSTEeM Final Report. (PDF)

Andy Lane poster