CALRG Conference: 5 July 2024

Reflection on undergraduate students’ and teachers’ experiences of using English and digital technology in Asian higher education through a gender lens (Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, Philip Sergeant & Saraswati Dawadi, OU UK)

Education opportunities are increasingly dependent on access to digital technology along with competence in the English language. Our British Council funded research aims to explore undergraduate students’ and teachers’ access to digital technology for learning and teaching languages, and their opportunities to learn the English language, in the four most populous countries in East and South Asia – Bangladesh, China, India, and Indonesia. With a focus on higher education and equality of opportunity, the two-phase longitudinal study will track and assess predictions and trends relating to teaching, assessment and learning of English (TALE) practices and the role of digital technology. 

In this presentation, we will share our findings from the first phase of our study. In this phase, data was collected by local partners and their teams in each country through multiple sources, namely an online survey with 5695 undergraduate students and 328 teachers, focus group discussions with students (n=57), interviews with teachers (n=15), and Padlet discussions with students (n=49). Participants were first year students and their teachers from four broad discipline areas in a number of public and private universities in each country. Findings point to current trends of the use of technology for TALE, as well as students’ and teachers’ attitudes towards the role of English and technology in promoting or reducing equality, diversity and inclusion in students’ access to quality learning in higher education. We have taken a particular interest in exploring any gender differences in attitudes and experiences, as well as perceptions of whether gender plays a role in educational opportunities in higher education. In addition, the presentation will elucidate the students’ and teachers’ attitudes towards the role and value of English in the next ten years in their communities in general and higher education in particular, and it will suggest implications for policy and pedagogy. 

Minoritised populations’ informal learning behaviours in response to the challenges of accessing online services (Elizabeth FitzGerald, Sara Bailey & Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, OU UK) 

Protecting Minority Ethnic Communities Online (PRIME) project is a UKRI-funded transdisciplinary, cross-sectoral, and cross-institutional project. It involves Cranfield University, Universities of Glasgow and York, The Open University and four community organisations, led by Heriot-Watt University. Launched in 2022, the 36-month project has sought to understand the minority ethnic (ME) communities’ experiences of online services in health, energy and social housing and how online harm can be mitigated for these communities.

Part of what we at the OU wanted to find out was the informal learning taking place when people attempt to access the online services. Early on in the project were a series of interviews carried out with 100 ME participants from several ethnic backgrounds including Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Black Caribbean and Black African. From analysis of the interviews, seven different practices were apparent:

  1. Learning through trial and error
  2. Learning by accessing online information/advice
  3. Learning through conversation
  4. Online informal learning
  5. Supporting others’ learning/information-seeking
  6. Generational differences in learning
  7. Learning from family members and others

These behaviours are clearly shown in the dialogic analysis of the interviews. Practice 1, for example, tells of a woman who operates her phone and WhatsApp, but then goes to her son if she experiences any problems (practices 5-7). Practice 2 tells of people seeking advice through Facebook, Uswitch, the NHS website and the Google translation website.

Practice 3 tells of individuals who find it quicker to talk to service representatives, rather than filling in a long online form. Practice 4 tells of persons accessing the Internet to learn more about speaking English, and for other activities such as to learn more about Buddhism and join in an antenatal class. Practices 5-7 show the value of having others, particularly family, to help with the problem at hand.

What is clear is that a number of educational methods are used by ME people to deal with online access challenges in energy, health and social housing. Following extensive analysis, we hope to write a journal paper from these experiences.

Enhancing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Open Education: Insights from Africa and Latin America (Carina Bossu & Francisco Iniesto, OU UK & UNED) 

Equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) have become significant topics within the Open Education (OE) community. However, the provision of free and online resources, like Open Educational Resources (OER), does not automatically guarantee equitable, diverse, and inclusive access. A major barrier is the majority of OER being available only in English, making it challenging for learners worldwide to access them. 

The Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN) is a community supporting PhD candidates conducting research on open education. With around 200 participants, including researchers, experts, supervisors, mentors, and other stakeholders, GO-GN has prioritized EDI since its establishment in 2013. However, it wasn’twas not until 2018 that the first EDI projects in Open Education were initiated. The initial project focused on EDI in Open Education in Africa, followed by a subsequent project in Latin America. These projects aimed to increase representation from these regions within GO-GN, as the majority of participants were from developed countries. They also aimed to reach those who would benefit most from joining the network.  

This presentation will provide an overview of these EDI projects. It will also introduce and discuss the GO-GN EDI Guidelines, which is a combined outcome of these projects, highlighting their importance in creating inclusive open education environments. The GO-GN EDI Guidelines are evidence-based principles designed to promote equitable, diverse, and inclusive open education environments. The document can be used by higher education institutions, individuals, and open communities to foster EDI practices. While the guidelines were initially contextualized for the Global South regions, they can be adapted to various EDI and open education initiatives and contexts. 

How to design inclusive museums? Insights from an online course for professionals in art and humanistic studies Francisco Iniesto & Covadonga Rodrigo, UNED)

The Inclusive Memory (IM) project, 2021-2024 funded by the European Commission, promotes social inclusion by promoting a shared social memory through a museum-based inclusive approach linking Art-Health-Wellbeing. This initiative leverages cooperation between Higher Education Institutions, Health and Social Care Institutions, and Museums, forming a strategic partnership to enhance museum education and experiences. Universities can play a key role in encouraging collaboration among the health, social care, and arts sectors. The project employs a reversed community approach to rebuild troubled communities through partnerships among academics, health and social care professionals, artists, and cultural organisations.  

Given the evolution and impact of digital technologies in society and cultural organizations, the roles and profiles of museum professionals are changing, necessitating new competencies. The IM project cocreated among partners an open online course which is based on the social model of disability and the design4all approach. In online learning, learners should be continually influenced by information, social interaction, and learning experiences, providing them with the knowledge to come up with new ideas to develop. The course was piloted at the beginning of 2024 with more than 400 active learners including professionals or learners from art and humanistic studies, museum and cultural managers, science communicators, journalists, nurses, archaeologists, designers, and psychologists, among others. The course, once has been successfully piloted, will be available for open access and all participants in the format of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). 

Barriers and facilitators to physical activity for transplant recipients; developing a Patient and Public Involvement and engagement framework (PA-PPI). (Leigh Martin & Bart Rienties, OU UK) 

Solid organ transplant surgery (e.g., heart, kidney, lung, liver) and hematopoietic cell transplants (e.g., bone marrow) are life-saving medical procedures. Annually around 130,000 transplant surgeries take place globally (Leddington Wright et al., 2019). Several studies have, however, reported that most transplant recipients do not meet the recommended amount and type of Physical Activity, thereby limiting their wellbeing and long-term health.  

Using Patient and Public Involvement and engagement (PPI), we aim to explore the lived experiences of transplant patients and their support environment in relation to their relationship with and experience of physical activity throughout their transplant journey. The second aim is to design, implement, and evaluate the project together with transplant patients, to build a PPI framework for appropriate Physical Activity (PA). As argued by Holmes et al. (2019) PPI is an important and expected component of health-related research activity, but there seems to be a paucity of PPI in most transplant research. Therefore, our main research question is: Using Patient and Public Involvement and engagement what are the barriers and facilitators to physical activity of transplant patients, and what social and medical support structures can encourage PA?  

Transplant recipients are surrounded by a network of relationships (e.g., family, friends, medical professional) that will influence their PA and health-related behaviours (Fernández-Peña et al., 2018). Informed by Jindal-Snape et al. (2019) and Thanawala et al. (2020), a combination of PPI, social network analysis (Fernández-Peña et al., 2018; Merminod et al., 2022), and semi-structured interviews will be used to triangulate the lived experiences of transplant recipients by also including key stakeholders identified by transplant recipients. The long-term aim is to build on the PPI findings, translating this knowledge to inform policy and practice. We are currently testing this approach at Oxford University Hospitals and The Prince Charles Hospital in Australia. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *