PhD thesis: Openness and praxis

obligatory thesis photo

Yesterday I formally submitted my thesis to NUI Galway. It is done! There are so many gateways and milestones in the doctoral process: each year’s progression (via Graduate Research Committee review), thesis submission for examination, the viva, completion of final corrections, printing and binding the final version, formal submission, and uploading the open access version. It is important to celebrate each step (and I have 🙂 ) but it’s wonderful to be here, at last. Here are a few details and links, as promised:

TITLE: Openness and praxis: A situated study of academic staff meaning-making and decision-making with respect to openness and use of open educational practices in higher education

LINK: https://aran.library.nuigalway.ie/handle/10379/7276

ABSTRACT: Open education seeks to improve educational access, effectiveness, and equality. The term ‘open educational practices’ (OEP) describes practices that include the creation, use and reuse of open educational resources (OER) as well as open pedagogies and open sharing of teaching practices. While open education at a macro level is regarded by many as a positive goal, complexity resides in determining and negotiating the value of open practice at an individual level, and structural and cultural barriers to openness persist within higher education. The goal of this research study was to understand whether, why, how, and to what extent individual educators used OEP, specifically with respect to teaching, and also to identify any shared characteristics among those who used OEP (i.e. ‘open educators’). The study was conducted at a medium-sized, research-focused university in Ireland, without explicit policies on OER or OEP. The empirical study used a qualitative, interpretive, and critical approach in order to focus on participants’ meaning-making and decision-making with respect to openness. Data was gathered from academic staff across a broad range of disciplines and all employment categories (i.e. permanent, non-permanent, full-time and part-time). Using constructivist grounded theory, a model of the concept ‘Using OEP for teaching’ was constructed to describe open educators’ digital identities and digital practices, and the values and motives associated with decisions about whether to use OEP. The results of the study indicated little intentional use of OER and relatively low use of OEP. The four dimensions shared by open educators were: (i) balancing privacy and openness, (ii) developing digital literacies, (iii) valuing social learning, and (iv) challenging traditional teaching role expectations. The use of OEP by academic staff was found to be complex, personal, contextual, and continually negotiated. The study adds to a growing body of work on open educational practices and also provides evidence for policy makers and practitioners arguing for critical and context-specific approaches to open education.

Link to previous post containing my thanks and acknowledgements.

Although a week’s rest would be welcome (ha!) an immensely exciting two weeks is about to begin — including the #OER18 and #OEGlobal conferences and annual #GO_GN seminar. I feel very fortunate not only to be sharing my own research but collaborating with some amazing colleagues for workshops as well. Here’s a list of  activities over the next two weeks:

16/17 April – Visit to Disruptive Media Learning Lab (Coventry)

  • Various sessions with Maha Bali, Alan Levine, Mia Zamora, and many more, re: connected learning, intercultural learning, and openness, e.g. Brown Bag Lunch.

18/19 April – #OER18 Conference (Bristol)

21/22 April – #GO_GN Seminar (Delft)

  • This 2+ day workshop for PhD researchers will be facilitated by the amazing OER Hub team. As GO-GN-ers and recent PhD graduates, Chrissi Nerantzi and I will facilitate one of the workshops, Let it PhD.

24/25/26 April – #OEGlobal Conference (Delft)

See you in Coventry, Bristol, Delft, or on Twitter… 🙂

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