Title of the Project: Breaking with tradition, Sri Lankan academic perspectives on adopting Open Educational Practices (OEP) for formal education
Open Education Resources (OER) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) are recently emerged innovative concepts in Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) which uses the Information Communication Technology (ICT) in education (Towey, et al., 2016). Open Educational Practices (OEP); creation, use, or repurposing OERs is a trend in the education sector due to its cost and time effectiveness. Therefore, OEP was readily adopted by most of the developing countries (Mishra & Singh, 2017).
Sri Lanka, being a developing country has identified the significance of Open Educational Resources (OER) and initiated to develop an OER national policy ( (Karunanayaka & Abeywardena, 2016) to adopt the Open Educational Practices (OEP) for education. University Grants Commission, Sri Lanka has identified the use of OER as a supplement for teaching and learning as an innovative practice which enhances the quality of the educational program (UGC, 2015). Therefore, the higher education institutions those who established a faculty level policy and guidelines to use OER will be given a mark during the quality assurance process in the year 2020. However, Sri Lankan education mainly relies on traditional teaching methods, and university teachers tend to use their developed educational materials (Abeysekara, 2011). University academics in Sri Lanka tend to work individually in teaching-related activities. Since the privacy is a prime concern for the Sri Lankan academics, they do not show a higher tendency on social media usage, sharing contents, open for peer reviewing and use of externally developed teaching materials (Alwis, et al., 2018).
Under the above scenario, it is questionable that the process of establishing OEP in Sri Lankan universities is breaking with tradition. Therefore, this project was designed as a case study to analyse the perspective of university academics on adopting OEP in the number one ranked university of Sri Lanka. The considered University has nine faculties which offer degrees in different disciplines with 12756 students (8013-Female, 4743-Male) and 824 teachers (463-Male, 361-Female) as per the 2018 university statistics (UOP, 2018). Main objectives of this project are to discover the present status of OEP, to analyse the perspectives on adopting OEP for formal teaching and to understand the problems and opportunities for proposing recommendations to establish OEP in the University. The data will be collected using web access logs, online surveying and interviewing. The web access log analytics will be used to analyse the access patterns of the OER sites and resources by the stakeholders of the University. The online survey was shared with all the academic staff members through the University online network. The scheduled interviews will be voluntary to collect the information on system feasibleness, readiness and supportiveness to adopt OEP.
This project was designed under the inclusion theme as the initial step to inculcate the good practices of OEP for formal education. Therefore, as the primary stakeholder in the university system, it is essential to understand the academics’ perspectives, problems and likeliness to adopt OEP for formal teaching. Statistically summarised results will be used for planning and implementing an OEP adoption process in the University.
Abeysekara, U. (2011). Critical Success factors of e-learning in Sri Lankan Universities,, Colombo: University of Moratuwa-PhD Thesis.
Alwis, A. C. D. et al. (2018). Social Media for Higher Education: A Cross Sectional Study among Teachers in India and Sri Lanka. Humanities and Social Sciences Letters, 6(4), pp. 180-188.
Karunanayaka, S. P. & Abeywardena, I. S. (2016). Advocacy, sensitization and development of OER Policy for provincial education ministries in Sri Lanka. KualaLumpur, Malaysia., Eighth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF8).
Mishra, S. & Singh, A. (2017). Higher education faculty attitude, motivation and perception of quality and barriers towards OER in India. In: C. Hodgkinson-Williams & P. B. Arinto, eds. Adoption and impact of OER in the Global South. Cape Town, South Africa: African Minds, p. 425–458.
Towey, D., Ng, R. Y.-k. & Wang, T. (2016). Open Educational Resources (OERs) and Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) in Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPET). Bangkok, IEEE International Conference on Teaching, Assessment, and Learning for Engineering (TALE).
UGC (2015). Manual for Review of Undergraduate Study Programmes of Sri Lankan Universities and Higher Education Institutions, Colombo, Sri Lanka: Ministry of Education & University Grants Commission.
UOP (2018). Statistical Handbook 2018, Peradeniya: University of Peradeniya.
“Technology can become the ‘wings’ that will allow the educational world to fly farther and faster than ever before — if we allow it.” – Jenny Arledge (Doran & Jones, 2015)
As the above quote emphasises, technology has emerged a new pathway with innovative changes to an educational transformation which supports education equity. Also, that pathway will allow the learner to reach the goal faster than the traditional educational practices. However, the educationists, teachers and learners have the responsibility to embrace the changes by travel along that path for betterment (Morrison, 2018).
Technology has rooted a pedagogical change in the present education system by evolving a different educational culture compared to what students experienced in two decades ago (Raja & Nagasubramani, 2018). The concept “Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL)” was emerged with the definition of “support of teaching and learning through the use of technology” (IGI-Global, 2019) to signify the above mentioned educational culture.
It is a fact, that every individual has an equal right for education despite any social or physical changes such as sex, race, age, language, religion, nationality, economic condition, economic situation, ability etc. Therefore, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has emphasised that inclusion and equity are the main factors which build the foundation of quality education. It mostly focuses on the education rights of special needs people but not limited to them (UNESCO, 2019).
What does “inclusion” mean in education? The educationists entail that the inclusion concept is dubious in the field of education since it relates to the social values and equality in education. Therefore, it has been defined based on the context which it is being applied. It is mostly applicable for the Special needs education since it is the foundation to emerge this concept. Therefore, the following definition for the “inclusion” formed by Wisconsin Education Association Council (WESC) based on a contextual description available in Research Bulletin Number 11, 1993, from Phi Delta Kappa’s Center for Evaluation, Development, and Research is also biased to the special education (WEAC, n.d.).
“Inclusion is a term which expresses commitment to educate each child, to the maximum extent appropriate, in the school and classroom he or she would otherwise attend. It involves bringing the support services to the child and requires only that the child will benefit from being in the class. Proponents of inclusion generally favour newer forms of education service delivery.”
Further, the economic situation is also one of the main problems which can be significantly influenced by a knowledge differentiation in the world. Even the reputed university has developed quality online courses as a solution to overcome the location and travelling cost barrier, the majority of people from developing countries are unable to afford the tuition cost of the online courses. Alternatively, the educational field was boomed by a new pedagogical concept, Open Education Practices (OEP) which established a cost-free innovative learning and teaching process through high-quality Open Educational Resources (OERs) (Geser & Research, 2007). Hence, “OEP” has opened up a tremendous opportunity to quench the thirst of knowledge for the people from all over the world by abiding all the policies of inclusive education rules and regulations (Teixeira, et al., 2012).
Geser, G. & Research, S., 2007. Open Educational Practices and Resources, s.l.: Open e-Learning Content Observatory Services (OLCOS).
Raja, R. & Nagasubramani, P. C., 2018. Impact of modern technology in education. Tamil Nadu, India, Recent Trend of Teaching Methods in Education.
Teixeira, A. et al., 2012. Inclusive Open Educational Practices (OEP) How the use and Reuse OER of OER can Support Visual Higher Education for All, s.l.: European Commission.
(Extracted from a TMA submission of H818 in MAODE)
Teachers have a significant role to play in the educational process to provide high-quality teaching by identifying and coping the learner differences, desires, requirements and their learning patterns (Andriotis, 2016). Correctly examined data in a teaching and learning environment reflect the students’ uniqueness, achievements, motivations and other stakeholders’ interactions with the learning process (DQC, 2019). The data in an educational environment can be collected using explicit methods like surveying and interviewing or/and implicit methods like access logs, behavioural observations, results and marks (Vagale & Niedrite, 2012). Each data contains some hidden information. This phenomenon was caused to emerge a new concept in learning named Learning Analytics (LA). There is no concrete definition for LA. But in the 1st International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge organised by the Society for Learning Analytics Research LA concept was defined as follows (Siemens & Long, 2011).
“LA is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs”.
The above definition describes the LA in different perspectives but not sufficient to designate the whole LA process and its significance in the educational field. Therefore, the following definition is proposed considering the personal experiences of LA in the local context.
“Learning Analytics is a technique of revealing patterns based on the data obtained from the access logs, surveys, feedbacks, interviews, observations, historical facts, students’ marks and results in educational environments which can be used to formulate descriptive, predictive, diagnostic or prescriptive information models for proposing innovative resolutions to address the teaching and pedagogical concerns. LA is more targeted of changing teaching and learning techniques at the individual level.”
Although Learning Analytics concept resonates advanced, quality and motivated online learning, inaccurate and inappropriate analytic reports can be harmful to the learners increasing the dropout rate in online courses. Therefore, data and pieces of evidence should be correctly analysed to deter the wrongful use of big data in LA research studies (Dringus, 2012).
Andriotis, N., 2016. Know your Audience! A smart guide for analyzing your learners’ needs. [Online] Available at: https://www.efrontlearning.com/blog/2016/10/guide-learners-needs-analysis.html
DQC, 2019. Why Education Data?. [Online] Available at: https://dataqualitycampaign.org/why-education-data/
Dringus, L. P., 2012. Learning Analytics Considered Harmful. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(3), pp. 87-100.
Siemens, G. & Long, P., 2011. Penetrating the Fog: Analytics. [Online]
Available at: https://er.educause.edu/-/media/files/article-downloads/erm1151.pdf
Vagale, V. & Niedrite, L., 2012. Learner Models Utilization in the e-learning environments. Vilnius, Lithuania, s.n.
Learning Analytics is benefitted in education in different levels for different stakeholders; such as governmental level for policymakers, institutional level for curriculum developers, pedagogical level for teachers and learners . I have developed my own definition for LA in one of my assessments based on my experiences which I gained from the past research studies.
“Learning Analytics is a technique of revealing patterns based on the data obtained from the access logs, surveys, feedbacks, interviews, observations, historical facts, students’ marks and results in educational environments which can be used to formulate descriptive, predictive, diagnostic or prescriptive information models for proposing innovative resolutions to address the teaching and pedagogical concerns. LA is more targeted at changing teaching and learning techniques at the individual level.”
Attaining the LA expectations of enhancing and emphasizing the learning process which best matches with teacher and learner requirements to achieve the learning outcomes effectively is a very challenging task which requires a lot of data collection and extensive data analysis .
The features of LA depend on various data; concepts or theories collect for different research purposes which were used in LA research studies as listed below ;
- Descriptive research describes the phenomenon and available status
- Philosophical research which reflects a phenomenon without data or a theory
- Theoretical research which reflects on a phenomenon based on a theory without test data
- Theory application research which applies a theory or models to a collected data set
- Theory generation research which uses a data set to propose a new theoretical model in pedagogy
- Theory testing research which tests a theory using collected data
I would like to share some thoughts from a research paper which I submitted to IEEE journal (in the review phase) to exemplify the LA usage for “theory generation research which uses a data set to propose a new theoretical model in pedagogy” (No 5).
In my research I developed the following activity access behavioural model; e-Activity Access Behavioural Model (eAABM) (figure 1) under the supervision my supervisors Prof Roshan Ragel and Mr Sampath Deegalla and tested using different Data mining classification techniques.
Access time and access hits of each activity were calculated for each student using their access logs stored in the log table of the Moodle database. Data mining discretization technique  was used to calculate the access group of each student in each activity according to the rules available in the above picture.
As per my understanding, students’ psychological ownership  level towards the online activities gives a clear picture of students willingness to access the intended activities. Therefore from the following paragraph, I have argued how this behavioural model represents the educational ownership level of a student in the given e-activity.
“Psychological ownership, the sense of possession is considered as a reliable measure to capture the students’ ownership towards technology-enabled learning like online self-learning . The sense of ownership towards the considered online activity has a positive impact on the retention time and learner involvement . Accordingly, it can claim that the groupings in the eAABG model can reflect the different level of psychological ownership since those who possess high ownership typically get frequent visits and high retention in a learning environment and vice versa. Therefore, the characteristics of groupings can form different ownership levels which can describe different access scenarios as stated in the table. ”
Apart from using eAABG model to represent educational ownership, it can be used for online adaptive learning solutions since it represents the learning behaviour simply from a single parameter.
 C. Schumacher and D. Ifenthaler, “Features Students Really Expect From Learning Analytics,” 2016.
 D. Ifenthaler and C. Widanapathirana, “Development and Validation of a Learning Analytics Framework: Two Case Studies Using Support Vector Machines,” Tech Know Learn, vol. 19, p. 221–240, 2014.
 O. Viberg, M. Hatakka, O. Bälter and A. Mavroudi, “The current landscape of learning analytics in higher education,” Computers in Human Behaviour, vol. 89, pp. 98-110, 2018.
 A. Gupta, K. G. Mehrotra and C. Mohan, “A clustering-based discretization for supervised learning,” Statistics and Probability Letters, pp. 816-824, 2010.
 I. Jussila, A. Tarkiainen, M. Sarstedt and J. F. Hair, “Individual Psychological Ownership: Concepts, Evidence, and Implications for Research in Marketing,” Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 121-139, 2015.
 I. Buchem, “Psychological Ownership and Personal Learning Environments: Do sense of ownership and control really matter?,” in The third PLE conference, Aveiro, Portugal., 2012.
 V. S. Asatryan, L. Slevitch, R. Larzelere, C. Morosan and D. J. Kwun, “Effects of Psychological Ownership on Students’ Commitment and Satisfaction,” Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 169-179, 2013.
The learning materials available on the web had a high impact mainly on informal and nonformal education in a decade ago. However, with the rapid movement of OER could change the OEP from informal/nonformal learning to formal education. Significant achievements of OE during the last decade are free to access to the excellent quality e-books, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) from renowned universities like MIT and Open University in the UK, embedment of pedagogy and technology. The considerable increment of OER related research publications exemplifies the popularity of OER due to its cost-effectiveness, learning efficiency, availability, equal access and personalisation. The learning analytics of course which followed a learning design “OER enable pedagogy” has shown the majority of students tend to access different types of OE materials and shows high likeliness of reusing and recommending for others .
Non-profit local educational organisations or authorities like the Ministry of Education, National Institute of Education in Sri Lanka need to harness the OERs which apply to the school curriculum and local educational culture in Sri Lanka since in house development of e-learning material requires a high budget and skilled personnel. The challenge is how to find suitable OERs relevant to the learning design of the course to achieve the learning outcomes. Open pedagogy, a new term was defined to refer the online education practices which incorporate the OERs for teaching designs. It mainly explains creation, use and reuse of OER. Therefore, Open pedagogy and OEP can be considered as similar terms in the educational context . OERs can also be considered as any other online learning materials use for online course development. Most of the present OERs suit with any teaching method and learning design. Teachers will get access to reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute the OER in general case. The teachers should possess a clear understanding of the copyright level of all the OERs that are going to embed in the lesson plan (OEConsortium).
OER enabled technology, becoming the future trend of OER which combines constructivism and openness, letting the students learn by practice creating their artefacts which can be shared with the 5R concept of OER. Teacher evaluated good quality creation can be used for the future development of the courses .
In the field of ICT, there are plenty of OERs (Michigen College) (Valley College) in a different format as MOOC courses, e-books, reading materials, videos, lectures, puzzle game etc. Universities or educational institutes create the OER’s under various funded projects. The challenging task in this project is selecting the most appropriate OER licenced with Created Common Licence based on the learning design of the course. Teachers can be integrated OERs corresponding to the learning requirements (Yee, 2015). Even the materials contents are matching with the learning outcomes, all of the selected OERs have to be reviewed by a panel of experts to evaluate the quality and correctness of the contents. This project is only intended for using OERs in the format of e-books, online materials, videos, pictures, animations, presentations and quizzes.
Several research studies have proposed the requirement of having a method to rate the OER’s based on different characteristics. Since there’s no centralised system to locate the OER’s educationists find difficulties choosing the most appropriate OERs for their courses. If there’s a centralised system is available for OERs, enabling the feedback and rating options, OERs might be able to cover the entire education system in the near future (Berger, 2018).
- Weller, M. et al., 2017. What Can OER Do for Me? Evaluating the Claims for OER.. In: R. S. Jhangiani & R. Biswas-Diener, eds. The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science. London: Open book, p. 67–77.
- Cronin, C., 2017. Openness and praxis: exploring the use of open educational practices in higher education. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(3).
- Wiley, D. & Hilton, J., 2018. Defining OER-Enabled Pedagogy. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 19(4).
(Extracted from a submitted assessment of H817: Openness & Innovation in eLearning)
Education mainly refers to sharing or dissemination of knowledge with others in contrast; most educational materials are costly with having persuasive copyright issues for accessing, reproducing or reusing. Doesn’t it violate the central concept of “sharing” in the definition of education?
Online materials are gifted with the capability of easy sharing, and in the earlier stage of WWW (Web 2.0), most of the static web pages had free and easy access. But with the evolution of the web from 1.0 to 2.0 transferring static web feature to dynamic the free access of web materials were restricted with the authenticated access.
Online learning sites have been vastly created using sophisticated Virtual Learning (VLE)/ Learning Management Systems with high access security. All the educational materials were inside the box. Institutions always tried to prevent exposing their educational materials for unauthorised people. Documents were with high restriction of copying or printing.
The theme of “Education for all” got simplified during the 21st Century lessening the high restriction of online materials. Therefore open education concept has been introduced by introducing free access for specific course materials without any access restrictions, including a price also. Open education has been established through Open Educational Resources (OER). Open Education Practice (OEP) is referred of following the open course materials and developing the OER. Initially, there were different issues such as accuracy, trustworthy, fidelity issues in the OER which prevent access the OER. Therefore those materials were mostly used for nonformal and informal education. But now some of the universities are using those materials of formal education also.
Mainly you can reuse OER materials for your teaching and research purposes. But you have to identify whether the e-material you are accessing with open access privileges. The copyright symbol of the content tells us what can we do with that e-material. There are 5’Rs you can do with OER materials.
- Retain – the right to make, archive, and own copies of the content.
- Reuse – can reuse in its original form.
- Revise – can modify, alter or adapt
- Remix – content can be extracted to combine with other content to form a new material.
- Redistribute – can share the copies with others in original, altered or combined format.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), I rate those as one of the most significant formations of open education, and I could cover most of my informal learning through the MOOC courses which are freely available in different websites. Especially most of the MOOC courses are developed by prominent universities with veteran academics in various fields. The MOOC courses cover vast subject areas. Most of the courses are very user-friendly, professional and high-quality materials. The following list shows some of the MOOC courses which I followed in different areas.
(Click the relevant subject to access the course)
Further to the about sites you can search for very good MOOC courses in the following sites also.
However, there may be some issues and challenges in open education when applying for formal education
Open Education, the emerging trend of online learning which became a reality through Open Educational Resources (OER). The development of OER is a long process which requires a high cost and long-term planning even they are available to access through the Internet free of charges.
There are a lot of challenges and issues which the OER development team has to concern in the teachers’, developers’ and learners’ perspectives. However, I have categorised the issues and barriers according to the responsible party to address them as follows.
- Implementation issues in the design and development stages
- Adaptation and maintaining issues in the delivery stage
The following 3 issues which I concern as very important since they are required to consider at the initial stage of the design and development of OERs. I believe these three issues are the foundation for the whole project and scaffold to address for the next stage issues like; sustainability and learner support. These issues have to be addressed within the organisation.
Initially, with the development of learning objects, there was no consideration of pedagogical aspects in online teaching and learning. Most developers only considered the technology and the content for online teaching materials. But leaners find such learning is not motivational.
Everybody expects the quality of the content, delivery method and novel information in all the online resources. Therefore we need to maintain the quality in all the aspects of OERs.
Present generation mostly refers as the “Google generation” is very confident and familiar with the latest technologies. If the OERs are not embraced with the latest technology, the learner will not tend to adopt it.
I can’t remember when I started to learn through the web, maybe during my final year at the university. But I use Google search to find the answers for all my questions in my day-to-day life. It can be searching for a recipe or solution for some advanced technical problem.
But mostly I started using the web for my learning when I was doing my research degree. I had to learn a lot of new subject knowledge. It was very tedious and boring to read books from the library and from the internet which never matched with my learning style. As an alternative, I tend to access the learning videos and spent a lot of time to search the videos which are appropriate for me.
Accidently I happen to view a video uploaded from Waikato University on Data mining. Data mining was one of the key areas of my research. That’s how I first got to know about the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
I learnt Data mining from MOOC courses launched by the Waikato University from scratch to expert level. Further to that, I started learning Statistics from Udacity. That MOOC courses are splendid, the teaching style, exercises, the course layout is exceptional. I very much enjoyed the courses. With such motivation, I became a MOOC course hunter. None of the MOOC sites could escape from me; edx, Udacity, OpenLearn. FutureLearn, Coursera etc.
I used some of MOOC courses to teach fundamentals for my students. I have used Hour of Code courses in Khan Academy to teach web development, Computer Program development and computer drawing to the first year undergraduate students.
They enjoyed the courses, and you also can learn the computer drawing and try to develop the following picture using the codes available in this Khan Academy course.
Personal Learning Environment (PLE) has already blurred the distinction between formal and informal learning. With the advancement of technology, we have become a node of an interconnected network. Learning is embedded not only in our professional life but also in our personal life since technology is changing rapidly. What is the learning theory which reflects the characteristics of learning in the digital age? I doubted whether the traditional learning theories, Behaviourism, Cognitivism and Constructivism could explain the learning behaviour in a PLE.
Connectivism, a concept which I recently learnt by reading an article by George Siemens (Siemens, 2015) is found to be the most suitable learning theory to explain a PLE. Connectivism is an alternative approach for traditional learning theories Behaviourism, Cognitivism and Constructivism. I suppose this theory has been evolved based on the associationism (Wikipedia, n.d.) in a networked environment.
“Connectivism is a theory of learning in a digital age that emphasises the role of social and cultural context in how and where learning occurs. Learning does not simply happen within an individual, but within and across the networks” (Wikipedia, n.d.).
The Connectivism has first introduced in 2005 by George Siemens and Stephen Downes. They have changed the definition of learning as “Learning is the process of creating connections and developing the network” (Downes, 2009).
How can we apply this concept in e-learning? Siemens, Downes and Cormier have developed a MOOC course to model and explain the connectivism, but unfortunately, it is not available now. As per other researches argument, the role of the teacher in a connectivistic environment is not adequately defined since it’s mostly focused on the learners (Bates, 2015).
However, as per Dowen’s interpretation (Downes, 2009), the role of the teacher in a connectivistic environment is similar to the constructivistic environment. It is just a facilitative and observable role in a more open manner.
There are some criticisms of the connectivism (Machness, 2011) approach in teaching and learning. The main criticism is its novelty. The critiques stated that the connectivism had been obtained some features from other known theories such as “connectivism is connectionism, in computer science, associationism in philosophy and psychology, graph theory in mathematics and social network theory”. I also think it is related to some features describe in the Social constructivism, Engstrom activity theory and Authentic Learning concept.
Some teaching and learning models were proposed to implement connectivism theory through a personal learning environment (Gillet, 2014).
Bates, A. T., 2015. Teaching in a Digital Age. Vancouver: Tony Bates Associated Ltd.
Downes, S., 2009. Connectivist Learning and the Personal Learning Environment, s.l.: LinkedIn Learning.
Gillet, D., 2014. Personal Learning Environments as Enablers for Connectivist MOOCs, s.l.: HAL.
Machness, J., 2011. Attacks on connectivism. [Online]
Available at: https://jennymackness.wordpress.com/2011/02/25/attacks-on-connectivism/
[Accessed 23 Feb 2019].
Siemens, G., 2015. Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. International Technology and Digital Learning, 2(1).
Wikipedia, n.d. Associationism. [Online]
Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Associationism
[Accessed 23 Feb 2019].
Wikipedia, n.d. Connectivism. [Online]
Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connectivism
[Accessed 23 02 2019].