Saturday, October 08, 2005

Gary Matkin and Jia Frydenberg

Targeted Users of Open Educational Resources: Serving K-12 Teachers
and Kicking the Tires of OER

Gary Matkin and Jia Frydenberg, University of California, Irvine
Thursday, September 29, 2005, 2:15-3:00 pm

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The University of California Irvine (UCI), through its Distance Learning and University Extension units, and with seed funding from the Hewlett Foundation and the Boeing Corporation, will create and offer 13 university-level (30 hour) online courses designed to help current and prospective K-12 science and mathematics teachers pass the science and math related California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET). The instructor-led courses will be offered through UCI for those teachers seeking credit and the discipline of a formal course, but the full material of the courses will also be available to self-learners through an Open Educational esource Exchange (OERE) infrastructure. This project will serve as an early test of he OERE infrastructure.


Recent data show that 26 percent of science and math teachers in California public schools and up to 56 percent of the teachers in high need schools are under prepared (teaching without the appropriate credential) and lack subject-matter competency as mandated by state and federal education policy. In California, the primary determinant of subject-matter competency in mathematics and the sciences (Life Sciences, Geosciences, Chemistry, and Physics) are passing scores on the California subject Examination of Teachers (CSET) subtests in these areas. Many unqualified teachers delay taking or never take the examinations because they lack confidence in the subject matter. Of those who take the test, about forty percent do not pass these
examinations on their first attempts. Current test preparation programs do not meet the content requirements and/or do not include the appropriate test-taking strategies to support learners.


To accomplish the objectives outlined above, UCI will:
1. Acquire Course Content. Content for the online preparation courses will be developed from pre-existing advance placement (AP) courses available through UCCP and relevant materials from other open content sources.
2. Conduct Gap Analysis. With the assistance of content area experts in science and mathematics and professionals in testing familiar with the CSET, UCI will conduct a gap analysis to identify elements of the AP courses and other materials that can be transferred to test preparation materials. Where elements are missing, we will look to acquire them from other academic sources.
3. Build Courses. Once sufficient content is acquired, the preparation courses will be developed collaboratively by content experts and UCI. UCI will develop content that can be placed online for use as instructor-facilitated courses or as a freely accessible course for self learners. UCI will gain input from its partners in Teacher Preparation programs and partnering school districts as the courses are built.
4. Disseminate Courses to Pilot Audiences. When the preparation courses are fully developed, they will be piloted in two ways.
a. Instructor-Facilitated Courses. UCI will offer all instructor-facilitated test preparation courses online to selected partnering Teacher Education Programs (TEPs) and school districts. As part of the pilot, enrollment in any or all of the instructor-facilitated courses will be free of charge. One fully developed and
tested, these courses will be offered on a fee basis to individuals and districts.
b. Courses for Self-Learners. Understanding the need for materials to prepare self learners, UCI will provide access to course content online that can be accessed by students in TEPs and current teachers across the nation.

As an early example and test of the evolving OERE infrastructure, this project has some interesting characteristics that will be useful in testing OERE as a concept (proof of concept).

The audiences for this educational treatment are well-defined and easily reached. Members of these audiences have a clearly defined need (qualification as teachers) and high incentives for meeting the need. The educational objectives are also clearly defined and easily measured (passing the CSET) and the measurement is by an independent agency (the State of California). These audiences and the clear goals of this project will be a good test of the efficacy of OERE.

This project will also test the feasibility of using already created high quality educational resources in both instructor-led courses and as open educational resources for self-learners. What issues present themselves in repurposing content from existing resources—technical,
intellectual property, pedagogical, financial? Our project will document these ssues. We will also be able to determine if there is a relationship between self-learners and formal learners. For instance, we will be able to track the conversion of self-learners in the audience to formal learners of the instructor-led courses and may be able to determine how many in each group take and pass the CSET examinations. This project will also test the efficiency and effectiveness of two new elements of the OERE infrastructure, the “portal” being developed to inform people about OER and the “eduCommons in a box” technology being produced by Utah State. Again, we will document our experience with these and other aspects of OERE.

This project not only fills a compelling need in California (and, potentially, many other states and countries) but also will provide rich data about the evolving OERE movement. This presentation will present more information and provide a structure for discussing a number of current issues facing all of us.


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