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Quality and Cost Matter: Students’ Perceptions of Open versus Non-Open Texts through a Single-Blind ReviewAlthough prior research has examined student perceptions of open materials, research investigating students’ perceptions of open versus copyright-restricted textbooks through a direct, experimental approach is lacking. To better understand how students perceive open textbooks outside the context of the classroom, we examined students’ perceptions of unfamiliar open and non-open (copyright-restricted) psychology textbooks. Forty-four introductory psychology students reviewed chapters from two open textbooks and two traditional/copyrightrestricted textbooks and then ranked the textbooks from most to least favourite. Students rated each chapter on several quality measures, including layout structure, visual appeal, ease of reading, and instructional features. Next, bibliographical information and cost were revealed, and students re-ranked the textbooks accordingly. Before knowing the bibliographic information and cost, students were more likely to prefer the two traditional textbooks. There after, they were more likely to select the open texts. Students often referred to textbook price as a determining factor for their change.
Design of a chatbot as a distance learning assistantWithin the process of progressive digitization of materials and tools for teaching and distance learning of a subject of introduction to Microeconomics (quarterly, in year three of the Degree in Social Work), taught by the authors at the National University of Distance Education (UNED), a virtual assistant in the form of chatbot, or conversational robot, called EconBot, has been designed and made available to students from 2017. This paper presents the reasons that led to its adoption, the process of its development, differentiating two phases, its characteristics and functions, the assessment of its usefulness and the role of teachers in the implementation of this type of technological innovation.
Opening Futures for Nigerian Education – Integrating Educational Technologies with Indigenous Knowledge and PracticesThis paper highlights some key historical perspectives and antecedents of African Indigenous knowledge (AIK) and practices while identifying ‘open’ futures and opportunities for the application of digital technologies for educational opportunities that build on this cultural base. The role and negative impact of colonialism in the under-development of AIK is examined in this context together with the impact of post-colonial and contemporary corruption in further undermining the value of Indigenous knowledge systems. Two key concepts are identified as a counterpoint to this: the resilience of AIK and ‘local wisdom’ and the openness underpinning much of the ongoing digital revolution. This natural alignment can help guide the integration of Indigenous-based knowledge and practices and the deployment of open and distance learning in the re-birth of African Indigenous Knowledge Systems (AIKS). Openness is a pivotal concept here for it is integral to both the architecture of the Web and in its ongoing evolution. Given the identified opportunities associated with digital technology, and despite the challenges, it is argued that there is an unequivocal need for AIKS to explore the advantages of open education resources and practices in promoting this rebirth that is also consistent with modern science and technologies in Africa and beyond.
Faculty Members’ Lived Experiences with Choosing Open Educational ResourcesThe cost of textbooks has continued to increase with significant financial effects on students in higher education. Although many faculty express a desire and willingness to adopt and create open textbooks (and OER generally), few actually do. To better understand this gap between attitudes and practices, this phenomenological study builds upon the findings of a survey of faculty members at a large, nationally-ranked, high-research-activity university in the U.S. and uses in-depth interviews to understand faculty members’ lived experiences with OER adoption and creation. Results indicated that though faculty might be motivated to use and create OER to reduce cost and improve pedagogy, they are regularly stymied by quality considerations, copyright fears, technical difficulties, and sustainability concerns. We explore each of these issues in some depth and provide discussion and suggestions on how similar institutions (e.g., high-research-activity) should respond to help support OER adoption and creation.
Digital Technologies for Learning at Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU): Investigating Needs and ChallengesThe present study investigated the need of digital technologies for the distance learners of AIOU (Allama Iqbal Open University), and the challenges in its implementation. Within mixed-method approach, an explanatory sequential design was employed to conduct this study. Quantitative data was collected through questionnaires from 963 students to find out the needs for digital technologies. Later 3 administrators and 1 library in-charge were interviewed to find out the challenges in its implementation. Quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics. For qualitative data analysis, inductive analysis was done. Most of the students said that digital technologies were needed for increasing accessibility and flexibility of learning. The challenges for its implementation were in the requirement of diverse online learning resources, access, cost and lack of expertise. The paper recommended that there should be provision of portable devices to students with Wi-Fi, and guidance about its use. Annual need-assessment system was also suggested.