The Universidade Federal do Paraná (UFPR) (Federal University of Parana) in Curitiba, Brazil began its OER implementation with multiple, interconnected motivations:
- Expand the dissemination of knowledge;
- Promote innovation in teaching and pedagogical practices;
- Promote the use of open educational practices;
- Encourage the production and use of OER to contribute to the teaching and learning processes;
- Make the OERs available to the academic community of UFPR and to partner institutions, as well as to the broader community and internationally;
- Support the increased use of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses);
- Facilitate the dissemination and popularization of science, technology and innovation through the production and/or use of OER produced by institutions both in Brazil and internationally;
- Contribute to the quality of university education;
- Encourage the use of advanced technologies for learning along with new pedagogies; and
- Create strategies to encourage teachers to share their knowledge for the improvement of teaching quality.
To work towards all of these goals, UFPR initiated several strategies.
MOOC and OER Development
In 2016, a 40-hour MOOC Open Educational Practices, used for teacher training was developed and delivered. This MOOC includes modules on MOOCs, OER, licenses, open repositories, and Moodle. There are also other OER courses to update teachers: Distance education (180 hours); Hybrid education (45 hours); Moodle in teaching practice and tutorial practice (30 hours); and Audiovisual production in distance education (40 hours). These courses focus strongly on innovation in pedagogical practice.
Teachers and students are using/producing/sharing/assembling OER in a variety of ways. Some students received scholarships to produce OER as part of their initiation into science, pedagogy and technology. Some teachers, in several subject areas, are adopting OER as ancillary content in their classes. Other teachers incorporate OER creation as student project work that is assessed formally.
Courses using Distance Education
There are also several undergraduate courses that offer up to 20% of the total time of the course in a distance education format (the maximum permitted as per a UFPR Resolution). An example is the course Information Management that includes several modules in a 100% online format.
LMS Updates and OER Repository
The Moodle platform is frequently updated and follows the latest trends on which all teachers have free access to its tools. In addition, UFPR continues to encourage the production of OER published in the institutional repository by providing OER creators with credits that advance their careers.
Creating an OER Culture
UFPR is in the process of developing an OER culture throughout the university. Social networks (Facebook REA PARANA) are used to disseminate knowledge and information about open education and educational technologies. Many strategies (courses, lectures, flyers, events, Facebook, OER repository, among others) are adopted to reach teachers and students about the possibility of using OER and MOOCs in pedagogical practice. Undergraduate and postgraduate teachers adopted and are sharing open educational practices and other innovations such as: peer evaluation in Moodle; the use of OER video in didactic practices (open video annotation); OER production; and OER sharing using the institutional repository.
Using these and other approaches as they become available, the university hopes to build an open practices culture.
Brazil is a large and culturally diverse country with much inequality and asymmetry. The implementation of OER by UFPR is aimed at reducing regional disparities with the creation and free sharing of OER by its teachers and students.
Research on innovation in teaching and learning encourages collaboration among teachers; this is a way to help in improving the learning process. This type of research requires mutual support and the exchange of teaching practices, which is enabled by OER. Research on educational innovation (as was the case in this OER implementation) is a key resource for improving the quality of teaching. Moreover, the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) by teachers is essential for students who need to learn 21st century competencies.
New policies were elaborated on ICT as a direct result of the OER implementation.
Another major change was the formation of communities of knowledge supporting the use of ICT in education. The OER initiative also stimulated technological innovation with the creation of new content and the management of this content using new digital platforms that generate metadata.
Teachers also benefit from the incentive to post their OER productions in the institutional repository. The OER repository for professors and students is important in valuing the university's pedagogical production. Students and teachers can compose a portfolio of their creations and thus expand the production of their curriculum lattes (platforms that are a national standard holding records of the past and current lives of students and faculty). Most students express support for adopting innovations in teaching activities. Many, if not most students, are connected to social networks and the Internet and make use of various educational resources to support their learning. Most teachers and students, who know the potential of OER, support their integration, as it has favored autonomy, student co-production, current knowledge and educational interactions.
Perhaps, the greatest challenge in this OER implementation is the need to overcome the teachers’ lack of understanding and concerns regarding copyright and intellectual property ownership, legalities and logistics of dissemination and the limits of reuse/repurposing, etc. During the implementation, there were few teachers who agreed to share their experiences and educational practices. Teachers deposit their resources in non-institutional repositories and dissociate their production from the institution.
Other concerns of teachers arise from the difficulty of documenting and recording their ideas, followed by lack of familiarity with the technologies used and their possibilities. This is the reality for professors at UPFR and of most instructors from other Brazilian universities. A significant difficulty was the platform used would not allow students to freely and directly deposit their creations without linking with a teacher. This created extra work for both.
There are no numbers on how many teachers and/or students use OER and/or MOOCs. There has been no formal evaluation of the repercussion and impact of the use of OER in the teaching-learning process.
Future directions could include the enactment of an open access policy that covers the range of activities (teaching, research, extension, innovation, information) of the university. The future of OER at UFPR is linked to research on open practices and policies that contribute to the development of teaching competencies for network collaboration. OER repositories can help in the organization of the university's academic knowledge, as well as guide teachers in their teaching practice and in their creation/adaptation/sharing and use of OER. There is an expectation that UFRP train all teachers in the use of educational technologies to improve student learning.
There is a strong need to expand the integration of open education and open educational practices among teachers and students. For this to succeed, the university must develop a viable support structure for teachers and students (human resources, technological materials) to produce OER.
Henrique Oliveira da Silva
Maria do Carmo Duarte Freitas
Nuria Pons Vilardell Camas
Nathalia Savione Machado
Technology and Innovation in Health
Universidade Federal do Paraná