It's not their job to share content': a case study of the role of senior students in adapting teaching materials as open educational resources at the University of Cape Town

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E-Learning and Digital Media

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Symposium Journals


University of Cape Town

Inspired by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's landmark decision to make its teaching and learning materials freely available to the public as OpenCourseWare (OCW), many other higher education institutions have followed suit sharing resources now more generally referred to as Open Educational Resources (OER). The University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa joined the OER movement with the launch of the UCT OpenContent directory in February 2010. While much of the research has focused on the potential value of OER to institutions and to the community at large, less attention has been paid to the complex processes that need to be undertaken to adapt existing materials as OER and specifically the opportunity to engage senior students in this practice. In this article the authors explore the processes that three senior physics students employed in assisting their lecturers to adapt existing materials as OER, the challenges they encountered and the contribution these students made. The findings reveal that the senior physics students report having sufficient time, knowledge of the field and skill in using a range of technological tools that made the OER adaptation process of their lecturers' materials easier. Based on the participating physics lecturers' acceptance of the students' adaptations of their materials, it would seem that the strategy of using senior students to support busy lecturers to adapt existing teaching materials as OER is worth considering.