UAL Focus Group


We had our OER focus group this morning and had a good turn out of 8 members of staff covering a wide range of disciplines including graphic design, sound art, printmaking, pedgagogy, cultural studies, fine art and photography and ranging from technicians, to teaching staff to management. Steve and Debbie took charge of the one hour session while myself and Mary eyed the pastries. The following notes are what I jotted down from the session, please feel free to add/edit and comment.

  • External sites were used by some staff instead of Blackboard (VLE) for a number of reasons, one being that they were open and that if there were external partners then they could access the material, which is impossible if it is just within Blackboard
  • Authorship/Ownership an issue. Mentioned that certain teachers have ‘rejected’ using material that has been made open, since it is from another institution.
  • Students themselves get material from everywhere, they don’t wait to have it supplied by the institution. Example of CS4 Adobe Photoshop which isn’t supplied by UAL so students have gone elsewhere to get the software and the information on how to use it.
  • It was felt that reluctance to use other peoples material is an academic issue rather than a student issue.
  • IT was felt to be a barrier to OER at certain times. For example lots of open source software is around but you cannot load it onto your machine without specific admin rights. So students cannot use it on UAL machines but can get them onto their own machines.
  • Disciplinary differences across UAL e.g. London College of Fashion is creating material that is very ‘hands on’ and staff need teaching about how to use online or digital tools to enhance their learning, where at London College of Communication they are already using advanced software tools to create material.
  • Important to examine how you create OER materials e.g. how you make a video of a tutorial
  • There are very specific processes within the arts that can be particular to UAL or just one college
  • Important to embrace multiple processes, form there you can decide which suits you, plus in the arts there is no one way of doing things. Students need to see and experience a variety of techniques, the student becomes the arbitor.
  • There can be a lot of concern about the ‘look’ of OER material and of online work within the arts. However the look/style of something can go out of date very quick. Yet the look of a site can be important e.g. graphic design
  • Important then to make it simple and make it work!
  • Interest in what people are creating as teaching and learning materials/OER for their students. One teacher felt that he wanted to/should be doing so but unsure what and how to do this.
  • Time to produce OER is an issue, as is the expertise to make the documentation.
  • On one hand felt that UAL should help to produce this material so that it can ‘brand’ it and then feel the benefit of having that material used in the wider world. On the other hand there are a lot of part time staff who create material either in their own time or also for use on other courses across the university so would not be happy if it was just branded as UAL
  • The decision in using a resource comes from recommendation, either teachers recommending it to students or staff recommending it other staff

The hour wanged by but we got a lot of good information and made some very good contacts and we will make sure we follow all this up.

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