In my reviewing of BC research on open, I came across a 2015 study by Irwin DeVries that used a comparative case study methodology of OERu course development with a case from FOSS development (p.77). I’ve done my share of case study research, and the comparative case study design has been one I’ve stayed away from, because I’ve never been able to reconcile how you’d avoid an apples to oranges comparison situation. Irwin’s article illustrates that this is not only doable, but also offers some possibilities that I hadn’t considered.
I’m currently in the process of preparing a research proposal of institutional case study research on a few BC institutions doing open. There is surprisingly little case study research on open, where open initiatives are examined at the institutional level. But interestingly there is fair bit of really good case study research on blended learning initiatives, and I found myself wondering how well some of the results would transfer if open was mapped onto it.
Blended learning initiatives are interesting to examine because they are positioned as an academic innovation that requires the engagement of many stakeholders at all levels of the institution. They also seem to be well planned out, embracing some grassroots efforts but largely implemented as an initiative supported by the highest level of the institution. The undeclared goal of many blended learning initiatives is to modernize the institution by providing students with more flexible learning options and provide an opportunity to rethink teaching and learning. Beyond saving students money, I think that open also presents an academic innovation, and there are likely some lessons learned from blended learning initiatives that could be considered.
So what are they? So far I’ve reviewed eight institutional case studies and have attempted to synthesize the institutional facilitators for a successful blended learning initiative. Six of the case studies come from an informative 2017 UNESCO publication entitled Blended learning for quality higher education: selected case studies on implementation from Asia-Pacific. This book looks at “how leading institutions in Asia-Pacific build capacity through a holistic approach to drive, sustain and scale their blended learning practices”. References to all eight articles are at the end of this post.
|Specific action plans|
|Teaching or academic recognition|
|Resources (provided from senior leadership)|
|Support from senior leadership|
|Cross instittuional committee|
|Collaborative and distributed leadership|
|Policy and position papers|
|Removal of tech barriers|
|Partnerships (internal and external)|
|Research and evaluation|
|Involvement of teaching and learning centre|
I then tallied how often each of these factors were mentioned. Keep in mind that it is likely that some of these factors were facilitators without being explicitly mentioned, so this needs to be taken with a grain of salt. But it might provide some interesting insights to further explore.
In the most frequently mentioned category (5 or more times) we have:
- Importance of a clear vision
- Support from senior leadership
- Curriculum or course redesign as part of the initiative
- Professional development at all levels
- Establishment of tech and other infrastructure required to support blended learning
- Partnerships, both internal and external
- Involvement (or in some cases, establishment) of a teaching and learning centre to support the initiative
These facilitators were followed closely by:
- Policy and position papers
- Learning support
- Research and evaluation
So what can we learn from this that could be applied to open? I find myself wondering whether grassroots institutional open efforts, led by keen faculty or champions, hit a wall when some of the other pieces aren’t supported. I wonder if the case for open as academic innovation needs to be understood and supported by senior leadership. I wonder if professional development around open happens as much as it needs to.
A final note: Lim and Wang (2016) provide what I think would be a useful framework and self-assessment tool that could be adapted to institutional open initiatives in their chapter: A Framework and Self‐Assessment Tool for Building the Capacity of Higher Education Institutions for Blended Learning.
Garrison, D. R., & Vaughan, N. D. (2013). Institutional change and leadership associated with blended learning innovation: Two case studies. The Internet and Higher Education, 18, 24–28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2012.09.001
Han, X., Wang, Y., Li, B. , & Cheng, J. (2016) . Case Study of Institutional Implementation of Blended Learning at Five Universities In China.Blended Learning for Quality Higher Education: Selected Case Studies on Implementation from Asia-Pacific.
Lim, C., Cho, Y. H., & Kim, S. (2016). Partnerships and Innovation for Blended Learning at Seoul National University, Republic of Korea. Blended Learning for Quality Higher Education: Selected Case Studies on Implementation from Asia-Pacific, 211-232.
Lim, C. P., & Wang, L. (2017). Blended learning for quality higher education: selected case studies on implementation from Asia-Pacific.
Lim, C. P., & Wang, T. (2016). A Framework and Self-Assessment Tool for Building the Capacity of Higher Education Institutions for Blended Learning. Blended Learning for Quality Higher Education: Selected Case Studies on Implementation from Asia-Pacific, 1-38.
Oakley, G. (2016). 3. From Diffusion to Explosion: Accelerating Blended Learning at the University of Western Australia. Blended, 67.
Singh, R., & Kaurt, T. (2016). 4. Blended Learning‑Policies in Place at Universiti Sains Malaysia. Blended, 103.
Tan, D. (2016). Leading and Supporting Blended Learning: A Case Study of the Centre for Excellence For Learning and Teaching
at Nanyang Technological University. Blended Learning for Quality Higher Education: Selected Case Studies on Implementation from Asia-Pacific.
Taylor, J. A., & Newton, D. (2013). Beyond blended learning: A case study of institutional change at an Australian regional university. The Internet and Higher Education, 18, 54–60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2012.10.003