Teacher professional learning communities: A collaborative OER adoption approach in Karnataka, India
This chapter analyses collaborative Open Educational Resources (OER) adoption amongst Indian school teachers by examining the enabling and constraining techno-social, techno-pedagogical and sociocultural factors in an education context characterised by (1) low information and communication technologies (ICT) use in schools; (2) a “textbook culture” in which teachers often act as simply “content transmitters” of officially prescribed texts; and (3) diverse linguistic challenges, in which predominately English language OER may not always be relevant. The study addressed the following research question: Can a collaborative, “bottom-up” approach by teachers working together to create, adapt and share contextually appropriate resources provide a model of OER adoption?
This study adopted a mixed-methods approach – primarily through
action research – in which the research team collaborated with 67
teachers and teacher educators on an OER adoption process. The team
worked with the teachers between June 2013 and December 2015, utilising a
combination of face-to-face workshops (19 in total), questionnaires,
focus group discussions and online interactions. The participants were
selected from different districts of Karnataka state, representing
diverse geographic areas of the state and three subject disciplines:
mathematics (26), science (18) and social science (23). The impact this
collaboration had on teacher practices was compared with a Comparable
group made up of 124 teachers who did not participate in the research
intervention. Data analysis suggests that teachers are able to use
digital methods to adopt OER and to contextualise (revise) OER to suit
their needs, if given appropriate training. Their techno-social skills
were advanced through greater knowledge and experience with digitally
mediated collaborative OER activity.
Their techno-pedagogical efficacy improved through greater networking with other colleagues and a sense of openness to having their materials adapted and revised, though teachers acknowledged that linguistic and quality challenges remained. The collaborative OER adoption approach also raised teachers’ sociocultural knowledge concerning copyright and contextually relevant OER. In addition, the OER engagement processes have aided teacher professional development by building a collaborative environment with peers and introducing them to a multiplicity of educational resources.
The authors recommend that state education authorities implement a professional learning community approach to teacher professional development within in-service teacher education, implement a collaborative model for OER adoption, suggest that copyright regulations should position open licensing as the default, and implement a Free Open Source Software-based ICT programme in school education.