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SAT: Reducing barriers to sharing material in the humanities department of a University of Applied Science leading to the implementation of a common CMS (Mark Adams)

Cloud created by:

Dr Simon Ball
10 February 2014

Full title: Reducing barriers to sharing material in the humanities department of a University of Applied Science leading to the implementation of a common content management system.

Technikum Wien is the biggest purely technical Fachhochschule in Vienna which is a tertiary education institute best translated as a University of Applied Science. It has over 30 separate courses of study, including Master and Bachelor programs. For the fourth year now, they also offer several blended learning courses with international students.

English is an integral part of each of these courses and due to social security restrictions (each lecturer is only allowed to teach for a maximum of 6 hours per institute if not fully employed) the size of the Humanities faculty is relatively large with over 30 colleagues. This is a huge pool of experience which could be tapped to improve both the student experience and reduce teacher workload and preparation time.

It has been suggested several times to initiate a platform for the sharing of relevant material, but this has never been realised, despite recognition from all lecturers that it would be a useful resource to have. This casestudy attempts first to pinpoint the barriers to sharing teaching material and then to create a platform which should minimise resistance of the teaching personnel and make sharing common practice.

Literature research on barriers to OER adoption builds the basis for the presentation. Following this research a questionnaire is created to find the main reasons for the reluctance use such a platform within the faculty. The questionnaire should also assess the level of willingness to share on the ideological level and the situations in which sharing does currently take place at the Technikum Wien.

The results of the questionnaire are evaluated on several levels; first the willingness to share which is shown, for the most part, to be high, however with several restrictions including reservations about use outside of the faculty and material provided to third parties; secondly the barriers to OER adoption are compared to the barriers mentioned by the lecturers and commonalities are found. As a final step any resolutions already found for OER are applied to the barriers within the Technikum and suggestions are made on how to minimise any further hurdles.

The culmination of the casestudy is a shared platform which considers each of the barriers suggested by the lecturers and attempts to make the sharing of material as easy as possible. The solution uses a technology already known and used by all of the lecturers to reduce the technological barrier and is organised in such a way as to be directly relevant to the core teaching materials of the programs at Technikum Wien.

One of the main barriers to sharing for the majority of lecturers was the time factor, as sharing means creating a lesson plan, or scanning material, for example. To prevent this from becoming the major reason for the platform failing, it is suggested that support from the faculty and management may be necessary, especially financial support. Defining a coordinator for this material would significantly reduce lecturer’s fear of added work expenditure. 

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