Headnotes (Student Participation) (en)

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In many places there is written about student participation and in view of the supposed change of studies towards education it is not uncommon to complain about it. From this perspective, participation in research on open educational resources (OER) or in a practical and development project closely related to teaching and university development (such as the OERlabs) alone is positive, students are (further) socialised in higher education and science and involved in research.

With a view on OER, there is an excellent opportunity to discuss where and in which places student participation is necessary and possible. First of all, it should be clarified what is meant by participation in connection with OER. Will students be more involved in teaching than usual if, for example, they design teaching materials, implement them digitally and make them accessible to a worldwide group of interested people? Do students make their studies their own if they can and should pursue their own questions, topics or conspicuous phenomena in connection with their studies? What is the social connection between teaching and study when teaching is opened up in/with/by media and the study inevitably breaks away from a specific subject?

If students (almost) completely develop topics themselves, as was the case in the project examples of independent research work in the so-called Humboldt Year at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen and in the Bachelor's thesis in the educational sciences course at the University of Cologne, it is a matter of the didactic implementation of what was done in early concepts of university under education through science (cf. Huber, 1993[1]). Therefore, the way in which students are involved in OER research, e.g. through term papers, final module examinations, freelance research projects or final theses, is related to an older, not least higher education didactic discussion about research-based learning, because:

Since the 1970s, research-based learning has been discussed programmatically, since the 1990s mainly conceptually and in connection with education through science about forms and possibilities of student participation in studies (or based on them). Many of these discussions have focused on when it is possible to speak of research-based learning, or rather of learning in the format of research. (Wildt, 2009[2]) Older texts advocate that research-based learning is only made possible if the entire research process is experienced with all its highs and lows. More recent texts also focus on parts of the research process, e.g. asking questions, moments of conception, operationalisation or criticism (e.g. of data and findings). The background to this is, among other things, the broad reception of different concepts of research-based learning in universities and colleges, which has been observable for almost ten years and leads to the successive re-structuring and classification mentioned above.

Huber's overview articles (2014[3]) and Reinmann 's overview articles are suitable for gaining an overview of formats of research-based learning. (2015[4]) especially.

Thus, one may well be of the opinion that courses with a close thematic connection to the OER debate lead to situationalism in learning and to "more" participation. However, they are not more or less involved in teaching and learning through OER, but through a specific teaching concept. OER then offers a (current) opportunity to deal with a media-related phenomenon from a student perspective and in different, partly pre-structured forms or formats. In this way, practices become visible, for example, how people deal with OER in contexts relevant to them. In addition to (action) practices and their specific ways of appropriation, social references can be established if deeper (social) structures of power and domination (e.g. in the educational organisation university) are sought beyond the phenomenon. Both project examples have dealt with this in different ways.

On the basis of the student findings on the reproduction of social inequality in and with OER, the question arises as to whether the opening of individual courses to society (e.g. through cooperation with different partners or participatory teaching concepts) will achieve the desired success in terms of comprehensive student participation in studies, teaching and research. Another question to be asked is how reflection on practical action and its consequences or implications can be guided. Thus reflection does not necessarily take place, but sometimes also requires a (didactic) space. Not least for this reason, the relationship between research and problem orientation in connection with teaching concepts with and for OER should be (further) debated if experiences in various formats contribute to a better understanding and grasp of phenomena such as OER (and others) from a student and teacher perspective.


  1. Huber, L. (1993). Education through science - science through education: university didactic notes on a major topic. In H. Bauersfeld & R. Bromme (ed.), Education and Enlightenment: Studies on the Rationality of Teaching and Learning (pp. 163-175). Münster: Waxmann.
  2. Wildt, J. (2009). Research-based learning: learning in the "format" of research. Journal Hochschuldidaktik, 20(2), 4-7, URL: http://www.zhb.tu-dortmund.de/hd/fileadmin/Jour-nalHD/2009_2/2009_2_Wildt.pdf (01.08.2018).
  3. Huber, L. (2014) Research-based, research-oriented, research-based learning: Everything the same? A plea for an understanding of concepts and distinctions in the field of research-related teaching and learning. The higher education system. 1+2, 32-39.
  4. Reinmann, G. (2015) . Research and vocational orientation in teaching from the point of view of higher education didactics. In P. Tremp (ed.), Forschungsorientierung und Berufsbezug im Studium (Blickpunkt Hochschuldidaktik) (pp. 58-61). Bielefeld: wbv.