Lessons lOERned (OpenLab) (en)

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Getting in/Getting on

Multistakeholder Dialog (MSD): Field Notes: What is the setting? | Project: Our approach | Lessons lOERned: Our experiences | Headnotes: Explaining and following the experiences | Openlabs: Field Notes | Project | Lessons lOERned | Headnotes | OER-Seminars: Field Notes | Project | Lessons lOERned | Headnotes | Student Participation: Field Notes | Expert questionnaire OER | Power relations in higher education | Headnotes: Explaining and following the experiences | Podcast: Field Notes | Project | Lessons lOERned | Headnotes | Weblog: Project | Lessons lOERned | Twitter: Lessons lOERned

(Design) Principles
Communication between understanding and comprehension | Wanting to change higher education institutions | Higher education between researching and designing

3 questions 3 answers

Content Buffet | How to comment

University of Cologne[Bearbeiten]

Is only curricular integration in the university system sustainable?[Bearbeiten]

The response to the events can be regarded as low, at present there is no great demand or relevance on the part of students or staff for the topic of OER. The marketing efforts and resources to build trust with a possible target group were rather low, but it would have been questionable whether more students or employees had taken advantage of the offers. The abstract terms "OER" and "copyright" could be packed into a professional communication concept, especially for students. At the very least, this could be necessary if one is to focus on sustainable visits out of self-interest.[1]

Voiced needs by university staff vs. actual participation[Bearbeiten]

At the level of staff and teachers, the question arises as to how expressed needs can actually be translated into training practice in everyday university life and supposedly full calendars. There can be many reasons why none of the MSD participants appeared for the OpenLab in-depth appointment - however, there is a suspicion that not every wish expressed can be equated with participation, even if corresponding offers are created. On a positive note, the two events were actively used by the "school is open 4.0" project, also based at the University of Cologne, to train its own staff and develop new project ideas in the direction of OER.

High effort for planning open events[Bearbeiten]

Room applications, catering orders, technology lending - especially for selective and perhaps even spontaneous events, flexible rooms at the university are needed, which can be reserved and used with a click in the best case scenario. The effort that would otherwise be required to organise such events, where perhaps only a few people appear, is otherwise hardly justifiable. Nevertheless, these events can be profitable for individuals who, in turn, can transfer the acquired knowledge into other contexts as possible multipliers. The establishment of open spaces at universities thus remains a highly complicated question, which must certainly be adapted separately according to the university culture, especially if students and university staff are to be reached together. However, there are numerous hurdles that can be cleared, at least for project staff, with regard to event management and administrative expenses in advance, so that there is still time for pedagogical finesse and open experiments.

Technical University Kaiserslautern[Bearbeiten]

The OpenLabs take place in a room of the central library of the TUK. The dates follow a two-week rhythm [2] and will be announced online and by notice in advance, as there will be breaks between events due to the lecture-free time and some public holidays. The claim to be 'open' for all relatives[3] of the TUK should also be reflected in this type of event. However, in the case of OpenLabs, students are the main target group. The OpenLabs are loosely linked to the OERSeminars: OERSeminar students are invited to visit the OpenLabs voluntarily alongside the seminar and to exchange ideas and projects with other participants or tutors. In the winter semester 2017/2018 four dates of the OpenLabs were arranged by students of the OERSeminare.

Location, dates, frequency[Bearbeiten]

The central location in the UB and the spatial equipment are ideal for being quickly and conveniently accessible, as well as making adjustments depending on the desired work. Finding an appointment is a challenge. Irrespective of the day and time, the OpenLabs overlap either with courses or other offers at the TUK. This is exacerbated by the fact that the OpenLabs last three hours, which means that they always lie parallel to at least two lecture slots. On the one hand students who only have one lecture can participate, on the other hand students assume that they will miss something if they cannot spare the full three hours. However, a shorter duration does not do justice to the concept and the participants. Changing days or time slots can solve the problem, but we always wanted to communicate with the same place and time to avoid confusion and stay connected to programs such as TUK Zero (Trial study program of the TUK).

Weekend appointments are excluded, as the TUK is visited by many students from the region who either go home for the weekend or do not accept a trip because of a single event. For the same reason, dates before or after public holidays were not attended and were no longer offered. The same applies to dates in the semester break which were also not attended and thus cancelled. The opening of the room every two weeks enables the participants to work on their own ideas and to bring this work to the OpenLabs.

In addition, the research of posed questions by the tutors takes time, because in connection with the research some inquiries have to be passed on. For example, detailed questions on Creative Commons licensing were forwarded to the Jointly-Team[4]. Together with the results of the enquiry, the participants are thus made aware of existing OER networks so that they can use them themselves in the future or contribute to them. The OERlab-Team Kaiserslautern receives very little feedback from people who would like to participate but cannot. This is why it is difficult to optimise the two-week rhythm during the lecture period. The already mentioned date problems were reported back to us by interested parties inside, a date change would have meant that no longer current participants* could continue to visit the OpenLabs.

Appeal, announcement, communcation[Bearbeiten]

The launch of the OpenLabs announcement will take place shortly after the ceremonial opening of the OER room[5]. For this reason, the first contact between students and OpenLabs takes place during the semester breaks or examination periods. In addition, it is not possible for students to predict at this time which courses they will take in the coming semester. The announcement shortly before and during the lecture period is better accepted, which made itself felt through more visitors to the OpenLabs. The first steps in addressing students were on Facebook groups. With a short dialogue between two tutors, a question from the OER context is presented and supplemented by an OER explaining the OER, for example videos from the Federal Agency for Civic Education (BPB). The feedback received suggests that we were able to draw attention to the OERlabs and OpenLabs project and that the project is known among the students in the respective Facebook group, but these students could not be persuaded to participate.

In addition, posters and flyers were created and distributed on campus and in courses. The initial poster and flyer approach was in a design and colour that stood out and contained necessary information such as location, time and rhythm of the event. In order to inform about the project and the OpenLabs, a QR code printed on the posters and flyers is introduced on the corresponding project page. During the course of the semester, possible products such as sketch notes, podcasts or videos were listed to make them easier to understand. Together with a short explanation about the OpenLabs, the flyers were distributed at first semester events. The feedback received on posters and flyers is similar to the feedback received on Facebook: OERlabs and OpenLabs are noticed and arouse interest, but it is not enough to pass by. Parallel to the ways of addressing students described above, students from previous semesters were made aware of the OpenLabs offerings.

On the university level we were involved at several events (Die Nacht die Wissen schafft[6], Workshop Lehre plus[7]), where communication in direct conversation was possible. In addition to students and staff, teachers from the region were present. This enabled us not only to present the OERlabs and discuss material that had already been produced, but also to bring the idea of OpenLabs to the events as a networking space and a place to provide information, and to take the perspectives, questions, ideas and problems expressed at the events back to OpenLabs, mobile OERlabs or the OERlabs intensively. After the first months of running OpenLabs, both tutors presented the concept and their previous experiences in the online edition of the University Spectrum[8]. This procedure was chosen in order to present all members of the TUK with an impression of the current operation and thus to inform them about OER and open practices without having to participate in the Lab in their daily work. In addition, participants in the multi-stakeholder dialogues get an introduction and overview of the OERlabs project in advance or can read up on details afterwards. The project's own communication facilities - podcast and blog - are used for documentation and reflection. In short: Whoever reads the blog articles or listens to the podcast also knows the project.

The participating students of the OpenLabs felt invited by different forms of our speech and announcement. The initial posts on Facebook, our presence at university events as well as the posters and flyers distributed were all mentioned as the reason for our first contact with the project and as the reason for coming.

On the flyers (see Fig.1,2,3) two important points were changed: 1) The dates were printed to avoid confusion by naming the two-week rhythm. 2) On the back, examples have been added to show immediately which materials can be created. In addition, the offer should be more interesting for people without previous knowledge of OER.

Structure, program, openness[Bearbeiten]

The openness of the OpenLabs is a challenge for students and tutors. An open setting is fairly unusual for students. Preparations in the form of theoretical input and practical examples should be made by the tutor, but these should be understood as a didactical reserve for emergencies. Ideally, the students should bring their ideas with them and the tutors are present as companions and supporters. However, the tutors have expectations of the framing and structuring of the OpenLabs. Framing makes sense insofar as curious people pass by without an understanding of OER and the basic functions of licenses, for example. Especially on dates when new participants arrive, it makes sense to have several tutors on site, as a few introductory words do not stop everyone else. A concrete preparation beyond introductory words is almost impossible, since the tutor cannot know in advance what the participants have planned or worked on. In an open format, we have refrained from previous submissions of the work status known from seminars. With one exception, the students came to the OpenLabs as individuals and pursued their own project at their own pace. In contrast to finding ideas and planning one's own project, the start into the working phase proved to be difficult[9]. On the one hand, this is due to the openness of the event and thus the lack of pressure from the deadline, on the other hand it is due to external factors (such as unavailable interview partners). The difficulties in starting implementation and material production could also be observed at the OERSeminars, where students had to design a lab on a specific date. Two other students took part as a team. It should also be mentioned that the students were invited to a lab with the announcement that they wanted to work on a quiz game. The background to this is that the tutors wanted to go into material production themselves in order to show that material can be produced with little effort. Together with the attendees it became group work. Thus all materials [10] published on the project homepage were created in group work. The idea of cooperation and networking of the OERlabs project is thereby strengthened.

The open structure of the OpenLabs is helpful when it is possible to respond directly to the wish to switch from individual to group work and when students can contribute their own strengths and time within the group. For the OERlabs team, this means that framing OpenLabs with a theme, such as inviting students to work on quizzes, challenges the idea of openness. Through the framing, the students and tutors successfully worked together on a goal and thus experienced the success of a finished material, which was important for the students due to the faltering individual projects. As a result, the tutors are faced with a dilemma: Either allowing complete openness and thus risking that there will be no discussion with OER and no success, or giving the OpenLabs more structure and framing and thus forcing the discussion with OER and success.

In total, five students regularly visited the OpenLabs to plan and produce their own material. A further three students used the OpenLabs dates as an opportunity to obtain advice for the OER seminars. A distance student and a participant of the TUK-Zero program came for a detailed introduction and consultation. In addition, there were two to three electronic inquiries per semester to the tutors of interested participants, who were provided with information material and the offer of support by e-mail. Almost all visitors to OpenLabs took place in winter semester 17/18 and increased from the beginning of the semester to the end of the semester. In summer semester 18, two OER-intensive appointments and visits to the network schools by the tutor were on the agenda, which is why the OpenLabs were offered with fewer appointments and on a more irregular basis. This can be a reason for the hardly attended summer semester.
What we take from it
  • Be present university-wide / look for presentation opportunities
  • There is no optimal date! That's why you can set dates and try them out instead of planning forever.
  • Create prototypes of flyers and posters and pay attention to the feedback of the target group.

Mobile OERlabs and OERintensiv: two extensions for TUK OERlabs[Bearbeiten]

OERlabs are becoming mobile or how to bring OER into schools?[Bearbeiten]

Teacher education not only takes place at the university, but also in the second phase and at school. Therefore it was important for us to address the school as well. It quickly became clear that the OpenLab in its implemented form would not be attended by teachers at the university: Since the OpenLabs took place during class time, it was to be expected that the teachers would be absent and that they would then have to come to the TU separately. However, in order to address the topic of OER throughout teacher training, including at school, we used a format called OERlabs mobil or mobile OERlabs to go to the network schools[11] of the TU Kaiserslautern. We benefited from the fact that we openly interpret the term "laboratory", i.e. we also want to create intellectual spaces.

A lab is becoming mobile: OERlabs as internal professional development in the school[Bearbeiten]

Before the first OERlab mobile took place, we had the opportunity to give an input on OER within the framework of a school-internal advanced training course (SchilF) at a vocational school on the subject of tablets and smartboards. The open educational resources were brought into the training in the context of material selection and production for these two devices. This short training allowed us to incorporate experience into the planning of the mobile OERlabs. For example, the possibilities of using technical devices are to be sounded out in advance with the school. In particular, access to the Internet and the accessibility of the websites used must be clarified. In addition, the different levels of knowledge of the teachers with regard to the technical equipment used and open educational materials must be taken into account. For example, many teachers were familiar with free online offers. However, there was a lack of awareness that these were not open in the sense of the open debate because, for example, they were not properly licensed.

Planing and preparation for OERlabs mobile[Bearbeiten]

The approach of the network schools to the OERlabs mobile offer was combined with the approach to the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue (MSD) with the focus on teacher education. Since in some schools different contact persons are responsible for the respective event, more attention could be drawn to both offers. In order to provide the network schools not only with an invitation but also with an insight into the working methods of the mobile OERlabs, the network schools received an information package in addition to the invitation (see Fig. 1). This included material that students had created in the OER seminars and the OpenLabs. Some of the self-created material was on a USB stick together with general information material, while other material was distributed in printed form. This was to ensure that the sample material was seen at first sight and without having to use the USB stick. Two to three weeks after the parcels were sent, the network schools were contacted by telephone about the parcel, which proved to be an important step, as some parcels either did not arrive or did not reach the relevant school. While some schools had already looked into the package, we were able to use the phone call at other schools to talk about OER for the first time. During these calls, basic information about open educational resources, the goals of the mobile OERlabs and the way the OERLabs project works were often part of the conversation.

On the right side of the second figure a large part of the content of the information packages sent to the network schools can be seen. Included was a USB stick with information material, the invitation from fig.1, an invitation to the OpenLabs dates at the TUK, postcards with sayings like #wOERK in progress, game board and game instructions of the wOERking memory created in the OpenLabs and a printed cup.

Implementing mobile labs[Bearbeiten]

The content structure of the mobile labs essentially follows the structure of the OpenLabs, because the goal of the OERlabs mobile is the implementation of the OpenLabs in schools. The teachers are to be given information about OER and thus to be shown starting points for their own work with open educational resources. Both enable teachers to openly design existing teaching materials or create new open materials. OERlabs mobil offers time and advice for both variants, as the tutor also accompanies the mobile OERlabs on site. In addition, the discussion with OER is stimulated by discussions on site. Both concrete references to the corresponding school and critical comments are welcome. At the same time, a mobile OERlab cannot be more than an impulse, which is why we always point out existing OER communities and networking possibilities.

A total of two mobile OERlabs, each lasting approximately one day, were held at an integrated comprehensive school. One date had teachers and the other date pupils as the target group. The teachers were planned as a target group from the start of the project. The idea to include pupils came from a network school and was similar to the mobile OERlab for teachers. The main difference was that we visited the pupils during a project week and the topic of the material was to be produced. In addition, our tutors were supported on site by a teacher. For this mobile lab, a podcast sequence was created from the perspective of the pupils.

Challenges for OERlabs mobil[Bearbeiten]

In retrospect, it should be noted that the format needs to be reconsidered, especially for teachers. This is due to the different needs of the teachers. Some need to find their way first through the multitude of online sources of open educational material, while others have a greater need to talk about technical or license-related questions. Still others see no reason to adapt their existing teaching materials or have concerns about making their teaching materials available online. In addition, the handling of one's own mistakes and the quality control of one's own or other people's open educational materials were already a challenge in the discussions during the multi-stakeholder dialogues (MSD). For these reasons, a format with at least two levels would be advisable. On the first appointment, the first steps are taken with the teachers and needs are identified in order to be able to meet the teachers' needs on the second appointment. Depending on the number of participants, a suitable small group formation should be considered, as the support of teachers by tutors in creating or remixing open educational resources is made more difficult by the different level of knowledge of teachers. In the OpenLabs, the tutor allocation between the tutor and the participant was a maximum of 2/5. In the network schools, it was between 2/10 and 2/14. As a result, the tutor can respond less intensively to the teachers than was possible in the OpenLabs. For this reason, the OERlabs team offered the teachers the opportunity to work completely independently, as well as various tasks that were intended as suggestions. This means that more preparation time has to be planned per appointment.

We received feedback from some network schools that they were considering the mobile OERLabs, but could only consider them in the planning after the summer holidays, so not all requests could be handled by us. It is not easy to plan from a project point of view, which is intended for semesters, and to plan from a school point of view, which is intended for semesters and holidays. A problem that also accompanied us intensively during the planning of the OERlabs and the MSD. A quarter to half year from the first announcement to the possible dates should be planned.

The tutors were only able to provide on-site support because they had already gained experience in the OpenLabs or OERSeminars and were able to complement each other in the division of tasks. In addition, some tutors brought previous experience from other university activities with them, but the preparation for the mobile OERlabs appointments was time-consuming and their design went through several feedback phases. In this process it was helpful to focus on the strengths of events that had already taken place. The presentation of the project at events such as the Markt der Medien (MdM) at the TUK enabled us to identify functioning entry points for discussions and stumbling blocks on which to build during the planning of the mobile OERlabs. Even with these previous experiences, groups of teachers with at least ten people were a challenge, so small groups and a lot of preparation time are recommended at the beginning without corresponding previous experience.

OER for professionals: OER intensiv[Bearbeiten]

The OER intensive had three objectives:

  1. address issues or problems of previous OpenLabs or Multistakeholder Dialogues (MSD)
  2. Training of OERlabs employees and interested stakeholders
  3. Finding new entrants to the topic of open educational resources

The idea was to offer the actors of the TU a possibility of further education, as this is not covered by the further education programme of the TUK so far. Both OER intensive were structured in such a way that the link to OER was only established at the end of the event in order not to deter anyone with the topic of OER.

We invited the Medienzentrum Südwestpfalz to the first date of the OER to hold a training on tablets in class. This training was designed in such a way that it is practice-oriented and friendly to beginners. On the one hand, the student teachers present benefited from this by receiving examples and suggestions. On the other hand, the tutors were able to pay attention to the importance of OER in this form of teaching. In addition, it was pointed out in the training that pupils can become material producers themselves through the use of tablets, which the OERlabs can build on both in the execution by the pupils and in the preparation by the teachers. In the discussions during the first school visit and the MSD, it became clear that the teachers wanted examples and links between OER and digitisation efforts. In the OpenLabs students approached us with the desire to use tablets and the students of the OER seminars wanted to try them out in general. The training enabled us to identify appropriate apps and sales opportunities.

Based on the experiences and feedback from the OpenLabs, the OER seminars and the mobile OERlabs, the second OER should concentrate intensively on another area. Part of the feedback from both the OpenLabs students and the OER seminars was that although they had ideas, there were difficulties in getting started. In order to overcome these initial difficulties, the second OER intensively organized a Design Thinking Workshop in cooperation with an external organization.

The participants present at this second meeting already knew each other from the MSD or the OER regulars' table and work at the TUK in OER projects or with Open Access. This comparatively homogeneous group made it possible to work with OER from the outset. For example, by working out the target group for OER more precisely, the participants could not only take approaches for their future work with OER with them, but also approach speeches or events already held with a new perspective. By working together in locally formed groups, the participants were able to exchange ideas in a more personal setting than at previous meetings, such as the MSD. Working out the target group together allowed an insight into the work of the other participants and revealed new approaches to the target group. Events such as the MSD help to generate questions, define problem areas and outline solutions. In the OERlabs intensively the work on these solution sketches stands in the foreground.

Challenges for OER intensiv[Bearbeiten]

However, in the OERlab a challenge for the publication of new OER became clear intensively through the tablet use: Above all the Apps present themselves as a quite closed system. This makes the publication of material created in them more elaborate or impossible. Connected cloud services make it easier and more convenient to share and make available material already in the system. This makes searching and remixing OER material outside the system more inconvenient or less perceived as an alternative.

The target group perspectives intensively generated in the OERlab with the topic Design Thinking were very useful, but from an organisational point of view there is a dilemma here. In order for the events on offer to benefit from the sharpened perspective on the target group, a corresponding OERlab must take place intensively as early as possible in the course of the project. However, the experience gained so far in events was important in order to better understand the target group. Therefore, a procedure similar to that of the mobile OERlabs would be appropriate. Gather experience with one or the other event and take it with you into the reflection and improvement process so that later events can benefit.

What we take from it
  • Ask the needs of the target group
  • The assessment of a broad target group involves difficulties
  • If possible, carry out a test run of the event concept.
  • Checking technical conditions on site and having alternative technical solutions at hand


  1. Recently, however, the verdict on the Cordoba case showed once again that German and European copyright law is no exception when it comes to presentations by students uploaded to the school's website; costly warnings are legal here (See commentary by Leonhard Dobusch). Especially when it comes to the (digital) opening of the classroom, copyright plays an important role.
  2. As the tutors are still responsible for tasks in the mobile OERlabs and the events of the OERintensive in addition to the supervision in the OpenLabs, no more frequent dates were possible with the given resources.
  3. >Similar to multi-stakeholder dialogues, a broad participant base is desired, whether academic staff, students or administrative staff. The Open Labs, for example, are also open to visitors from the network schools.
  4. http://jointly.info/
  5. https://oerlabs.de/oertuk-ein-raum-zum-remixen/
  6. https://www.uni-kl.de/nacht/
  7. https://www.uni-kl.de/de/refls/foerderung-der-lehre/workshop-lehre-plus/archiv/23-wlp-13122017-dem-ingenieur-ist-nichts-zu-schwoer-open-educational-resources-und-offene-bildungspraxis-an-der-tu-kaiserslautern/
  8. https://www.unispectrum.de/hier-ist-kreativitaet-gefragt
  9. Frey, K. (2010). Die Projektmethode. Der Weg zum bildenden Tun. 11., neu ausgestattete Auflage. Weinheim: Beltz.
  10. https://oerlabs.de/oerlab-tu-kaiserslautern/bisher-erstellte-materialien/
  11. At the network schools (Link: https://www.uni-kl.de/zfl/forschung-konzepte/fachdidaktikzentrum/netzwerkschulen/) it concerns schools from the region with TUK co-operate and in current research questions and their implications for teaching practice are interested in.