Celebrating the Open Access Week 2021

Added 3 years ago

Open Science represents a new approach to the scientific process based on cooperative work and new ways of diffusing knowledge by using digital technologies and new collaborative tools. Open Science is an umbrella term that involves various attempts to remove the barriers for sharing any kind of output, resources, methods or tools, at any stage of the research process.

Creating an open organizational culture

Openness is a central principle in research activities and good scientific practice at the University of Turku. It is one of the five basic values of the university. Aim is to develop an organizational culture, where everyone operates by the principles of open science; supporting open practices throughout the whole research cycle and providing access to research as early as possible to enable open collaboration. Development areas include e.g. openness of research data, open access publishing, open research methods and open co-development through research policies and by developing new modes of operation. This is supported by versatile training, instructions and communications.

Research and education have always been closely linked. Research reveals new knowledge that is shared widely to the public and that is acquired as a part of an individual’s own skills development. Therefore, openness in science and research is inherently linked to openness in education.

Open educational resources and new types of open educational practices reduce the need to tie education, learning and teaching to a specific time and place. In this way open education becomes a natural part of a new type of flexible education, in which everyone, regardless of their situation in life, background status, or place of residence, has more opportunities to learn.

Producing openly accessible Mini-MOOCs enable utilization of e-learning materials in local context

We are witnessing a rapid growth of innovations built on open digital data and technological tools, and these solutions are tackling local societal problems. University of Turku and seven partner universities are aiming to enhance the future employment potential of the graduates with digital multi-competence skills in the GeoICT4e -project (2020-2024), which aims at improving Tanzanian universities’ management and teaching capacities with openly accessible e-learning materials in geospatial and ICT education. The project is coupled with the Resilience Academy, with same universities managing the project in synergy.

GeoICT4e project’s development targets include enhancing digital students’ access and wider usage of online digital e-learning assets, such as open data, open tools, e-learning resources and MOOCs. The project is grounded on a long-term and well-established institutional cooperation between the University of Turku (UTU, Finland) and five Tanzanian universities

The project provides multiple learning opportunities within and outside the partner universities as all e-learning assets are digital and open, and widely accessible for anyone to use. E-learning assets include both digital geospatial data that is stored, shared and reused, and e-learning materials that are produced into nugget-sized mini-MOOCs and self-study packages.

The use of global e-learning materials in teaching is growing, but the use of openly accessible materials in the local teaching context is challenging. To tackle this challenge the GeoICT4e team of experts will produce 40 to 50 mini-MOOCs (short Massive Open Online Courses). Mini-MOOCs are defined as short one to two days e-learning entities, which can be openly accessed online and completed independently without support from teachers. But the philosophy of the project is that these micro credentials are embedded into the local learning environments by each university and their staff for maximum impact.

Materials will be openly available e-learning resources shared via DigiCampus platform. These globally available open learning materials and MOOCs are also utilized in combination with the locally made course materials.

The project also promotes usage of global and regional open access geospatial data repositories and platforms to ensure that practical nuggets use real geospatial data sets relevant for the local course topic. For example, the project gathers Tanzania-specific geospatial data sets to an open access data repository using Geonode to facilitate education and research related learning opportunities of the students with local data sets. These actions will expand our already established digital data services of the Tanzania Resilience Academy (Climate Risk Database). On top of these consortium wide efforts, the project also supports local investments at the universities for e-learning environments. These investments are made at each university based on their local needs.

The mini-MOOCs focus on advancing students’ skills and competences related to themes such as geospatial data and technology, climate and sustainability, entrepreneurship and innovations, and to develop skills to understand real world problems in space and time. The mini-MOOCs will be integrated into the bachelors and masters level curricula of the Tanzania and Finnish universities. The project is using an online learning platform DigiCampus to facilitate mini-MOOC development and delivery. Digicampus enables use of multiple different learning activities from online video lectures and practical exercises to automatically assessed quizzes.

The original article “Celebrating the Open Access Week – Joint development of MiniMoocs with our Tanzanian partners” by Päivi Kanerva, Rita Rauvola, Niina Käyhkö, Vesa Arki and Msilikale Msilanga was published 25 October by UTU Communications, see it here.

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