Thompson Rivers University

Research explores impact of learning ‘in the open’

October 10, 2019

Dr. Michelle Harrison

How are student outcomes impacted by working in the open, through collaborative learning with faculty and through creating widely-shared knowledge?

These are the fundamental questions that Dr. Michelle Harrison will spend the next year answering as the recipient of a 2019-20 Open Education Advocacy and Research Fellowship from BCcampus.

The role of a fellow is to raise awareness of open educational practices through advocacy, and to conduct, present and publish research on open educational practices at BC universities.

Harrison, an assistant professor of instructional design, works within the Learning, Design and Innovation Department of TRU Open Learning. She is interested in exploring the enriched experiences of students who engage in open learning, as opposed to those learning in traditional settings — whether that is in the traditional classroom, or behind password-protected online learning spaces.

“My research looks at those students who are using open education resources to see whether their outcomes are the same, and at how students in the open are using different platforms to co-create knowledge,” she said.

“By using these new, open tools, students are becoming active participants in the learning process.”

When students use blogs, social media, or when they participate in Wikipedia edit-a-thons for example, their work becomes inherently more visible, more accessible, and has the potential to be shared more widely. Harrison is interested in the student experience in this open space, and how they perceive themselves as practitioners and knowledge creators.

BCcampus awards three Open Education Advocacy (OER) and Research Fellowships annually. The fellows receive mentorship in OER advocacy and research, along with funding to attend and present their research at conferences. The fellowships are awarded to those who are committed to improving student learning experiences through the use of OER and open educational practices, and who are eager to share their experiences with colleagues and peers across institutions.

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