ORBIT and OER4Schools


ORBIT and OER4Schools: supporting effective primary and secondary school practice through OER

Bjoern Hassler, University of Cambridge, UK Sara Hennessy, University of Cambridge, UK Teresa Connolly, The Open University and University of Cambridge, UK Caroline Jestaz, University of Cambridge, UK

Conference Theme: Innovation

Summary: We present the ORBIT and OER4Schools projects, supporting effective interactive teaching practice with OER, pedagogy, and ICT

Abstract: This paper describes two interlinked projects: ORBIT and OER4Schools. Both projects seek to support more effective teaching practice (in primary and secondary education) through the use of Open Educational Resources, appropriate pedagogy, and ICT. The ORBIT project is part of the JISC OER programme, and the first formal OER programme at the Univeristy of Cambridge. It develops an “Open Resource Bank for Interactive Teaching” (ORBIT) to promote interactive teaching in primary and secondary schools in the UK. ORBIT is aimed at use in formal HE teaching (PGCE), use in training schools and by teacher mentors, as well as continuing professional development for in-service teachers. It makes existing higher education expertise on teacher education as widely available as possible. ORBIT focusses on practical aspects of interactive teaching and enquiry-based learning, illustrating pedagogical principles through concrete lesson plans and ideas. The ORBIT materials are hands-on, presenting actual activities within lessons as the primary building blocks, with theoretical ideas explicitly embedded within these blocks. We seek to make this particular approach – a hallmark of effective teacher education – more accessible and tangible. Within ORBIT, there is also a significant focus on the use of digital tools and resources within the teaching of mathematics and science, which is an important emerging area, and one which is notoriously lacking in effective pedagogical support. A collection of ORBIT resources will be collated into a self-contained open digital course book. The OER4Schools project has similar aims, but is aimed at a developing world audience, in particular Zambia (and Sub-Saharan Africa more broadly). OER4Schools produces professional development resources that can be used in pre-service education or in-service by groups of teachers working together and ultimately sharing practices with others. Like ORBIT, OER4Schools supports interactive teaching and collaborative, active learning through using ICT tools, digital open educational resources (OER) and Open Source software – as appropriate for teachers’ own purposes and settings. The materials are being participatively developed in conjunction with local stakeholders, including teachers and teacher college lecturers, as well as a broad range of partners, such as iSchool, OER Africa, TESSA, VVOB, University of Zambia (UNZA), Chalimbana University, and the Ministry of Education. The resource will feed into existing teacher education programmes (at universities and teacher education colleges), such as the Primary Distance Learning Certificate at Chalimbana University, which is studied by 4000 students a year and offered by other colleges too, potentially reaching most primary schools throughout Zambia. Research and evaluation is a key component of both projects, for instance investigating pathways for translation of theoretical knowledge into teaching practice, benefits of open resources and open academic practice, as well as questions around content discovery and re-use.