The Global OER Graduate Network’s (GO-GN) Fellowship program study aimed at investigating if and how Brazilian K-12 public school teachers used OER and OEP during Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT) during the Covid-19 pandemic comprised undertaking online interviews with six teachers and was concluded in March 2022. Preliminary findings were presented on April 28, 2022 at OER 22. The presentation slides can be found here. Preliminary findings of the study were also posted on the GO-GN official site and were subsequently translated into Portuguese to be shared with participants during the one and a half hours online workshop, which is addressed below. Translated slides into Portuguese shared with participants can be visualized here.
Participants were invited to participate in one and a half hours online workshop aimed at presenting preliminary findings from the online interviews. This one and a half hours online workshop was aimed at validating preliminary findings and comprised focus group questions geared towards extracting more data that could better inform the development of a framework or guidelines aimed at improving educational practices and collaborative work focused on better coping with times of crisis and/or hybrid learning in the Brazilian public K-12 sector, which is the main goal of this study. The online workshop was held on May 13, 2022 with five participants located in different regions of Brazil, who had also participated in the online interviews. Recruitment for participants to participate in the one and a half hours workshop was contingent on their previous participation in the online interviews. That is, all six teachers who had participated in the online interviews were invited to participate in the one and a half hours online workshop. This was because it was important for this researcher during this phase to validate preliminary findings and to collect additional data. However, out of six participants in the study, only five participants agreed to participate in the one and a half hours online workshop. Participants’ main role was to provide this researcher with feedback and additional data so as to ensure transparent, unbiased and collaborative discussions, which will help substantiate final findings.
Focus group discussions were intended to be a process of reflection where collaboratively as educators we think carefully about how and what we have done so far in dealing with ERT during times of crisis, what could be improved, how the use of OER and OEPs had a positive impact and/or played an important role in teachers’ pedagogical practices and recommendations and/or suggestions in regards to integrating the use of OER and OEPs in teacher professional development programs.
During the online workshop, this researcher presented data from the preliminary findings in segments and subsequently provided discussion questions based on these findings enabling participants to validate and expand on them. Focus group discussions were structured around the following questions:
- Discussion 1 – Preliminary findings: What are your thoughts on these findings? Would you add anything else to these findings that you think is important?
- Discussion 2 – If you could have done anything different in your pedagogical practices during the use of ERT, what would it be?
- Discussion 3 – Do you think the use of OER had a positive impact and/or played an important role in your pedagogical practices and on your students?
- Discussion 4 –What are your recommendations and/or suggestions for integrating the use OER and OEPs in teacher professional development programs?
Focus group discussions were transcribed, and the transcripts were imported into qualitative analysis software (NVivo). Data analysis comprised examining responses to the particular questions in the focus groups, and also verifying whether there were any patterns or trends across the dataset. It is important to note that there are some limitations to this study. The first limitation is the sample size. Thus, the findings of this study do not lead to generalizable theory and are transferable only to the extent that the participants are representative of Brazilian K-12 public school teachers that have prior knowledge on OER and that have used OER in the context of ERT. Another limitation to this study was the lack of coder inter-rater reliability. However, this shortcoming was made up by sharing preliminary findings with teachers. In qualitative data analysis this is also known as member checking. Thus, validity and trustworthiness of all data were ensured through triangulation of all data collected, and strategies were adopted to assess the validity of qualitative findings by using rich, thick description and member checking.
Findings from the focus groups not only validated preliminary findings from the online interviews but also brought to the surface some other important issues, which are briefly discussed in the paragraphs that follow.
First and foremost, participants felt that despite their hard efforts, most students have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which unfortunately is still ongoing. These negative impacts have resulted in not only in cognitive loss and digital exclusion but also in high levels of school evasion. Additionally, when asked what participants would have done differently in their pedagogical practices using ERT, participants stated they would have tried to give more attention to learners’ needs and would have been more empathetic and careful with digitally excluded students. This is in line with a current study carried out by Bozkurt (2022) that examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic albeit in higher education. In his study, Bozkurt (2022) “identified three broad themes: (1) educational crisis and higher education in the new normal: resilience, adaptability, and sustainability, (2) psychological pressures, social uncertainty, and mental well-being of learners, and (3) the rise of online distance education and blended-hybrid modes” (Abstract). In this scenario of educational uncertainty and the need for transformative and innovative pedagogical practices, Bozkurt (2022) points out that pedagogy cannot be confined to only teaching and learning activities but, rather, trauma informed pedagogies of care and empathy need to be developed” (p. 11).
Secondly, good infrastructure and WI-FI broadband accessibility are still big challenges to be overcome by the Brazilian public K-12 educational sector as participants reemphasized. Indeed, “the pandemic has shown that the structure of the education system requires technological and pedagogical improvements” (Warmansyah, Komalasari & Febriani, 2022, p. 33). Notwithstanding, this was one of the Achilles heels of the Brazilian K-12 public school sector long before the pandemic as this researcher’s study on “Professional Development Guidelines for OER” clearly demonstrated (Vladimirschi, 2018). Participants also noted that they needed to learn more online teaching techniques and strategies to better engage students during synchronous classes. Moreover, they stated they felt that they should have been better prepared or prepared previously to deliver online classes. These assertions are corroborated by Moorhouse (2002) who claims that teachers still experience difficulties in planning online learning and adapting learning materials for the online environment.
In terms of the use of OER having a positive impact and/or playing an important role in teachers’ pedagogical practices and on their students, participants argued that while they did not perceive any major positive impact on students’ learning they did perceive that their use of OER greatly expanded their own technological, creative, collaborative, hands-on learning and teaching skills. They also noted that they felt proud to share their lessons with other teachers and that the pandemic offered them an invaluable opportunity to collaborate with their peers and to experiment with innovative practices since they did not need to rely on the school’s infrastructure. This resonates with this researcher’s opinion in the chapter this researcher wrote on Brazil for the article “A global outlook to the interruption of education due to COVID-19 pandemic: Navigating in a time of uncertainty and crisis” where this researcher posited that “in times of emergency remote education, we may witness collaborative, cooperative, interactive, participatory, and hands-on learning, which may be more conducive to OER uptake”(Vladimirschi, 2020, p. 101). Indeed, ERT left teachers to their own devices, which was conducive to OEPs for assistance and those teachers who had prior knowledge on OER felt free to create and use them.
Finally, participants’ recommendations and/or suggestions for integrating the use OER and OEPs in teacher professional development programs are summarized as follows:
- Offer more training courses on OER focused on K-12 teachers
- To lower costs, offer online courses that are mediated by teachers or are self-instructional (i.e, Moocs) or use a hybrid version – distance learning and face-to-face depending on the target audience
- Course load for OER courses should range from 20 to 60 hours or be delivered in at least two monthly two-hour teacher professional development meetings
- Created and/or adapted OER should be deposited in repositories and seminars, or workshops should be held for teachers to share their experiences
- Have teachers who have prior knowledge on OER available to deliver training to help other teachers understand and reflect on the use of OER
- Develop an interdisciplinary plan based on the use of an OER
- Use experienced teachers to deliver professional development on OER
- Show possibilities in terms of technologies that can be used and real examples as well as the step-by-step creation of an OER and the use of licenses
- For dissemination purposes and to make an OER be more widespread, develop a simple and objective resource for starters
- Distribute OER to management teams in both municipal and state schools
- At the end of an OER course, ask participants to create an OER (learning by doing)
One must bear in mind that although these recommendations and/or suggestions may sound overly simplistic to experts, they come from K-12 teachers who have just started experimenting and using OER. Thus, there is great value in them. Further dissemination plans for the project are to present a final report of this study, which will be concluded in June 2022.
Bozkurt, A. (2022). Resilience, adaptability, and sustainability of higher education: A systematic mapping study on the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the transition to the new normal. Journal of Learning for Development (JL4D), 9(1), 1–16. https://doi.org/10.5281/
Moorhouse, B. L. (2020). Adaptations to a face-to-face initial teacher education course ‘forced’ online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Education for Teaching, 46(4), 609–611. https://doi.org/10.1080/02607476.2020.1755205
Vladimirschi, V. (2018). Professional Development Guidelines for OER: A Case Study of Brazilian Fundamental Education Public School Teachers.
Vladimirschi, V. (2020). Brasil. Overall country-based evaluation. In Bozkurt, A., Jung, I., Xiao, J., Vladimirschi, V., Schuwer, R., Egorov, G., … & Paskevicius, M. (2020). A global outlook to the interruption of education due to COVID-19 pandemic: Navigating in a time of uncertainty and crisis. Asian Journal of Distance Education, 15(1), 1-126.
Warmansyah, J., Komalasari, E., & Febriani, E. (2022). Factors Affecting Teacher Readiness for Online Learning (TROL) in Early Childhood Education: TISE and TPACK. Jurnal Pendidikan Usia Dini, 16(1), 32-51.
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