“My strategy is to keep things open, however, I cannot do that every time”Name: Prof. Ana Moura Santos
Position: Assistant Professor in Dept. of Mathematics, MOOC Técnico Coordinator
Expertise: Applied Mathematics, MOOC design, e-Learning
Institution: University of Lisbon, Instituto Superior Técnico
More info: Home Page Video
ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5252-2861
An interview with Prof. Ana Moura Santos on 22 October 2021
Tell us a bit about your work with OER or Open Pedagogy more broadly? How did you come to be involved in Open Education?
I’m a fan of formative assessment because I think it’s a way to keep students engaged and more motivated toward the subjects.
I’m a mathematician, so I teach linear algebra, calculus, and other subjects. Our institute is mostly for engineering students, and they have cross courses on these topics. I’ve been teaching these subjects for almost 15 years, and I’m a fan of formative assessment because I think it’s a way to keep students engaged and more motivated toward the subjects. Some colleagues of mine from the mathematical department and I developed a system inside our LMS (learning management system) at our technical institute that automatically delivers quizzes and grades with feedback. Meanwhile, these massive open online courses emerged — first from American universities — and I tried to use the opportunity. As soon as the edX freed the code in our institute, we created our own platform; it’s an edX platform but customised, and then we launched the first online courses. Our strategy is to create and design content for our enrolled students, but at the same time, these online courses run free, so without charges on the enrollment.
I use MOOCs (massive open online courses) in a flipped classroom strategy with my enrolled students, but they are also open for other participants. So in the discussion forums my students and external participants can share documents, etc. I think the open online courses are really working well for both the internal students and the external participants.
At some point over your Open Education journey, have you been supported by librarians in some way, shape or form?
Would you see scope for partnership or involvement at some point in the future?
Who has benefited from Open Education at your institution, as well as beyond your institution, and what would you say have been the key benefits?
My strategy is to keep things open, however, I cannot do that every time.
In my experience, the ones who are most connected to formative assessment are the enrolled students, so I will say the students have benefited most from OE because almost immediately they started to be more motivated and engaged in the subjects, such as linear algebra or calculus. I usually question the students at the end of the semester and they are very happy to have these kinds of quizzes to keep up with the subject matter.
I have, however, found some resistance from my colleagues to use these quizzes, even if they don’t count much for the final grade, so I will say the academic world is a little closed. Each professor thinks that they have the right solution for all the problems, and we are not very used to sharing, comparing and discussing how we teach. We do that with research, but not so much with teaching, and so I would say that with the assessment system, the students benefit the most.
During the pandemic, however, it was interesting to see how everyone turned and asked, “How can we assess online and work remotely with students?” and, “Oh, Ana has already been working with some kind of exercises, let’s ask her how it all works.” So there was a refresh on this and now we have more colleagues that use a similar system to keep up with these formative assessments of students in different subjects, such as mechanical engineering and civil engineering for example. So I now have more colleagues that use this.
With regard to the MOOCs, there are more people that benefit from them. First, the enrolled students at Técnico Lisboa, of course, but also the other participants, such as alumni who want to refresh some topics. They can now go and watch the videos and discuss things that are more updated, because these are STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects, which evolve all the time.
My strategy is to keep things open, however, I cannot do that every time, so I try to keep open online courses, but sometimes in the platform the online courses are for enrolled students only.
What do you see as the key successes in the Open Education movement so far?
In addition, students who are far away or in a remote region in Portugal, or even in Africa where we have Portuguese-speaking countries such as Angola and Mozambique, can access these courses because they are open. They can even follow along on their mobile phones.
The MOOCs that we're talking about, they're opened up with Open Licenses?
Yes, and everything is CC (Creative Commons) by licensing.
What would you say still needs to be done for Open Education to truly take hold? In terms of the most pressing challenges, is a cultural change needed, and are there other things?
Perhaps in some countries the academic world is too closed, and not keen on sharing experiences and there is work to be done there, I think.
I would say a cultural change is needed, yes.
What are your plans for the future with Open Education? What do you have coming up?
We have content both in Portuguese and English. Usually our undergraduate content is produced in Portuguese, but for the Master’s students we translate everything and produce the audio in English. Additionally, if we have the content in Portuguese, it can be viewed in Brazil, Angola, Mozambique and in other countries where Portuguese is the official language and where perhaps they do not have highly developed, specific or technical content.
Would you say it is these types of conversations that are really key to moving and changing the culture itself?
Copyright: Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0 Licence SPARC Europe
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