Developing an Open Educational Resource (OER) in a Sino-foreign HEI: Reflections on an Interdisciplinary, Student-Staff, Multi-media Note-making App Project

Dave Towey, David Foster, Filippo Gilardi, Paul Martin and Andy White
The University of Nottingham Ningbo China
Ningbo, China

Cecilia Goria
The University of Nottingham
Nottingham, the United Kingdom

As the higher education (HE) situation in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been evolving, we have been witnessing major changes, not just in traditional higher education institutions (HEIs), but also in the appearance and growth of Sino-foreign HEIs (SFHEIs), and an expansion of non-traditional, more open and flexible learning (OFL) options. The SFHEIs, often representing best practices from both Chinese and foreign education systems, are frequently seen as centres for innovation and creativity. This paper examines a recent initiative in one of these SFHEIs, where a team comprising students and faculty across academic disciplines, carried out a software development project to design and implement an open educational resource (OER): a multi-media note-making app. The project involved undergraduate software engineering students conducting the complete requirements engineering, specification, design and implementation processes for the desired app – thus placing the students firmly at the centre of this research and development. The SFHEI’s multilingual, multicultural environment, in the PRC context, created a number of obstacles and challenges for both the students and the faculty. Although ultimately overcome, these challenges led to several reflections and comparisons of the constraints inherent in traditional education systems, those in SFHEIs, and potentially those in OFL options. This paper outlines the background to the project, and examines both the achievements and the difficulties, contrasting how they were experienced in the SFHEI compared with how things might have been in alternative educational environments. The identified advantages and disadvantages of the different systems may serve as guidance for future initiatives seeking to involve students in collaborative projects; for instructors planning to incorporate OFL aspects into their course delivery; and for OFL and OER designers aiming to afford more realistic, professional experiences in the learning resources.