Charles III University of Madrid (UC3M) is one of the subcontracted partners for the external trials of the SlideWiki platform. In this interview, we feature Prof. Paloma Díaz, Full Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at UC3M, and we exchange on her experience with the SlideWiki trials and platform, as well as the plans of her organization in terms of using OER, OCW and SlideWiki beyond the duration of the trials.
- SlideWiki, an EU-funded project, enables the collaborative creation of free teaching and learning materials. These include, for instance, slide sets, lecture notes and course content. What is special about this platform?
One of the most interesting features of SlideWiki is the ability to integrate several teachers and also students in the process of elaborating, discussing and maintaining the courseware not only through typical edition options you can find in other collaborative edition platforms but using additional services like the sources, comments and questions related to a desk. This approach can make the courseware much more sustainable especially in courses like User Interfaces where the material needs to be reviewed constantly to take into account new paradigms and new developments. All teachers and students can contribute with their personal knowledge by making editions or by adding comments on the slides and they can also point to relevant or interesting examples, undergoing research and use cases that are not mentioned in the slides using the sources field. Keeping trace of that kind of feedback that usually happens in the classroom but gets lost once the class is over, can considerably help to improve the material.
Shared desks can definitely help to move to a more dynamic and participatory perspective of the courseware where information is coproduced by all the agents involved in the process, be they teachers or students. This can be quite useful also to make lectures more dynamic and appealing. In my personal experience, students tend to adopt a very passive attitude during the lectures compared to the lab sessions, especially when they have access to the slides. Having a chance to participate by making the slides grow with their own expertise and experience (before, during or after the lecture), or performing tasks and answering questions in the SlideWiki presentation mode can help to improve students’ engagement in the lecture.
- According to your opinion, which are the target groups that can best benefit from using the SlideWiki platform?
The best target users might those involved in courses with not too many students, and preferably with several teachers involved in it. Also the nature of the topics should not require a presentation very demanding in terms of visual or multimedia effects but that can benefit from having a more active participation of all students and teachers. Thus, courses on cutting-edge technologies, critical thinking or multidisciplinary issues would be great candidates to use this platform.
- How do you evaluate the importance of Open Course Ware and Open Educational Resources for all educational levels?
Ideally it should be the main goal of most educational institutions since it enables free education everywhere. From a teacher’s perspective it is also a great opportunity to learn while you are teaching. However, since we have limited resources and capabilities it is not as easy or immediate as it might seem. Preparing open material is much more demanding since you don’t know your audience in advance, their previous background or their learning expectations. From a technical point of view there are also many extra burdens to deal with, including copyright issues or maintaining the quality of the interaction with very large cohorts of students. Sustainability of the courseware is defnitely an issue here and it is were well designed tools can help.
- How does your organization plan to use the SlideWiki platform beyond the duration of the project?
Once we’ve done the effort of integrating our teaching material in the platform we will keep on using it in the same courses to explore further how the SlideWiki platform can improve a collaborative material creation and enable a more active students’ participation in the lectures. Another relevant issue is to analyze whether we can make courseware more sustainable by integrating students’ feedback. I also can see it as a shared repository to access and reuse material when preparing other courses or seminars related with the same topic or just oriented towards a different audience.