Our paper focuses on the (future) use of Study Guides as a form of study support for students using OpenCourseWare (OCW) at the University of Leuven, Belgium. ‘OCW KU Leuven’ is currently an educational project, funded by KU Leuven and aims to outline the implementation of OCW. To this end we setup a portfolio of -at this point- three fully functional Open Courses as pilots. They have been selected amongst more than 8000 existing Blackboard courses, each for their own characteristics when it comes to didactics, content, and especially their target groups.
In our view, not only the content (presented to its users under the form of weblectures, texts, auto corrective exercises, self tests, etc...) but also the learning process has to be represented in an Open Course. OCW KU Leuven aims to ‘create’ students who are independent and autonomous learners who take responsibility in their own learning process. However, we cannot expect students to be this kind of learner in a knowledge domain they are not (yet) familiar with. In a regular (e.g. face to face) educational context, teachers and student facilitators offer this kind of guidance in their lectures, whether the guidance is implicit (to be read between the lines) or explicit (in study supporting sessions). This kind of study support threatens to disappear in an OpenCourseWare context. At OCW KU Leuven, we want to use study guides to cope with this lack of study support given by teachers in a regular educational context. Since at OCW KU Leuven there is for students no possibility to contact the teacher, we have to develop written educational materials for them to use as study guidance.
We chose to develop two kinds of study guides: first of all there is a General Study Guide, which aims to advice students how to approach an Open Course. In contradiction to ‘taking a class at university’, the concept of ‘taking an Open Course’ is not so clear for everyone since it is a relatively new concept. Therefore we provide students with a step-by-step description of the learning process in an Open Course in general.
Since there is no such thing as “a general Open Course” (every course has its own emphasis) we also provide every Open Course with a Course Specific Study Guide. This latter kind of study guide is developed by the teacher of the Open Course who in this guide makes his view on what he wants to reach with his students explicit. One part of this is the learning outcome, the competencies (knowledge, skills, attitudes) that a student should acquire by taking the Open Course. Another part of this view on what a teacher wants to reach is the way in which a student can become more efficient and effective in acquiring them.
Our paper elaborates on the underlying motivation of using study guides in the context of an OpenCourseWare, and shows some examples of both the general study guide and a course specific study guide.