Lorena A. Barba group

A Qualitative Study of Open Educational Practice using Jupyter Notebooks


2018 Open Education Global Conference

Research efforts in the last decade have focused on the effect on student outcomes from using Open Educational Resources (OER). We are interested in whether (some) OER may also influence students in their attitudes and capacities for collaboration, community involvement, and open practices. The aim of our study is to discover how a new OER medium, Jupyter Notebooks, may (or may not) impact attitudes of undergraduate engineering majors toward sharing and openness.

In this context, we describe ‘openness’ as a culture that supports making your code, data, and other resources available to others, inviting collaboration. All of the resources accessed by students throughout the course are CC-BY, but what makes the functionality of Jupyter notebooks different from a standard open textbook is the ability for students to play with and deploy code in the platform. This is an exploratory study, listening to student voices to see if, when given the opportunity to use the legal permissions associated with the open content (e.g., copying and pasting lines of code, developing their own notebooks), they interact with the content in new ways, and if/how they choose to share their work.

This study takes a look at 52 sophomore-level students in Professor Barba’s Fall 2017 Engineering Computations Course at the George Washington University to answer the question: how might the utilization of technology that enables students to exercise the different open permissions (Jupyter Notebooks), affect learners’ attitudes toward sharing and create a change in culture toward openness?
Throughout the semester, learners are given a variety of opportunities to work together and share their work/resources with peers and forming their own PLN (personal learning network). We will review the learners’ participation in Slack channels (PLN), and their new attitudes toward sharing at the end of the semester through group and individual interview discussions.