Personalised and Multi-Sensory Approaches to Engaging Students at A Distance: A Case Study from Religious Studies

John Maiden
The Open University, United Kingdom

Stefanie Sinclair
The Open University, United Kingdom


This article critically evaluates the pedagogical value of peer-to-peer digital sharing of audio visual resources in a distance learning context. It does so through a case study exploring the use of OpenStudio, an innovative software developed by the Open University (UK). This platform allows students to upload their own images, sounds and texts to an interactive digital pinboard, where they are shared with other students and comments may be exchanged. The context for the use of OpenStudio was to support peer-to-peer group activities, both assessed and unassessed, in a Religious Studies course (A227 “Exploring Religion: Places, Practices, Texts and Experiences”). These activities were envisaged as a novel, experimental approach to offering students a highly personalised, multi-sensory opportunity to explore complex scholarly concepts, in particular the materiality of religion. OpenStudio would provide students with a means of learning through their own creativity and self-expression, and also that of others. The findings of this article draw on data critically evaluating the engagement and experiences of both students and tutors during the first presentation of the course, in order to assess the strengths and limitations of this approach to personalised learning through digital technologies.

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