ALT Scotland Policy Board – Sector Strategy Updates

During the ALT Scotland Policy Board meeting, which took place at SQA on the 16th of November 2015, a number of strategic updates were presented by a range of sector agencies including SFC, Jisc Scotland, QAA Scotland, SQA, College Development Network (CDN) and Open Scotland.  The following summary of these updates has been approved for circulation to the sector. 

Scottish Funding Council

– David Beards, Senior Policy Officer.

SFC is working towards the integration of the QA and outcome agreement processes, and looking to strengthen self-evaluation and integrate different voices in QA processes. SFC believes that QA is in good shape in Scotland and would like to see greater continuity of the existing QA arrangements, however they are waiting to see what happens at UK level as there may be some impact from the TEF and the external examiners review process. QAA Scotland’s recent work on assessment and feedback has been particularly beneficial.

SFC will continue supporting and funding Jisc. Funding has been cut by 5% but this has not affected core services. There may be further cuts as SFC are facing a tough public spending review settlement. As funding is reduced it’s possible that infrastructure will win out over innovation and projects. With Jisc’s new structure it’s important that institutions let Jisc know what their priorities are. The majority of Jisc’s spending has historically been on supporting the digital infrastructure, with most trafficfrom researchers & research groups. However as people are putting more things in the cloud the network infrastructure is supporting equally learning, research and general institutional operations.

In the context of efficiency gains and spending reviews SFC will seek greater cooperation between national agencies. (In terms of organizational structure, David is now on the research universities side of SFC and has no involvement with teaching, learning and Jisc.)

Scottish Qualifications Authority

– Martyn Ware, Head of Assessment.

Development & Delivery Digital evidence is SQA’s guiding theme. SQA is considering the implications of the continuing move amongst its centres from paper to digital evidence over time and for digital to become the default.

SQA have already started to investigate the practicalities of dealing with digital evidence. Can SQA verifiers look at that evidence remotely regardless of where it exists, e.g. Moodle, Mahara? SQA has done a small pilot sample and it looks like this is feasible. There are no overriding barriers; that would prevent verifiers from verifying digital evidence. Along with the benefits for teaching, learning and assessment, reductions in funding play into this agenda, costs savings, reduction in travel costs, increased efficiency. We are starting work with some colleges to develop SQA endorsed templates for use in Moodle and Mahara to encourage staff to use these serves.

Capturing exam responses in digital format is still difficult. As a system we still require students to go into an exam room once a year for their high stakes school leaving exams. We’re starting to look at this with the Paper Plus initiative in partnership with BTL. This approach would allow learners to capture exam responses using digital devices rather than paper. Content is uploaded from the device at 30-second intervals, then at the end of the exam a final copy is uploaded and wiped from the device. We hope it will reassure learners and wider stakeholders that we are starting to explore the application of digital technologies to exams. Edinburgh University and others have already done some work in this area. It’s a difficult area but one we as a system need to explore; for how much longer is it realistic and valid to expect students to continue filing into exam rooms once a year and writing out their responses with a pen?

We need a pragmatic approach but we also have to be open to new developments. It’s not a sudden switch it’s a journey. Digital submission can also enable us to assess things that we cannot assess on paper, e.g. submitting working code samples.

QAA Scotland

– Heather Gibson, Enhancement Team.

Like Jisc, QAA Scotland have had a 5% funding cut so we have had to pull back on certain initiatives. SFC have suggested that efficiency must be prioritized over innovation, in our experience they come together. QAA Scotland have lead innovative projects with very little funding and staffing support.

QAA Scotland will be responding to Universities Scotland with reflections on the TEF proposals. Although we recognise the benefits of monitoring, we also feel that it’s important to understand why data is being collected and how it will be used. No one gets healthier just by taking their temperature. It’s what do you do with the information to improve the learning and teaching process that is important.

In terms of policy it’s a movie feast, everything is very dynamic. It’s unfortunate that the Scottish Government aren’t here, so we could prod them into resurrecting the learner journey work they did. This would give us all a good policy umbrella to work under.

The Focus On Assessment and Feedback project looked at management of e-assessment. There was lots of interest in this project but it was only funded for one year. Funding has now run out but we are still willing to run events and to expand this work into other sectors.

QAA Scotland’s main area of work is the student transitions enhancement theme, which is now in its second year. Institutions have a sum of money to focus on student transitions, and they can interpret the theme as they see fit. We are pulling together a visual map of how people deal with transitions and hope to lead people to existing practice that can be helpful to them. Snook have been appointed to undertake this work.

QAA Scotland haven’t yet decided what work to commission in the coming year, there is only a small amount of funding available. We’re interested in using the digital world creatively and not just replicating existing practice. We’re looking at other campuses around the work and how people spread cultures online.

Jisc Scotland

– Jason Miles-Campbell, Head of Jisc Scotland and Jisc Northern Ireland.

Jisc Scotland have to balance Scottish priorities with the national agenda as Jisc are a large UK organisation. There are great efficiencies to be gained from exploiting the UK wide nature of Jisc. We are getting used to being two thirds of the size we used to be. Developments are progressing but some things are not moved on as fast as we’d hoped. It’s good we have a new CEO who is graduate of St Andrews and who understands the Scottish context.

Jisc has a strategic contact at each institution who liaises with their Jisc account manager. We have moved away from being seen as an IT organisation, but account managers still tend to get shoved in the direction of institutional IT managers. We are focusing more on technology enhanced learning now.

Key themes:

  • Getting efficiencies through existing technologies, e.g. Office 365.
  • Learning analytics is a key engagement theme.
  • Revising learning spaces and digital classroom, and looking at how we use estate.
  • Transnational education and supply of resources to learners outwith the UK.
  • Supporting development of the young work force, and employer engagement.

We have a better view of Scottish institutional projects; there are a lot of assessment projects in Scotland, Accessible by Design is also an important area of activity, along with building digital capability frameworks. We need to get more colleges involved though.

In terms of the open agenda, universities have been more focused on the open access research agenda, rather than open education practice due to research council mandates. The new CEO has got an interest in open badges so we may see some movement on this. Open education practice is not currently emerging through college and university engagement as a priority for Jisc.

Open Scotland, the Scottish Open Education Declaration and OEPS

– Lorna M. Campbell, EDINA Digital Education Manager and OER Liaison.

Learning Teaching and Web Directorate The University of Edinburgh have committed funding to Open Scotland in order to support the OER16 Conference which will be taking place in Scotland for the first time and to promote the Scottish Open Education Declaration.

The Declaration is now available online as a version 1.0 public document. Feedback from institutions suggested that while the Declaration proved to be very useful for raising awareness of open education at senior level within institutions, senior managers were unwilling to be steered by a document in draft format. Many institutions across the sector have already contributed to the Declaration and the 1.0 version is still open for comment.

The Declaration has been forwarded to Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Angela Constance and her predecessor Mike Russell and although it has met with a positive response, we have not yet been successful at getting traction for open education at Government level.

The OEPS Project have recently suggested using the Declaration as the basis for the development of a concordat which all Scottish HEIs would be encouraged to sign up to. Pete Cannell, OEPS Project Co-director, has suggested that the Concordat might be similar to Athena Swan with perhaps three tiers of commitment. At each level there would be specific commitments that would be designed to develop a growing and sustainable engagement with open education. The Concordat would have it’s roots in the Declaration but it would be different in the sense that, whereas the declaration is an open document and should change on an ongoing basis, the Concordat would be fixed for some specified period. OEPS are proposing to look at whether there are international examples that might influence the development of the Concordat, explore how a Concordat could articulate with the Declaration and talk to people around the sector, including the Universities Scotland Learning and Teaching Committee about how such an idea could be implemented.

While the focus on open education practice is to be encouraged, there is a feeling in some quarters that open educational resources have been done and dusted and are rather old hat. This is clearly not the case. There is still a lot of work to be done in this area and there is a strong ethical case to be made that all publicly funded educational content should be openly licensed. Several of the large cultural heritage institutions south of the border are leading the way by releasing their digital collections under open license. Education institutions are rather lagging behind in this regard which is one of the reasons we want to draw the open education community together with the cultural heritage sector through the OER16: Open Culture Conference.

The University of Edinburgh is in the process of formulating institutional policy for open education resources and have developed a vision for OER at the university. The proposed OER vision has three strands:

  • For the common good – teaching and learning materials exchange to enrich the University and the sector.
  • Edinburgh at its best – showcasing openly the highest quality learning and teaching.
  • Edinburgh’s treasures – Making available online a significant collection of unique learning materials available openly to Scotland, the UK and the world, promoting health and economic and cultural well-being.

College Development Network

– Joe Wilson, Chief Executive

College senior management teams are looking for advice on communicating at scale across multi campus colleges. They are also looking at effective use of email & other tools for time management. Another priority area is getting better data and dashboards to manage activity across bigger colleges.

CDN are working closely with the OEPS Project to cascade out their outputs across the sector.

Learning technologists in the Scottish FE are now beginning to refocus following regionalization and mergers. Getting Moodle working across multiple college sites is a priority. CDN are investing in CMALT certification through ALT and are looking to support staff development in colleges in Scotland. We’re trying to encourage colleges to look at the bigger ALT family in order to help them plug into colleagues in HE.

CDN are progressing access to Jisc collections and going through clearance so we can all have access to Glow. There are actually lots of really useful resources in Glow that will help a lot of schools and colleges to work in partnership.

CDN have hosted the Re:Source open learning object repository. This was a subset of Jorum, so we’re now caught up in the Jisc debate regarding what will replace Jorum. We’re having monthly calls with the Jisc people who are looking at what comes next. Jisc are building an app store, a content store and an online academy for FE. We’re hoping that the content or app store will provide us with a suitable solution that will replace the Re:Source platform and enable us to continue sharing open education resources. However conversations with Jisc collections suggest they are more focused on creating a shop window for selling back high quality content to the sector.

CDN sit on the learner led part of the FELTAG / ETAG work. Jisc are funding a range of activities south of the border; this is where the FE Academy work is coming from. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this. We have already achieved super efficiencies in Scotland; AOC are now facing a 25% cut and regionalization and it will be interesting to see the impact of this on the FELTAG work.

We are actively promoting developments coming out of UfI, e.g. Citizen Maths, and a blended learning MOOC for FE staff.

Next year the standards for FE lecturers are due for review and this will give us real leavers to get digital and open practice embedded in the sector.

We already have free online resource about copyright have embraced OER and Open Badges.

Following regionalization, colleges are back to focusing on what learners want. West College Scotland and City of Glasgow College have done two surveys of what learners expectations of technology usage. 90% of students have smart phones and they now expect to bring their own device. Learners also really do want online blended learning. NE College are leading the charge on BYOD. Clyde College are looking at the Alfresco EduSharing repository to share learning materials regionally. City of Glasgow have opened their new riverside campus and invested in wireless data projectors rather than digital whiteboards across whole centre, which should facilitate new delivery models in classrooms.

70% of modern apprentices spend time in colleges and there is talk of an employers’ levee to fund apprenticeships. This may change employers expectations regarding the delivery of learning and may drive online learning etc.

CDN are revitalizing all 32 of their networks, communities and mailing lists. Some are on Jiscmail but we need to look at something that will support communities in this space. Jisc could look at how it could support a social platform for learners.

ALT Scotland Policy Board

alt-logo_0_0On behalf of the Members of the Association, the ALT Scotland Policy Board is convening in Glasgow on the 16th of November 2015, 10.00-13.00. The Policy Board will bring together representatives of Scottish ALT Member Organisations and individual members to discuss key policy issues for Learning Technology and the wider education and training landscape in Scotland.

The Policy Board will be chaired by Professor Linda Creanor, Head of Blended Learning, Glasgow Caledonian University, and Joe Wilson, Chief Executive of the College Development Network and is organised with the ALT Scotland Members Group.

The number of participants in this event is limited to 30 and places will be allocated to representatives of member organisations based in Scotland and individual members based in Scotland on a first come first served basis.

Tea and coffee are served on arrival and a working lunch with conclude the proceedings.

There are still a few places available for this event, to register please go to

US Federal Government Support for Open Education

doeLast week the US Federal Government announced that it is

“supporting the use of open educational resources to provide equitable access to quality education.”

Building on a recent International Open Education Workshop that examined existing open education initiatives and identified opportunities for future collaboration, the U.S. Government aims to continue expanding and accelerating the use and availability of openly licensed educational materials worldwide.

Today, the Department of Education formally announced that it is proposing a new regulation that would require all copyrightable intellectual property created with Department grant funds to have an open license.

John King, senior advisor to the Deputy Secretary of Education commented

“By requiring an open license, we will ensure that high-quality resources created through our public funds are shared with the public, thereby ensuring equal access for all teachers and students regardless of their location or background.”

In tandem with this announcement, The U.S. Department of Education announced the launch of #GoOpen, a campaign to encourage states, school districts and educators to use openly licensed educational materials.  As part of this initiative a cohort of ten districts has committed to replace at least one textbook with openly licensed educational resources within the next year and a group of #GoOpen Ambassador Districts have committed to help other school districts move to openly licensed materials.

Clearly the education landscape in the US differs significantly from the Scotland and the UK more widely, however it is encouraging to see a national government actively supporting open education initiatives at this level. It will be interesting to see how these initiatives progress and what transferrable lessons can be learned from the experiences of our colleagues in the US.


Whitehouse Blog: Openly Licensed Educational Resources: Providing Equitable Access to Education for All Learners

Office of Educational Technology: Open Education Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and #GoOpen Initiative

Press release: U.S. Department of Education Launches Campaign to Encourage Schools to #GoOpen with Educational Resources

Fact Sheet: Enabling Innovation and Teacher Creativity through Open Licensed Educational Resources

Open Badges as Bridges – Design, Create, Connect event

A guest post from Gráinne Hamilton, Programme Director (HE / Adult Learning), DigitalMe, about a forthcoming Open Badges event.  

digital me logoAnyone interested in recognising learning in a way that can be communicated across the web using an open infrastructure, is invited to join the DigitalMe consultants for a free event on designing, creating and connecting Open Badges on Wednesday 28th October at the Scottish Youth Theatre, Glasgow.

We know that increasing numbers of people are investigating Open Badges but it can be challenging to know where to start, how to turn an idea into reality and how to connect Open Badges to opportunities. This event will start with hands-on activities for participants to design their own badges, followed by the opportunity to create, issue and share the badge(s) they have designed using DigitalMe’s new website and mobile app, the Open Badge Academy.

The design aspect of the day will use the DigitalMe Badge Canvas, which has been created with the aim of making explicit the value proposition for the earner, issuer and consumer of the badge. The canvas works well as a social activity, helping a group of people to dig into the detail of a badge at the same time as keeping the value of the badge to the fore. Everyone can contribute in whatever way they feel comfortable, quietly contributing some text to the canvas or discussing some of the finer points of the assessment methodoloy, what evidence should be required or what to include in the badge criteria.

To date, the process of creating, issuing and sharing a digital badge has not necessarily been the most straightforward. Being able to easily display and share badges has perhaps been the least developed aspect of the infrastructure so far but participants will have the chance to use DigitalMe’s new Open Badge Academy, which features the end-to-end process, from creation, issuing, tracking and displaying badges via a website or mobile app. The mobile aspect of the platform allows badge earners to collect evidence on the go, ensuring applied skills can be captured and easily shared from their phone.

The event is influenced by one of the key aims of the Scottish Government’s Youth Employment Strategy, Developing the Young Workforce, which is to build bridges between education, business and industry. It also aims to respond to the current Enhancement Theme for the Quality Assurance Authority for Higher Education (QAA)Student Transitions into, during and out of university. Participants will be able to hear case studies of how Open Badges are being used to bridge transitions and engage in activities to create badge pathways connecting learners to destination points such as learning opportunities or employment. DigitalMe has been working extensively with employers, such as those involved in the Tech Partnership trailblazer group (over 600 technology companies defining the new standards for technology related apprenticeships) to develop employer endorsed badges that allow badge earners to showcase the hard and soft skills employers are saying they are looking for.

The intended outcomes of the event are to:

  • Learn what Open Badges are and how they can communicate the skills your organisation needs or evidence the skills you have
  • Learn how to design a badge of value
  • Learn how to create, issue and share a badge using a website and mobile app
  • Learn how to create badge pathways to learning or employment opportunities
  • Learn how badges can support transitions and act as bridges between education and employment

The event should be of interest to educators, employers, charities, voluntary organisations and anyone else who is interested in recognising learning.

You can register here.

Gráinne Hamilton
Programme Director (HE / Adult Learning)

Wikimedia opportunities and events at the University of Edinburgh

edinburghLast week, the University of Edinburgh became the first Higher Education institution in Scotland to advertise for a Wikimedian in Residence.  The post will be based within Information Services where the successful candidate will work alongside learning technologists, archivists, librarians and information literacy teams to help establish a network of Wikimedians on campus and to embed digital skills and open knowledge activities in learning and teaching across the University.  Applications for the post, which is part-time and fixed term, are open until the 29th October 2015.

The University of Edinburgh already has a strong tradition of engaging with the Wikimedia Foundation through Wikimedians in Residence at the National Library of Scotland and National Museums Scotland.  A number of editathons have already taken place at the University focused on raising the profile of women in science and Scottish history.  The hugely successful Edinburgh Seven editathon, focused on the first women to be admitted on a degree programme at any British university. The achievements of the Edinburgh Seven were also recognised when a commemorative plaque was unveiled by Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, at a ceremony in the University of Edinburgh’s Anatomical Museum in September.


Another Women, Science and Scottish History editathon will be taking place at the University on Tuesday 13th October to coincide with Ada Lovelace Day, the international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).  In addition to the editathon, the event will feature speakers on Lovelace, research using LEGO, programming and games, and sessions on composing music with algorithms, and building Raspberry Pi enclosures with LEGO.


University of Edinburgh Wikimedian in Residence job advert –

Ada Lovelace Day at University of Edinburgh –

Edinburgh Seven –

Edinburgh Seven honoured with plaque in Edinburgh –

OER16 Conference Submissions Open

oer16_logoThe OER16 Open Culture is now accepting submissions.  The conference, which is taking place in Scotland for the first time since it began in  2010, will take place at the University of Edinburgh on the 19th and 20th April 2016. The call for proposals was launched at the ALT Conference in Manchester at the beginning of September and the submissions site is now open.

Submissions are invited for presentations, lightning talks, posters, and panels and workshops on the themes of:

  • The strategic advantage of open, creating a culture of openness, and the reputational challenges of openwashing.
  • Converging and competing cultures of open knowledge, open source, open content, open practice, open data and open access.
  • Hacking, making and sharing.
  • Openness and public engagement.
  • Innovative approaches to opening up cultural heritage collections for education.

If you have any queries about the conference themes please contact conference co-chair Lorna M. Campbell at / or on twitter @lornamcampbell. Any queries regarding the submission process should be directed to Anna Davidge at ALT,

Further information about the conference is available here and you can follow @oerconf and #oer16 on twitter. Look forward to seeing you in Edinburgh in the Spring!


The Way Forward: National Library of Scotland Strategy 2015 – 2020

The National Library of Scotland plans to put a third of its renowned collection of 24 million items online in the next 10 years in one of the biggest programmes of its kind anywhere in Europe

This ambitious goal is outlined in the National Library of Scotland, Leabharlann Naiseanta na h-Alba, new 2015 – 2020 Library Strategy which was launched last week.

The focus of the strategy, titled The Way Forward, is squarely on openness, access and reducing inequality through the use of digital technology.   The Strategy introduces the National Library’s commitment to

natlib_strategy…providing easy access to our physical and digital collections and delivering services that are open and available to all. Our determination is to make the knowledge held within our collections as widely available as possible. By breaking down barriers that prevent people engaging in education and learning, we help to reduce inequalities.

Acknowledging the complex and ever changing environment in which the National Library operates, the Strategy highlights some of the challenges it faces in terms of funding, efficiency, improvement, realising the potential of physical collections, embracing the challenges and opportunities of digital technology, and addressing copyright and licensing.

The Strategy identifies seven significant trends, and six strategic priorities, many of which have direct relevance to open education.


forms of knowledge communication will continue to widen, as the book, ebook, ejournal, social media, and data are recast;

libraries will be more open in the way they supply and license information, as well as revealing their day-to-day activities through social media;

Strategic priorities:

4. Supporting learning. We will ensure our collections and services make an important contribution to the education, learning and advancement of our citizens and the success of our nation.

4.1 We will improve equality of opportunity by seeking to remove all barriers which prevent people accessing our collections and services.

5. Inspiring engagement.  We will design and deliver public engagement programmes that will educate, entertain and inspire the communities of Scotland.

5.3 We will engage with our users and audiences as partners, collaborators, and supporters, seeking opportunities for them to reuse our content and participate via social media and crowdsourcing. We will be a place of researching, making, and creating.

The National Library aims to support the Scottish Government’s national outcomes for a successful Scotland which include a focus on education, learning, research and innovation.

natlib_strategy_3“Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.”

We contribute to and create new innovative resources for use in schools including ‘Scotland on Screen’ and the Library’s ‘Learning Zone’.

We link with Scottish universities, colleges and schools on innovative research projects.

All our educational resources link to the Curriculum of Excellence and are promoted to schools across Scotland.

The Strategy also demonstrates an admirable commitment to multilinguality with Scots language resources for schools and the ability to search the library catalogue in Gaelic.

In a press release accompanying the Strategy launch, Dr John Scally, National Librarian and Chief Executive of the National Library of Scotland commented

“At no time has it been as possible to reach out beyond our buildings to provide services to people living in every part of Scotland. This new strategy seeks to harness technological developments to achieve the central aim of the National Library — to provide access to knowledge that is inspiring, accessible and relevant to anyone, whether living in or interested in Scotland.”

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, added

natlib_strategy_2“The National Library’s new strategy 2015-20 highlights the key role that the Library plays in educating and supporting research and innovation, and enhancing Scotland’s profile here at home and abroad. I am pleased to see that it is firmly committed to improving access to its impressive collection of 24 million items by developing further its online presence to make its collections more widely available and engage with new and more diverse audiences worldwide.”

While the strategy acknowledges that there are limitations to how content can be used and delivered, due to existing copyright, licensing agreements and legal restrictions, the National Library’s new Strategy demonstrates a clear commitment to increasing openness which will hopefully be an important driver to promoting greater openness across all Scotland’s educational and cultural heritage institutions.


New support for Open Scotland

(Cross posted to Open World)

I’m very pleased to to announce that the University of Edinburgh has confirmed that it will support the Open Scotland initiative over the next twelve months. As of the beginning of September I will be working one day a week as OER Liaison – Open Scotland within the Learning, Teaching and Web division at the University of Edinburgh, where I’ll be working with LTW Director and OER16 co-chair, Melissa Highton.

Edinburgh already has a world class reputation for encouraging innovation in open education and a forward looking vision for sharing open educational materials, so I’m very pleased indeed that the University has chosen to support Open Scotland in this way.

The main activities I’ll be concentrating on over the coming months are planning next year’s OER16 conference, revitalising the Open Scotland initiative, promoting the Scottish Open Education Declaration, and continuing to participate in the Open Policy Network.  The Open Scotland blog has been rather neglected for some time now so hopefully I’ll be able to start updating this site again with open education news and developments from across Scotland and beyond, so if you’re involved in an any kind of open education initiative that you’d like to see featured here, please feel free to get in touch. You can drop me a mail at or contact me on twitter @lornamcampbell.

I’ll also be at ALT-C in Manchester next week so if you’ve got any thoughts or ideas either for OER16 or for Open Scotland, please do come and find me for a chat.

OEPS Forum and ways forward for the Scottish Open Education Declaration

Earlier this month I went along to the second Opening Educational Practices in Scotland Forum where I’d been invited to present an update on the Scottish Open Education Declaration.

OEPS Update

The event began with an update from the OEPS Project team outlining their progress in supporting a network of open education practitioners, developing a Scottish open education hub, collating case studies and supporting the development of new content and practice. There was considerable discussion as to the role of the hub, which has been revised following discussions at the first OEPS forum. Although the hub will facilitate aggregated OER search, it will focus more on being a community hub for open education practice. For a comprehensive update on OEPS progress, the project recently published their first report here: First OEPS Project Report.

An international perspective on opening educational practices – Laura Czerniewicz

Undoubtedly the highlight of the morning, was Laura Czerniewicz remote presentation from Cape Town on international perspectives on opening educational practices. Laura spoke about how openness and the internet have reconfigured the post traditional education landscape and presented a series of case studies from South Africa. Laura went on to suggest that open education exists in an extremely contested and complex environment. In Africa there has been some scepticism about open education as it is seen as an extension of the commodification of knowledge, however Africa has a strong narrative culture of sharing which can be harnessed to encourage the sharing of open education resources and practice (Jane-Frances Agabu, National Open University of Nigeria). One of the most interesting and challenging points Laura raised in her presentation centred on the legitimacy of piracy as a means of sharing educational content in the face of rising text books costs.

“Is it unethical to want to be educated or is it unethical to charge so much for books? To have to pay that amount when you can’t afford it?”

A valid question indeed.

Towards the end of her talk Laura also discussed the potentially valuable role of open education policy, although she also cautioned:

“Policy is great, but policy without budget can be problematic.”

This is certainly a point I would agree with.  In order to make an impact, policy ideally needs to be backed up by adequate resources and funding, however this also begs the question of how to support unfunded policies that emerge from the community such as the Scottish Open Education Declaration.

The Scottish Open Education Declaration – the way forward

In the afternoon I presented two workshops on future directions for the Scottish Open Education Declaration, (slides from these workshops are available here). The second draft of the Declaration was published by Open Scotland in December 2014, after receiving a small amount of very welcome funding from the OEPS Project. Shortly afterwards, the ALT Scotland SIG forwarded the declaration to Angela Constance, the new Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.  Although Open Scotland has not been in a position to actively promote and disseminate the declaration recently, primarily due to lack of funding, it was evident from participants at the workshops that there still seems to be real appetite across all sectors of Scottish education to continue taking the Declaration forward. Several participants said that they had found the declaration useful for raising awareness of open education within their own institution and for triggering discussions about open education at policy level. The Scottish Funding Council also appear to see some merit in the Declaration and during discussions with workshop participants and members of both Open Scotland and the OEPS Project, we were able to identify several steps to take the Declaration forward.

Evidencing the Declaration

While the Declaration may have some value as an aspirational statement of intent, clearly it will carry considerably more weight if each point can be evidenced by examples of existing practice in Scotland and further afield.   Examples of existing practice could be crowd sourced and collected via the Declaration Comment Press site and collated from evidence gathered by the OEPS Project.

Evidence of Impact

In order to highlight the value of both open education and the Declaration at government level it would be useful to be able to provide evidence of positive impact.  Assessing the impact of open education initiatives is always difficult as quantitative measures have a tendency to miss the bigger picture and, arguably, the ethos of open education.  Gathering qualitative user stories and case studies is likely to be a more useful way to provide evidence of the impact of the Declaration. The case studies being collated by the OEPS Project will hopefully be of particular value here, but continued efforts should be made to gather user stories from across the sector.

Harmonising the Declaration with current policy

When the first version of the Declaration was drafted in early 2014, we made a conscious effort to ensure that it tied in with Scottish Government policies and strategic objectives. Clearly the policy landscape has changed over the last twelve months and it would be useful to revisit the Declaration to ensure that it supports current policy particularly with regard of formal and informal learning, social inclusion and widening access.

Engaging Universities Scotland

A number of bodies and agencies have been identified that could potentially provide valuable support for the Declaration, one of which is Universities Scotland. Although an encouraging number of university colleagues have already made valuable contributions to the declaration, it would be beneficial to engage senior managers to ensure that open education is supported at policy level across the higher education sector.

Engaging schools, colleges and the third sector

It is important that the Declaration represents all sectors of Scottish education; therefore it is critical that we find routes to engage not just higher education but also schools, colleges and the third sector. We would welcome suggestions from colleagues as to how to raise awareness of the Declaration and encourage engagement with open education across all sectors of Scottish education.

The Scottish Open Education Declaration is an open community draft and we continue to encourage all those with an interest in open education in Scotland and beyond to comment on the document here

Scottish Open Education Declaration – new draft released

A new draft of the Scottish Open Education Declaration has been released, and is now available for comment here: (Draft 0.1 of the Declaration, together with all comments received, is still available here.)

The new release of the Declaration incorporates input from many colleagues who commented on the first draft, in addition to policy recommendations developed by the POERUP Project in their Country Option Pack for Scotland.

Some of the amendments made to the Declaration include:

  • Encouraging theuse of CC BY licences for all educational materials produced with public funds, as opposed to CC BY SA licences as recommended in draft 0.1.
  • The addition of “Retention” from Wiley’s 5 Rs of Openness model.
  • Recommending that adequately funded professional development programmes are established to help teachers and other key personnel to understand the benefits of all forms of open education, as suggested by the POERUP guidelines.

Two new clauses were also added, the first is adapted from the POERUP guidelines, and the second was suggested by Scott Wilson of Cetis / OSS Watch and Tavis Reddick of Fife College.

  1. Ensure that open educational resources follow accessibility guidelines and that accessibility is a central tenet of all open education programmes and initiatives.
  2. Support the adoption of appropriate open formats and standards and the development of best practices to ensure that open educational resources can be easily created, revised, repurposed and remixed.

The Declaration continues to be hosted on a dedicated Comment Press site and members of the education community in Scotland and all those with an interest in open education are encouraged to comment on and contribute to this latest draft. All those that commented on the first draft have been credited and attributed in the new version of the Declaration.

Open Scotland would like to acknowledge the support of the Open University’s Opening Educational Practices in Scotland project who provided a small amount of funding to enable this draft to be completed.

In line with the licence conditions of the original UNESCO / COL Paris OER Declaration, the Scottish Open Education Declaration has been released under a CC BY SA licence.