I’m delighted to have been invited to Berlin later this week to give a talk at OERde14 – The Future of Free Educational Materials. I’ll be talking about a range of contrasting initiatives that have aimed to promote open education policy and practice in Scotland, England and Wales over the last five years, including the UKOER Programme, Open Scotland, OER Wales, the Welsh Open Education Declaration of Intent, the Scottish Open Education Declaration and the Opening Educational Practice in Scotland project. I’ll also be reflecting on the different approaches taken by these initiatives and asking what Germany can learn from the experiences of open education practitioners in the UK.
The first and largest open education initiative in the UK was the UKOER Programme. Between 2009 and 2012 the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) invested over £10 million in UKOER, and funded over 80 projects at universities throughout England. UKOER proved to be hugely successful, however only English universities were eligible to bid for funding. As a result, there was arguably less awareness of the potential benefits of open education across other sectors of UK education. That is not to say there have been no significant open education developments in other parts of the UK, simply that approaches to open education have followed different paths.
In September 2013 universities in Wales issued the Wales Open Education Declaration of Intent, which announced Welsh Universities commitment to work towards the principals of open education and in direct response, the OER Cymru project was established. In a parallel initiative, the Welsh Government established an Open Digital Learning Working Group in early 2013, which published the report Open and Online: Wales, higher education and emerging modes of learning.
Meanwhile north of the border, interest was growing around the area of Open Badges, and MOOCs had also caught the attention of Scottish Higher Education.
In order to raise awareness of open education policy and practice more widely, Cetis, SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG, came together to launch Open Scotland in early 2013. Open Scotland is an unfunded cross-sector initiative that aims to raise awareness of open education, encourage the sharing of open educational resources, and explore the potential of open policy and practice to benefit all sectors of Scottish education. Among other activities, Open Scotland launched the Scottish Open Education Declaration, based on the UNESCO Paris OER Declaration.
Open education in general, and MOOCS in particular, also caught the attention of the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council, and in early 2014 the Funding Council announced a £1.3 million investment in open education. Rather than issue an open funding call similar to the UKOER programme, SFC allocated their funding to the Open University to establish the Opening Education Practices in Scotland (OEPS) project, which aims to facilitate best practice in open education in Scotland.
These diverse programmes represent just some of the open education initiatives that have emerged in the UK; they provide a wide range of exemplars that may be of interest and benefit to open education practitioners in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
Following her presentation at last week’s ALT Scotland SIG Open Education, Open Scotland event, Sheila MacNeill of Glasgow Caledonian University has written a personal reflection on some of the themes that emerged. At the end of her presentation, Sheila asked if being an open practitioner was a “luxury” or a “daily necessity” for colleagues across the sector. In this blog post Sheila addresses this question and comments on funding support for open education initiatives.
“…in terms of analogies in the open education context I’m now actually thinking more around a supermarket one/ The reason is due to one word I heard a being used over the day in a number of different contexts. That word is “luxury”. I used it in my own presentation, when talking about developing open education practice at GCU, and my own experience. I think I said something like “I have had the luxury of being able to develop my open practice and be supported in doing so”. So is open education practice a luxury item or an every day essential?”
Last week the ALT Scotland Special Interest Group hosted the second Open Scotland event, Open Education, Open Scotland at the Informatics Forum at the University of Edinburgh. This free and open event was attended by sixty colleagues, and speakers represented every sector of Scottish education including schools, further education, higher education and government.
Open Education, Open Scotland – Joe Wilson, Scottish Qualifications Authority
The event was opened and introduced by Joe Wilson of the Scottish Qualifications Authority and the ALT Scotland SIG. Joe suggested that universities in Scotland are currently in a very privileged position, but warned that the relationship between learners and institutions is changing. Meanwhile the college sector has been comprehensively restructured but there is a danger of loosing the focus on the learner in the midst of restructuring. Joe asked where are the attempts to look at new models of assessment? Employers want to see that rich portfolio of experience that differentiates students as individuals. He also asked, what can we do to encourage community learning and digital participation? A citizen without a browser is now at a disadvantage as Government moves online by default. Joe challenged delegates to think out of the box in terms of resources, assessment, and credentials and asked how can we open up access to resources to empower disadvantaged learners?
Open Scotland, Open ALT – Maren Deepwell, ALT
Maren provided an update on ALT’s collaboration, strategy and partnerships. With a slide of Glasgow School of Art’s now destroyed Mackintosh Library, Maren gave us a timely reminder that not all we care about is digital, people are at the heart of what ALT do. Maren also flagged up some good examples of sharing and open practice including ALT’s ocTEL online course and the Scottish Open Education Declaration from Cetis and Open Scotland.
Scottish Government Perspectives – Colin Cook, Deputy Director of Digital Strategy, Scottish Government
Colin introduced the Scottish Government’s Digital Strategy and focused on the role of the Digital Directorate to bring coherence to digital and ICT initiatives. The Scottish Government has a policy commitment to build a world class digital Scotland and recognises that digital participation offers an opportunity to challenge ingrained inequalities. The Government wants to provide opportunities for people to move up the digital skills pathway, but it’s important to focus on learning, not just assistance. Third sector organisations have a huge role to play due to the position of trust they have with the digitally excluded.
The government is committed to driving forward digital transformation across the public sector and recognises the need for industry partnerships with education to develop a digital skills academy. Colin acknowledged that wider use of data is critical to the Government’s long term vision of delivering effective public services, but added that safeguards are in place to promote public confidence so that people can be comfortable with how data is being shared.
SFC and OU update - David Beards, SFC and Ronald MacIntyre, OU
Learning technology is high on the funding council agenda at the moment. MOOCs currently dominate the policy rhetoric, but this is well understood and the importance of pedagogy is always there in the background. Jisc is still the biggest thing that SFC funds and they are committed to the open agenda so it is up to everyone in the sector to let Jisc know what we want them to do.
SFC is providing the Open University with £1.27 million over three years to raise awareness of open education practice and support the sector’s capacity for online pedagogy. The new “Open Project” will develop an online hub to share best practice, produce a small number of high quality OERs of particular benefit to Scotland, and evaluate various economic models for openness. The outputs of the project will be very much in accordance with the activities undertaken by Open Scotland over the last year.
Open Badges, Open Borders – Suzanne Scott, Borders College
Suzanne presented Borders College’s innovative use of open badges. Borders College’s journey started with a Moodle open badges pilot but following a chance discussion with the head of human resources, the initiative has now spread. Open badges are now used to engage with staff and have replaced all staff CPD paper certificates. The use of badges for staff has increased loyalty and attendance at CPD sessions.
Phonar Open Courses – Jonathan Worth, Coventry University
Jonathan related his experiences of rethinking the business model behind photography and opening access to his Coventry University photography course. The course, Phonar, expanded from 9,000 to 35,000 people over a thirteen-week period prompting a mixed response from the university. Institutions hear “open” and they think “free”, but talk about “connected” and they see business opportunities. Connections mean networks and opportunities. Photographs are not the product, but digital fluency is an extremely valuable product. Jonathan also warned “If you think your product as a teacher is information, you’re going head to head with the internet. Good luck with that!” Jonathan also introduced Phonar Nation, “The biggest youth photography class in the world”.
Exploring the Digital University – Sheila MacNeill, Glasgow Caledonian University
After our scheduled speaker was unfortunately unable to attend, Sheila kindly agreed to step in at the last minute to talk about research she and Bill Johnson have been undertaking on exploring the digital university. Sheila presented four key themes for digital universities: digital participation, information literacy, learning environments, and curriculum and course design. She noted that universities’ civic roles can change quite profoundly through digital technology and urged us to think about the interface of digital and physical interaction. Sheila also referred to Edinburgh Napier University’s Digital Futures project and talked about mapping digital literacy and residency across different university services. Wrapping up her presentation Sheila questioned whether being an open practitioner was a “luxury” or a “daily necessity” for colleagues across the sector.
Opening GLOW – Opening GLOW – Ian Stuart and John Johnston
GLOW initially started life as a national schools intranet in 2001, now Glow is about unlocking the benefits of the internet and providing learning opportunities. For some time GLOW seemed clunky and unworkable but in 2010 wikis and forums were added. Identity management should be core to GLOW services and accommodating BYOD has to be part of the GLOW landscape. John and Ian acknowledge that there’s still lots of work to do with GLOW, but also plenty room to manoeuvre and to encourage teachers to become open educators. We need to encourage teachers to open up in as many ways as possible, the technology is the easy bit, culture is harder, and we need help from folk further along the road.
The Scottish Open Education Declaration – Lorna M. Campbell, Cetis
Lorna introduced the Scottish Open Education Declaration a community initiative launched by Cetis and Open Scotland. Based on the UNESCO Paris OER Declaration, the Scottish Open Education Declaration has a wider scope as it focuses on all aspects of open education practice, not just open education resources. The declaration also includes a clause on supporting the use of open source software in education. A key aspect of the declaration is the focus on education as a public good. The declaration is an open CC licensed public draft and all colleagues are invited to contribute. A large number of comments have already been received, points that have been raised include, changing the focus of the declaration so that technology is viewed as an enabler rather than a driver, the need for an open culture shift and the necessity of capacity building, the importance of sharing and education sectors and stronger commitments to open licensing. The first draft will remain open for comment for another month, then comments will be edited into the document, and a second draft posted for further discussion.
Many thanks to all who attended this week’s Open Education, Open Scotland event facilitated by the ALT Scotland SIG. The event was a huge success and it was particularly encouraging to see so many sectors of Scottish education represented and engaging with the open education debate.
We hope to be able to share presentations and other outputs from the event shortly, but in the meantime here are some visual notes from Sheila MacNeill of Glasgow Caledonian University.
Earlier this week I was invited to present about Open Scotland at the CILIP Scotland Conference in Dundee. This is the first time I’ve attended the CILIPS conference and it was a really lively and engaging event with over 300 participants and an inspiring keynote on “Challenges, Choices and Opportunities” from Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of the Carnegie Trust. My Open Scotland presentations seemed to be well received and I was very encouraged to have a couple of questions about the potential role of public libraries in opening access to educational resources, particularly for the school sector. When we held the first Open Scotland Summit in Edinburgh in 2013 it occurred to me that the education sector potentially has much to learn from the public library sector in terms of open practice. My presentation session was ably chaired by Heather Marshall, Senior Librarian at Glasgow Caledonian University Library and in conversation with her afterwards I was struck yet again by GCU Library’s commitment to promoting open educational resources and encouraging open educational practice among their staff.
This free one-day event will provide an opportunity for ALT Scotland SIG members and the wider community to come together and share ideas and experiences of adopting and promoting open educational practices across all sectors of Scottish education.
“Open education can promote knowledge transfer while at the same time enhancing quality and sustainability, supporting social inclusion, and creating a culture of inter-institutional collaboration and sharing. In addition, open education can expand access to education, widen participation, create new opportunities for the next generation of teachers and learners and prepare them to become fully engaged digital citizens.”
- Scottish Open Education Declaration
Early last year, these four supporting institutions launched Open Scotland, a voluntary, cross-sector initiative that aims to raise awareness of open education, encourage the sharing of open educational resources, and promote the development of open policy and practice. A number of awareness raising activities have taken place including:
The Open Scotland Summit, which brought together senior managers, policy makers and key thinkers to explore the development of open education policy and practice in Scotland.
The Open Scotland blog was launched to disseminate news relating to all aspects of openness in education and to act as a focal point for discussion and debate.
The first draft of the Scottish Open Education Declaration was released. This open draft is based on the UNESCO Paris OER Declaration, but extends its scope to focus on open education in general, rather than OER in particular.
Invited Speakers and Topics:
Maren Deepwell, ALT: Update from ALT
Colin Cook, Scottish Government: Scottish Government perspectives
David Beards, SFC: SFC Update
Ronald MacIntyre, Open University: OU Scotland’s Open Education Project
Suzanne Scott, Borders College: Open Badges, Open Borders
Jonathan Worth, Coventry University: Open Courses
Natalie Lafferty, University of Dundee: Students as consumers and producers of open educational resources
Ian Stewart and John Johnstone, GLOW
Lorna M Campbell, Cetis: Scottish Open Education Declaration
There has been some interest of late in the potential of open textbooks across different sectors of Scottish education so we are happy to present this guest blog post from BCcampus in Canada on their Open Textbooks initiative.
In October 2012, the British Columbia (Canada’s westernmost province) Ministry of Advanced Education announced its support for the creation of open textbooks for the 40 highest-enrolled first and second year subject areas in the province’s public post-secondary system. A year later, it announced funding for a further 20 textbooks in areas of trades training. BCcampus is tasked with co-ordination of the project because of our 10-year experience funding open educational resources (OER) through an online program development fund.
The goal of the Open Textbook Project is to provide flexible and affordable access to higher education resources in B.C. by making open textbooks available for use by B.C. faculty, and digital versions of the texts free of charge to faculty and students. Printed copies are also available on demand for a low cost. Here is our progress to date:
BC Open Textbook Project at a glance
40 openly licensed texts for the most highly enrolled subjects in BC Public Post Secondary - Funding: $1 million
20 openly licensed texts for subject areas which align with provincial skills gap and the BC Jobs Plan – Funding: $1 million Specific subject areas: under review
Increase access to higher education by reducing the cost of learning resources.
Enable faculty greater control of resources by enabling modification of existing open resources.
Adopt existing textbooks from the Commons and fund reviews
Fund adaptations of existing OER to form BC appropriate, high quality open texts
Fund creation from scratch where no appropriate existing resources exist
Of the known adoptions of Open Textbooks in British Columbia, we have a total known savings of $234,770 (savings are based on all students buying new textbook)
Year 2 Accounting
Year 2 English
Year 1 History
Year 1 Psychology • Year 2 Psychology
Year 1 Sociology • Year 1 Chemistry
Year 1 Computer Science • Year 1 Business Information Systems
Call for creation from scratch, adaptations and further reviews remain open.
Feedback from our stakeholders about Open Textbooks has been very good:
“I can make edits that are a closer match to my course’s needs, e-books are reasonable to ask students to bring to class every day, and I control the revisions and edition changes. When edition changes are under my control, nothing gets changed that I didn’t ask for or do for myself. I can control the timing. I’m not going to use the exact same textbook for my entire career, that’s not the point. the point is it’s under my control, and I didn’t have to write my own book from scratch.”
- Takashi Sato, Physics Instructor, Kwantlen Polytechnic University
“I still remember the looks on my students’ faces on the first day of class when I told them that the textbook had been posted on their course website for them to download for free. It is an understatement to say that they were happy.”
Glasgow Caledonian University Library has launched a new open educational resource: SMIRK (Small Mobile Information Literacy Realworld Knowledge). SMIRK has been developed for use on mobile devices and aims to give students bite sized knowledge on information literacy and a variety of communication skills. The website is completely open, no login is required and all resources are released under a CC BY licence.
This is the first version of SMIRK, and Marion Kelt would welcome any feedback at email@example.com. Already planned for version two is improved navigation and automatic text scaling to fit your device. We hope you can use it to support your students at a variety of levels.
SMIRK has been repurposed from resources produced by the Jisc RePRODUCE SMILE Project at the Universities of Worcester, Loughborough and Imperial College London.
This is a free one day event that provides an opportunity for ALT Scotland SIG members and the wider community to come together and share ideas and experiences of adopting and promoting open educational practices across all sectors of Scottish education. The event will highlight examples of open education innovation across the Scottish education sector, including adoption of open badges and open assessment and accreditation practices; development of open educational resources and courses and open frameworks for technology enhanced learning. In addition to showcasing homegrown initiatives, the event will also look further afield to inspiring and innovative projects and developments across the UK. This event will also explore some of the drivers and barriers to embedding open education policy and practice within Scottish education, and will provide an opportunity to discuss the draft Scottish Open Education Declaration.