Thoughts on #OEPSforum14 and the Battle for Open

Cross posted from Open World.

This rather crowded map of open education in Scotland is the product of a brief ten minute brainstorm I took part in at the launch of the Open University’s Opening Education Practices in Scotland (OEPS) project in Edinburgh last week.

open_scot_map_3

Open Education in Scotland
Contributors:  Linda Creanor, Natalie Lafferty, Heather Gibson, Peter Cannell and Lorna M. Campbell

My scribbles may not be very legible, and the geography is questionable, but even if you can’t read the text, this map does give a good impression of the sheer breadth of open education practice already taking place across all sectors of Scottish education. And it also gives a good impression of the significant task facing the OEPS project if they are to effectively engage with existing open education initiatives in Scotland. This is a point that Sheila MacNeill and Joe Wilson have already raised in two thoughtful blog posts (Stuck in the middle with…open and #Oepsforum14 #Openscot Reflections.) Though supportive of the project and enthusiastic about its potential, both Sheila and Joe have raised valid questions about how OEPS plans to support existing open practice in Scotland, and how it will construct a distinctly Scottish narrative of open education.

During a typically thought provoking presentation on The Battle for Open, Martin Weller warned us that if we don’t engage with open education practice now, we’ll be sold a packaged version of what it is. To my mind, engagement with existing open education initiatives in Scotland will be key to the success of the OEPS project. It is critical that the project engages practitioners in creating a Scottish narrative of open education, rather than delivering a packaged alternative.

I’m not going to attempt to summarise the entire meeting, you can get a good flavour of the event from Sheila and Joe’s blog posts, this storify put together by Heather Gibson of QAA Scotland and Martin Hawksey’s TAGS archive. There are a couple of points I want to reflect on however.

The OEPS Online Hub

One of the objectives of the OEPS project is to build an “online hub to encourage and share best practice in open education”. This hub, which will be based on the OU’s existing OpenLearn Works platform, is being developed by members of the OEPS team based at the OU’s Open Media Unit in Milton Keynes. In a parallel session focused on the hub, we were asked to prioritise user stories and requirements, devised by the project team, from the perspective of practitioners and learners. The group I was part of went a bit off piste with this task and in the process raised some valid questions regarding the role of the hub.   There was some confusion as to the exact nature of the online hub, and whether it was intended to be an OER repository. One participant questioned whether there was a real need for another online repository in Scotland when we already have Jorum and Re:Source, and the uptake of centralised repositories generally is notoriously low. The project team explained that although the hub will aggregate resources from other OER collections and enable users to export content, it is not intended to compete with existing OER repositories such as Jorum and OER Commons, it’s aim is primarily to support a community of open education practitioners. While there was a suggestion that this approach sounded a little bit “if we build it they will come”, it’s reassuring to know that OEPS will be focusing on supporting practitioner communities rather than on building another platform in what is already a very crowded space. Questions were also raised regarding the users stories and requirements drafted by the project team, with one participant asking whether a requirements gathering exercise had been undertaken in Scotland to determine the sector’s specific need for an online hub.

The Thorny Issue of Funding

The second point I want to reflect on is the rather thorny issue of funding, or more precisely, the relationship between funding and open education. This is an issue that Martin Weller touched on during his Battle For Open presentation. Martin pointed out that most battles are about money, and that there is a lot of money at stake in open education. This is certainly a point I would agree with, in some quarters at least. Martin also introduced the concept of “guerrilla research” which he contrasted with traditional research as follows…

guerilla_research

from The Art of Guerilla Research by Martin Weller

While this is an attractive model, (and I <3 Beaker) I can’t help wondering how guerrilla research is supported; after all, it’s hard to “Do research” without funding at some level. And the same applies to open education, we all know that open doesn’t equal free, and that funding is required to support open education practice. Sheila MacNeill has written compellingly on this subject in her earlier blog post Open education practice, luxury item or everyday essential?  I’m not going to re-hash Sheila’s arguments, but I think there are a lots of undercurrents relating to the relationship between openness and funding that we still need to surface.

Which brings me back to the scribbled map at the top of this post. Many of the open education initiatives in Scotland are unfunded, voluntary, or funded on institutional shoestring budgets. It’s commendable that Scottish education has done so much with so little, and perhaps this is what sustainable open education practice looks like, but it does make me wonder how much more could be achieved if funding was available to support open education right across the sector. While it’s hugely encouraging that the Scottish Funding Council has made a significant investment in open education by funding the OEPS project, and I have every confidence that the project team will make a significant contribution to supporting open education practice in Scotland, I can’t help holding on to a glimmer of hope that at some stage in the future SFC will launch an open education funding call that is open to all sectors of Scottish education.

Reflections on the Opening Educational Practices in Scotland project launch

Last week the Open University’s Opening Educational Practices in Scotland project launched in Edinburgh.   Open Scotland contributors Sheila MacNeill and Joe Wilson have both written thoughtful blog posts about the project and the event.

#Oepsforum14 #Openscot Reflections

By Joe Wilson at ……Experimental Blog

If Open Education is anything it is about life long learning , its about developing open practitioners and it has got to be about ground up practice and top down policy changes.

There is already a lot of grass roots activity going on in Scotland and across the UK. I hope the partners in the OEPS project harness all of this.  Understandably a lot of focus at the event seemed to be around what the Open University could do for us – questions for long term sustainability should really be around what can we all do to open up learning.

You can read the rest of Joe’s blog post here http://www.joewilsons.net/2014/10/oepsforum2014-openscot-reflections.html

Stuck in the middle with . . . open #oepsforum14

By Sheila MacNeill at howsheilaseesIT

I think there is a danger that the lasting narrative of this project could be subsumed into the larger narrative of the OU. This worries me.  Not because I think that the OU shouldn’t have its own narrative around open education. It has, and continues to do excellent work around opening up access to education and resources. It’s more a niggling fear that a project which states:

 “The Opening Educational Practices in Scotland project facilitates best practice in Scottish open education. We aim to enhance Scotland’s reputation and capacity for developing publicly available and licenced online materials, supported by high quality pedagogy and learning technology.”

doesn’t really seem to be able to articulate (yet) how this Scottish narrative is going to be created, shared and be distinct from the wider OU story.

You can read the rest of Sheila’s thoughts here http://howsheilaseesit.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/stuck-in-the-middle-with-open-oepsforum14/

Heather Gibson of QAA Scotland has also put together a Storify of tweets from the even here: Tweetline from the OEPS Project Launch and ALT’s Martin Hawksey has created a TAGS tweet archive of the event here: #OEPSForum14. I’m hoping to add my own thoughts to the Open Scotland blog later in the week.

OERde14 – The view from Scotland

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.

Abstract

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.

New version of SMIRK released

Following on from Marion Kelt’s May guest blog post about SMIRK (Small Mobile Information Literacy Realworld Knowledge), Glasgow Caledonian University Library‘s, open education resource on information literacy for students, version two of SMIRK has recently been released and is available  here: http://www.gcu.ac.uk/library/SMILE/SMIRK/Start.html  New features include auto text resizing and easier navigation.

Marion would welcome feedback on the latest iteration of SMIRK, so if you have any comments or suggestions please contact her at m.kelt@gcu.ac.uk.

Open education practice, luxury item or everyday essential?

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.

Open education practice, luxury item or everyday essential? #openscot

“…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?”

Open Education, Open Scotland – report & presentations

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.

A recording of the event livestream, courtesy of Martin Hawksey of ALT, is available here: morning livestream, afternoon livestream, and there is a storify of tweets, links and presentations here: Open Education, Open Scotland Storify.

 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.

Open Education, Open Scotland visual notes

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.

ALTScotland1

ALTScotland2

ALTScotland3

Open Scotland at CILIP Scotland Conference

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.

cilips14

Open Education, Open Scotland

The Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Scotland Special Interest Group (SIG), in collaboration with Jisc RSC ScotlandSQA and Cetis will host Open Education, Open Scotland at the Informatics Forum at the University of Edinburgh on Tuesday, 3rd June 2014.

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 are still a few places available for this free event.  Registration and further information is available here: https://www.alt.ac.uk/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=106

Open Textbooks – experiences from BCcampus in Canada

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.

A look at the BCcampus Open Textbook Project from BCcampus on Vimeo.

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

Two Projects:

  • 40 openly licensed texts for the most highly enrolled subjects in BC Public Post SecondaryFunding: $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

Project goals:

  • 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.

Process:

  • 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

Available Textbooks:

Textbook Reviews:

  • 19 have been reviewed by B.C. faculty
  • 51 total reviews
  • More reviews are underway and more are needed

Known Adoptions as of May 2014:

  • 21 known adoptions
  • 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)

Current Creations:

  • Year 2 Accounting
  • Year 2 English
  • Year 1 History

Current Adaptations:

  • 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.”

- Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani, Capilano University

 For more information: