UNESCO European Regional Consultation on OER Report

A guest post from Joe Wilson, reporting on the UNESCO European Regional Consultation on OER in Malta.  

OER CosnultationsIt was a great privilege to be invited as one of 70 participants from 25 countries gathered in Malta  to contribute to the UNESCO European Regional Consultation on Open Educational Resources in Malta. This to shape the inputs for the 2nd World OER Congress to be held in Ljubljana, Slovenia 18th-20th September 2017.  I hope the remaining regional consultations  for the Middle East/North Africa, Africa , Americas and the Pacific Region are as productive as our gathering. The consultation events are ably supported by the Commonwealth of Learning and funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. You too can take part in the consultation by completing the survey here:  http://rcoer.col.org/surveys.html

The theme of the World OER Congress is OER for Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education; From Commitment to Action. This to move the global education system on from the Paris Declaration of 2012 calling on all governments to make a commitment to OER. The aim to use OER policies and practice to meet the United Nations aims of achieving a set of sustainable development goals for Education by  2030.

We were tasked with :

1. Reviewing the progress of OER in Europe since the World OER Congress 2012
2. To identify strategies for maintaining OER
3. Agreeing  a set of action points to be presented at the next Congress in September

Our outputs providing strategies, examples and models for the creation of a sustainable open educational infrastructure and mainstreaming open educational resources will be fed into the Congress but will be published here as they are pulled together and there will be a collection of interviews from the consultation events published here.

I was invited as Co-Founder of Open Scotland and I carefully prepared our inputs with Lorna Campbell my co-conspirator and  Scottish colleagues from the Association of Learning Technology before setting off.

I’ll share the key parts of my report here and some reflections from the group I worked with who were tasked to  focus on the barriers to the creation, sharing, use and re-purposing of Open Educational Resources at a national level.

In terms of Scottish approaches,  the formation of Open Scotland and the creation of the Open Scotland Declaration has positioned Scottish Education as thought leaders in building both grass roots support for open educational practice and for encouraging policy shifts at national and institutional level and this is still garnering Scotland and Scottish education with global recognition.

The OEPS project has produced some open assets that could do much to drive open practice across Scotland https://oepscotland.org/resources/open-courses/ While the Open University’s broader offering for learners http://www.open.edu/openlearncreate/ offers them access to a rich set of online courses and allows providers the opportunity to build their own courses on the OU  platform.

There are some other green shoots around the UK. The continued healthy support across the community for conferences like #OER17 , the FELTAG coalition supporting  blended learning and the sharing of developments. Some set backs too,  it is hard as yet to see the new Jisc Content and App Store as a serviceable replacement for JORUM.

However, while Scottish Government investment has been made in the Open University led OEPS project and some large global institutions like Edinburgh University have taken up the challenge to embed both open educational resources and a broader set of open educational practices across their operations for the public good and some others notably Glasgow Caledonian University are forging ahead with policies that will support OER, momentum is slow.

Why is the case – these are my own thoughts on Scottish Landscape and updates the last review of Scottish activity from October 2016.

Some of the global arguments for the adoption of open educational practices and resources do not have the same traction in Scotland. Scottish Education is not a text book driven system in Universities, Colleges or Schools – so the economic case for the adoption of Open Textbooks or more open practice around the development and sharing of resources does not have the resonance it might have in other countries where national administration’s buy text books.

The levers in Scotland have to be around our life long learning system, our belief in education as a social good, open to all and around the social benefits of OER to all in the system.

Universities continue to conflate OER with lots of other policy initiatives and developments – We have a MOOC so we must be making and sharing OER ( rarely the case). We have an open research policy and we have policies and practices around open data. ( no realisation that OER is different). There are few formal staff development programmes around the creation, use and repurposing of OER and only a few policy levers to encourage their consideration.

Colleges – Recently regionalised and finding their feet have forgotten traditions of developing learning materials collaboratively and when they remember they tend to do this in closed communities as content clubs. If you do a dig into the public contracts Scotland you can see a growing trend over last six months for Colleges to buy large collections of commercial content. They are trying to make more courses available on line and playing catch up,  by buying in the learning content. The entry level and CPD standards for lecturing staff are due to be refreshed but the current standards are weak around developing skills around embedding digital practice and make no mention of OER.

Schools – No real recognition that sharing learning materials is a good thing and to a degree still struggling with the notion that teachers create  learning materials. In Scotland we have a superb platform in GLOW a Scottish Schools Intranet with excellent set of tools to support learning but it lacks a learning object repository it is hard to find materials inside GLOW and there is no coherent approach to adopting standard open licencing like Creative Commons. In terms of development there is the recently published Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy this encourages the development of digital skills in both initial teacher training and in teacher CPD for continued registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland but it tends to focus on the use and deployment of technology and makes no mention of content creation or open educational resources.

Third sector and libraries – perhaps most progress is being made here. Libraries and museums are digitising their resources and releasing these into the public domain with open licences. Trade unions and third sector organisations realise that a sharing economy is the most effective way to support their stakeholders. Good signs here that the methods and approaches of the wikimedia foundation are being adopted.

Government, while the government has usefully made a significant investment in the OEPS Project, which it references in any enquiry about the progress of OER in Scotland, it still appears to view activity in this area as peripheral in meeting sectorial objectives.

The broad view of the administration seems to be  that policy around open educational practices is not required as initiatives in this space are being driven out by Universities fulfilling their charitable and philanthropic traditions  and that there is a lack of an evidence base around the benefits to learners that justifies a policy intervention.

The growing evidence base from other countries and global initiatives is counter to this view. A healthy open educational resource driven system needs both top down and bottom up support. The papers from this consultation and from the World Congress should allow an informed reappraisal of this position.

UNESCO European Regional Consultation on OER, Malta, February 2017

A further report on the Consultation is available from UNESCO here: Ministers, experts urge inclusive access and quality education through open educational resources

An Overview of Open Education Policy and Practice in Scotland

This report, which is based on a paper presented by Lorna M. Campbell, OER Liaison – Open Scotland, at the ALT Conference at the University of Warwick in September 2016, provides an overview of a number of open education initiatives taking places across different sectors of Scottish education throughout 2016. This report was previously published by the Open Knowledge Open Education Group.

Open Scotland

openscot_logo_portrait_rsOpen Scotland is a 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. The initiative was launched in 2013 and was originally supported by Cetis, ALT, SQA and the Jisc RSC Scotland.  Since 2015, the University of Edinburgh has provided a home for Open Scotland, with additional support provided by the ALT Scotland SIG.  Open Scotland maintains a blog which acts as a focal point to engage the community and disseminate news and developments relating to all aspects of openness in education in Scotland and further afield.

Scottish Open Education Declaration

Open Scotland also supports the Scottish Open Education Declaration  an open community draft based on the UNESCO OER Declaration which broadens the scope of the guidelines to encompass all aspects of open education. The ALT Scotland SIG has contacted previous Scottish Government education minsters, Mike Russell and Angela Constance to raise awareness of the Declaration, and in both instances met with an encouraging but non-committal response. In May 2016, following a Cabinet reshuffle, John Swinney was appointed as the new Cabinet Secretary for Education and the ALT Scotland SIG will bring the Declaration to his attention in the autumn.

Although the Scottish Open Education Declaration has not yet gained traction within Scotland it has generated considerable interest elsewhere in Europe, particularly in Slovenia where the Slovenian government are exploring the potential of adopting it.

Scottish Government

scottish-government-logo-2Although the Scottish Government allocated a substantial amount of funding to the Open University’s Opening Educational Practices in Scotland Project in 2014, there have been no further open education funding initiatives and open education does not appear to be high on the political agenda.  At best, open education is seen as being somewhat peripheral to Scottish Government priorities, primarily due to the perceived lack of a statistical evidence base supporting the impact of open education on learners.

Opening Educational Practices inn Scotland Project

oeps_logo_rsThe Open University’s OEPS project, which runs from 2014 – 2017, is funded by the Scottish Funding Council and aims to facilitate best practice in open education in Scotland.  The project undertakes a wide range of activities include running workshops and events, providing expert guidance, collating case studies and supporting open practice communities. The project has been particularly successful in engaging with third sector organisations including Scottish Union Learning and Pakinson’s UK.  OEPS recently launched a number of open courses developed in collaboration with partners including Understanding Parkinson’s with Parkinson’s UK; My Seaweed Looks Weird, with UHI and the Scottish Association for Marine Science; and Becoming an Open Educator.

Glasgow Caledonian University

glasgowcaledonianuniversity_logoGlasgow Caledonian University became the first university in Scotland to approve an interim open education resources policy in 2015.  The policy defines what OERs are, explains why GCU supports their creation, sharing and use, and gives advice on how to cite third party resources.  GCU Library is now undertaking advocacy work and providing training to raise awareness of OER and the policy.  The University has also recently established the EdShare repository to manage teaching and learning resources; 300 resources have been deposited in the first 6 months of which 40% are open access.

University of Edinburgh

edinburghUniversity of Edinburgh’s has also approved an OER policy, which encourages staff and students to make informed decisions about using, creating and publishing OERs to enhance the quality of the student experience.  This policy is underpinned by an OER vision which builds on the history of the Edinburgh Settlement, excellent education and research collections, traditions of the Enlightenment and the University’s civic mission.  The University also has an OER Service which undertakes a wide range of activities that support staff and students to engage with OER, and help the institution to mainstream digital education across the curriculum.

opened_tealRather than implement an OER repository, the University of Edinburgh releases OERs through a wide range of platforms, including flickr, TES, YouTube, Sketchfab, Wikimedia Commons and Media Hopper, the institution’s own media asset management platform.  These resources are then aggregated into the University’s one stop shop for open education resources, Open.Ed.

200px-wikimedia_uk_logo-svgEdinburgh also recently became the first University in Scotland to employ a dedicated Wikimedian in Residence. As an advocate for openness the Wikimedian in residence delivers training events and workshops to further the quantity and quality of open knowledge and enhance digital literacy through skills training sessions and editathons, and redress the gender imbalance of contributors by encouraging more women to engage with Wikimedia and enhance the coverage of articles about women.

Edinburgh’s efforts in supporting open education were recognized earlier this year, when the University was awarded Wikimedia UK’s Partnership Award for hosting the OER 16 Open Culture Conference, and the Association for Learning Technology awarded the Open Education Team third place in the Learning Technologist of the Year team awards.

University of Dundee

uniofdundeelogo_rsAlthough Dundee has not yet approved an OER policy, the University is hoping to progress to one in the future. Dundee are currently sharing open licensed student developed content through Vimeo and Flickr channels, including a showcase of OER from Masters in Medical Art students  The School of Dentistry is also using Sketchfab to share CC licensed dental models developed by students

MOOCs

Many Scottish universities have developed MOOCs which are running on a number of commercial platforms including FutureLearn, Coursera and EdX. Although MOOCs are a significant part of the open education landscape, engaging with MOOCs does not necessarily equate to engaging with open education.  Only two universities that run MOOCs have developed an OER policy, however anecdotal evidence suggests that a number of institutions are rethinking their MOOC production strategies with a view to making the process more open and sustainable.

FE Sector

PrintThe FE sector is still bedding down after the upheaval of regionalization and mergers. As a result merging institutional systems and creating shared infrastructure has become a priority, however engagement with open education is low.  The Re:Source OER repository previously hosted by Jorum has been moved to a new repository ResourceShare, supported by the College Development Network.  However while the sector is accepting of open educational practice and OER in theory, colleges tend to be cautious in actual practice and there is more interest in the walled garden approach to sharing educational content.  The is some interest in the Blended Learning Consortium led by Heart of Worcestershire College and a number of Scottish colleges have subscribed to join the closed consortium.

Jisc

jisc-logoJisc announced the retirement of the national Jorum OER repository   in 2015 and the service will finally close at the end ofSeptember 2016. Jorum customers have the option of migrating copies of their content from the repository and selected resources are being migrated to the new Jisc App and Resource Store  which will host free and open licensed content alongside paid for content.  It remains to be seen how receptive the sector are to this approach with some within the open education community cautioning against the risk of open washing.

ALT

alt-logoThe Association for Learning Technology  is playing and increasingly active role in supporting open education in Scotland.  In addition to supporting the Open Scotland initiative, the ALT Scotland SIG  liaises with the OEPS Project, hosts annual events to showcase the use of education technology and open education across sector, brings together policy makers at an annual policy summit and raises awareness of open education at Scottish Government  level.

National Library of Scotland

national-library_rsThe National Library of Scotland launched a new strategy in 2015 and continues to review its open licensing policy with a view to making more of the library’s collections openly available. All images up to 1000px, core metadata and OCR scanned resources  are now licensed CC BY, unless the library does not own the copyright, metadata supplied to Europeana is licensed CC0 and high resolution images, extended metadata and manually transcribed resources are licensed CC BY NC SA.  In addition, the Library is planning to share more images through Wikimedia Commons.

Summary

there is significant engagement with open education within individual institutions across Scotland, the Scottish Government has yet to recognise the value of open education to expand access to education, widen participation, and support social inclusion.  However 2017 marks the anniversary of two significant open education initiatives; the tenth anniversary of the Cape Town Declaration and the fifth anniversary of the UNESCO OER Declaration.  These anniversaries will be marked by significant global events and it is possible that these can be leveraged to raise awareness of the value of open education within the Scottish Government and to drive forward the development of national open education policy.

Acknowledgements

With thanks to Sarah Cornelius, University of Aberdeen; Sam Coulter, University of West Scotland; Linda Creanor, Glasgow Caledonian University; Kerr Gardiner, University of Glasgow; Marion Kelt, Glasgow Caledonian University; Natalie Lafferty, University of Dundee; Kenjij Lamb, College Development Network; Joe Wilson, joewilson.net 

Open Education Presentations at #ALTC

The recent ALTC Connect, Collaborate, Create Conference at the University of Warwick featured a number of presentations focussed on open education in Scotland.

Into the Open – a critical overview of open education policy and practice in Scotland

Lorna M. Campbell, University of Edinburgh

This presentation provides a broad overview of current open education initiatives in Scottish Higher and Further education sectors and reflects on both progress and barriers to the development of open education policy and practice.

Developing literacies of open: across an institution and beyond

Stuart Nicol, University of Edinburgh

This presentation discusses a number of related initiatives at the University of Edinburgh in the context of supporting communities within the institution to acclimatise to the changing landscape brought about by the technologies and policies of open education.

Learning the Hard Way: Lessons in Designing OER in, for and through Partnership

Anna Page and Ronald MacIntyre, OPES Project, Open University

The presentation shares the OEPS project’s experiences of working in partnership with external organisations to create OER and enabling them to explore open educational practices in the process. The OEPS project has been adapting the existing tried and tested Open University course production models to partnership collaboration.

Making movies: Democratising the use of media in learning and teaching

Anne-Marie Scott, University of Edinburgh

This presentation provides an overview of strategic initiatives to place media use at the heart of the University of Edinburgh’s teaching, learning, research and public engagement activities and reflects plans for expanding the use of media to focus on assessment, feedback, and sharing as OERs in particular.

 

ALT Scotland SIG: Sharing Stories – enablers and drivers for learning technology in Scottish education

A guest post from Prof Linda Creanor, ALT Scotland SIG Co-Chair. This post previously appeared on the ALTC Blog

Towards the end of June the ALT-Scotland SIG held their annual a event which this year focused on Sharing Stories – enablers and drivers for learning technology in Scottish education  It was held on the east coast of Scotland this time where around 50 delegates were hosted by Dundee and Angus College at their impressively modern Gardyne campus. The variety of presentations, discussions and demos can be seen in the outline programme. The event was recorded and both the morning and afternoon sessions are now available on the ALT YouTube Channel (morning and afternoon session) and embedded below (the YouTube video pages for each of these sessions includes navigation to the individual talks).

The presenters shared stories about innovative developments, including the ‘huddles and medals’ approach to transforming staff engagement with technology in the University of the West of Scotland, new approaches to mobile technology for blended learning at Edinburgh College, and the publishing of e-textbooks at the University of the Highlands and Islands as part of the Jisc funded eTIPS project.   We also heard about marks integration at Glasgow Caledonian University, approaches to encouraging collaboration among online distance learners at the University of Dundee, and strategic developments around open education and the promotion of CMALT certification at the University of Edinburgh.

There was also time for a useful open update and discussion session, where delegates shared tips and tricks, successes and concerns around various aspects of digital learning.

The really fun part came when participants were let loose in the College’s new Learning Lab where we had the opportunity to try out the various exciting technologies that are now being used for teaching and learning on the campus.  We had a tour of the inside of the human body through virtual reality headsets (definitely not for the squeamish), tried out 3D scanning and printing (with some unusual  results), programmed routes for miniature vehicles  (with variable outcomes) and flew drones to experience how they’re being used by construction and surveying students (all landed safely).

More information and photos of the day can be found on the Educational and Design Team’s blog at the University of Edinburgh and also on Lorna Campbell’s Open World blog.

All in all it was an inspiring day, helped immensely by the very warm welcome from colleagues at Dundee and Angus College.  The lively conversations continued as we left the campus buzzing with new ideas about technology and learning.

Open Educational Practices in Scotland Project Forum

The fourth Open Educational Practices in Scotland project forum will take place at Stirling Court Hotel, during Open Education Week, on Wednesday 9th March. The event will feature a keynote from social and educational technologist Josie Fraser which will focus on:

  • Connecting pockets of practice and embedding OER/OEP
  • To what extent what she has done in Leicester has shifted culture
  • The challenges of shifting culture and how she addressed them
  • How to move from a piecemeal approach to a more strategic approach to embedding OER/OEP

The forum will also include workshops on designing a strategic approach to increase the use of OER and OEP in Scotland; using OER – what does good practice look like?; changing culture, changing practice; and open education and digital engagement through a widening participation.

This forum presents an opportunity to discuss the strategic drivers, barriers and challenges to the use of OER and OEP within the formal and informal learning sectors, and provides an opportunity to share experiences of OER and OEP to consider what more could be done strategically and practically to increase their use.

Further information about the forum is available from the OEPS Blog and colleagues can register to participate in this free event here OEPS Forum 4.

oeps

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.

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 http://declaration.openscot.net/

POERUP: Policy Recommendations for Scotland

poerup_2Earlier this month the Policies for OER Uptake Project (POERUP), drew to a conclusion and published its final reports and deliverables on the POERUP Referata.  The overall aim of POERUP was to undertake research to understand how governments can stimulate the uptake of OER by policy means. Led by Sero Consulting and involving the Open Universiteit Nederland, Athabasca University, the University of Leicester, Université de Lorraine and EDEN, POERUP ran from 2011 – 2014.  The project’s key deliverables include a final report, thirty-three country reports focusing on the national policy context relating to OER, a comprehensive list of open education initiatives with OER maps, policy advice for universities, colleges and schools and, policy proposals for eight EU countries, plus Canada.

The Country Option Pack for Scotland (pdf) puts forward evidence based policy recommendations for higher education, colleges and schools, though many recommendations are applicable across all three sectors.  The recommendations are directed at the Scottish Government and Government funded education agencies, rather than at individual institutions.

Many of the policy recommendations put forward by Open Scotland are echoed by POERUP and the pack takes the Scottish Open Education Declaration as its starting point.

In particular, the report focuses on the importance of open licensing, and calls on Scotland’s funding bodies to ensure that

“any public outputs from their funded programmes are made available as open resources under an appropriate license.”

 The POERUP team suggest that a small amount of funding investment can go a long way to help create a culture in which open education can flourish, and they recommend that the Scottish Funding Council invests in open education by setting up an innovation fund to support new online initiatives in higher education, further education and the school sector with a commitment to opening up education.

The report also focuses on the potential of developing more flexible approaches to measuring and accrediting knowledge and competences including workbased learning, flexible learning and accreditation of prior learning.

In addition, there is also a welcome emphasis on professional development across all three education sectors, with the report calling for the establishment of an adequately funded

“professional development programme to help lecturers, teachers and administrators understand the benefits and uses of OER and open licensing.”

The report highlights the potential importance of the College Development Network’s  Re:Source OER repository in developing a national quality assurance standard for OER content produced in Scotland and urges the initiative to consider establishing and funding an OER evaluation and adoption panel.

The POERUP report represents a valuable step forward in promoting the development and uptake of policies to support open education in Scotland and it is to be hoped that the Government agencies towards whom it is addressed will take note and act on these recommendations.

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.

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.