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.

Wikimedia opportunities and events at the University of Edinburgh

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

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

ADA_Blog

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

Links

University of Edinburgh Wikimedian in Residence job advert – http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/AMB999/wikimedian-in-residence-fixed-term-part-time/

Ada Lovelace Day at University of Edinburgh – http://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/ada-lovelace-day/

Edinburgh Seven – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edinburgh_Seven

Edinburgh Seven honoured with plaque in Edinburgh – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-34207742

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.

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

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