University of Edinburgh approves new OER Policy

edinburghAs part of its on going commitment to open education, the University of Edinburgh has recently approved a new Open Educational Resources Policy, that encourages staff and students to use, create and publish OERs to enhance the quality of the student experience. The University is committed to supporting open and sustainable learning and teaching practices by encouraging engagement with OER within the curriculum, and supporting the development of digital literacies for both staff and students in their use of OERs.

The policy, together with supporting guidance from Open.Ed, intends to help colleagues in making informed decisions about the creation and use of open educational resources in support of the University’s OER vision. This vision builds on the history of the Edinburgh Settlement, the University’s excellence in teaching and learning, it’s unique research collections, and its civic mission.

The policy is based on University of Leeds OER Policy, which has already been adopted by the University of Greenwich and Glasgow Caledonian University. It’s interesting to note how this policy has been adapted by each institution that adopts it. The original policy describes open educational resources as

“…digitised teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released by the copyright owner under an intellectual property licence (e.g. Creative Commons) that permits their use or re-purposing (re-use, revision, remixing, redistribution) by others.”

However Edinburgh has adapted this description to move towards a more active and inclusive definition of OER

“digital resources that are used in the context of teaching and learning (e.g. course material, images, video, multimedia resources, assessment items, etc.), which have been released by the copyright holder under an open licence (e.g. Creative Commons) permitting their use or re-purposing (re-use, revision, remixing, redistribution) by others.”

This definition aims to encompass the widest possible range of resources that can be used in teaching and learning, not just resources that are developed specifically for that purpose. This description acknowledges that it is often the context of use that makes a thing useful for teaching and learning, rather than some inherent property of the resource itself.

Although open licensing is central to the University’s OER vision, this is much more than a resource management policy. In order to place open education at the heart of learning and teaching strategy, the University’s OER Policy has been approved by the Senate Learning and Teaching Committee. The policy is intended to be clear and concise and to encourage participation by all. By adopting this policy, the University is demonstrating its commitment to all staff and students who wish to use and create OERs in their learning and teaching activities, and who wish to disseminate the knowledge created and curated within the University to the wider community.

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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.

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Sharing on the Bayou by Viv Rolfe

Vivien Rolfe, Co-Chair of the ALT Open Education SIG and  Associate Head of Department of Biological, Biomedical and Analytical Science, UWE, has written an excellent blog post on her thoughts on sharing and open education following the recent Hewlett Foundation Annual OER Meeting. Viv reflects on the experiences that sparked her initial interest and engagement with open education and the role of the UKOER Programme in shaping her own open practice and its ongoing influence in connecting networks of open education practitioners across the sector. Fundamentally what drives Viv’s practice and research in open education is exploring the motivation to share.

…there is no doubt in my mind that all people – students, teachers, executive and other partners buy-into the notion of OER very quickly and see that sharing makes sense. Sharing is a positive thing with many benefits, although sometimes the boundaries might require a little definition.

Viv also has some pertinent reflections on the current state of open education in the UK today, and concludes by encouraging us all to just get out there and share.

Not to beat ourselves with a stick – open education from our UK perspective has been transformatory in terms of teaching practice, establishing collaborations and sharing common goals toward a better education system. Unfortunately we have stalled in the UK with very little if any funding now for education innovation projects or research. But we can do something to chip away to complete the OER = sharing = equality loop.

As I said at the Hewlett meeting, my dream for OER was about fair and equal chances for people to access education, and to make these inroads now takes a concerted effort.

SO GO SHARE! Go share an OER story with a colleague or student that has never heard of open. We share where we feel comfortable within our own circles, but how will we ever challenge inequality if we don’t go out and meet it face on?

You can read the rest of Viv’s blog post here Sharing on the Bayou.

Open.Ed launches

OpenEd_tealLast week the University of Edinburgh’s Information Services launched  Open.Ed http://open.ed.ac.uk, a website devoted to showcasing open educational resources  at the university.

The website and the University’s accompanying OER Vision have three strands:

For the Common Good

  • Teaching and learning materials exchange to enrich the University and the sector.
  • Support frameworks to enable any member of University of Edinburgh to publish and share online as OER teaching and learning materials they have created as a routine part of their work at the University.
  • Supporting members of University of Edinburgh to find and use high quality teaching materials developed within and without the University

Edinburgh at its best

  • Showcasing the highest quality open learning and teaching.
  • Identifying collections of high quality learning materials within each school department and research institute to be published online for flexible use, to be made available to learners and teachers as open courseware (e.g. recorded high profile events, noteworthy lectures, MOOC and DEI course content).
  • Enabling the discovery of these materials in a way that ensures that the University’s reputation is enhanced.

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.
  • Identifying a number of major collections of interdisciplinary materials, archives, treasures, museum resources to be digitised, curated and shared for the greater good and to make a significant contribution to public engagement with learning, study and research (e.g. archive collections drawn from across disciplines, e.g. History of Medicine/Edinburgh as the birthplace of medicine/Scottish history/social change).
  • Developing policy and infrastructure to ensure that these OER collections are sustainable and usable in the medium to longer term.

Open.Ed also includes useful How To Guides and up-to-date blog posts from prominent open practitioners.  The site allows users to search for OERs or browse by collections from the University’s colleges.

Highlights include Professor Clive Greated’s fluid mechanics videos;  Our History, a growing online history of the University of Edinburgh and its people;  and 5 minute teaching videos, short videos of University of Edinburgh staff discussing the values that underpin their teaching.

You can follow the University of Edinburgh’s OER Service on twitter here: @OpenEdEdinburgh

US Federal Government Support for Open Education

doeLast week the US Federal Government announced that it is

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links

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

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

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

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

OER16 Conference Submissions Open

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

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

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

If you have any queries about the conference themes please contact conference co-chair Lorna M. Campbell at lorna.m.campbell@ed.ac.uk / lorna.m.campbell@icloud.com or on twitter @lornamcampbell. Any queries regarding the submission process should be directed to Anna Davidge at ALT, anna.davidge@alt.ac.uk.

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

 

New support for Open Scotland

(Cross posted to Open World)

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

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

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

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

OEPS Forum and ways forward for the Scottish Open Education Declaration

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

OEPS Update

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

An international perspective on opening educational practices – Laura Czerniewicz

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

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

A valid question indeed.

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

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

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

The Scottish Open Education Declaration – the way forward

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

Evidencing the Declaration

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

Evidence of Impact

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

Harmonising the Declaration with current policy

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

Engaging Universities Scotland

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

Engaging schools, colleges and the third sector

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

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

Creative Commons: State of the Commons

Earlier this week Creative Commons issued their State of the Commons report, which covers the impact and success of free and open content worldwide.

Measuring the size of the commons has always been a challenge. There’s no sign-up to use a CC license, and no central repository or catalog of CC-licensed works. So it’s impossible to say precisely how many licensed works there are, how many people are using Creative Commons licenses, where those people are located, or how they’re using them.

With this report, we’re taking a big step toward better measuring the size of the commons. We’re also sharing all of the data and methodologies that we used to find these numbers, and making a commitment to hone and update these findings in the months and years to come. We’re also telling the stories of events from 2014 that have impacted the size, usability, and relevance of the commons.

The full report can be accessed here https://stateof.creativecommons.org/ and it’s very encouraging to see Scotland getting mentioned among 14 countries that have made national commitments to open education, through legislation or projects that lead to the creation, increased use or improvement of open educational resources.

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Creative Commons, CC BY

Leicester City Council and OER for Schools

A guest post from Josie Fraser,  ICT Strategy Lead (Children’s Capital) at Leicester City Council about the council’s ground breaking work in promoting and encouraging the development and use of openly licensed educational resources in the school sector. 

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Leicester City Council has recently become the first Local Authority in the UK to give permission to school staff to openly licence the educational resources created by employees in the course of their work. We’ve given the permission in order to take open education forward across the city – with the aim of ensuring all school staff are aware of and able to benefit from the use of openly licenced resources – and also able to create and share open educational resources (OER). We’ve also released a range of guidance and resources to introduce open licensing and open educational resources (OER) to school staff to help with this.

In Leicester, I’ve been working with schools to support the development of staff digital literacy skills. Our work has highlighted that many staff aren’t aware of open licencing and don’t know what open educational resources are. As well as providing practical, introductory information for schools about finding, using and accrediting OERs, we want to encourage the adaption and creation of OER – to support schools in promoting and sharing the great work that is being produced across Leicester, and to actively contribute to open education.

There are many different types of schools across the UK. In Scotland, the picture is relatively straight forward, with the 32 Scottish Local Authorities in the position of employer for local, special, and denominational schools. In England, the Local Authority is the employer of staff working at community and voluntary controlled schools, but not of other types of school – for example academy, foundation, and voluntary aided schools, where the governing body is typically the employer. In Leicester, there are currently 84 community and voluntary controlled schools. The council is the legal and beneficial owner of copyright of materials produced by these employees in the course of their employment. This isn’t something that is specific to school employees or to Local Authorities as employers– it applies to all employees working under a contract of service, unless a specific agreement is in place. Sometimes there will be an explicit statement in an employee’s contract that references this, for example:

Copyright

The council shall be the legal and beneficial owner of the copyright in and all other rights to the results of the development of and the application of all work produced by you during the course of your employment and as a consequence of your employment.

However, not all employees (including school employees) have statements like this in their contract – typically, whether it’s there or not, unless a specific agreement is in place, the expectation is that employees should obtain permission from their employer to share work created in the course of their employment. The rights to work created outside of the course of employment – for example, a presentation a staff member creates on their own time for an event that they are not attending as part of their job – belong to the employee. Students also own the rights to their own work.

Staff don’t have an automatic right to take copies of this work from one employer to another, and they don’t automatically enjoy moral rights – the right to be acknowledged as the author of the work.

Schools and school staff have a great culture of sharing, most of which is informal. Sharing educational resources benefits everyone – learners and educators can benefit from the care and expertise that have gone into producing resources, and energy can be put into developing work to better suit learners and school’s needs, rather than starting from scratch. Most schools and educators will at some point have adopted someone else’s, lesson plan, activity, or policy.

This informality potentially leaves staff vulnerable in a number of ways. Others might adopt or use their work in ways they aren’t happy with, or they may not get proper credit for their work for example. Leicester City Council has providing formal permission as an employer for school staff to openly licence their educational resources in order to address some of the issues that might arise ahead of time. It sends a clear message that we are encouraging staff to share their openly licenced work, and enables schools to put in place local policies.

A fraction of what currently gets shared by schools is openly licensed. Open Licences build on the existing legal copyright framework to provide clear permissions for flexible uses of work – an open licence provides an opportunity to clearly signal how the work can be copied, shared and developed, and who should be given credit for the resource.

Along with the permission, we’ve produced a leadership briefing note giving more information, and provided two model school policies – one for the schools where the permission is in place (i.e. Leicester City Council has provided it, as employer) and one for schools where the governing body could put permission in place, through the adoption of a policy. In this way we are raising awareness of OER across all schools in the city, and hoping to encourage them in taking a similar approach.

Looking at OER in relation to schools policies and practices can promote organisational awareness and discussion of copyright, ownership, and accreditation – all important areas that staff can model good practice in for their learners. Online and digital resources are routinely made use of and created in all our schools. This increased use and creation of digital and web based resources means that understanding the copyright rules and permissions that relate to the use of digital and online teaching and learning materials is very important. Digital resources are protected by copyright in the same way as other resources.

Permission to share educational resources through open licence represents an exciting opportunity for schools to take a fresh look at the original materials staff are producing, and how these can best be used to promote the school and build connections to other educators and organisations. I very much hope that other Local Authorities will look at Leicester City Council’s model, and make use of the resources we have created and shared to take the use and creation of OER forward.

All of the resources mentioned in this post are available under open licence and can be downloaded from: http://schools.leicester.gov.uk/ls/open-education/