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 

European Guidelines for the Validation of Non-Formal and Informal Learning

cover_3073_enCEDEFOP, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, has recently issued the second edition of the  European Guidelines for the Validation of Non-Formal and Informal LearningThese guidelines set out how validation of informal and non-formal learning could increase the visibility and value of learning that takes place outwith formal education, and support the transferability of skills across Europe. This work is particularly relevant at this point in time given increased migration and social inclusion challenges across Europe, where the recognition of informal and non-formal learning could support transitions into employment and other positive pathways for those without formal qualifications.  According to the guidelines: 

Validation can help combat unemployment by improving skills matching and social cohesion, and supporting the unemployed or those at risk of losing their jobs by enabling citizens to communicate the value of their skills and experiences to potential employers or when returning to formal education. Validation can also form part of the response to the current refugee crisis through identification and certification of migrants’ previous experiences, to support quicker and smoother integration into host countries.  It can also play a major role in combating youth unemployment by making skills acquired through voluntary work, or during leisure, visible to employers.

A key objective of the earlier edition of these guidelines, issued in 2012, is that EU Member States work together towards national arrangements for validation by 2018.

What is particularly interesting about these new guidelines is that they place special emphasis on validation arrangements for education and training facilitated by open educational resources, and in addition, make specific reference to the use of badges with OER.  For reference, the section that relates to OER is included below in its entirety.

One thing to note is that the guidelines’ broad definition of OER includes both MOOCs and open courseware and it is possible that this may point the way to developing a solution to address accreditation and validation for MOOCs. Furthermore, there could be an opportunity to build on the Scottish Open Education Declaration as a basis for developing validation policies within Scotland, given that it already promotes the development of a culture of openness around education and assessment. 

With thanks to Grainne Hamilton of DigitalMe for summarising these guidelines and for highlighting the link to OER and the Scottish Open Education Declaration. 


4.1.1. Validation and open education resources

The recommendation states that the knowledge skills and competences acquired through open educational resources should be addressed by validation arrangements: ‘The arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning [which] enable individuals to have knowledge, skills and competences which have been acquired through non-formal and informal learning validated, including, where applicable, through open educational resources’ (Council of EU, 2012, p. 3, point 1).

The reference to open educational resources (OERs) in the recommendation reflects the rapid expansion of online learning opportunities, particularly promoted by higher education institutions. OERs are defined in the recommendation as ‘digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research; it includes learning content, software tools to develop, use and distribute content, and implementation resources such as open licences; OER also refers to accumulated digital assets that can be adjusted and which provide benefits without restricting the possibilities for others to enjoy them’ (Council of EU, 2012, p. 5, point d). OER may include ‘…full courses, course modules, syllabuses, lectures, homework assignments, quizzes, lab and classroom activities, pedagogical materials, games, simulations, and many more resources contained in digital media collections from around the world’ (7). Massive open online courses (MOOCs) and open courseware are examples of OERs.

OERs are seen as important supplements to traditional education and training programmes, reducing overall cost, increasing accessibility and allowing individuals to follow their own learning pace. MOOCs are seen as a way to deliver high quality (world- class) teaching to a broad group of learners.

For all these reasons it is important to consider how the outcomes of this learning can be appropriately documented and assessed and how current practices on validation can take them into account. Box 4 indicates some issues to be considered when linking validation and OERs.

Possible requirements for validation of OERs:

  • Learning carried out through OER must be described in the form of learning outcomes.
  • Where the OER brings with it some form of internal credit, for example badges, these must explained and documented in a transparent way encouraging trust.
  • Standards and/or reference points underpinning credits or badges must be clearly explained.
  • Arrangements for quality assurance underpinning OERs must be transparently presented.
  • Methods for assessment/testing must be transparently explained.

The outcomes of online learning have to be treated with the same care and degree of scrutiny as any other learning outcomes. Given the inevitable variation in quality of OERs, along with the varying success of learners to adapt to online learning, attention has to be given – at national, European and international level – to documenting, assessing and certifying the outcomes OERs. For them to be considered in validation, transparency is crucial. The learning experienced through OERs needs to be described through learning outcomes. The status of standards and testing arrangements, if these exist, need to be clear and available to aid validation. Web-based platforms that allow for recognition and assessment of specific skills require careful consideration and need to be compared to existing systems of validation to promote adequate quality assurance and allow for rationalisation of efforts.

Key questions regarding on educational resources

The following questions are important when addressing open educational resources:

  • Are methods for validating learning outcomes acquired through OERs the same as for learning outcomes acquired in a different way?
  • How are internal credits (e.g. badges) considered by validation?

European Guidelines for the Validation of Non-Formal and Informal Learning
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/publications/3073

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.

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/

Scottish Open Education Declaration – new draft released

A new draft of the Scottish Open Education Declaration has been released, and is now available for comment here: declaration.openscot.net. (Draft 0.1 of the Declaration, together with all comments received, is still available here.)

The new release of the Declaration incorporates input from many colleagues who commented on the first draft, in addition to policy recommendations developed by the POERUP Project in their Country Option Pack for Scotland.

Some of the amendments made to the Declaration include:

  • Encouraging theuse of CC BY licences for all educational materials produced with public funds, as opposed to CC BY SA licences as recommended in draft 0.1.
  • The addition of “Retention” from Wiley’s 5 Rs of Openness model.
  • Recommending that adequately funded professional development programmes are established to help teachers and other key personnel to understand the benefits of all forms of open education, as suggested by the POERUP guidelines.

Two new clauses were also added, the first is adapted from the POERUP guidelines, and the second was suggested by Scott Wilson of Cetis / OSS Watch and Tavis Reddick of Fife College.

  1. Ensure that open educational resources follow accessibility guidelines and that accessibility is a central tenet of all open education programmes and initiatives.
  2. Support the adoption of appropriate open formats and standards and the development of best practices to ensure that open educational resources can be easily created, revised, repurposed and remixed.

The Declaration continues to be hosted on a dedicated Comment Press site and members of the education community in Scotland and all those with an interest in open education are encouraged to comment on and contribute to this latest draft. All those that commented on the first draft have been credited and attributed in the new version of the Declaration.

Open Scotland would like to acknowledge the support of the Open University’s Opening Educational Practices in Scotland project who provided a small amount of funding to enable this draft to be completed.

In line with the licence conditions of the original UNESCO / COL Paris OER Declaration, the Scottish Open Education Declaration has been released under a CC BY SA licence.

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.

Open Education Consortium: Open Education in Scotland

(Cross posted from Open World)

Last month’s Newsletter from the Open Education Consortium focused on open education in Europe and featured the following article on Open Education in Scotland written by Joe Wilson of SQA and I.  Many thanks to Igor Lesko for inviting us to contribute.

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“The use of technology in our future learning framework will continue to grow and be supported by the growth of open educational resources, providing greater learning opportunities without barriers.”

– Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning

Open Scotland[1], is a cross sector initiative led by the Centre for Education Technology, Interoperability and Standards (Cetis)[2], the Scottish Qualifications Authority[3], the Jisc Regional Support Centre in Scotland[4] and the Association for Learning Technology’s Scotland Special Interest Group[5]. The aim of this unfunded initiative is to raise awareness of all aspects of open education and explore the potential of open policy and practice to benefit all sectors of Scottish education. Scotland has a distinctive and highly regarded tradition of education, however policies to support and embed open education are in their infancy and, to date, there have been no open funding calls to support open education across the sector.

Despite the absence of top down strategic drivers, a considerable number of open education initiatives have emerged across the Scottish education sector including MOOCs[6], OER repositories[7], OER guidelines for staff and students[8], and adoption of Open Badges[9]. Building on these developments, and experiences gained from supporting open education programmes elsewhere in the UK, Open Scotland aims to encourage the sharing of open educational resources, embed open educational practice and lobby for policies that support open education at the national level. In order to achieve these aims Open Scotland has hosted a number of events including the Open Scotland Summit[10], which brought together senior managers, policy makers and key thinkers to explore how openness can help to address key strategic priorities including curriculum change, knowledge transfer, quality assurance, change management and articulation; and Open Education, Open Scotland[11] which provided a platform for practitioners from all sectors of Scottish education to share their experiences of adopting and promoting open education practices.

Inspired by the UNESCO Paris OER Declaration, Open Scotland has also launched the Scottish Open Education Declaration[12], which builds on the principals of the UNESCO declaration, but expands its scope to encompass all aspects of open education practice. The Scottish Open Education Declaration, http://declaration.openscot.net/ is an open community draft, which we encourage all those with a commitment to open education to contribute to and comment on.

In a parallel development to the grassroots Open Scotland initiative, the Scottish Funding Council has allocated £1.27 million to the UK Open University to establish the Opening Educational Practices in Scotland (OEPS) project[13], which aims to facilitate best practice in open education in Scotland. The OEPS project launches on the 13th of September and we anticipate that it will engage with other open education initiatives across Scotland. We hope that all those with a commitment to open education can work together to develop Scotland’s unique education offering to support social inclusion and inter-institutional collaboration and sharing, and enhance quality and sustainability.

References

[1] Open Scotland, http://openscot.net
[2] Cetis, http://cetis.ac.uk
[3] Scottish Qualifications Authority, http://sqa.org.uk
[4] Jisc RSC Scotland, http://www.jiscrsc.ac.uk/scotland
[5] ALT Scotland SIG, https://www.alt.ac.uk/get-involved/special-interest-groups/scotland
[6] MOOCs at the University of Edinburgh, http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/online-learning/moocs/moocs
[7] Re:Source, http://resource.blogs.scotcol.ac.uk/
[8] Glasgow Caledonian University Library Guidance on Open Educational Resources, http://www.gcu.ac.uk/library/usingthelibrary/copyright/openeducationalresourcesandlibraryguidance/
[9] Borders College Case study, http://www.rsc-scotland.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/23042013bordersOB.pdf
[10] Open Scotland Summit, http://openscot.net/event-reports/open-scotland-report-and-actions/
[11] Open Education, Open Scotland, http://openscot.net/event-reports/open-education-open-scotland-report-presentations/
[12] Scottish Open Education Declaration, http://declaration.openscot.net
[13] Opening Education Practices in Scotland, http://oepscotland.org/

Open Education, Open Scotland – report & presentations

Last week the ALT Scotland Special Interest Group hosted the second Open Scotland event, Open Education, Open Scotland at the Informatics Forum at the University of Edinburgh.  This free and open event was attended by sixty colleagues, and speakers represented every sector of Scottish education including schools, further education, higher education and government.

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

 Open Education, Open Scotland  – Joe Wilson, Scottish Qualifications Authority

The event was opened and introduced by Joe Wilson of the Scottish Qualifications Authority and the ALT Scotland SIG.  Joe suggested that universities in Scotland are currently in a very privileged position, but warned that the relationship between learners and institutions is changing.  Meanwhile the college sector has been comprehensively restructured but there is a danger of loosing the focus on the learner in the midst of restructuring.  Joe asked where are the attempts to look at new models of assessment?  Employers want to see that rich portfolio of experience that differentiates students as individuals.  He also asked, what can we do to encourage community learning and digital participation? A  citizen without a browser is now at a disadvantage as Government moves online by default.  Joe challenged delegates to think out of the box in terms of resources, assessment, and credentials and asked how can we open up access to resources to empower disadvantaged learners?

Open Scotland, Open ALT – Maren Deepwell, ALT

Maren provided an update on ALT’s collaboration, strategy and partnerships.  With a slide of Glasgow School of Art’s now destroyed Mackintosh Library, Maren gave us a timely reminder that not all we care about is digital, people are at the heart of what ALT do.  Maren also flagged up some good examples of sharing and open practice including ALT’s ocTEL online course and the Scottish Open Education Declaration from Cetis and Open Scotland.

Scottish Government Perspectives – Colin Cook, Deputy Director of Digital Strategy, Scottish Government

Colin introduced the Scottish Government’s Digital Strategy and focused on the role of the Digital Directorate to bring coherence to digital and ICT initiatives.  The Scottish Government has a policy commitment to build a world class digital Scotland and recognises that digital participation offers an opportunity to challenge ingrained inequalities. The Government wants to provide opportunities for people to move up the digital skills pathway, but it’s important to focus on learning, not just assistance. Third sector organisations have a huge role to play due to the position of trust they have with the digitally excluded.

The government is committed to driving forward digital transformation across the public sector and recognises the need for industry partnerships with education to develop a digital skills academy.  Colin acknowledged that wider use of data is critical to the Government’s long term vision of delivering effective public services, but added that safeguards are in place to promote public confidence so that people can be comfortable with how data is being shared.

SFC and OU update –  David Beards, SFC and Ronald MacIntyre, OU

Learning technology is high on the funding council agenda at the moment.  MOOCs currently dominate the policy rhetoric, but this is well understood and the importance of pedagogy is always there in the background.  Jisc is still the biggest thing that SFC funds and they are committed to the open agenda so it is up to everyone in the sector to let Jisc know what we want them to do.

SFC is providing the Open University with £1.27 million over three years to raise awareness of open education practice and support the sector’s capacity for online pedagogy.  The new “Open Project” will develop an online hub to share best practice, produce a small number of high quality OERs of particular benefit to Scotland, and evaluate various economic models for openness.  The outputs of the project will be very much in accordance with the activities undertaken by Open Scotland over the last year.

Open Badges, Open Borders – Suzanne Scott,  Borders College

Suzanne presented Borders College’s innovative use of open badges. Borders College’s journey started with a Moodle open badges pilot but following a chance discussion with the head of human resources, the initiative has now spread. Open badges are now used to engage with staff and have replaced all staff CPD paper certificates.  The use of badges for staff has increased loyalty and attendance at CPD sessions.

Phonar Open Courses – Jonathan Worth, Coventry University

Jonathan related his experiences of rethinking the business model behind photography and opening access to his Coventry University photography course.  The course, Phonar,  expanded from 9,000 to 35,000 people over a thirteen-week period prompting a mixed response from the university.   Institutions hear “open” and they think “free”, but talk about “connected” and they see business opportunities. Connections mean networks and opportunities.  Photographs are not the product, but digital fluency is an extremely valuable product.  Jonathan also warned “If you think your product as a teacher is information, you’re going head to head with the internet. Good luck with that!”  Jonathan also introduced Phonar Nation, “The biggest youth photography class in the world”.

Exploring the Digital University – Sheila MacNeill, Glasgow Caledonian University

After our scheduled speaker was unfortunately unable to attend,  Sheila kindly agreed to step in at the last minute to talk about research she and Bill Johnson have been undertaking on exploring the digital university. Sheila presented four key themes for digital universities: digital participation, information literacy, learning environments,  and curriculum and course design. She noted that universities’ civic roles can change quite profoundly through digital technology and urged us to think about the interface of digital and physical interaction.  Sheila also referred to Edinburgh Napier University’s Digital Futures project and talked about mapping digital literacy and residency across different university services.  Wrapping up her presentation Sheila questioned whether being an open practitioner was a “luxury” or a “daily necessity” for colleagues across the sector. 

Opening GLOW – Opening GLOW – Ian Stuart and John Johnston

GLOW initially started life as a national schools intranet in 2001, now Glow is about unlocking the benefits of the internet and providing learning opportunities.  For some time GLOW seemed clunky and unworkable but in 2010 wikis and forums were added.  Identity management should be core to GLOW services and accommodating BYOD has to be part of the GLOW landscape.  John and Ian acknowledge that there’s still lots of work to do with GLOW, but also plenty room to manoeuvre and to encourage teachers to become open educators. We need to encourage teachers to open up in as many ways as possible, the technology is the easy bit, culture is harder, and we need help from folk further along the road.

The Scottish Open Education Declaration – Lorna M. Campbell, Cetis

Lorna introduced the Scottish Open Education Declaration a community initiative launched by Cetis and Open Scotland. Based on the UNESCO Paris OER Declaration, the Scottish Open Education Declaration has a wider scope as it focuses on all aspects of open education practice, not just open education resources. The declaration also includes a clause on supporting the use of open source software in education. A key aspect of the declaration is the focus on education as a public good. The declaration is an open CC licensed public draft and all colleagues are invited to contribute.  A large number of comments have already been received, points that have been raised include, changing the focus of the declaration so that technology is viewed as an enabler rather than a driver, the need for an open culture shift and the necessity of capacity building, the importance of sharing and education sectors and stronger commitments to open licensing.  The first draft will remain open for comment for another month, then comments will be edited into the document, and a second draft posted for further discussion.

Open Education, Open Scotland visual notes

Many thanks to all who attended this week’s Open Education, Open Scotland event facilitated by the ALT Scotland SIG.  The event was a huge success and it was particularly encouraging to see so many sectors of Scottish education represented and engaging with the open education debate.

We hope to be able to share presentations and other outputs from the event shortly, but in the meantime here are some visual notes from Sheila MacNeill of Glasgow Caledonian University.

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