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/

Thoughts on #OEPSforum14 and the Battle for Open

Cross posted from Open World.

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

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

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

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

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

The OEPS Online Hub

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

The Thorny Issue of Funding

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

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from The Art of Guerilla Research by Martin Weller

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

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

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.

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 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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Open Scotland at CILIP Scotland Conference

Earlier this week I was invited to present about Open Scotland at the CILIP Scotland Conference in Dundee. This is the first time I’ve attended the CILIPS conference and it was a really lively and engaging event with over 300 participants and an inspiring keynote on “Challenges, Choices and Opportunities” from Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of the Carnegie Trust.  My Open Scotland presentations seemed to be well received and I was very encouraged to have a couple of questions about the potential role of public libraries in opening access to educational resources, particularly for the school sector.  When we held the first Open Scotland Summit in Edinburgh in 2013 it occurred to me that the education sector potentially has much to learn from the public library sector in terms of open practice.  My presentation session was ably chaired by Heather Marshall, Senior Librarian at Glasgow Caledonian University Library and in conversation with her afterwards I was struck yet again by GCU Library’s commitment to promoting open educational resources and encouraging open educational practice among their staff.

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Second Open Scotland Meeting, 3rd June, Edinburgh

alt_logoThe second Open Scotland meeting, facilitated by the ALT Scotland SIG in collaboration with Jisc RSC Scotland,  SQA and Cetis will take place on the 3rd of June at the Informatics Forum, University of Edinburgh.

This is a free one day event that provides 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.  The event will highlight examples of open education innovation across the Scottish education sector, including adoption of open badges and open assessment and accreditation practices; development of open educational resources and courses and open frameworks for technology enhanced learning.  In addition to showcasing homegrown initiatives, the event will also look further afield to inspiring and innovative projects and developments across the UK. This event will also explore some of the drivers and barriers to embedding open education policy and practice within Scottish education, and will provide an opportunity to discuss the draft Scottish Open Education Declaration.

You can register for the ALT Scotland SIG Open Scotland event here: https://www.alt.ac.uk/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=106

Draft Programme

09:30-10:30

Registration (Tea/Coffee)

10:30-10:45

Welcome from ALT Scotland SIG – Linda Creanor, Glasgow Caledonian University and Joe Wilson, SQA

10:45-11:00

Update from ALT – Maren Deepwell, ALT

11:00-11:30

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

11:30:12:00

SFC Update – David Beards, Scottish Funding Council
OU Scotland’s Open Education Project – Ronald McIntyre, OU Scotland

12:00-12:30

Open Badges, Open Borders – Suzanne Scott, Borders College

12:30-13:30

Lunch

13:30-14:00

Open Courses – Jonathan Worth, Coventry University

14:00-14:30

Open Institutions – Natalie Lafferty, University of Dundee

14:30-15:00

Opening GLOW – Ian Stuart and John Johnston

15:00-15:15

Coffee break

15:15-15:30

Scottish Open Education Declaration – Lorna M. Campbell, Cetis

15:30-16:00

Plenary discussion

16:00

Close

Inspiration from OpeningUpSlovenia

OpeningUpSlovenia at OCWC Global

OpeningUpSlovenia at OCWC Global

I’ve spent most of this week in Ljubljana, Slovenia for the Open Course Ware Consortium Global Conference where I was interested to hear about a project that has much to inspire Open Scotland. Ljubljana was chosen in order to host the conference to highlight an ambitious new national initiative, OpeningUpSlovenia.  The initiative was launched at the conference by Jernej Pikalo, Slovenian Minister for Education, and Mitja Jermol, Head of Center for Knowledge Transfer at the Jožef Stefan Institute.

OpeningUpSlovenia takes its inspiration from the European Commission’s 2013 Opening Up Education communication.  OpeningUpSlovenia is a collaborative cross sector initiative involving all Slovenian universities, compulsory and vocational education institutions together with technical, research and industry partners.  The aim of this ambitious initiative is to:

“create an open educational system parallel to the formal one to exploit all aspects of open education, allowing rigorous, transparent, and replicable testing of open learning environments, open education theories, new business models, open organisational forms, open education computational tools, and new and emerging technologies for the educational technologies market place.”

During the fist stage of the initiative, three sub-projects will be launched focusing on different educational sectors;

1. Compulsory pre-school, primary and secondary education,
2. OER in higher education,
3. Vocational education, on-the-job training and life-long learning.

These projects will create advanced technologies, open learning environments and open educational resources and will foster open connectivity and innovation. Supporting multilingualism in open education is also a corner stone of the OpeningUpSlovenia.

Through this initiative, Slovenia aims to become a role model for open education in a knowledge based Europe.  In response to the question ‘Why Slovenia?’ Mitja Jermol responded, ‘Because Slovenia is a “little big country”’.  Due to its size and scale, Slovenia is in an ideal position to support the EU’s aim of opening up education across Europe and globally.  In order to do this, Slovenian Minister for Education Jernej Pikalo stressed unequivocally the need for legislative measures and explicit government policies to support innovation in open education.

It will be very interesting to see how the OpeningUpSlovenia initiative progresses and what Scotland, as another “little big country”, can learn from their experiences.  In drawing the launch of OpeningUpSlovenia to a close, Fred Mulder, UNESCO Chair in Open Educational Resources called for more countries to follow Slovenia’s example and open up education.  Wouldn’t it be nice if Scotland was next?

You can find out more about OpeningUpSlovenia here: http://www.k4all.org/openingupslovenia/

Open Scotland Webinar

Last week Joe Wilson of SQA and I presented a short webinar on the Open Scotland initiative and the Scottish Open Education Declaration.  The webinar, which was hosted by Celeste McLaughlin of Jisc RSC Scotland, generated some interesting discussion and debate around open education in Scotland.  A recording of the webinar is available here, and our slides are available from slideshare here .

The Scottish Open Education Declaration was introduced in the context of other open education developments including the UNESCO / COL Paris OER Declaration, the Open Educational Resources in Europe project, and Welsh HEIs statement of intent to work to open education principals. The Open Scotland initiative welcomes participation from individuals and institutions and we encourage all those with and interest in open education to comment on and endorse the Scottish Open Education Declaration.  Joe encouraged participants to get involved as individuals and also to take the Declaration back to their academic boards to raise awareness of the initiative and to get their institutions to sign up.  At this stage, the main aim of the Declaration is to raise awareness of the potential benefits of open education policy and practice, a valuable next step would be to start gathering exemplars that illustrate each statement of the declaration in action.

Joe and I both highlighted examples of open education practice in Scotland and further afield and participants also suggested other examples of communities sharing educational resources including the Computing at School Scotland initiative which aims to promote the teaching of computer science at school, and the fabulously named Magic Physics Pixies and their Scottish Physics Teaching Resources network.  This discussion prompted Tavis Reddick, of Fife College, to ask:

“Are there any illustrative exemplars of, say, OER, which Open Scotland would recommend to show how sharing and remix could work in practice?”

Although Open Scotland hasn’t got as far as recommending specific resources, the UKOER Programmes produced a wide range of resources including the OER Infokit,  and the ALT Open Education SIG recently gathered a series of case studies for Open Education Week.  The University of Leeds have also produced guidelines on developing and using OER for staff and students which have been adopted and repurposed by Glasgow Caledonian University: Library Guidance on open educational resources.

There is also considerable interest in the potential of Open Badges across the sector. Joe flagged up SQA’s commitment to Open Badges  and Celeste highlighted the work of the Open Badges in Scottish Education Group and Borders College’s use of Open Badges to replace paper based certification for continuing professional development activities.

There was some discussion of the Re:Source repository of open education resources for the Scottish college sector, with questions being asked about how extensively it is currently being used and whether a sustainable funding model could be developed. One suggestion was that, in the longer term, recurrent funding for Re:source could potentially come from the things it might replace, such as teaching materials acquisition budgets. One participant noted that their college did not yet have a policy that allowed them to publish OERs to Re:Source, but added that they hoped their board would take an interest soon.

One very valid question raised towards the end of the webinar was “how will we know if we are getting any better at this?” There are currently no benchmarking guidelines or KPIs for open education in Scotland but it would certainly be very interesting to undertake a landscape study of current open education practice across all sectors of Scottish education.  This would act as a baseline against which we could measure progress, but a survey of this nature would require dedicated funding and resources.    We’re already aware of lots of interesting examples of open education practice in Scotland but I’m sure that are many, many more out there, so if you know of any, or if you’re involved in any open education initiatives at your own institution, please do get in touch!

What I Know Is

A Research Symposium on Online Collaborative Knowledge Building

Wikimedia UKThe University of Stirling will host a one day research symposium on online collaborative knowledge building on Wednesday 19th March. Further details are available here: What I Know Is

Dogma concerning the use of the Wikipedia has, for many of us working in Higher Education, tended to dictate a lukewarm and grudging acknowledgement of its existence at best; at worst, a belief that any and all uses of it ought to be expunged from academia forever. This attitude to the Wikipedia, and its umbrella organisation in the UK, Wikimedia UK, has in recent years mellowed and in some disciplinary circles it has now been appropriated as a tool for Learning and Teaching.

The gravity of this sea-change is such that Wikimedia UK has been involved with partnering influential AHRC initiatives such as the British Library’s Wikipedian-in-residence (2012) and a similar scheme has been set up at the National Library of Scotland. With two major EduWiki national conferences in the last two years, and a handful of smaller, themed events, it is now timely to reassess the Wikipedia and other online sites not only as pedagogical tools, but also as platforms where knowledge is built, shared and transformed; sites and objects for analysis, critical engagement, as well as philosophical debate.

This event takes the Wikipedia (the most popular amongst other wikis) and inquires as to its status as a platform for collaborative online knowledge-building. As such, it is but one of a number of examples where online communities of trust and participation have formed their own cultural protocols and have led to all manner of creative user generated content; the building, sharing and transformation of knowledge; and even political engagement, within a broader context of social structures of freedom, expression, agency and public-mindedness. Such broadly civic values, associated in part with stripes of Western liberal tradition, arguably have at their heart an ethical dimension which engenders (or at least, seeks to engender) a more robust digital literacy than perhaps that which has come to shape policy-making and Web ownership in the last few years.

As such, it is with pleasure that the Division of Communications, Media and Culture brings together speakers from a range of disciplines, with a range of interests, from within the School of Arts and Humanities, and from across the UK, to share their work addressing different dimensions of these knowledge-building activities. It is hoped that in engaging with and sharing the various philosophical and interdisciplinary strands of research included in the symposium’s speaker-respondent structure, we will gain some insights into the true value of these online collaborations.

  • Lorna Campbell on Open Learning (Cetis /Open Scotland/Open Knowledge Foundation)
  • Dr Zoe Drayson on Extended Cognition and Agency (University of Stirling)
  • Dr Padmini Ray Murray on the future of publishing (University of Stirling)
  • Dr Toni Sant on Collaborative Learning and Teaching (University of Hull/WMUK Academic Liaison)
  • Dr Greg Singh (University of Stirling, Symposium Chair)
  • Dr Penny Travlou on Networked Communities, Creativity and Spatiality (University of Edinburgh)
  • Professor Mike Wheeler on Extended Cognition (University of Stirling)
  • Dr Alison Crockford on Open Access (University of Edinburgh/National Library of Scotland)
  • Marc Garrett (Furtherfield)