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.

POERUP Policy Advice for Universities

poerup_2Policies for OER Uptake (POERUP) is a European Commission funded Life Long Learning Programme project, coordinated by Sero Consulting, which is carrying out research to understand how governments can stimulate the uptake of OER by policy means. The project aims to:

convince decision-makers that in order to be successful with OER, they will have to formulate evidence-based policies based on looking beyond one’s own country, region or continent, beyond the educational sector they look after.

POERUP have already undertaken a survey of open education policy along with developments in education, e-learning, internet and copyright in 26 countries and have produced a series of comprehensive reports which can be viewed on the Country Reports wiki.

The project is also tasked with producing OER policy documents for a number of EU nations including Scotland, and the team are keen to work with those who have been involved in Open Scotland. The project are also drafting three EU-wide policy papers for schools, colleges and universities on
fostering OER uptake, which will act as aides-mémoire for the national policy documents. A draft of the POERUP EU-wide Policies for Universities is available here.

This document provides an invaluable overview of policy developments relative to open education from EU initiatives (e.g. Bologna, Europe 2020, Opening Up Education), OER projects, lobbyist circles (e.g. Opal, UNESCO/COL) and POERUP working meetings. From this evidence base, the following eighteen Policy Proposal Recommendations have been synthesised. In formulating these proposals care has been taken

not to over-focus on OER as an end but more of a means towards educational transformation.

To provide comments or feedback on these recommendations please contact Paul Bacsich of Sero Consulting at paul.bacsich@sero.co.uk.

Recommendations for European Commission and via EU for the Member States

Innovation – new institutions

1. The Commission should set up a competitive innovation fund to develop one new “European” university each year with a commitment to low-cost online education around a core proposition of open content.
Accreditation of institutions – new accrediting bodies and mutual recognition
2. The Commission should foster the development of transnational accrediting agencies and mutual recognition of accreditations across the EU.
3. The Commission should reduce the regulatory barriers against new kinds of HE providers (e.g. for-profit, from outside the country, consortial, etc).

Quality agencies

4. Quality agencies in ENQA49 should:  Develop their understanding of new modes of learning (including online, distance, OER and MOOCs) and how they impact quality assurance and recognition;

  • Engage in debates on copyright;
  • Consider the effects of these new modes on quality assurance and recognition;
  • Ensure that there is no implicit non-evidence-based bias against these new modes when accrediting institutions both public and private including for-profit (if relevant), accrediting programmes (if relevant) and assessing/inspecting institutions/programmes.

Bologna-bis: competence-based not time-based assessment

5. The Commission and related authorities developing the European Higher Education Area50 should reduce the regulatory barriers against new non-study-time-based modes of provision: in particular by developing a successor to Bologna based primarily on competences gained not duration of study.

Assessment and accreditation of modules

6. The Commission should recommend to universities that they should work to improve and proceduralise their activity on APL (Accreditation of Prior Learning) including the ability to accredit knowledge and competences developed through online study and informal learning, including but not restricted to OER and MOOCs, with a focus on admitting students with such accredited studies to the universities’ own further courses of study.
7. The Commission should recommend to the larger member states that they should each set up an Open Accreditor to accredit a range of studies which could lead to an undergraduate degree. In the first instance the Accreditor should focus on qualifications in the ISCED 5B area as this is most correlated with high-level skills for business and industry.

Funding mechanisms for institutions and content

8. The Commission should foster work into standardised syllabi EU-wide for undergraduate degrees in certain professions (e.g. medicine, nursing, mathematics, IS/IT) where this is appropriate for EU-wide action, and in the light of a successful outcome to such initiatives, foster the developments of common bases of OER material to support these standards, including relevant open repositories and (ideally jointly with publishers) open textbooks.
9. The Commission should ensure that any public outputs from its programmes (specifically including Erasmus for All and Framework) are made available as open resources under an appropriate license.
10. The Commission should encourage member states to do likewise for their national research and teaching development programmes, including for the public funding component of university teaching.
11. The Commission should encourage member states to increase their scrutiny of the cost basis for university teaching and consider the benefits of output-based funding for qualifications.

IPR issues

12. The Commission should adopt and recommend a standard Creative Commons license for all openly available educational material it is involved in funding. This should currently be Creative Commons 3.0 in unported or relevant national versions, updated from time to time. The Commission should also recommend this license to all member states.
13. The Commission should study the issues in the modern European HE system round the “non commercial” restriction and make appropriate recommendations for its own programmes and for member states.
14. The Commission should support the development of technological methods to provide more and standardised information on IPR to the users of digital educational content.
15. The Commission should mount a campaign both centrally and via the member states to educate university staff on IPR issues.

Training of academics

16. The Commission should support the development of online initial and continuous professional development programmes for teachers, focussing on online learning with specific coverage of distance learning, OER, MOOCs and other forms of open educational practice, and also IPR issues.
17. The Commission should encourage member states to do this also and should recommend the use of incentive schemes for teachers engaged in online professional development of their pedagogic skills including online learning.

Further research

18. The Commission should fund research into the verifiable benefits of OER, with greater efforts to integrate such analyses with its ongoing research on distance learning, on-campus online learning, and pedagogy; and recommend the same to member states.

The Benefits of Open

(Originally posted on 25th June 2013, http://blogs.cetis.ac.uk/lmc/2013/06/25/the-benefits-of-open/)

The following paper was produced to act as a background briefing to the Open Scotland Summit , which Cetis is facilitating in collaboration with SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG. The Benefits of Open draws together and summarises key documents and publications relating to all aspects of openness in education. The paper covers Open Educational Resources, Massive Open Online Courses, Open Source Software, Open Data, Open Access and Open Badges.

The Benefits of Open briefing paper can be downloaded from the Cetis website here: http://publications.cetis.ac.uk/2013/834.

Such is the rapid pace of change in terms of open education research and development that several relevant new papers have been published since this briefing paper was completed less than a fortnight ago. The following recent outputs are likely to be of particular interest and significance to those with an interest in open education policy and practice, both in Scotland and internationally.

Journeys to Open Educational Practice: HEFCE OER Review Final Report
Authors: L. McGill, I. Falconer, J.A.Dempster, A. Littlejohn, and H. Beetham,
Date: June 2013
URL: https://oersynth.pbworks.com/w/page/60338879/HEFCE-OER-Review-Final-Report

“Over recent years, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has funded UK wide initiatives that explore and support open educational practices (OEP) and resources (OER). The HEFCE OER Review is a cumulative synthesis of the experiences and outcomes of those interventions. It incorporates all phases of the JISC/HE Academy’s Open Educational Resources Programme (UKOER) and the Open University’s Support Centre for Open Resources in Education (SCORE) activities.

The HEFCE-funded OER work in the UK has been extensive and has impacted on strategy, policy, practice (of a wide range of stakeholders, including learners), research, curriculum design, delivery and support. Projects have explored barriers and enablers, and developed solutions to address the individual, institutional and community issues of embedding sustainable practice and widening engagement with OER.

The purpose of the HEFCE OER review has been to deepen understanding and produce a solid evidence base that enhances the status of the UK work within the international OER arena and offers some conceptual and practical ways forward.”

POERUP Policies for OER Uptake Progress Report
Authors: POERUP Project Partners
Date: June 2013
URL: http://poerup.referata.com/w/images/2011_4021_PR_POERUP_pub.pdf

“1. POERUP’s overall aim is to develop policies to promote the uptake of OER (Open Educational Resources) in the educational sector, not for their own sake but to further the range of purposes for which institutions deploy OER: wider access (including internationally and in particular from developing countries), higher quality or lower cost of teaching – and combinations of these.
2. POERUP is focussing largely on the universities and schools subsectors of the education sector, but is also paying attention to the non-tertiary postsecondary subsector – the ‘colleges’ – since they are often the loci of the kind of informal learning that OER facilitates and also crucial to skills development.
3. The original focus of POERUP was to focus on policies at the ‘national’ level (including governments of devolved administrations). However, in the increasingly regionalised and part-privatised environment for education, where some governments are actually withdrawing from setting ICT policies for their sectors, it is now felt more appropriate to focus also on policies for institutions, consortia of these and private sector actors who facilitate change.
4. POERUP is putting substantial effort into understanding the state of play of OER in a range of countries, within the policy context in these countries, and as part of the wider development of online learning in these countries – but cognisant also of the worldwide moves towards Open Access for research literature.

8. The first round of country studies is essentially complete and now POERUP is turning its attention to a more delicate level of analysis. The key to this is to understand the ways in which OER communities can develop and foster activity without sustained long-term amounts of government funding. Particular tools for Social Network Analysis will be used to achieve this.
9. Seven case studies for OER communities have been chosen across the various education sectors for analysis by POERUP partners. These include the schools-focussed projects Wikiwijs (Netherlands), Bookinprogress (Italy) and Hwb (Wales/UK); HE-focussed projects OER U, Futurelearn (UK) and Canadian OER HE community; and one MOOC-based project to cover informal adult learning.”

Open Educational Resources and Collaborative Content Development: A practical guide for state and school leaders
Authors: T.J. Bliss, D. Tonks and S. Patrick, International Association for Online K12 Learning.
URL: http://www.inacol.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/inacol_OER_Collaborative_Guide_v5_web.pdf

While this report focuses primarily on the benefits and affordances of open educational resources for the US K-12 sector it includes a useful analysis of the benefits of open educational resources.

“Other countries and important non-governmental organizations are also beginning to recognize the potential of OER. The Organization for Economic Cooperative Development (OECD) explains, ‘Governments should support OER as good policy because educational institutions (particularly those publicly financed) should leverage taxpayers’ money by allowing free sharing and reuse of resources. Quality can be improved and the cost of content development reduced by sharing and reusing. Sharing knowledge is in line with academic traditions and a good thing to do. OER expands access to learning for everyone but most of all for nontraditional groups of students and thus widens participation in education and can bridge the gap between non-formal, informal, and formal learning.’”