Open Education, Open Scotland

The Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Scotland Special Interest Group (SIG), in collaboration with Jisc RSC Scotland, SQA and Cetis will host Open Education, Open Scotland at the Informatics Forum at the University of Edinburgh on Tuesday, 3rd June 2014.

This free one-day event will provide an opportunity for ALT Scotland SIG members and the wider community to come together and share ideas and experiences of adopting and promoting open educational practices across all sectors of Scottish education.

“Open education can promote knowledge transfer while at the same time enhancing quality and sustainability, supporting social inclusion, and creating a culture of inter-institutional collaboration and sharing. In addition, open education can expand access to education, widen participation, create new opportunities for the next generation of teachers and learners and prepare them to become fully engaged digital citizens.”

– Scottish Open Education Declaration

Early last year, these four supporting institutions launched Open Scotland, a voluntary, cross-sector initiative that aims to raise awareness of open education, encourage the sharing of open educational resources, and promote the development of open policy and practice. A number of awareness raising activities have taken place including:

  • The Open Scotland Summit, which brought together senior managers, policy makers and key thinkers to explore the development of open education policy and practice in Scotland.
  • The Open Scotland blog was launched to disseminate news relating to all aspects of openness in education and to act as a focal point for discussion and debate.
  • The first draft of the Scottish Open Education Declaration was released. This open draft is based on the UNESCO Paris OER Declaration, but extends its scope to focus on open education in general, rather than OER in particular.

Invited Speakers and Topics:

  • Maren Deepwell, ALT: Update from ALT
  • Colin Cook, Scottish Government: Scottish Government perspectives
  • David Beards, SFC: SFC Update
  • Ronald MacIntyre, Open University: OU Scotland’s Open Education Project
  • Suzanne Scott, Borders College: Open Badges, Open Borders
  • Jonathan Worth, Coventry University: Open Courses
  • Natalie Lafferty, University of Dundee: Students as consumers and producers of open educational resources
  • Ian Stewart and John Johnstone, GLOW
  • Lorna M Campbell, Cetis: Scottish Open Education Declaration

There are still a few places available for this free event. Registration and further information is available here:

Open Textbooks – experiences from BCcampus in Canada

There has been some interest of late in the potential of open textbooks across different sectors of Scottish education so we are happy to present this guest blog post from BCcampus in Canada on their Open Textbooks initiative.

In October 2012, the British Columbia (Canada’s westernmost province) Ministry of Advanced Education announced its support for the creation of open textbooks for the 40 highest-enrolled first and second year subject areas in the province’s public post-secondary system. A year later, it announced funding for a further 20 textbooks in areas of trades training. BCcampus is tasked with co-ordination of the project because of our 10-year experience funding open educational resources (OER) through an online program development fund.

A look at the BCcampus Open Textbook Project from BCcampus on Vimeo.

The goal of the Open Textbook Project is to provide flexible and affordable access to higher education resources in B.C. by making open textbooks available for use by B.C. faculty, and digital versions of the texts free of charge to faculty and students. Printed copies are also available on demand for a low cost. Here is our progress to date:

BC Open Textbook Project at a glance

Two Projects:

  • 40 openly licensed texts for the most highly enrolled subjects in BC Public Post SecondaryFunding: $1 million
  • 20 openly licensed texts for subject areas which align with provincial skills gap and the BC Jobs PlanFunding: $1 million Specific subject areas: under review

Project goals:

  • Increase access to higher education by reducing the cost of learning resources.
  • Enable faculty greater control of resources by enabling modification of existing open resources.


  • Adopt existing textbooks from the Commons and fund reviews
  • Fund adaptations of existing OER to form BC appropriate, high quality open texts
  • Fund creation from scratch where no appropriate existing resources exist

Available Textbooks:

Textbook Reviews:

  • 19 have been reviewed by B.C. faculty
  • 51 total reviews
  • More reviews are underway and more are needed

Known Adoptions as of May 2014:

  • 21 known adoptions
  • Of the known adoptions of Open Textbooks in British Columbia, we have a total known savings of $234,770 (savings are based on all students buying new textbook)

Current Creations:

  • Year 2 Accounting
  • Year 2 English
  • Year 1 History

Current Adaptations:

  • Year 1 Psychology • Year 2 Psychology
  • Year 1 Sociology • Year 1 Chemistry
  • Year 1 Computer Science • Year 1 Business Information Systems

Call for creation from scratch, adaptations and further reviews remain open.

Feedback from our stakeholders about Open Textbooks has been very good:

“I can make edits that are a closer match to my course’s needs, e-books are reasonable to ask students to bring to class every day, and I control the revisions and edition changes. When edition changes are under my control, nothing gets changed that I didn’t ask for or do for myself. I can control the timing. I’m not going to use the exact same textbook for my entire career, that’s not the point. the point is it’s under my control, and I didn’t have to write my own book from scratch.”

– Takashi Sato, Physics Instructor, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

“I still remember the looks on my students’ faces on the first day of class when I told them that the textbook had been posted on their course website for them to download for free. It is an understatement to say that they were happy.”

– Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani, Capilano University

For more information:

Something to SMIRK about

A guest post from Marion Kelt, Senior Librarian at Glasgow Caledonian University Library, about a new open education resource for students on information literacy.

smileGlasgow Caledonian University Library has launched a new open educational resource: SMIRK (Small Mobile Information Literacy Realworld Knowledge). SMIRK has been developed for use on mobile devices and aims to give students bite sized knowledge on information literacy and a variety of communication skills. The website is completely open, no login is required and all resources are released under a CC BY licence.

This is the first version of SMIRK, and Marion Kelt would welcome any feedback at Already planned for version two is improved navigation and automatic text scaling to fit your device. We hope you can use it to support your students at a variety of levels.

SMIRK has been repurposed from resources produced by the Jisc RePRODUCE SMILE Project at the Universities of Worcester, Loughborough and Imperial College London.

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:

Draft Programme


Registration (Tea/Coffee)


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


Update from ALT – Maren Deepwell, ALT


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


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


Open Badges, Open Borders – Suzanne Scott, Borders College




Open Courses – Jonathan Worth, Coventry University


Open Institutions – Natalie Lafferty, University of Dundee


Opening GLOW – Ian Stuart and John Johnston


Coffee break


Scottish Open Education Declaration – Lorna M. Campbell, Cetis


Plenary discussion