Open for Scots

It’s not often that OER make the news but in December the Open University in Scotland’s new Scots language and culture course made a bit of a splash. I spoke to the OU’s Sylvia Warnecke, who led production of the OER, about interview requests, open archives, and creating a new pedagogy for a non-standard language.

Scots Language and Culture sits on OpenLearn Create – the OU’s most open platform, which makes course building tools available for free to anyone interested in creating, reusing or remixing content. We also use it for co-producing resources with partner organisations, which is what Sylvia did, rather than placing the course on OpenLearn, which houses only OU-generated OER.

“We had to develop a whole new pedagogy for learning Scots as it is not a codified language. There are no agreed standards for written Scots and the language has many regional variations in addition to 10 main dialect areas. We approached teaching Scots in the way a child learns a language, through immersion, mainly by listening. To do this, we had to have a new feature added to OpenLearn Create to enable people to listen to authentic Scots, then record themselves speaking and play it back so they can hear if their pronunciation sounds right.”

The project originated in 2016 following the Scottish Government’s launch of the Scots Language Policy, but it has been a long time evolving into its current form. It was produced in partnership with Education Scotland and was very much a community effort. Many Scots linguists, speakers and authors gave their time to the project, writing content and providing audio material. It also drew on content from archives and other online resources that have been made available with an open licence, such as the Dictionary of the Scots Language and the Scots Syntax Atlas.

Since Part 1 was launched in December (Part 2 was released this week) the course has been accessed by more than 8000 learners, making it one of the most successful on OpenLearn Create to date. Was Sylvia expecting the course to be so popular?

“We knew there was an interest but we’ve been taken aback by the overwhelming response from the public and the media. It was strange to be fielding requests for interviews with newspapers and radio. One of the questions I got asked was “why did it take a German lassie to make this happen?” I think it’s because I had no preconceptions about Scots, I just approached it as a linguist and could compare it to Swiss German, another non-standard language which is fully recognised in Switzerland. So many people have fed back to us what it means to them to have the validation that the way they speak is a real language and not ‘bad English’ like they were told at school. They are proud to be recognised as bilingual.”

Sylvia reckons social media has helped change attitudes to using Scots, reaching younger audiences and people with Scottish roots around the world. The Duo Lingo app’s recently launched Gaidhlig course has also been hugely popular and far exceeded expected numbers. The Scots OER is being used by a wide range of people and institutions, in schools, in prison learning centres and by groups of retired people, some of whom were not allowed to speak Scots when they were in school. 40% of people accessing the course are based outwith the UK (that’s right autocorrect, I said ‘outwith’!) from Canada to Australia.

Scots speakers may enjoy learning about the role of the language in Scottish history and culture and explore reasons for its ‘lack of prestige’. If you’re new to Scots you’ll learn to understand spoken and written Scots in different dialects and can begin to build your vocabulary. Each part of the course covers 20 study hours and you can earn a digital badge on completion of both Parts 1 and 2.

Gie it a shot!

@Gill_ie

Open.Ed launches

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

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

For the Common Good

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

Edinburgh at its best

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

Edinburgh’s Treasures

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

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

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

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

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 m.kelt@gcu.ac.uk.  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.

Open Scotland Presentations

Presentations from the Open Scotland Summit held in Edinburgh in June 2013 are available here:

Welcome and Introduction – Lorna M. Campbell, Cetis

Open Scotland Keynote – Cable Green, Creative Commons

Open Source in Education – Scott Wilson, OSS Watch

Open Data – Wilbert Kraan, Cetis

UKOER The First Three Years – David Kernohan, Jisc

Massive Open Online Courses – Sheila MacNeill, Cetis

Nordic OER Alliance – Tore Hoel, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences

OERs and MOOCs: Exploring the potential for Wales – Paul Richardson, Jisc RSC Cymru and Online Digital Learning Working Group

Introduction and Welcome
– Lorna M. Campbell, Cetis

Keynote

– Dr Cable Green, Creative Commons

Lightning Talks

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.’”