Seven years of open

Happy New Year! This is traditionally a time for reflection so as I take the reins of the Open Scotland blog for January I will take the opportunity to look back on seven years of the Scottish Open Education Declaration (2013).

Full disclosure – I am a relative newbie to the open education community. In 2013, I was working in community education and had no clue about the massive potential of OER for my learners. I first heard the term in 2015 when I became involved in a partnership project to remix an OER for carers with Lindsay Hewitt of the OU in Scotland. I was smitten and when she offered me a (short-term) contract, I jumped (from my existing short-term contract). Precarity was my norm then. I had the opportunity to work closely with the then Open Educational Practices in Scotland (OEPS) project and learned so much in a short time, attending every forum and conference that was going and meeting many of the fine people who had been involved in the Declaration along the way. I attended my first ALT OER conference in Edinburgh in 2016 (co-chaired by Lorna Campbell). OpenLearn, the Open University’s OER platform, was already 10 years old.

Before I was completely down with the terminology (we do have a knack for jargon and acronym) what I remember from those meetings was recurring mention of repositories. It is indicative of how the conversations have moved on that this is no longer the case. I’ve witnessed the direction move from OER to open educational practices (OEP) and pedagogy.  There has also been a centring of ‘open’ within higher and further education. Unsurprising perhaps, as so many of the members and theorists within the growing and increasingly international community are located in HE institutions.

Which brings me, eventually, back to the Scottish Open Education Declaration. What’s interesting to me is that the Declaration wasn’t overly focused on HE. It was addressed to the Scottish Government, the Scottish Funding Council, education agencies, schools, colleges, universities, the third sector, and all organisations and individuals engaged in teaching and learning including galleries, libraries, archives and museums. It identifies the potential of open education in expanding access, widening participation, teaching and learning, digital citizenship, social inclusion, inter-institutional collaboration, publicly-funded research, accreditation (open badges), and lifelong learning (formal and non-formal).

Over the course of this month, I hope to explore activity in Scotland related to some of these lesser-blogged-about areas of open practice. Given my own role in widening access with the Open University in Scotland, you can expect to hear about projects I’ve been involved with. I am very much hoping that these can be the start of a conversation and would love to hear about – and boost – some of the exciting things you’ve been doing since the Declaration.

Tweet me @Gill_ie

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