OER18 Call for Co-Chairs

Ever dreamed of chairing an OER conference?  Well now’s your chance! Last week ALT announced a call for co-chairs of the OER18 Conference. ALT are seeking two people with

  • National/international standing in the Open Education field.
  • The commitment and vision to make the conference a success.
  • The capacity to chair a major international conference and its programme committee.
  • Enthusiasm and experience of working with the Open Education community and ALT.

Planning and organising the conference will be undertaken by the Conference Committee supported by ALT staff. You can find out more about this exciting opportunity and how to apply here and if you’re wondering what it’s actually like to co-chair an OER Conference, here’s a few words about my own personal experience…

Since its inception in 2010 the OER Conference has always been one of the most important and enjoyable events in my calendar.  I’ve always thought of OER as being “my” conference, it’s where my community, my colleagues, all the people I admire hang out.  And more than that, it’s where we all come together to share our practice, our experience, our love and criticism of openness.

Last year I was immensely privileged to co-chair the OER16 Open Culture Conference at the University of Edinburgh with my inspirational colleague Melissa Highton.  Hosting the conference reinforced Edinburgh’s strategic commitment to open education and we were delight to welcome delegates from the Wikimedia community and museums, libraries and archives domains.

On a personal level it was a wonderful opportunity to shape the direction of this increasingly international conference, to develop my own open practice and extend my network of peers.  It was an immensely rewarding experience to work so closely with ALT and a wide network of willing volunteers, and I can’t speak highly enough of the support they provided in planning and running the event.  And last but not least, it was also an enormous amount of fun! From start to finish, from planning the bid with Melissa, to handing over to the OER17 chairs after our closing keynote, it was all a hugely enjoyable experience.

OER17: The Politics of Open  is now just a few months away and with Josie Fraser and Alek Tarkowski at the helm, it can’t fail to be a fabulous and ground breaking event.  Just think…you could be next.

Never underestimate the amount of fun you can have co-chairing an OER conference!
Image by OER16 keynote Catherine Cronin. CC BY SA.

 

23 Things: Thing 13 Video

So here’s a thing…. (thing…get it?) …. although I consume as much online video as the next person I don’t actually produce a great deal, though there are plenty of embarrassing videos of me on YouTube from various conferences and events. Recently however I did have to produce a couple of videos.  The first was this video for the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Community Choice Awards earlier this autumn.  Although our media production colleagues here at the University did an excellent job of producing the video and stitching the content together, recording the film was a bit of a faff to say the least. Due to tight deadlines and people disappearing for summer vacations, Stuart Nicol and I ended up filming the clip ourselves using a camera balanced precariously on a stool on top of a table. We may have forgotten to turn the microphone on during the first take and we lost another take due to hopeless laughter.  Anyway, it was a bit of a hassle, so it’s no wonder we look a bit rabbit-in-the-headlights in the film :}

Fast forward a couple of months and I was asked to present a guest lecture for the University’s Introduction to Online Distance Learning course.  Because I was on leave in the Outer Hebrides the week I was scheduled to talk I offered to record my lecture instead.  This time I used MediaHopper, the University’s Kaltura based media management platform, to record my talk and I have to say I was very impressed.  Once I’d created my slides I was able to record my lecture on my own laptop which was incredibly convenient for me as I have to work from home two days a week owing to childcare responsibilities.  Everything worked perfectly and although it took over half-an-hour to upload the video file from my cranky home network, I was able to get the whole recording done and dusted in a few hours.  Sorted!  Unfortunately the MediaHopper embed code isn’t quite as effective and my slides don’t render properly when I embed the video in WordPress, however you can see the lecture complete with slides here: Open Education and Co-Creation.  And because it’s CC BY licensed you’re welcome to download and reuse it too 🙂

Open Archaeology and the Digital Cultural Commons

When I joined the Board of Wikimedia UK earlier this year I was asked if I’d like to write a blog post for the Wikimedia UK Blog, this is the result….

Eilean Dhomhnaill,  Loch Olabhat by Richard Law, CC BB SA 2.0

Eilean Dhomhnaill, Loch Olabhat by Richard Law, CC BB SA 2.0

Although I’ve worked in open education technology for almost twenty years now, my original background is actually in archaeology.  I studied archaeology at the University of Glasgow in the late 1980s and later worked there as material sciences technician for a number of years. Along the way I worked on some amazing fieldwork projects including excavating Iron Age brochs in Orkney and the Outer Hebrides, Bronze Age wetland sites at Flag Fen, a rare Neolithic settlement at Loch Olabhat in North Uist, the Roman fort of Trimontium at Newstead in the Scottish Borders and prehistoric, Nabatean and Roman sites in the South Hauran desert in Jordan.  I still have a strong interest in both history and archaeology and, perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m a passionate advocate of opening access to our shared cultural heritage.

Archaeological field work and post excavation analysis generates an enormous volume of data including photographs, plans, notebooks and journals, topographic data, terrain maps, archaeometric data, artefact collections, soil samples, osteoarchaeology data, archaeobotanical data, zooarchaeological data, radio carbon data, etc, etc, etc.  The majority of this data ends up in university, museum and county archives around the country or in specialist archives such as Historic Environment Scotland’s Canmore archive and the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) at the University of York.  And while there is no question that the majority of this data is being carefully curated and archived for posterity, much of it remains largely inaccessible as it is either un-digitised, or released under restrictive or ambiguous licenses.

Cadbury Castle Post Ex c. 1992

Cadbury Castle Post Ex c. 1992

This is hardly surprising for older archives which are composed primarily of analogue data.  I worked on the reanalysis of the Cadbury Castle archive in the early 1990’s and can still remember trawling through hundreds of dusty boxes and files of plans, context sheets, finds records, correspondence, notebooks, etc. That reanalysis did result in the publication of an English Heritage monograph which is now freely available from the ADS but, as far as I’m aware, little if any, of the archive has been digitised.

Digitising the archives of historic excavations may be prohibitively expensive and of debatable value, however much of the data generated by fieldwork now is born digital. Archives such as Canmore and the ADS do an invaluable job of curating this data and making it freely available online for research and educational purposes.  Which is great, but it’s not really open.  Both archives use custom licenses rather than the more widely used Creative Commons licences.  It feels a bit uncharitable to be overly critical of these services because they are at least providing free access to curated archaeological data online.  Other services restrict access to public cultural heritage archives with subscriptions and paywalls.

Several key thinkers in the field of digital humanities have warned of the dangers of enclosing our cultural heritage commons and have stressed the need for digital archives to be open, accessible and reusable.

The Journal of Open Archaeology Data is one admirable example of an Open Access scholarly journal that makes all its papers and data sets freely and openly available under Creative Commons licenses, while endorsing the Panton Principles and using open, non-proprietary standards for all of its content. Internet Archaeology is another Open Access journal that publishes all its content under Creative Commons Attribution licences.  However it’s still just a drop in the ocean when one considers the vast quantity of archaeological data generated each year.  Archaeological data is an important component of our cultural commons and if even a small portion of this material was deposited into Wikimedia Commons, Wikidata, Wikipedia etc., it would help to significantly increase the sum of open knowledge.

Wikimedia UK is already taking positive steps to engage with the Culture sector through a wide range of projects and initiatives such as residencies, editathons, and the Wiki Loves Monuments competition, an annual event that encourages both amateur and professional photographers to capture images of the world’s historic monuments.  By engaging with archaeologists and cultural heritage agencies directly, and encouraging them to contribute to our cultural commons, Wikimedia UK can play a key role in helping to ensure that our digital cultural heritage is freely and openly available to all.

This post originally appeared on the Wikimedia UK Blog

Open Education and Co-Creation

Last month I was invited to present a guest lecture on Open Education and Co-Creation as part of the Institute for Academic Development’s Introduction to Online Distance Learning staff development course.The lecture covers an introduction and overview of open learning, OER and open licences and includes a co-creation case study about the fabulous work of our Open Content Curation Intern, Martin Tasker.

Because I was away the week the my lecture was scheduled, I recorded it in advance using the University of Edinburgh’s Media Hopper service and uploaded it with a CC BY license. You can find the lecture here and the slides are on Slideshare here.  Feel free to reuse and repurpose!

(PS The WordPress embed code is being a bit wonky, but if you download this presentation or view it on MediaHopper you’ll be able to see my slides and me talking at the same time.)

23 Things: Thing 11 & 12 Copyright and OER

First of all a confession – I can get quite emotional about copyright and licensing :’} So emotional in fact that Jane Secker’s ALT Conference keynote Copyright and e-learning: understanding our privileges and freedoms  actually brought a wee tear to my eye.  You might think I’m making this up but it’s true, and the reason why is that copyright and licensing is ultimately about rights and freedoms and, at this point in time more than ever, what could be more important and fundamental than that?

One of the things that fascinates me about copyright is that people often hold contradictory views on it at the same time.  On the one hand there is a nebulous fear of copyright founded on the assumption that both copyright and licenses are preventative and punitive and that getting it wrong will call down the wrath of lawyers. On the other hand there’s a general assumption that anything that’s out there on the internet can be reused without permission, because if you weren’t happy with your stuff being reused you wouldn’t put it online in the first place, right?

Encouraging colleagues to engage with copyright is no easy task, it’s seen as dry and dull and vaguely threatening. However engaging colleagues with open education resources (OER) is a great way to raise awareness of both copyright an licensing.  Learning about OER can help colleagues to think about their own rights and to consider how to express, in unambiguous terms, what they will or will not allow people to do with content that have created.

The beauty of Creative Commons licenses is that they are designed to enable reuse, rather than prevent it. Admittedly CC licences are not perfect, the Non-Commercial clause is widely regarded as being particularly problematic but it’s no exaggeration to say that they have played a fundamental role in facilitating the development of open education and OER. Creative Commons licenses are now so integral to my work that I can’t imagine life without them and I can’t think of copyright without also thinking of Creative Commons.

So the task for Thing 11 & 12 is to find two CC licensed resources and then find or create an OER, so in the best traditions of Blue Peter – here’s one I prepared earlier! Two CC licensed images from flickr and the open education resource I used them in – a guest lecture for the University of Edinburgh’s Introduction to Online distance Learning Course.

Free Speech Zone by Caitlyn_and_Kara CC BY 2.0

Free Speech Zone by Caitlyn_and_Kara CC BY 2.0

Free Hugs

Gratis by Abrazo Dan CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The wrong side of history

After IndyRef I was hurt, after Brexit I was angry, but when I woke up this morning I was genuinely horrified and more than a little afraid.

I grew up in the Outer Hebrides in the 1970’s and 80’s at the height of the cold war, the nuclear arms race and the military build up of Nato bases around Northern Europe. The USSR was supposed to be the enemy of course, but it was the Americans I remember being really afraid of. They were the ones building military bases all over the country and right on my doorstep.

This morning America feels like a place to be afraid of again. Really afraid.

The thing that horrifies me about the projected election result (it hasn’t been called yet), is not the realisation that the world is full of people who think so very, very differently from me, Brexit proved that, it’s the realisation that there are so many people out there who care so little for anyone they see as “other”.

Fear of the other is a powerful force and it has led us to some of the darkest moments in global history. We’re paying the price for not knowing our history.

If there’s one thing that this reinforces for me, it’s that it proves yet again why it’s so important for everyone, and I mean everyone, to have access to free and open education.   And I really do mean education in the broadest sense. Now more than ever we need education that focuses on history, on politics, on philosophy, on economics, on human geography. We need to understand how we got into this mess and the consequences of our actions if we fuck it all up again.

The first thing my partner said to me this morning was “We’re on the wrong side of history” and it really does feel that way today. My first instinct was to hit up Skype and twitter and reach out to my American friends to tell them how very, very sorry I am about the result but you know what? We’re all in this together. I never thought a US election result would make me cry, but here we are.

It’s kind of ironic that the previous post on this blog is Dream A Little, and boy does that look like a utopian delusion now.  That post ends with the semi-ironic quote “We live in the short term and hope for the best”.  We need to live for more than the short term now, but we sure as hell need hope.

Hope is Power

 

 

FutuOER: Dream A Little

Although I’m not attending the Open Education Conference in Virginia this week I’ve made a small contribution to a panel session with the intriguing title FutuOER: Designing the Next Generation of Open Education.  The panel, which is being run by Brandon Muramatsu of MIT and Norman Bier of Carnegie Mellon, will explore “possible visions of open education in 2036, using a series of broadly solicited papers as a starting point.”  The brief for these solicited papers was to “think about the past and to dream about the future,” and Brandon and Norman assembled an amazing group of thinkers and dreamers including Mary Lou Forward, Martin Weller, TJ Bliss, Paul Stacey, Catherine Casserle, Stephen Downes, Tomohiro Nagashima and others. You can read all these papers and more about FutuOER: The Future of Open Education Resources here http://www.futuoer.org/  And here’s my dream….

Dream a Little

The brief for this short paper was to “envision open education 20 years from now,” to “dream about the future.”

I’m not normally much of a dreamer. If I had to hang a label on myself, I’d say I’m more of a pragmatic realist, not much given to flights of fancy. However, there’s no denying that I’m passionate about open education, and sometimes it’s nice to dream a little…

My dream for open education is for all publicly funded resources to be released under open licence and to be accessible and available to all members of the public. And by resources, I don’t just mean education resources. I mean cultural heritage collections, works of art, and archives, too. Commercial companies that digitise and paywall public archives will be a thing of the past, and our cultural commons will be unenclosed and unencumbered by restrictive copyright legislation and prohibitive access fees.

Copyright legislation will be reformed internationally and harmonised regionally, and new legislation will be designed to protect the creative rights of the individual, rather than the profits of commercial publishing corporations.

Our politicians, legislators, librarians, archivists, teachers, and learners will understand the importance of open licensing and will take great pride in ensuring that any publicly funded resources they create or curate are freely and openly available to all.

Open education resources, open assessment practises, open textbooks, and recognition of prior learning will be employed to develop the potential of all the citizens of the world, particularly those who have been forced to flee persecution, prejudice, war, and instability, as well as those who simply want a better life for themselves and their families. Population movement will be encouraged and supported by an international education framework of transferrable skills and credits.

Any vision of open education for the future must be inclusive and accessible to all. Open education will no longer be the preserve of the global north and the privileged white Western elite. Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Portuguese, and Bengali open education resources will be as common and as readily available as English ones. Additional support will be provided to develop open education resources in minority and indigenous languages, aimed particularly at the young learners who are key to preserving their language, culture, and heritage.

That may all sound a little far-fetched, but I think we have to dream a little. The alternative is a bit of a nightmare, in which access to high quality education becomes the preserve of the privileged few, open education is dominated by the global north, textbooks are so prohibitively expensive that they are beyond the reach of mere mortals, copyright reform is driven by corporate publishers, our cultural commons is enclosed by paywalls, and we rely on technology entrepreneurs to reform our broken education system. Heaven forbid that should ever happen, right?

Let’s keep on dreaming.

And here’s the soundtrack for my dream… Forevergreen by Edinburgh’s very own Finitribe

People used to dream about the future. They thought there was no limit to progress. They dreamed of a clean, bright future, where science would make everything possible, and everybody better off. But somewhere along the line that future got cancelled.”

“We live in the short term and hope for the best”

23 Things: Thing 10 Wikimedia

Still woefully behind…I should be on Thing 18 by now and I’ve only reached Thing 10 :}  Never mind though because Thing 10 is a wonderful Thing.  Thing 10 is Wikimedia!  It’s a bit of an understatement to say that I am a huge fan of all the Wikimedia projects, whether it’s Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, Wikiquote, Wiktionary, Wikidata, I use them all regularly and together they constitute a vast open educational resource of incomparable value.

I’ve been involved with Wikimedia for a number of years now; most of my involvement has been in the form of participating in and supporting Wikimedia events such as conferences and editathons and I’m also honoured to be a member of the  Board of Wikimedia UK. I’ve never been much of an editor though.  I’m already juggling so many other commitments that I never seem to find time to actually edit Wikipedia or contribute content to any of the other Wikimedia projects.  I had high hopes of submitting some photographs to the Wiki Loves Monuments competition, which is a fabulous initiative to capture pictures of historic monuments and submit them to Wikimedia Commons but alas I missed the deadline. The month went by in a flash before I even had a chance to look through my photographs.

I’m hoping that as of this week I can become more of an active editor though.  As part of the University of Edinburgh’s Samhuinn Editathon I created my very first brand new Wikipedia page about the Scottish women’s education reformer Janet Anne Galloway.  Despite being instrumental in founding Queen Margaret College, which was later incorporated into the University of Glasgow, Janet, and her equally important colleague Jessie Campbell, had no Wikipedia entries.  Janet now has her very own shiny new Wikipedia page and I’m hoping that I can also create one for Jessie and also tidy up the entry for Queen Margaret College which lacks citation and says more about the building that housed the college than the remarkable women who established it.  There is a beautiful stained glass window in Bute Hall commemorating Janet, Jessie and Isabella Elder, the Glasgow philanthropist who supported the college. Alas the best picture I could find of it online is held in the Scran archive which is sadly paywalled and therefore can not be added to the cultural commons.

One last thing I’d like to add, I’ve met and worked with a number of Wikimedians over the years and they are without doubt some the nicest people you could ever wish to meet 🙂

I also won the prize for best Halloween Tumshie :) by Ewan McAndrew

I also won the prize for best Halloween Tumshie 🙂 by Ewan McAndrew

Two new projects for Open Access Week

Open Access Week seems like a good time to write my first blog post about two new projects I’m going to be working on over the coming months.  One is to facilitate a University of Edinburgh Open Knowledge Network and the other is to create a MOOC for small to medium enterprises on how to access open research outputs produced by the UK Higher Education sector.  Both projects have been funded by the University of Edinburgh’s Information Services Innovation Fund.

UoE Open Knowledge Network

The aim of the network will be to draw together the University’s activities in the area of Open Data, Open Access, Open Education, Open Collections and Archives and to promote collaboration and cross fertilisation across these areas.  The Open Knowledge Network will host a series of meetings that will bring together guest speakers and open practitioners from across the institution to share ideas and practice. The project will also aim to raise awareness of the benefits of open licensing and sharing open data, collections, scholarly works and OER within the institution and across the sector.

Accessing Open Research Outputs MOOC

This project will scope and develop a short information Services MOOC for small to medium enterprises on how to access open research outputs. The course will focus on developing digital and data literacy skills and search strategies to find and access open research outputs including Open Access scholarly works and open research data sets.  The course will be developed with Edinburgh Research and Innovation and will feature  case studies based on the University of Edinburgh’s open research outputs.  In line with the University’s commitment to OER, all resources developed for the course will be released under open license and will be available to be re-used and re-purposed through a range of channels.

If you have an innovative case study that could feature in the new course, or if you’d like to get involved in the Open Knowledge Network you can drop me a mail at lorna.m.campbell@ed.ac.uk or tweet to me at @lornamcampbell.University of Edinburgh Information Services

 

 

Open Access Week

Open Access WeekOpen Access Week is a global event that provides an opportunity for the academic and research community to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.

 

 

23 Things: Thing 9 Google Hangouts / Collaborate Ultra

I am woefully behind with 23 Things owing to work and annual leave so I’m going to try and catch up with a few quick and dirty posts.

Thing 9 is Google Hangouts and Collaborate Ultra and I did actually manage to dial into the live sessions Charlie ran a couple of weeks ago which were a lot of fun. I’ve worked remotely in one way or another for most of my career in ed tech, either working from home, working for distributed organisations, or working on projects with multiple international parters, so I’ve lost count of the number of remote collaboration tools I’ve used over the years.  Here’s a brief run down of the way I use some of the current crop of tools.

Skype

Still my favourite for one to one calls and personal conversations. I use Skype routinely on both my laptop and my phone and would be lost without it. I tend to use Skype for audio calls, text chat and transferring documents and images, it’s not often I make video calls.  The downside of Skype is that it’s still flakey with more than a few people, so I tend not to rely on it if there are more than about four people on a call. Also the way Skype updates its interface and randomly hides features is annoying as hell.

Google Hangouts

I can’t say I was impressed with Google hangouts in the early days.  I remember having a call with a Google project manager in the US not long after hangouts were launched and they insisted on using a telephone conference line rather than a hangout, which kinda spoke volumes. Initially I found them really flakey and in my experience there are often problems with scheduling and people getting into hangouts.   Having said that, things have improved, the interface is nice and clean, and once you’re in I find that hangouts are pretty robust. You can only have up to 10 people actively participating in a video hangout which is an obvious limiting factor, though you can have a much larger number listening in.  One nice feature is that you can stream hangouts directly on to Youtube which makes them a useful broadcasting tool. Here’s a link to an ALT Community Call which essentially involved Martin Hawksey interviewing me in a hangout and streaming it directly on to Youtube. So I tend to find hangouts are useful for project meetings, small committees, and broadcast interviews.  Also filters and ponies.

Google Hangout interface

Susan Greig channelling her inner Elsa in a Google Hangout

Google Hangouts with ponies

Not many collaboration tools offer ponies as standard

Collaborate Ultra

I’ve been using various incarnations of this tool since the dawn of time and it’s never been exactly user friendly.  Anyone else remember the days of having to install Java before you could run the damn thing? No, not that version of Java, this version of Java. *sigh*  However there’s no denying that Collaborate is very useful indeed for more formal online collaboration, particularly webinars and online lectures, which may have a large audience.  In my experience you need at least two people to run a successful Collaborate webinar, one doing the talking and one watching the chat window, and if you’ve got someone else acting as administrator then that’s even better. Of course to use Collaborate Ultra you need a subscription, but if you have access, it’s a very useful tool indeed.

Collaborate Ultra interface

Collaborate Ultra – no ponies