OER17 – The Distance Travelled

Reflections on open education policy in the UK since the Cape Town Declaration

Paper presented at the OER17 Politics of Open conference.

2017 has officially been designated the “Year of Open”.

The Year of Open is a global focus on open processes, systems, and tools, created through collaborative approaches, that enhance our education, businesses, governments, and organizations … Open represents freedom, transparency, equity and participation … During the Year of Open, we want to capture and display these efforts to increase participation and understanding of how open contributes to making things better for everyone.

This initiative is backed by many of the major international players in the field of open education, including Creative Commons, the Open Education Consortium, OER Africa, etc.

And the reason that this is the Year of Open is that we have a number of important anniversaries

It’s the 15th anniversary of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, and it’s also the ¨ 15th anniversary of the release of the first Creative Commons licence.

It’s the 10th anniversary of the Cape Town Declaration which laid the foundations of the “emerging open education movement” and advocated the development of open education policy to ensure that taxpayer-funded educational resources are openly licensed. And if you haven’t read the Cape Town Declaration recently, I can highly recommend revisiting it, it’s really quite inspiring and inspiring statement.

And it’s also the 5th Anniversary of the UNESCO Paris OER Declaration which, five years after Cape Town, strengthened this call by encouraging governments and authorities to open license educational materials produced with public funds in order to realize substantial benefits for their citizens and maximize the impact of investment.

Continue reading

OER17 – Shouting from the Heart

This is my blog.  It’s called Open World.  It’s powered by Reclaim Hosting and the title is inspired by Kenneth White, Scottish poet and Chair of 20th Century Poetics at Paris-Sorbonne.  Mostly I write about work, about conferences and meetings I’ve been to, presentations I’ve given, papers I’ve written.  Sometimes I write about my thoughts on other people’s writing.  Sometimes I write about the frustrations of being a woman working in technology.  Sometimes I write about events like Open Access Week,  Ada Lovelace Day, or International Women’s Day.  Mostly I write about Open Education.

Mostly I write because I want to; but sometimes I write because I have to.  Sometimes writing is a necessity, a catharthis, the only way to process experiences or events that are too overwhelming, too infuriating, too incomprehensible to mediate in any other way.  That’s when writing gets, personal and political, messy, emotional and confrontational.

I seem to be writing more and more of these personal blog posts recently; after the failed Scottish independence referendum (Hearing voices), after  Brexit (This time it’s different), after the US election (The wrong side of history).  It was Helen Beetham who called one of these posts a shout from the heart and I guess in a way they are.  There’s no denying that they’re a personal emotional response to events that seemed, that still seem, to be utterly incomprehensible to me.  There’s also quite a lot of swearing involved, but I’m not going to apologise for that.

So what has any of this got to do with open education?  I’ve always had a strong personal commitment to open education.  I believe passionately that as educators we have a responsibility to work together to improve opportunities for all, not just for a select few. I believe there is huge creative potential in openness and I believe we have a moral and ethical obligation to open access to publicly funded educational resources.

 “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. In addition, 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.”

These words are from the Scottish Open Education Declaration.  I wrote them and you know what?  These aren’t hollow words, I actually believe them.  I actually have a genuine commitment to these words, and that’s why I find it increasingly difficult to disentangle my open education work from the personal and political.  And to be honest, I don’t really care because never has the feminist rallying call “The personal is political” rung more true than now.

I know I’m extremely fortunate to be in the position where I can write these personal political blog posts and express my opinions without fear of reprisal and I am aware that this is an incredibly privileged position to be in.   It’s very easy for some of us to take openness for granted but it’s important to remember that for many there’s is also a risk associated with openness, because openness, education, knowledge all seek to challenge structures of power and control. And in talking about risk, I don’t mean risk in the abstract sense.

“Bassel Khartabil (Safadi)” by Joi Ito – http://www.flickr.com/photos/joi/4670781482CC BY 2.0

Do any of you know who this man is? This is Bassel Khartabil a Syrian open source software developer, open knowledge advocate, Wikipedia editor and project lead for Creative Commons Syria.  Bassel is also a contributor to the New Palmyra project; a digital archaeology and open data project that aims to create a virtual reconstruction of the ancient city of Palmyra, much of which has been destroyed by ISIL during the Syrian civil war. Bassel was detained by the Syrian government in 2012 and held in Adra Prison in Damacus for 3 years. In October 2015 his name was removed from the Adra prison register and despite calls from numerous human rights organisations, his whereabouts are unknown.  In order to raise awareness of Bassel’s disappearance a group of open practitioners came together to write the open e-book The Cost of Freedom: A Collective Inquiry.  My contribution to the book was a short piece called The Open World which touches on the personal risks, costs and benefits of openness, much like this talk today.   The plight of Bassel Khartabil is a sobering reminder of the risks of openness, proof that open is always political, but it’s also shows why we need openness more than ever, because openness is inextricably bound up with freedom.  And in the words of another older declaration, the Declaration of Arbroath.

It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.

Crossing the Field Boundaries: Open Science, Open Data & Open Education

Last week I was invited to speak at the International Open Science Conference in Berlin which this year had a special focus on OER.  My talk featured a case study of the University of Edinburgh’s Geosicence Outreach and Engagement Course so I’d like to thank Colin Graham and all those involved in the course for allowing me to present their inspirational work.

This talk focuses on the interface between OER, open data and open science and our experience at the University of Edinburgh of promoting open education through the School of GeoSciences Outreach and Engagement course.

The title of this paper, “Crossing the field boundaries”, comes not from the domain of GeoScicences though, but from Maryam Mirzakhani, professor of mathematics at Stanford University and the first female winner of the Fields Medal.  In a 2014 interview Maryam said

“I like crossing the imaginary boundaries people set up between different fields—it’s very refreshing. There are lots of tools, and you don’t know which one would work. It’s about being optimistic and trying to connect things.”

A Tenacious Explorer of Abstract Surfaces, Quanta Magazine, August 2014

I am not a mathematician, or a scientist, but I do have some experience of crossing field boundaries, and since open education is all about breaking down boundaries and cutting across fields, this seems like a nice metaphor to hang this talk on. Continue reading

Open Knowledge, OER, Wikimedia, MOOCs and Maritime Masculinities

How is it March already?!  I’ve been sorely neglecting this blog for the past few months, not because I’ve got nothing to say, quite the opposite, I’ve been so tied up with different projects I’ve barely had a chance to write a single blog post! A poor excuse I know, but anyway, here’s a very brief run down of what I’ve been up to for the past three months and hopefully I’ll be able to get back to blogging on a regular schedule soon.

Most of my time has been taken up with two new IS Innovation Fund projects I’m running at the University of Edinburgh.

UoE Open Knowledge Network

The UoE Open Knowledge Network is an informal forum to draw together the University’s strategic policies and activities in the area of Open Data, Open Access, Open Education, Open Research, Open Collections and Archives, in order to support cross-fertilisation and promote the institution’s activities in these areas. This Network aims to embed open knowledge within the institution and to establish a self-sustaining network supported by the departments and divisions that have oversight of the University’s strategic Open Access, Open Education and Open Data policies.

The Network held its first event in January which featured a keynote from Gill Hamilton of the National Library of Scotland plus lightning talks from colleagues across the institution.  You can read more about the event on the Open Knowledge network blog here: http://okn.ed.ac.uk/

UoE Open Knowledge Network, CC BY Stephanie Farley

Accessing Open Research Outputs MOOC

Since the publication of the Finch report and the Research Councils’ policy on open access, universities have increasingly made the outputs of their publicly funded research freely and openly available through open access journals and repositories. However it’s not always easy for people outwith academia to know how to access these outputs even though they are available under open licence.

This project is developing a short self paced learning MOOC aimed at the general public, private researchers, entrepreneurs and SMEs to provide advice on how to access open research outputs including Open Access scholarly works and open research data sets, in order to foster technology transfer and innovation. The course will focus on developing digital and data literacy skills and search strategies to find and access open research outputs and will also feature a series of case studies based on individuals and SMEs that have made successful use of the University of Edinburgh’s world class research outputs.

This is the first time I’ve worked on a MOOC project and I’m delighted to be working with Morna Simpson, of Geek Girl Scotland who has just been named one of Scotland’s most influential women in tech.

Wikimedia UK

I’ve been involved in a whole host of Wikimedia events including the Wikimedia UK Education Summit at Middlesex University, where Melissa Highton gave an inspiring keynote and I chaired a panel of lightning talks, #1Lib1Ref which encouraged Librarians and wikimedia editors to add one reference to Wikipedia to mark the 15th anniversary of the foundation of Wikipedia, and the History of Medicine editathon, part of the University of Edinburgh’s Festival of Creative Learning.  This event was a personal highlight not only because it took place in the stunning Surgeon’s Hall Museum and featured an utterly fascinating series of talks on subjects as diverse as Lothian Health Services Archive and William Burke, Scotland’s most prolific serial killer, but also because I got to create a new Wikipedia page for Ethel Moir, a nurse from Inverness who served on the Eastern Front in WW1.  I’m planning to do some more work on Ethel’s Wikipedia page tomorrow as during the University of Edinburgh’s Bragging Writes editathon as part of International Women’s Day.

History of Medicine Editathon, Surgeon’s Hall, CC BY Ewan McAndrew

UNESCO European Consultation on OER

2017 marks the 5th anniversary of the Paris OER Declaration and UNESCO and the Commonwealth for Learning are undertaking an international consultation focused on OER for Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education. Since the end of last year I’ve been liaising with COL to ensure that Scotland was represented at this consultation which is being undertaken in advance of the 2nd World OER Congress which will be held in Ljubljana later this year.  Joe Wilson went along to the consultation in Malta represent Open Scotland and you can read his report on the event here.

Maritime Masculinities Conference

Way back in December I took a week off from Ed Tech to co-chair the Maritime Masculinities Conference at the University of Oxford. The two day conference featured keynotes from Prof. Joanne Begiato, Dr Isaac Land and  Dr Mary Conley and a wide range of international papers.  I chaired a panel of papers on the theme of Sexualities and my co-author Heather Noel-Smith and I also presented a paper on Smoking Chimneys and Fallen Women: the several reinventions of Sir Henry Hart.  We were pleasantly surprised by the success of the conference and the lovely feedback we got from delegates.

I’ve also got a lot of conferences and events coming up over the next couple of months, but I think that deserves a separate blog post!

Enhancing Learning and Teaching Through The Use of Digital Technology

[Previously posted at openscot.net]

Last week the Scottish Government launched their new digital learning and teaching strategy for Scottish schools: Enhancing Learning and Teaching Through The Use of Digital Technology. The strategy outlines:

“a comprehensive approach to deliver the increased effective use of digital technology in education and bring about the equity of opportunity that is the key focus for this government.”

Key themes to emerge form the strategy are closing the attainment gap, developing digital skills, embedding technology right across the curriculum, and using digital technology to improve the assessment process.

The strategy is structured around four strategic objectives that will replace the existing five ICT in education objectives.

  • Develop the skills and confidencescotgov_strategy of educators in the appropriate and effective use of digital technology to support learning and teaching.
  • Improve access to digital technology for all learners.
  • Ensure that digital technology is a central consideration in all areas of curriculum and assessment delivery.
  • Empower leaders of change to drive innovation and investment in digital technology for learning and teaching.

The strategy emphasises that all four objectives must be achieved in order to realise the overarching vision for Scottish Education:

  • Excellence through raising attainment: ensuring that every child achieves the highest standards in literacy and numeracy, set out within Curriculum for Excellence levels, and the right range of skills, qualifications and achievements to allow them to succeed; and
  • Achieving equity: ensuring that every child has the same opportunity to succeed, with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

The strategy also outlines what Scot Gov and Education Scotland will do to deliver this vision and identifies action plans for each strategic objective as follows:

Objective 1: Develop the skills and confidence of educators in the appropriate and effective use of digital technology to support learning and teaching.

  • Ensure Professional Standards for Registration and for Career-Long Professional Learning reflect the importance of digital technology and skills.
  • Ensure that all Initial Teacher Education (ITE) providers instil the benefits of using digital technology to enhance learning and teaching in their students, in line with GTCS Standards for Registration.
  • Ensure that a range of professional learning opportunities are available to educators at all stages to equip them with the skills and confidence to utilise technology appropriately and effectively, in line with the GTCS Standards for Career Long Professional Learning.
  • Ensure that a range of professional learning opportunities are available to educators at all stages to equip them with the skills and confidence to utilise technology appropriately and effectively, in line with the GTCS Standards for Career Long Professional Learning.

Objective 2: Improve access to digital technology for all learners.

  • Continued national investment into initiatives that support digital access in educational establishments.
  • Provide guidance at a national and local level around learner access to digital technology.
  • Promote approaches to digital infrastructure that put users’ needs at the heart of the design.
  • Encourage and facilitate the development of partnerships that will improve digital access and digital skills development opportunities for our learners.

Objective 3: Ensure that digital technology is a central consideration in all areas of curriculum and assessment delivery.

  • Ensure aspects of Curriculum for Excellence relating to the use of digital technology and development of digital skills are relevant, ambitious and forward looking.
  • Support, develop and embed approaches to assessment that make effective use of digital technology.
  • Support, develop and embed approaches to assessment that make effective use of digital technology.

Objective 4: Empower leaders of change to drive innovation and investment in digital technology for learning and teaching.

  • Ensure that the vision laid out in this strategy is adequately captured in Professional Standards, self-evaluation guidance and inspections of educational provision in Scotland.
  • Support leaders and decision makers to lead change in their local contexts through accessing and sharing relevant research in order to identify effective approaches to the use of digital technology in education.

Implications for Open Education

The Scottish Government has clearly placed raising attainment and achieving equity at the heart of its digital learning and teaching strategy. While it is encouraging that the strategy acknowledges the potential of digital technology to enrich education, enhance learning and teaching, equip learners with vital digital skills and lead to improved educational outcomes, it is disappointing that it does not acknowledge the significant role that open education can play in achieving these objectives. Although this may be regarded as something of a missed opportunity to place openness at the heart of the government’s vision for education in Scotland, it is to be hoped that the new strategy lays a firm foundation on which to build evidence of the role that open education can play in closing the attainment gap, developing digital skills, improving the assessment process, creating new opportunities for learners, supporting social inclusion and expanding equitable access to education for all.

Links

Enhancing Learning and Teaching Through the Use of Digital Technology documents: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/09/9494/downloads

ALTC Connect, Collaborate, Create Highlights

ALTC used to be one of those conferences I only attended every second or third year, but over the last couple of years it really has become unmissable.  Whether you attend in person or participate virtually, it undoubtedly provides the best way to get a broad overview of technology enhanced learning in the UK together with plenty of opportunity for in depth discussion around many of the issues currently affecting the sector.  And this years conference Connect, Collaborate, Create co-chaired by Nicola Whitton and Alex Moseley, at the University of Warwick was no exception.

I’m not going to attempt to blog a summary of the conference, as the ALT team has already rounded up a whole host of excellent conference reports here Enabling the Connection, so I’m just going to pick out a few or my own personal highlights.

Lets get the team back together

I was delighted that ALT invited Rich Goodman, Chris Bull and I back to join Martin Hawksey and the conference social media team again this year. Live tweeting the conference keynotes from the official ALT account can be more than a bit daunting but it’s also an extremely rewarding experience and it was great to be joined this year by Kenji Lamb and Sandra Huskinson.

tweet tweet tweet - me & Rich Goodman by www.chrisbullphotographer.com

tweet tweet tweet – me & Rich Goodman by www.chrisbullphotographer.com

Trolls, myths, privilege and freedom

Josie Fraser’s keynote In The The Valley of the Trolls took an intelligent look at the thorny subject of trolling and didn’t shy away from addressing Gamergate head on.  (By contrast, aside from a single comment about gender imbalance in the games industry, Ian Livingston failed to address the issue of representation, sexism and harassment in the gaming community.)  Lia Commissar gave a highly entertaining keynote on Education and Neuroscience: Issues and Opportunities, which exploded a whole host of neuromyths common in education, ranging from learning styles and right / left brain thinking to the magical power of fish oils.  Jane Secker’s thoughtful and thought provoking keynote Copyright and e-learning: understanding our privileges and freedoms touched on many issues that are of deep personal concern to me, including privilege, equality and the enclosure of our cultural commons.  I actually found myself getting quite over emulsional while Jane was talking :}

Me fangirling Jane Secker's  keynote by www.chrisbullphotographer.com

Me fangirling Jane Secker’s keynote by www.chrisbullphotographer.com

The issues

Although I didn’t manage to get to nearly as many sessions as I would have liked, because I was running around doing so many other things, my impression is that some of the main issues to emerge from the conference this year were learning analytics, policies for lecture capture, and games in education.

Open education

It was great to see so many presentations on different aspects of open education, particularly at a time when there is so little external funding going into OER.  My impression is that openness is slowly starting to become embedded across the sector,  with more institutions starting to consider the sustainability of the resources their staff and students create. I gave a presentation Into the Open – a critical overview of open education policy and practice in Scotland and I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who provided enthusiastic comments and feedback.

ALT Scotland SIG

And talking of Scotland….we had a very successful meeting of the ALT Scotland SIG.  It was great to see so many new faces!  You can find out more about ALT Scotland and join out mailing list for updates.

Learning Technologist of the Year Awards

The University of Edinburgh was acknowledged twice in the Learning Technologist of the Year awards.  The Open Education Team, which I work with, was placed third in the team awards and the Education Development and Enhancement team was highly commended.  The awards were great fun and it was a real honour to join so many of the award winners from 2007 – 2016 on the stage.

ALT Learning Technologists of the Year by  www.chrisbullphotographer.com

ALT Learning Technologists of the Year by
www.chrisbullphotographer.com

ALT Trustee

I’m delighted to have joined the ALT Central Executive Committee as a Trustee and look forward to hopefully making a positive contribution to the organisation.

Virtually Connecting

I took part in a great Virtually Connecting session with Fiona Harvey, Teresa MacKinnon, Nadine Aboulmagd and others.  We discussed a wide range of topics including the risks and privileges associated with openness.

#altc #play

Despite patiently explaining to co-chair Nicola Whitton that I am #notagamer she insisted that I joined her team for the Actionbound School of Rock challenge. Yes really. I have to admit it was a lot of fun and we had the most awesome team.  Also this happened…

Ed Tech Cool, edit by James Clay

Ed Tech Cool, edit by James Clay

We should have won.  We were robbed.

 

Social Media at ALTC Connect, Collaborate and Create

ALTC 2015, CC BY, Chris Bull

ALTC 2015, CC BY, Chris Bull

It’s that time of year again!  The ALT Conference is taking place at the University of Warwick next week. The theme of this years conference, which has a distinctly playful feel, is Connect, Collaborate and Create, and the conference is being co-chaired by Nicola Whitton and Alex Moseley.  I’ll be joining the ALTC social media team again with my partner in crime Richard Goodman from Loughborough University and we’ll be live tweeting all five (count ’em!) of the conference keynotes.   Chris Bull will be on hand again to photograph the conference and this year we’re also being joined by Kenji Lamb from the College Development Network and Sandra Huskinson, Loughborough University, who’ll be helping Martin Hawksey to livestream and broadcast the event.

I’ll also be presenting a paper, Into the Open – a critical overview of open education policy and practice in Scotland on Thursday afternoon, and on Wednesday at 12.15 I’ll be joining Virtually Connecting to talk about open education.  Feel free to join us!

Oh and the Open Education Team that I work with at the University of Edinburgh is up for the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Community Choice Awards.  If you’d like to vote for us, which would be super nice of you, you can send an email to LTAwards-vote@alt.ac.uk with the subject line #LTA6 or tweet a message with the hashtags #altc #LTA6. 

Look forward to seeing you in Warwick!

Richard Goodman at ALTC 2015, CC BY, Chris Bull

Richard Goodman at ALTC 2015, CC BY, Chris Bull

OER16 Reflections – The Last Post

I had intended to write one last post to follow up the OER16: Open Culture Conference last month, but the moment passed, the weeks slipped by and I decided I’d left it too late. But then a couple of weeks ago Jim Groom posted a belated OER16 reflections post and I thought dammit, if Jim can do it, so can I!

When I was putting together my OER16 Overview  for the eLearning@Ed conference in May I emailed some of our keynotes and delegates to ask if they’d be willing to share some reflections on their experiences of the conference. I got some fabulous and very thoughtful responses that I really wanted to share, so here they are, after much delay and procrastination. Many thanks to everyone who responded.

It’s almost impossible to summarise so many diverse responses but if I can make an attempt…

Many OER16 participants commented on the strength of community that has grown up around open education. This is a mature and diverse community, which encompasses many different perspectives and interpretations of openness. For some open education is about resources, policy, technology, for others it’s about practice. Some are concerned with supporting and sustaining open education at scale across institutions, for others openness is more of a personal ethos. Some focus on the technologies we use to support open education, others are motivated by the potential of openness to address inequality and exclusion. None of these perspectives are mutually exclusive, none are above criticism, and indeed it appears that as a community we are moving towards a much more critical and nuanced analysis of what it means to be open.

As is so often the case Catherine Cronin put this into words much more eloquently than I can

“I feel a collective sense of “moving on” in the open education community, a willingness to tackle some of the more challenging questions about risk, power and inequality.”

Jo Spiller

Jo Spiller by Brian Mather

Jo Spiller by Brian Mather

Educational Design and Engagement, University of Edinburgh

My two highlights were Catherine Cronin’s keynote on participatory culture, the power of open to influence and celebrate change, especially with the focus on the Gay Marriage vote in Ireland. How it can be playful and moving and everyone can contribute to it.

As a counterpoint to this, Sava Singh on the perils of open scholarship “Open wounds: The Myth of Open as Panacea” was really interesting – that open can also become excluding for different demographic groups and also has both great benefits but also great challenges for academics.

Sara Thomas

Wikimedian in Residence, Museums Galleries Scotland

As the Wikimedian in Residence for Museums Galleries Scotland, I usually work alone, or remotely.  The opportunity to connect to the wider open knowledge community was fantastic – energising, informative and so very valuable.  And we had 4 Residents in a room at once!  This, you have to realise, is a rare thing indeed in the world of Wiki.  I’ve worked primarily in open culture and heritage for the last 16 months, and one of the growth areas has been in the interface between education and culture…. So #OER16 seemed to me so prescient, so perfectly timed.

Martin Weller

The Open University

The sessions I attended at OER16 demonstrated how the field is maturing, and in many ways moving beyond a narrow definition of OER as content. The potential of OER in fields as diverse as Shakespeare and understanding modern slavery was demonstrated, but so too was the nature of open identity, the type of research we should be undertaking, and the need for open infrastructure. The UK OER conference is now much more of an international one and also much more critically reflective of the nature of openness.

Sheila MacNeill

Glasgow Caledonian University

Sheila MacNeil and Martin Weller by Josie Fraser

Sheila MacNeil and Martin Weller by Josie Fraser

One of the things I keep coming back to is Melissa’s description of technical and cultural debt – I am going to try and blog about this but need to think about it a bit more in terms of my political position! But I found her description of them both really useful and thought provoking.

The theme of #oer16 was Open Culture, and it was great to have input from third sector organisations around the potential of open-ness (content, data and practice) outwith the education sector.  Catherine Cronin’s opening keynote  addressed cultural issues around inequality, culture, participation and open-ness head on.   Changing societal, organisational and personal attitudes to open-ness is an ongoing debate in the open education world.

A Tale of Two Conferences: #oer16 and #LAK16

Catherine Cronin

National University of Ireland, Galway

I thoroughly enjoyed the conference – the sessions I attended as well as the many conversations over the course of the 2+ days. I feel a collective sense of “moving on” in the open education community, a willingness to tackle some of the more challenging questions about risk, power and inequality. Though there is much work to do, this move towards more critical analysis is heartening.

Rachel Hosker

Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh

It was great. Really refreshing and challenging in a positive way for collections. It was a fantastic opportunity to share ideas and meet people with different perspectives on sharing collections and how we can all do this.  I also found it useful as a platform for discussing some of the practical things in collections work that need to be done to make things open for use. As an archivist, working in collections I would encourage others in my sector and profession to go to OER and engage with making collections open.

Maha Bali

Center for Learning and Teaching, The American University in Cairo

As a virtual participant who was also doing OLC Innovate at the same time… I only got a glimpse of what was happening. But what I thought was particularly interesting about OER16 was the challenging of two things:

  1. Challenging OER as a key mode openness – Catherine Cronin’s keynote, my presentation with Suzan Koseoglu and one by Andrew Middleton and Katherine Jessen tried to move beyond OER as content as being the main form of openness…which was interesting given the title of the conference
  2. Challenging openness as necessarily a good thing. This again came from Catherine but also Jim and also my session with Suzan. I am sure if Frances Bell presented something it would also challenge that.

I don’t know if this is all normal for OER16… it resonates a little with how OpenEd last year was, but with OpenEd it felt like maybe a majority of attendees were less critical but there was a vocal minority that was critical…

Thank you for embodying true openness in your approach to my virtual participation and Virtually Connecting. We are continually mentioning ALT as one of the organizations that’s supporting us.

Frances Bell

francesbell.com

OER16 was a very friendly conference – with lots of smiling, networking and fun going on. The conference topic Open Culture, expressed through the themes, enabled participants to celebrate and critique openness in the overlapping contexts of cultural heritage and education. The keynote speakers really helped to frame that celebration and critique in conference sessions and informal discussions

by Catherine Cronin, CC BY SA

by Catherine Cronin, CC BY SA

Stuart Nicol

Educational Design and Engagement, University of Edinburgh

At a high level I felt a little that there was an underlying split between the very technical-orientated view of open and OER (I’m thinking Jim Groom’s keynote around infrastructure & indie-web) and then the very human side (several presentations talking about the self as OER). But thinking of this as less of a ‘schism’ and more of the strands that sit under the OER grouping. Strands that can sit comfortably but that maybe we haven’t quite got to a place where we realise they can sit comfortably together?

I think it maybe comes down to a tendancy to try to simplify; that OER is a policy and/or it’s a repository. But actually it’s a digital sensibility that underpins a very wide range of practices … the specific human and technical implementation of OER will be different in different practice contexts … and it’s likely to change over time.

John Johnson

Radio EduTalk

Viv Rolf, John Johnson, David Kernohan by Martin Hawksey

Viv Rolf, John Johnson, David Kernohan by Martin Hawksey

In higher education the idea of open education is now well enough established that the discussions have become quite nuanced. There are a wide range of definitions and directions on the open road. Some look at practical issues around, licensing and searching of resources, others social or technical ideas.

I’ve not seen much evidence that these ideas are penetrating primary or secondary education in Scotland. I do think that open ideas are equally valid here. A good place for school based colleagues to start might be the Scottish Open Education Declaration.

I’ve not got a wide ranging knowledge of the OER world, but it was pretty obvious there are different interpretations of open, many speakers alluded to that. There was a general feeling that the more open a resource the more sustainable it is.

It was delightful to spend time with people who are gathered, not because they want to sell something, but with a shared idea that is aimed at doing good in the world.

Joe Wilson

joewilsons.net

I am prejudiced but I do think some of our most creative educators are interested in open education. All of the sessions I attended inspired me and showed the way forward for all of us in rethinking what education could be. There was something for everyone from policy makers to practitioners.

All of the sessions from Wikimedia offered something for Colleges and adult learners – I can’t do them all justice in a post . But Colleges should be using Wikimedia tools not just as reference materials but as active learning tools.

#OER16 Quick Overview and Some important links for Scottish FE

Anne-Marie Scott

Digital Learning Applications and Media, University of Edinburgh

My major takeaway has been the value of openness. Making educational resources available for many purposes using Creative Commons licenses, building software and infrastructure using open source technologies and licenses, being open about the algorithms we use to evaluate our students’ online activities, being transparent about what data we collect and why, being open and inclusive about the development of standards that will allow us to work better together, all of this activity requires a commitment to being open. Open to scrutiny, open to challenge, open to collaboration, open to cooperation, and open to being part of a community.

The value of being open

And last but not least from twitter….

Stephen Thomas

Michigan State University

#oer16 #sustainability panel had a wide variety of perspectives. Great session!

by Stephen Thomas

Pat vs. Viv by Stephen Thomas

Why does open matter?

Defining ‘open’ in the context of education.

This piece was originally posted as a feature on the University of Edinburgh’s Teaching Matters site.

Open education has been my passion for a number of years now so when I was invited to write a short piece on why open matters for Teaching Matters I was happy to oblige.

Before trying to explore this question, let me explain what I mean by open education.  Open education is a broad catch-all term that includes open education resources (OERs), massive open online courses (MOOCs), open education practice, open assessment practices (e.g. Open Badges), and other approaches.

In the context of education it can be difficult to pin a single definition on the word “open”.  The open in open educational resources, is different to the open in massive open online courses.

Open educational resources are digital resources used for teaching and learning (e.g. course material, images, multimedia resources) that have been released under an open licence (e.g. Creative Commons) so they can be reused and repurposed by others.  The ability to change and adapt resources is an important aspect of the openness in OER.

MOOCs on the other hand may be free for anyone to join, but frequently the content cannot be accessed or reused outside the course. This sometimes leads to accusations of so-called “open washing”; claiming something is open when really it isn’t.

But why does “open” actually matter in education?  This question is addressed by the Scottish Open Education Declaration produced by Open Scotland, a voluntary cross sector initiative supported by the University of Edinburgh as part of their wider commitment to open education and OER.  Open education in general and OER in particular are part of a worldwide movement to promote and support sustainable educational development. Open education can expand access to education, widen participation, create new opportunities for the next generation and prepare them to become fully engaged digital citizens.

There is also a sound economic case for open education. Releasing publicly funded educational resources under open licences represents a return on investment on public spending. Institutions are already being mandated to publish publicly funded research outputs under open access agreements; surely there is a strong moral argument that publicly funded educational resources should be published under open licences?

I recently had an opportunity to write a more personal reflection on why I believe open matters in a contribution to the open book Cost of Freedom which aims to raise awareness of the disappearance of detained Syrian internet volunteer and open knowledge advocate Bassel Khartabil.

I believe there is huge creative potential in openness and I believe we have a moral and ethical responsibility to open access to publicly funded educational resources. Yes, there are costs, but they are far outweighed by the benefits of open.

Open education practice and open educational resources have the potential to expand access to education while at the same time supporting social inclusion and creating a culture of collaboration and sharing. There are other more intangible, though no less important, benefits of open. Focusing on simple cost-benefit analysis models neglects the creative, fun and serendipitous aspects of openness and, ultimately, this is what keeps us learning.

teaching matters

OER16: Open Culture – that was the conference that was.

So, the OER16 Open Culture Conference has been and gone and what an experience it was!  Co-chairing OER16 with my inspiring colleague Melissa Highton has been an enormously rewarding experience and I owe a huge debt of thanks to everyone who volunteered their time, effort and creativity to make the conference such a success. In particular I’d like to thank our keynotes, Catherine Cronin, Emma Smith, John Scally, Jim Groom and Melissa Highton for their inspiring and thought provoking talks and, of course, the ALT team for supporting the conference and ensuring everything ran like clockwork.  I can highly recommend charing an ALT conference if you’re ever thinking about it!

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It’s too soon after the event for me to gather my thoughts and attempt to provide any kind of coherent overview so here’s a round up of the conference outputs and some of my personal highlights in lieu of something more considered.

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Me & Ada LEGO Lovelace by Stuart Cromar

And of course, my personal twitter highlight of the conference…

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Taxi Chic OER16 Co-Chairs Melissa Highton & Lorna Campbell by Catherine Cronin, CC BY SA

Taxi Chic
OER16 Co-Chairs Melissa Highton & Lorna Campbell
by Catherine Cronin, CC BY SA

So now it’s time to pass the torch over to the fabulous Josie Fraser and Alek Tarkowski, two of my favourite people working in open education today, who’ll be co-chairing OER17: The Politics of Open.  It’ll be awesome!