As part of Open Education Week I’m delighted that Maren Deepwell, CEO of ALT, and I have an article published in WonkHE on Openness in education: a call to action for policy makers. The article introduces the recent ALT policy guide, highlights some of the benefits of OER, and articulates why we need policy makers to embrace open education.
This week is Open Education Week and it’s normally one of the busiest weeks of the year for me with lots of events, webinars, blog posts and tweets lined up. This year however my calendar is empty and I’m watching fabulous open education events all over the world going by on my twitter feed without retweeting a single one. Why? Because although open education is a deeply held personal principle for me, it’s also a large part of my job and I am currently on strike as part of the University and College Union’s (UCU) industrial action to defend our right to a fair pension. I had really hoped that the strike would be over in time for Open Education Week, but unfortunately UUK are dragging their heels in an unforgivable fashion, so I’ll be maintaining my digital picket line for as long as it takes.
That doesn’t mean I’ve completely put open education on the back burner though. I’ve been thinking a lot about my OER18 keynote and these strikes have really helped to focus my mind because at the root of this dispute is the belief that we all deserve to be treated fairly and equitably, and fairness and equity are among the founding principles of open education.
There is one event I will be participating in this week though. The ALT Open Education SIG have helpfully re-scheduled their OER18 Conference Preview webinar for Friday 9th March (13.00 – 14.00) when the strike breaks for a day. I’ll be joining my fellow keynote speakers to give a brief introduction to some of the themes I’ll be addressing in my talk. I’ll be keeping things informal as I won’t be able to prepare slides in advance due to the strike action, but I certainly don’t think I’ll be short of things to talk about. Come and join us it you can.
Earlier this year, after years of procrastinating, I was very proud to finally become a certified member of ALT. This is my short reflection on my experience of CMALT accreditation and my way of thanking all those that supported me along the way.
Since 2015 I’ve been fortunate to work in Information Services at the University of Edinburgh which provides bursaries and dedicated support to enable learning technologists to become Certified Members of ALT. The support is provided by my colleague Susan Greig in the form of advice, guidance, feedback and facilitated writing retreats. Although the scheme includes dedicated writing time, I found that due to other work commitments I ended up writing much of my portfolio in my own time. That’s okay though, when it comes to reflective writing, I think I probably work better at my own time and pace. Writing on demand is something I’ve always struggled with. I did spend a couple of days writing with my colleague Phil Barker which I found really helpful. Phil and I have written together for donkey’s years and aren’t afraid to be rude about each others writing, which was really helpful in the early stages of drafting my portfolio!
As an open education practitioner, I decided that I wanted to practice what I preach and develop my portfolio as an open resource. I had originally planned to blog about my experience of developing my portfolio in the open but, perhaps unsurprisingly, I didn’t have time to do this. However I did develop my whole portfolio in the open, building it up here on my blog, piece by piece.
ALT’s CMALT Portfolios Open Register proved to be an invaluable resource and I found it really helpful to have access to portfolios written by members in non-traditional learning technology roles and senior management positions. Maren Deepwell’s portfolio was a continual inspiration to me and I referred back to it countless times when I was planning and writing my own portfolio. A lot of my portfolio focuses on the development of policy and strategy, so it was incredibly useful to have access to an exemplary portfolio which also covered these areas. I also have to credit Sheila MacNeil for the idea of doing my contextual statement as a video!
The #CMALT community on twitter also proved to be enormously supportive and I benefitted from numerous helpful and encouraging comments from members. People seemed genuinely keen to share their experience of undertaking CMALT and to help others along the way.
When it came to providing evidence for the portfolio it was really useful to have all the information readily available on my blog. I’ve written before about the importance of my blog for keeping track of my career and my professional practice and boy did that really come home to me when I was organising my portfolio.
As I suspected, the section I found most challenging to write was Core Area 2: Teaching, learning and assessment processes. Although I do see myself as an educator of sorts, I’m not a teacher and I’ve never taught in formal contexts, so I had to think a bit creatively, particularly when it came to demonstrating an understanding of my target learners. For this section I chose to focus on my peers and colleagues who are part of the connected community of open learners and networked scholars who I engage with as an open practitioner.
Although I wasn’t able to get to any of Susan’s CMALT writing retreats I did benefit enormously from her feedback prior to submitting my portfolio. The advice she provided on how to be explicit about evidencing my portfolio was invaluable and I think it’s a direct result of that feedback that I was able to pass first time around, so thank you Susan!
I was so thrilled to receive an e-mail from ALT confirming that I’d been awarded CMALT in July that I actually didn’t notice the assessors comments attached to the mail :} When I did finally notice these I have to confess that I was completely bowled over. I was particularly touched by the comment that my commitment to open education demonstrated its potential for “revolutionary, humanising praxis”, as described by Paul Prinsloo. Thank you, I’m humbled.
And as if that wasn’t enough, I also got a shiny new badge to go with my conference shoes!
In late November, I was also delighted to be invited to a CMALT celebration event where Susan and Maren welcomed all the new CMALT members at the University of Edinburgh with fizz and cakes. And I’m proud to say that we now have more CMALT members than any other university in the country!
So that’s my CMALT journey, it was certainly hard work, but I found it to be an immensely positive experience. It’s not often that we have the time to step back and reflect on our work and CMALT provides us with the prefect opportunity to do just that. It’s also an excellent way to connect with an incredibly helpful and diverse group of colleagues who really do exemplify the best in peer support. So if you’ve ever been wondering whether CMALT is the right path for you, I can recommend it without reservation.
I’m absolutely delighted to have been invited by co-chairs Viv Rolfe and David Kernohan and the Association for Learning Technology to present one of the keynotes at the OER18 Conference in Bristol next year. The theme of the conference is Open for All and I’ll be talking about how we can engage students in open education, why we need policies to support OER, all wrapped up in a personal reflection of what openness means to me.
We all have one conference which is our conference, the one event we never miss year after year, where we go to recharge and reconnect with our people. For me that conference has always been OER. I’ve never missed an OER conference and it’s been a real pleasure to see how the event has grown and developed over the years, under the careful guidance of ALT. So it’s a real honour to be invited to present a keynote at OER 18, particularly as I’ll be following in the footsteps of so many inspirational women who have had such a profound influence on my own career as an open education practitioner; Maha Bali, Catherine Cronin, Josie Fraser, Melissa Highton, Sheila MacNeil to name just a few.
Thanks to everyone for all the enthusiastic and supportive messages on twitter yesterday, I’m on annual leave this week, so I missed the actual announcement! As soon as I get back I’ll look for forward to talking to you all about what we as open educators can do to ensure that education really is Open for All.
One last highlight from my trip to the University of Liverpool that I didn’t manage to squeeze into my last blog post…This powerful statement on the outside of the Liverpool Guild of Students’ Union. Kudos to the students for their unambiguous message.
A week has already flown by since the ALT Conference and I’ve still barely managed to gather my thoughts, so instead of a more considered blog post, here’s a quick summary of some of my highlights of the conference.
Live tweeting the conference keynotes is always an enjoyable challenge and this year was no exception. I was thrilled to hear Bonnie Stewart as I’ve followed her work on twitter for many years but had never had the pleasure of hearing her speak before. It’s hard to pick a single message from Bonnie’s thought provoking keynote, which explored concepts of openness and the construction of norms in higher education, but if I had to pick just one, it would be that open can help us to break down boundaries and binaries and challenge the prestige economy of Higher Education. Open may not be the solution, but it is the right trajectory, and somewhere along that trajectory are the results we will reap in ten years time.
Sian Bayne also presented a fascinating keynote that explored critical issues of digital identity sanctuary and anonymity through a study of use of the now defunct anonymous social media platform Yik Yak by students at the University of Edinburgh. Sian has written an article based on her keynote for WonkHE which I can highly recommend.
“With growing social awareness of what’s at stake in losing our anonymity online, perhaps this is the moment to look again at institutional policies and resources regarding student wellbeing, mental health, counselling and pastoral support, and think about how these would benefit from a wide and open discussion around the value of anonymity, and of digital sanctuary for our students.”
Digital sanctuary and anonymity on campus
~ Sian Bayne
There were a significant number of talks about lecture recording at the conference this year and as we’re currently in the process of rolling out a new lecture recording system at the University of Edinburgh, Media Hopper Replay, I tried to catch as many of those as possible. One that I found particularly interesting was Lecture Recording – Is more always better? by Alison Reid of the Univeristy of Liverpool who explored the impact of lecture recording on less able students who are already struggling with workload. While recorded lectures are a valuable safety net for many students, for those who are already feeling overwhelmed they can be an additional source of stress and anxiety as they often don’t have time to watch the recording end to end. Furthermore, low achieving students can become even more isolated if they rely too heavily on lecture recording. The solution is to provide more peer support and study skills workshops, and to increase aspects of teaching that encourage interactivity and which can’t be captured with recording.
I also managed to catch two really interesting talks on open education. Gabi Witthaus presented and absolutely fascinating comparative textual analysis of the TEF Whitepaper and the EU Policy Report Opening up Education: A Support Framework for Higher Education Institutions. The TEF paper is all about competition and is filled with sporting metaphors about winners and losers. It talks about service providers, customers, provision. EU report on the other hand presents open education as a universal good, talking about removing barriers and widening access however it also employs a false binary between open and closed. Oddly the TEF Whitepaper does not define “teaching excellence” and in 34,000 words only mentions the word “academics” three times!
Leo Havemann also facilitated a really engaging workshop exploring definitions of openness in education. Leo encouraged us to think of open as more than an adjective; open is also a verb, a continual practice and he reminded us that openness and closedness are not a binary dichotomy, there is a continuum between them.
Perhaps my personal highlight of the conference though was seeing former Learning Technologist of the Year and Chair of Wikimedia UK, Josie Fraser receive Honorary Life Membership of ALT in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the learning technology community. Josie has been a good friend and an enduring inspiration to me for many years and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this prestigious award.
And of course is was an absolute delight to see Maren Deepwell, the rest of the ALT team and the ALT Social Media Supergroup. If Rich Goodman and I were the Social side of the supergroup, the Media side, Martin Hawksey, Chris Bull and Scott Farrow were so discrete you barely noticed they were there, but of course they were the ones who did all the hard work of filming and photographing the conference and keeping the livestream up and running and as always they did an exemplary job. Chris even managed to take a picture of me that doesn’t make me cringe :}
It’s that time of year again. If I can navigate the train strikes I’ll be heading down to Liverpool on Monday for the annual ALT Conference where we’ll be reforming the ALTC Social Media Super Group with Martin Hawksey on filming and live feeds, Rich Goodman on media tweets, Chris Bull on photography, and me on keynote livetweets. We also have a new member joining the group this year; Scott Farrow from Edgehill University will be joining us on
Livetweeting the conference keynotes from the official ALT twitter account is always a bit nerve wracking, especially with keynotes of the calibre of Siân Bayne, Peter Goodyear and Bonnie Stewart. And just to up the ante, this year I’ll be tweeting from ALT’s verified twitter account. I’ve never tweeted from a blue tick before :} Livetweeting the keynotes may be challenging but it’s a challenge I always enjoy. So much so that I included a reflection on this in my CMALT portfolio.
“Live tweeting in an official capacity for events such as the ALT Conference requires a slightly different approach to live tweeting from my own personal account. When I live tweet on behalf of an event organiser I try to keep my tweets as factual, neutral and representative as possible. It’s important not to misrepresent the speaker or inadvertently tweet anything that might bring the organisation into disrepute. If I’m tweeting personally, I tend to tweet the points that interest or irritate me, adding my own thoughts and comments along the way. It feels like quite a different way to use the technology.”
I’m rather proud to say that after attending the ALT conference since 2000, this is the first time I will be there as a fully fledged Certified Member of ALT. Which means I have a fabulous new accessory to wear with my conference shoes :}
I’m not actually giving a paper of my own this year, and for once I’ve actually read the programme in advance of the conference and planned out the sessions I’m hoping to attend. I was really pleased to see so many papers focused on different aspects of lecture recording as we’re currently rolling out a new and hugely ambitious lecture recording programme at the University of Edinburgh. I’m hoping to catch as many of these papers as possible so I can feed other institutions’ experiences back to my colleagues at the university who will be in the final stages of preparing our new Media Hopper Replay service to go live while I’m at the conference.
And of course as always, one of the highlights of the conference will be the Learning Technologist of the Year Awards. I was honoured to be on the selection panel this year and the entries were truly inspiring. If you haven’t already voted there’s still time to cast your vote for the Community Choice award. Voting closes at noon (BST) on 6 September, so make sure you get your vote in before the deadline!
This is another of those blog posts that starts “Where the hell have the last two months gone?!” I’ve been sorely neglecting this blog since early May, not because I’ve got nothing to write about, quite the opposite, I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a chance to get near it! I’m about to go off on annual leave for a couple of weeks but I wanted to post a quick round up of the last two months before I go, so here’s wot I have been up to.
A lot of my time has been tied up with two Information Services Innovation Fund projects. The UoE Open Knowledge Network was a small project that aimed at drawing together the University’s activities in the area of Open Data, Open Access, Open Education, Open Research, Open Collections and Archives, to support cross-fertilisation and promote the institution’s activities in these areas. We ran three events, with the last one taking place in early July. This event focussed on discussing priorities, ideas for the future and how we can sustain the network going forward. You can read about the first two events on the project blog here: UoE Open Knowledge Network and I’ll be writing up the July event when I get back from leave in August.
The aim of the second project was to develop a MOOC for entrepreneurs, creative individuals, and SMEs to help them develop the knowledge and skills to find and access free and open licensed research, data and content produced by universities and higher education. I was lucky enough to recruit Morna Simpson of Geek Girl Scotland to work on the project however despite our best efforts and an incredible amount of work on Morna’s part the project faced a number of challenges which we struggled to overcome. Rather than go ahead with a MOOC we will be releasing a series of twelve case studies on the theme of Innovating with Open Knowledge demonstrating how individuals and organisations can access and use the open outputs of University of Edinburgh research. These case studies should be finished by early August so watch this space!
Media Hopper Replay
The University of Edinburgh is in the process of rolling out a new state of the art lecture recoding service, Media Hopper Replay, which will see 400 rooms enabled to deliver lecture recording by 2019. As part of a training programme for staff, my colleague Charlie Farley and I have been developing training sessions on preparing for lecture recording covering accessible presentation design, copyright basics, and using open educational resources.
I was honoured to be invited by ALT to join the selection panel for the prestigious Learning Technologist of the Year Awards. The quality and diversity of the entries was really inspiring and while I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the entries it wasn’t easy to pick the best from such a strong field. The winners of the awards will be announced at the ALT Annual Conference which this year takes place at the University of Liverpool. I’ll be there rejoining my old partner in crime Richard Goodman to provide social media coverage of the conference for the third year running.
In June I also helped to organise ALT Scotland’s annual conference which focused on sharing strategy, practice and policy in learning technology. We had really interesting talks on lecture recording policy and practice from the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow and Joe Wilson reported back from two European open education policy events he recently attended on behalf of Open Scotland. The real star of the show however was City of Glasgow College’s new state of the art campus where the event took place.
Celtic Knot Conference
In early July I was busy helping UoE’s Wikimedian in Residence, Ewan McAndrew, plan the University of Edinburgh / Wikimedia UK Celtic Knot Conference. The conference showcased innovative approaches to open education, open knowledge and open data to support and grow Celtic and Indigenous language communities, and explore how our cultural heritage can be preserved as living languages. The conference was attended by delegates from all over Europe and was an enormous success. It was a real privilege to be involved in this event and as a Gael, I found the conference to be both moving and inspiring. I may have got a little starry eyed listening to delegates talking animatedly in Gaelic, Welsh, Breton, Basque and too many other languages to mention. And as an indication of the collaborative and supportive nature of the event, it was great to see all 50+ delegates come together to provide input and advice to Wikimedia Norge on how to support Sami language Wikipedia.
— Ciell (@Ciell) July 6, 2017
Last weekend I was at the Wikimedia UK AGM and Board Meeting in London where it was a real pleasure to see Josie Fraser voted in as new chair of the Wikimedia Board and our very own UoE Wikimedia in Residence Ewan McAndrew awarded a very well deserved joint Wikimedian of the Year award together with Kelly Foster. It was also great to hear that Sara Thomas has been appointed as the new Wikimedian in Residence at the Scottish Libraries and Information Council.
— Wikimedia UK (@wikimediauk) July 15, 2017
And on top of all that I somehow managed to submit my CMALT portfolio at the end of May! Although it was a lot of hard work, and although I went right to wire (of course), I actually enjoyed the process of putting my portfolio together and I found it really useful to step back and reflect on my experience of working as a learning technologist in the broadest sense of the word. I would still like to write a proper post reflecting on my experience of developing my portfolio in the open but that will have to wait until the autumn.
That’s just a few of the things that have been taking up most of my time over the last couple of months. I’m now off for a fortnight’s holiday during which we are going to attempt to coax our aged VW van to take us all the way to Brittany. If we make it to the Borders we’ll be lucky! I’ll be back in early August with a new role at the University of Edinburgh as Learning Technology Team Leader in the Department of Education Development and Engagement.
I’ve finally made a start on drafting my CMALT Portfolio, and in the interests of open practice I’m going to attempt to write and present the whole thing here on my blog. If you look up on the nav bar you’ll see a new page, CMALT Portfolio, where I’ll be building up my portfolio over the coming weeks. I’ve just drafted the first two sections of Core Area 1: Operational Issues and I’ll be adding more sections shortly I hope. I’d love to have some feedback on my portfolio so if you’ve got any thoughts, comments or guidance I’d be very grateful indeed. I’d also be very interested to know if anyone else has created their portfolio as an exercise in open practice, and if so, how they found the experience.
Wish me luck!
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.