OER14

I’m just back from OER14 in Newcastle and it was another fabulous conference. I know that many people sadly predicted the demise of the OER conference after the Jisc / HEA UKOER Programmes ended in 2012, but two years after the end of UKOER the conference really is going from strength to strength. The quality of the papers this year was excellent, and if I have one criticism of the event, it’s that there were so many great presentations that I only got to hear a fraction of the ones I was really interested in! The venue worked well, the conference organisers did a splendid job, there was a really positive feeling of community, it was great to see people from all over the world and, last but not least, it was a lot of fun!

During the conference dinner we were all given little packets of Lego and asked to build something that represented what open education means to us.  The results were as imaginative, eclectic (and occasionally rude) as you might imagine.  Here’s mine, it’s supposed to be Open Scotland and Creative Commons :}  Many thanks Darya Tarasowa for letting me borrow her skirt!

cc_openscot

Huge thanks to all those involved in organising OER14 and in particular to conference chairs Simon Thomson and Megan Quentin-Baxter.

A good start to 2014? MOOCs, OER and open courses

Just a fortnight in to 2014 and it’s already been an encouraging year on the open education front.   I’ve had a lightning talk on Open Scotland accepted for OER14 in Newcastle and Phil Barker and I have also had a paper on LRMI accepted for the OCWC Conference in Llubljana.

I was also very encouraged by Andy Beggan’s announcement on OER_Discuss that the University of Nottingham will be running a FutureLearn MOOC, Sustainability, Society and You, which, in Andy’s own words:

“tries to adhere closely to the aims and objectives of OERs as much as possible, and is 8 weeks long with hundreds of OERs of various types from external sources. We have also made the entire course itself available under a Creative Commons licence.”

I’ve written several posts recently about the restrictive licenses used by some commercial MOOC platform providers and their thorny relationship with OER, so it’s really encouraging to see more MOOC developers making a real commitment to openness.  There have been other examples of MOOCs based on open content and principals ofcourse, most notably the University of London’s Coursera MOOC English Common Law: Structure and Principals, which Pat Lockley has been involved in.  Other courses highlighted by list members include the University of Southampton’s Web Science: How the web is changing the world, which plans to share all it’s resources through EdShare, and Delft University of Technology’s courses on edEx which carry a CC-BY-SA-NC licence.

Andy’s announcement also sparked an interesting discussion about the Terms and Conditions adopted by FutureLearn and other MOOC platform providers and whether they supported or discouraged the use of open education resources and open education practice.  The overwhelming response from list members whose institutions have signed partnership agreements with FutureLearn is that they have been very supportive of partners who want to develop courses based on OERs and that they are keen to offer more courses using open licences, which is very good news indeed!

For the record, FutureLearn’s Terms and Conditions state:

“Certain Partner Institutions may, at their own discretion, make available certain Online Content and Courses under a Creative Commons licence (non-Commercial). Should Partner Institutions choose to do this, it will be clearly identified on the appropriate Online Content and Courses page of the Website and we acknowledge that the Creative Commons licence will override certain of these terms and conditions as appropriate. A full copy of the relevant Creative Commons licence will be available from a link at that point.”

So any decision to use  or develop openly licensed content or courses lies with the partner institutions, rather than FutureLearn itself.

There was also some discussion about the Non Commercial clause; Steve Stapleton explained that the Nottingham team contacted the rights holders of all third party content they planned to use in their MOOC and, of all those that responded, none objected to their content being used.  Pat Lockley added that the University of London had also contacted third party rights holders and that only one had refused permission for their content to be used in the Common Law MOOC.

You can follow the full thread of this discussion which includes some fascinating points about FutureLearn and Coursera’s terms and conditions (honestly, it’s much more interesting than it sounds!) and their increasingly positive approach to open education courses and content.  That has to be a good way to start the year doesn’t it?!