2023 End of Year Reflection

Posting an end of year round up at the end of January might seem a bit daft, but I’m already one step ahead of last year, when I posted my end of year reflection in February! 

The beginning of the year was a succession of real highs and lows.  UCU entered a long phase of industrial action which came at a particularly challenging time for me as January and February is usually when I’m preparing for Open Education Week and the OER Conference.  However I also took some time out for a trip to New York with friends, which turned out to be one of the high points of my year. 

Open Education Week

For Open Education Week we ran a webinar that celebrated 10 years of open course development at the University of Edinburgh and shared the open course creation workflow that we’ve developed and refined over the years. 

 

OER23 Conference

It was great to see the OER Conference returning to Scotland in March when it was hosted by UHI in Inverness.  Inverness is a place that is very close to my heart as it’s the main city in the Highlands and it’s also were we used to go on holiday when I was a kid.  Inverness is still a stopping off point on the journey home when I go to visit family in Stornoway so I had a slightly weird feeling of nostalgia and home-sickness while I was there, it was odd being in Inverness and not traveling on further north and west. 

One of the themes of this years conference was Open Scotland +10 and Joe Wilson and I ran a number of sessions including a pre-conference workshop and closing plenary to reflect on how the open education landscape in Scotland has evolved over the last decade, and to discuss potential ways to advance open education across all sectors of Scottish education. 

Photograph of Open Scotland Plenary Panel at the OER23 Conference.

Open Scotland Plenary Panel by Tim Winterburn.
Here, the closing Panel Plenary session

Generative AI

Like many working in technical, educational and creative sectors I found it impossible to ignore the discourse around generative AI, though I hope I managed to avoid getting swept up in the hype and catastrophising.  In July I wrote an off-the-cuff summary of some of the many ethical issues related to generative AI and LLMs that are becoming increasingly hard to ignore: Generative AI – Ethics all the way down.  I appreciated having an opportunity to revisit these issues again at the end of the year when I joined the ALT Winter Summit on Ethics and Artificial Intelligence which provided much food for thought. Helen Beetham’s keynote Whose Ethics? Whose AI? A relational approach to the challenge of ethical AI was particularly thoughtful and thought provoking. 

Student Interns

Much of the summer was taken up with recruiting and managing our Open Content Curator student interns.  It’s always a joy working with our interns, their energy and enthusiasm is endlessly inspiring, and this year’s interns, August and Mayu, were no exception. I suggested it might be fun for them to interview each other about their experience of working with the OER Service and, with the help of our fabulous Media Team, they produced this lovely video. 

 

I was delighted when August and Mayu were shortlisted for the Student Employee of the Year Award in Information Services Group’s Staff Recognition Awards, in acknowledgement of their outstanding work with the OER Service and their wider contribution to ISG and the University. 

Their Finest Hour

The OER Service welcomed another student intern in the summer, Eden Swimer, who joined us to help run a digital collection day as part of the University of Oxford’s Their Finest Hour, a National Lottery Heritage funded project at the University of Oxford, which is collecting and preserving the everyday stories and objects of the Second World War. Organising and running the digital collection day proved to be a huge undertaking and we couldn’t have done it without the help of 26 volunteers from across ISG and beyond who committed so much time and energy to the project.  

 

The digital collection day took place in Rainy Hall, New College at the end of November and it was a huge success. Over 100 visitors attended and volunteers recorded over 50 interviews and took thousands of photographs, all of which will be uploaded to an open licensed archive that will be launched by the University of Oxford in June this year.  It was a deeply moving event, many of the stories recorded were truly remarkable and the visitors clearly appreciated having the opportunity to share their families stories.  In some cases these stories were being told by the last surviving relatives of those who had witnessed the historic events of WW2 and there was a real sense of preserving their experiences for posterity. 

Their Finest Hour digital collection day by Fiona Hendrie

The collection day was covered by STV and you can see a short clip of their news item here: Second World War memories to be preserved at university collection day

Publications

It was a privilege to work with co-authors Frances Bell, Lou Mycroft, Guilia Forsythe and Anne-Marie Scot to contribute a chapter on the “FemEdTech Quilt of Care and Justice in Open Education” to Catherine Cronin and Laura Czerniewicz’s timely and necessary Higher Education for Good: Teaching and Learning Futures. 

“Quilting has always been a communal activity and, most often, women’s activity. It provides a space where women are in control of their own labour: a space where they can come together to share their skill, pass on their craft, tell their stories, and find support. These spaces stand outside the neoliberal institutions that seek to appropriate and exploit our labour, our skill, and our care. The FemEdTech-quilt assemblage has provided a space for women and male allies from all over the world to collaborate, to share their skills, their stories, their inspiration, and their creativity. We, the writers of this chapter, are five humans who each has engaged with the FemEdTech Quilt of Care and Justice in Open Education in different ways, and who all have been active in the FemEdTech network.” 

I was also invited to submit a paper to a special open education practice edition of Edutec Journal.  Ewan McAndrew, Melissa Highton and I co-authored a paper on “Supporting open education practice: Reflective case studies from the University of Edinburgh.”

“This paper outlines the University of Edinburgh’s long-running strategic commitment to supporting sustainable open education practice (OEP) across the institution. It highlights how the University provides underpinning support and digital capability for OEP through central services working with policy makers, partners, students, and academics to support co-creation and active creation and use of open educational resources to develop digital literacy skills, transferable attributes, and learning enhancement. We present a range of case studies and exemplars of authentic OEP evidenced by reflective practice and semi-structured ethnographic interviews, including Wikimedia in the Curriculum initiatives, open textbook production, and co-creation of interdisciplinary STEM engagement resources for schools. The paper includes recommendations and considerations, providing a blueprint that other institutions can adopt to encourage sustainable OEP. Our experience shows that mainstreaming strategic support for OEP is key to ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

Writing this paper was an interesting experience as Edutec is a research journal that expects evidence to be presented in a very particular way.  As a service division, we support practice rather than undertaking academic research, so the case studies we present are based on authentic reflective practice rather than empirical research, however it was useful to think about this practice from a different perspective. 

Wikimedia UK

In July I was awarded Honorary Membership of Wikimedia UK in recognition of my contribution to the work of the charity during my six years as a Trustee. When my term as a trustee came to an end, I was hoping that I’d have more time to contribute to the Wikimedia projects.  That hasn’t quite happened, I didn’t manage to do any Wikipedia editing in 2023, but I did enjoy taking part in Wiki Loves Monuments again.  I also digitised some pictures I took of the Glasgow Garden festival way back in 1988 and uploaded them to Wikimedia Commons to share them with the fabulous After the Garden Festival project, which is attempting to locate and archive the legacy of the festival. 

Teddy Bears Picnic, sponsored by Moray District Council. CC BY, Lorna M. Campbell on Wikimedia Commons.

ALT

I made short-lived trip to the ALT Conference in Warwick in September.  Unfortunately I  had to leave early as I came down with a stinking cold. I was really disappointed to have to miss most of the conference as it was outgoing CEO Maren Deepwell’s last event and I was also due to receive an Honorary Life Membership of ALT award. It was a huge honour to receive this award as ALT has been a significant part of my professional life for over two decades now.  You can read my short reflection on the award here: Honorary Life Membership of ALT. 

For almost three decades Lorna has been a champion of equitable higher education and an open education activist. Lorna ‘s lifelong commitment to and passion for equality and diversity clearly is evident in her work, yet Lorna tends not to push herself forward and celebrate – or even self-acknowledge – her many achievements. 
ALT press release.

Kenneth White, 1936 – 2023

I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Kenneth White in August.  Despite being an avid reader of Scottish poetry, and having studied Scottish Literature at Glasgow University for a couple of years, I hadn’t come across White until my partner introduced me to him in 2002.  His absence from Glasgow’s curriculum, and indeed his relative obscurity in his homeland, is striking given that he was a graduate of Glasgow University who went on to become the chair of 20th century poetics at Paris-Sorbonne. White, however, has always been a writer who divides the critics, particularly in Scotland. A poet, writer, philosopher, traveller, and self-identified transcendental Scot, White founded the International Institute of GeoPoetics and was a regular visitor to the Edinburgh International Book Festival, where I was fortunate to see him read.  To say that White’s writing, particularly his meditations on openness and the Atlantic edge, had a profound effect on me, is something of an understatement. This blog is named after the title of White’s collected poetic works and his lines frequently find their way into more unguarded pieces I’ve written.  I’ll leave you with a few words from the man himself. 

Image of the coast with the words of Scotia Deserta by Kenneth White.

ALT Winter Summit on Ethics and Artificial Intelligence

Last week I joined the ALT Winter Summit on Ethics and an Artificial Intelligence. Earlier in the year I was following developments at the interface between ethics, AI and the commons, which resulted in this blog post: Generative AI: Ethics all the way down.  Since then, I’ve been tied up with other things, so I appreciated the opportunity to turn my attention back to these thorny issues.  Chaired by Natalie Lafferty, University of Dundee, and Sharon Flynn, Technological Higher Education Association, both of whom have been instrumental in developing ALT’s influential Framework for Ethical Learning Technology, the online summit presented a wide range of perspectives on ethics and AI, both practical and philosophical, from scholars, learning technologists and students.  

Whose Ethics? Whose AI? A relational approach to the challenge of ethical AI – Helen Beetham

Helen Beetham opened the summit with an inspiring and thought-provoking keynote that presented the case for relational ethics. Positionality is important in relational ethics; ethics must come from a position, from somewhere. We need to understand how our ethics are interwoven with relationships and technologies. The ethics of AI companies come from nowhere. Questions of positionality and power engender the question “whose artificial intelligence”?  There is no definition of AI that does not define what intelligence is. Every definition is an abstraction made from an engineering perspective, while neglecting other aspects of human intelligence.  Some kinds of intelligence are rendered as important, as mattering, others are not. AI has always been about global power and categorising people in certain ways.  What are the implications of AI for those that fall into the wrong categories?

Helen pointed out that DARPA have funded AI intensively since the 1960’s, reminding me of many learning technology standards that have their roots in defence and aeronautical industries.

A huge amount of human refinement is required to produce training data models; this is the black box of human labour, mostly involving labourers in the global south.  Many students are also working inside the data engine in the data labelling industry. We don’t want to think about these people because it affects the magic of AI.

At the same time, tools are being offered to students to enable them to bypass AI detection, to ‘humanise” the output of AI tools.  The “sell” is productivity, that this will save students’ time, but who benefits from this productivity?

Helen noted that the terms “generative”, “intelligence”, and “artificial” are all very problematic and said she preferred the term “synthetic media”.  She argued that it’s unhelpful to talk about the skills humans need to work alongside AI, as these tools have no agency, they are not co-workers. These approaches create new divisions of labour among people, and new divisions about whose intelligence matters. We need a better critique of AI literacy and to think about how we can ask questions alongside our students. 

Helen called for universities to share their research and experience of AI openly, rather than building their own walled gardens, as this is just another source of inequity.  As educators we hold a key ethical space.  We have the ingenuity to build better relationships with this new technology, to create ecosystems of agency and care, and empower and support each other as colleagues.

Helen ended by calling for spaces of principled refusal within education. In the learning of any discipline there may need to be spaces of principled refusal, this is a privilege that education institutions can offer. 

Developing resilience in an ever-changing AI landscape ~ Mary Jacob, Aberystwyth University

Mary explored the idea of resilience and why we need it. In the age of AI we need to be flexible and adaptable, we need an agile response to emerging situations, critical thinking, emotional regulation, and we need to support and care for ourselves and others. AI is already embedded everywhere, we have little control over it, so it’s crucial we keep the human element to the forefront.  Mary urged us to notice our emotions and think critically, bring kindness and compassion into play, and be our real, authentic selves.  We must acknowledge we are all different, but can find common ground for kindness and compassion.  We need tolerance for uncertainty and imperfection and a place of resilience and strength.

Mary introduced Aberystwyth’s AI Guidance for staff and students and also provided a useful summary of what constitutes AI literacy at this point in time.

Mary Jacob's AI Literacy

Achieving Inclusive education using AI – Olatunde Duruwoju, Liverpool Business School

Tunde asked us how we address gaps in inequity and inclusion?  Time and workload are often cited as barriers that prevent these issues from being addresses, however AI can help reduce these burdens by improving workflows and capacity, which in turn should help enable us to achieve inclusion.

When developing AI strategy, it’s important to understand and respond to your context. That means gathering intersectional demographic data that goes beyond protected characteristics.  The key is to identify and address individual students issues, rather than just treating everyone the same. Try to understand the experience of students with different characteristics.  Know where your students are coming from and understand their challenges and risks, this is fundamental to addressing inclusion.

AI can be used in the curriculum to achieve inclusion.  E.g. Using AI can be helpful for international students who may not be familiar with specific forms of assessment. Exams trigger anxiety, so how do we use AI to move away from exams?

Olatunde Duruwoju - Think intersectionality

AI Integration & Ethical Reflection in Teaching – Tarsem Singh Cooner

Tarsem presented a fascinating case study on developing a classroom exercise for social work students on using AI in practice.  The exercise drew on the Ethics Guidelines on Reliable AI from the European Group on Ethics, Science and New Technologies and mapped this against the Global Social Work Ethical Principles.

Tarsem Singh Cooner - comparison of Principles on Reliable AI  and Global Social Work Ethical Principles

The assignment was prompted by the fact that practitioners are using AI to uncritically write social work assessments and reports. Should algorithms be used to predict risk and harm, given they encode race and class bias? The data going into the machine is not benign and students need to be aware of this.

GenAI and the student experience – Sue Beckingham, Louise Drum, Peter Hartley & students

Louise highlighted the lack to student participation in discussions around AI. Napier University set up an anonymous padlet to allow students to tell them what they thought. Most students are enthusiastic about AI. They use it as a dialogue partner to get rapid feedback. It’s also helpful for disabled and neurodivergent students, and those who speak English as a second language, who use AI as an assistive technology.  However students also said that using AI is unfair and feels like cheating.  Some added that they like the process of writing and don’t want to loose that, which prompted Louise to ask if we’re outsourcing the process of critical thinking?  Louise encouraged us to share our practice through networks, adding that collaboration and cooperation is key and can lead to all kinds of serendipity.

The students provided a range of different perspectives:

Some reported conflicting feelings and messages from staff about whether and how AI can be used, or whether it’s cheating.  Students said they felt they are not being taught how to use AI effectively.

GCSEs and the school system just doesn’t work for many students, not just neurotypical ones, it’s all about memorising things.  We need more skills based learning rather than outcome based learning.

Use of AI tools echoes previous concerns about the use of the internet in education. There was a time when there was considerable debate about whether the internet should be used for teaching & learning.

AI can be used to support new learning. It provides on hand personal assistance that’s there 24/7.  Students create fictional classmates and partners who they can debate with.  A lot of it is garbage but some of it is useful. Even when it doesn’t make sense, it makes you think about other things that do make sense.

A few thoughts…

As is often the case with any new technology, many of the problematic issues that AI has thrown up relate less to the technology itself, and more to the nature of our educational institutions and systems.  This is particularly true in the cases of issues relating to equity, diversity and inclusion; whose knowledge and experiences are valued, and whose are marginalised?   

It’s notable that several speakers mentioned the use of AI in recruitment. Sue Beckingham noted that AI can be helpful for interview practice, though Helen highlighted research that suggested applicants who used chatGPT’s paid functionality perform much better in recruitment than those who don’t.  This suggests that we need to be thinking about authentic recruitment practices in much the same way we think about authentic assessment.  Can we create recruitment process that mitigate or bypass the impact of these systems?

I particularly liked Helen’s characterisation of AI as synthetic media, which helps to defuse some of the hype and sensationalism around these technologies.

The key to addressing many of the issues relating to the use of AI in education is to share our practice and experience openly and to engage our colleagues and students in conversations that are underpinned by contextual ethical frameworks such as ALT’s Framework for Ethical Learning Technology.  Peter Hartley noted that universities that have already invested in student engagement and co-creation are at an advantage when it comes to engaging with AI tools.

I’m strongly in favour of Helen’s call for spaces of principled refusal, however at the same time we need to be aware that the genie is out of the bottle.  These tools are out in the world now, they are in our education institutions, and they are being used by students in increasingly diverse and creative ways, often to mitigate the impact of systemic inequities. While it’s important to acknowledge the exploitative nature and very real harms perpetrated by the AI industry, the issues and potential raised by these tools also give us an opportunity to question and address systemic inequities within the academy. AI tools provide a valuable starting point to open conversations about difficult ethical questions about knowledge, understanding and what it means to learn and be human.  

Honorary Life Membership of ALT

Many thanks to Martin Hawksey for sharing this picture of Helen O’Sullivan announcing the award.

I’m hugely honoured to have been awarded Honorary Life Membership of the Association for Learning Technology at ALT’s 30th Annual Conference Gala at the University of Warwick.  Unfortunately I wasn’t there to receive the award in person because, in a stroke of spectacularly bad timing, I’ve come down with a really horrible cold. Though as Maren pointed out, the great thing about Honorary Life Membership is that you can celebrate it any time! 

For almost three decades Lorna has been a champion of equitable higher education and an open education activist. Lorna ‘s lifelong commitment to and passion for equality and diversity clearly is evident in her work, yet Lorna tends not to push herself forward and celebrate – or even self-acknowledge – her many achievements. 
~ ALT press release.

ALT has been a significant part of my professional life for over 20 years.  I attended my first ALT Conference in the late 1990s, joined the Board of Trustees in 2016, and was awarded Senior CMALT in 2022.  Serving on the ALT Board, and various committees, including the ALT Scotland SIG and the COOL SIG, has been immensely rewarding to me on both a personal and professional level.  I learned a huge amount from my fellow trustees and ALT colleagues and benefited enormously from working with a diverse group of people from a wide range of backgrounds, who I might not have had the opportunity to work with otherwise. I really appreciated having the opportunity to engage with the wider learning technology community at a senior level and to contribute to sector level strategic initiatives. But perhaps most importantly, working with ALT gave me an opportunity to give something back to the Association in return for their dedicated commitment to openness and ethics in learning technology. I’m really humbled that this award acknowledges my open practice and open education advocacy. Open education is a cause that I have a deep personal commitment to, and though at times it has felt like a bit of a quiet up-hill struggle, it has also been immensely rewarding. 

I’m also really touched to be following in the footsteps of other Honorary Life Members who have been a real inspiration to me throughout my career, including Josie Fraser, Linda Creanor, Frances Bell and Teresa MacKinnon.  However I can’t reflect on this award without acknowledging the exemplary leadership of ALT’s outgoing CEO Maren Deepwell, who successfully steered the Association through many changes and challenges. Throughout her tenure as chief executive, Maren has really embodied ALT’s core values.  It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to work with Maren over the years. I’ve learned a great deal from her and been continually inspired by her professionalism, commitment, and compassion.  I have no doubt that ALT will continue to go from strength to strength under the leadership of CEO Billy Smith and I look forward to seeing new directions ALT will take with him at the helm.

Photograph of L. Campbell presenting at ALTC 2019.

Picture by Chris Bull for Association for Learning Technology, CC BY-NC 2.0, 2019.

 

Generative AI – Ethics all the way down

How to respond to the affordances and challenges of generative AI is a pressing issue that many learning technologists and open education practitioners are grappling with right now and I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about the interface between AI, large language models and the Commons for some time. This isn’t that post.  I’ve been so caught up with other work that I’ve barely scratched the surface of the articles on my rapidly expanding reading list.  Instead, these are some short, sketchy notes about the different ethical layers that we need to consider when engaging with AI.  This post is partly inspired by technology ethics educator Casey Fiesler, who has warned education institutions of the risk of what she refers to as ethical debt. 

“What’s accruing here is not just technical debt, but ethical debt. Just as technical debt can result from limited testing during the development process, ethical debt results from not considering possible negative consequences or societal harms. And with ethical debt in particular, the people who incur it are rarely the people who pay for it in the end.”
~ Casey Fiesler, The Conversation

Apologies for glossing over the complexity of these issues, I just wanted to get something down in writing while it’s fresh in my mind 

Ethics of large language models and Common Crawl data sets

Most generative AI tools use data sets scraped from the web and made available for research and commercial development.  Some of the organisations creating these data sets are non-profits, others are commercial companies, the relationship between the two is not always transparent. Most of these data sets scrape content directly from the web regardless of ownership, copyright, licensing and consent, which has led to legitimate concerns about all kinds of rights violations. While some companies claim to employ these data sets under the terms of fair use, questions have been raised about using such data for explicitly commercial purposes. Some open advocates have said that while they have no objection to these data sets being used for research purposes they are very concerned about commercial use. Content creators have also raised objections to their creative works being used to train commercial applications without their knowledge or consent.  As a result, a number copyright violation lawsuits have been raised by artists, creators, cultural heritage organisations and copyright holders.

There are more specific issues relating to these data sets and Creative Commons licensed content.  All CC licenses include an attribution clause, and in order to use a CC licensed work you must attribute the creator. LLMs and other large data sets are unable to fulfil this crucial attribution requirement so they ride roughshod over one of the foundational principles of Creative Commons. 

LLMs and common crawl data sets are out there in the world now.  The genie is very much out of the bottle and there’s not a great deal we can do to put it back, even if we wanted to. It’s also debatable what, if anything, content creators, organisations and archives can do to prevent their works being swept up by web scraping in the future. 

Ethics of content moderation and data filtering

Because these data sets are scraped wholesale from the web, they inevitably include all kinds of offensive, degrading and discriminatory content. In order to ensure that this content does not influence the outputs of generative AI tools and damage their commercial potential, these data sets must be filtered and moderated.  Because AI tools are not smart enough to filter out this content automatically, the majority of content moderation is done by humans, often from the global majority, working under exploitative and extractive conditions. In May, content moderators in Africa who provide services for Meta, Open AI and others voted to establish the first African Content Moderators Union, to challenge low pay and exploitative working conditions in the industry. 

Most UK universities have a commitment to ending modern slavery and uphold the terms of the Modern Slavery Act. For example the University of Edinburgh’s Modern Slavery Statement says that it is “committed to protecting and respecting human rights and have a zero-tolerance approach to slavery and human trafficking in all its forms.” It is unclear how commitments such as these relate to content workers who often work under conditions that are exploitative and degrading at best, and a form of modern slavery at worst. 

Ethics of anthropomorphising AI 

The language used to describe generative AI tools often humanises and anthropomorphises them, either deliberately or subconsciously. They are ascribed human characteristics and abilities, such as intelligence and the ability to dream. One of the most striking examples is the use of hallucinating.  When Chat GPT makes up non-existent references to back up erroneous “facts” this is often described as “hallucinating“.  This propensity has led to confusion among some users when they have attempted to find these fictional references. Many commenters have pointed out that these tools are incapable of hallucinating, they’re just getting shit wrong, and that the use of such humanising language purposefully disguises and obfuscates the limitations of these systems. 

“Hallucinate is the term that architects and boosters of generative AI have settled on to characterize responses served up by chatbots that are wholly manufactured, or flat-out wrong.”
~ Naomi Klein, The Guardian

Ethics of algorithmic bias

Algorithmic bias is a well known and well documented phenomenon (cf Safiya U. Noble‘s Algorithms of Oppression) and generative AI tools are far from immune to bias. Valid arguments have been made about the bias of the ‘intelligence” these tools claim to generate.  Because the majority of AI applications are produced in the global north, they invariably replicate a particularly white, male, Western world view, with all the inherent biases that entails. Diverse they are not. Wayne Holmes has noted that AI ignores minority opinions and marginalised perspectives, perpetuating a Silicon Valley perspective and world outlook. Clearly there are considerable ethical issues about education institutions that have a mission to be diverse and inclusive using tools that engender harmful biases and replicate real world inequalities. 

“I don’t want to say I’m sure. I’m sure it will lift up the standard of living for everybody, and, honestly, if the choice is lift up the standard of living for everybody but keep inequality, I would still take that.”
~ Sam Altman, OpenAI CEO. 

Ethics of catastrophising
 

Much has been written about the dangers of AI, often by the very individuals who are responsible for creating these tools. Some claim that generative AI will end education as we know it, while others prophesy that AI will end humanity altogether. There is no doubt that this catastrophising helps to feed the hype cycle and drive traffic to to these tools and applications, however Timnit Gebru and others have pointed out that by focusing attention on some nebulous future catastrophe, the founding fathers of AI are purposeful distracting us from current real world harms caused by the industry they have created, including reproducing systems of oppression, worker exploitation, and massive data theft. 

“The harms from so-called AI are real and present and follow from the acts of people and corporations deploying automated systems. Regulatory efforts should focus on transparency, accountability and preventing exploitative labor practices.”
Nirit Weiss-Blatt’s (@DrTechlash) “Taxonomy of AI Panic Facilitators” A visualization of leading AI Doomers (X-risk open letters, media interviews & OpEds). Some AI experts enable them, while others oppose them. The gender dynamics are fucked up. It says a lot about the panic itself.

Not really a conclusion

Clearly there are many ethical issues that education institutions must take into consideration if they are to use generative AI tools in ways that are not harmful.  However this doesn’t mean that there is no place for AI in education, far from it.  Many AI tools are already being used in education, often with beneficial results, captioning systems are just one example that springs to mind.  I also think that generative AI can potentially be used as an exemplar to teach complex and nuanced issues relating to the creation and consumption of information, knowledge equity, the nature of creativity, and post-humanism.  Whether this potential outweighs the ethical issues remains to be seen.

A few references 

AI has social consequences, but who pays the price? Tech companies’ problem with ‘ethical debt’ ~ Casey Fiesler, The Conversation 

Statement from the listed authors of Stochastic Parrots on the “AI pause” letter ~ Timnit Gebru (DAIR), Emily M. Bender (University of Washington), Angelina McMillan-Major (University of Washington), Margaret Mitchell (Hugging Face)

Open letter to News Media and Policy Makers re: Tech Experts from the Global Majority ~ @safiyanoble (Algorithms of Oppression), @timnitGebru (ex Ethical Artificial Intelligence Team)@dalitdiva, @nighatdad, @arzugeybulla, @Nanjala1, @joana_varon

150 African Workers for ChatGPT, TikTok and Facebook Vote to Unionize at Landmark Nairobi Meeting ~ Time

AI machines aren’t ‘hallucinating’. But their makers are ~ Naomi Klein, The Guardian  

Just Because ChatBots Can’t Think Doesn’t Mean They Can’t Lie ~ Maria Bustillos, The Nation 

Artificial Intelligence and Open Education: A Critical Studies Approach ~ Dr Wayne Holmes, UCL 

‘What should the limits be?’ The father of ChatGPT on whether AI will save humanity – or destroy it ~ Sam Altman interview, The Guardian 

Open Scotland @10 Plenary Panel synthesis & outputs

To mark 10 years of the Open Scotland initiative, Joe Wilson and I ran two events as part of the OER23 Conference at UHI in Inverness, which provided an opportunity for members of the education community to reflect on how the open education landscape in Scotland has evolved over the last decade, and to discuss potential ways to advance open education across all sectors of Scottish education. 

Open Scotland Pre-Conference Workshop

Joe has already written up our pre-conference Open Scotland workshop, which brought together around 40 colleagues, in person and online, to discuss key challenges and priorities. You can read Joe’s summary of the workshop here: Open Scotland Reflections on Pre-Conference Workshop.

 

OpenScotland @10 Plenary Panel

The closing plenary panel of OER23 brought together open education practitioners from within Scotland and beyond.  Panel participants were Lorna M. Campbell, Open Scotland and University of Edinburgh; Scott Connor, UHI;  Maren Deepwell, ALT; Stuart Nicol, University of Edinburgh; Robert Schuwer, consultant and former UNESCO Chair on Open Educational Resources; Joe Wilson, Open Scotland and City of Glasgow College.  Each member of the panel was invited to briefly share their thoughts on future directions for Open Education, before we opened the discussion to the floor. 

Photograph of Open Scotland Plenary Panel at the OER23 Conference.

Open Scotland Plenary Panel by Tim Winterburn.

Stuart Nicol, Head of Educational Design and Engagement at the University of Edinburgh, acknowledged that while it’s disappointing that there hasn’t been more support from Scottish Government, there has been a support for open education at a number of institutions, including the University of Edinburgh.  Stuart highlighted the important role of committed people who have pushed the open agenda within institutions.  Short of having government level commitment and policy, Stuart suggested we need to provide opportunities for people to come together to share practice and to encourage institutions to work together.

Scott Connor, Digital and Open Education Lead at UHI’s Learning and Teaching Academy, outlined UHI’s strategic commitment to open education which is underpinned by an OER Policy and a framework for the development of open educational practices. Scott highlighted lack government mandates and funding as a barriers to engagement with open education and suggested that real impact would come through the government adopting the Scottish Open Education Declaration and using it to mandate that resources created with public funding should be shared openly to benefit everyone. 

Both Scott and Stuart highlighted the OER policies adapted and adopted by the University of Edinburgh and UHI as a prime example of open education collaboration.

Photograph of Open Scotland Plenary Panel at the OER23 Conference.

Open Scotland Plenary Panel by Tim Winterburn.

Robert Schuwer, independent consultant and former UNESCO Chair of OER, provided an overview of open education in The Netherlands where the government has supported a range of OER initiatives and stimulation grants since 2006. In 2014 the Education Ministry issued a  strategic agenda stating that by 2025 all teachers should share their learning materials. Although some institutions such as TU Delft are front-runners, other smaller institutions are just getting started. 

Robert suggested that the biggest challenge is to cross the chasm from early adopters and innovators to the majority of teachers to encourage them to adopt principles of openness in education.  He suggested connecting to teachers passion, which is teaching, not sharing materials, and highlighting how open education can help them to become better teachers. 

Maren Deepwell, CEO of the Association for Learning Technology, reminded us that we’re not just talking about openness in Higher Education we’re looking at all sectors including schools, training, vocational education, FE, HE, and research. UK Government looks at Open Access research and thinks the open box is ticked. ALT has tried to reach out to both Scottish Government and the Department of Education, but often there is no one with responsibility for open education policy beyond Open Access and Open Research funding. 

Maren noted that we tend to see open education as another challenge alongside Brexit, the cost of living crisis, climate change, sustainability, etc., and ultimately it is never at the top of the agenda.  She suggested that our opportunity is to present openness as a way to solve these challenges.  It’s ingrained in us that openness is the extra step that teachers need more time, more funding, more skills, to take.  Instead we need to highlight how openness could solve resource scarcity and training issues, and help small independent providers collaborate across sectors.  We need to show openness as a way to solve these challenges, rather than as a stand alone challenge in its own right.

Photograph of Open Scotland Plenary Panel at the OER23 Conference.

Open Scotland Plenary Panel by Tim Winterburn.

Opening the discussion to the floor, members of the community put forward a range of comments and suggestions including: 

  • Taking a whole population approach to education rather than a sectoral approach. Open education is a way to educate for all our futures, not just those who can afford a good education. Open educators should collaborate with demographic data experts to see how open education could address key challenges of our ageing population, including health and social care. 
  • Start with early interventions at primary school level. How do children learn, what do they learn, what role models  do they see? Start to train a new generation of people to think in different ways. Currently there is no mention of openness in the General Teaching Council programme, but a logical place to start would be with teaching staff who are teaching children how to learn.  However because of concerns about GDPR, teachers work in closed environments, there are challenges around safeguarding and managing digital identities. 
  • Scotland’s baby box has been an import mechanism for learning for both parents and children, why not add a leaflet about open education?
  • Scotland has always had a very egalitarian tradition of education, the principles of openness fit well with this tradition, from school all the way up, so it’s frustrating that we haven’t been able to introduce open education at school level.
  • Maybe we’re trying too hard to change policy, perhaps it would be better to focus on doing fun stuff and sharing open practice. Do what you can at the small level; small OER, rather than big OER. This can be really powerful. Sharing in small ways can make a difference.
  • People hear about Open Scotland and are interested in open education, but they’re constrained by their local authorities or their college marketing teams. 
  • The strength of open education is in the grass roots, as soon as it get sucked into politics, it gets watered down. There is a risk that comes with government policy and funding. You cede some control when policy is dictated at that level.  At grass roots level we can control it, shape it and manage it.  It’s hard work pushing upwards but there is a danger when it comes from the other direction that we lose something and open education gets co-opted by people we may not wish to work with. 
  • Robert Schuwer countered this point by noting that this has not happened in The Netherlands.  Government support is provided at all levels of education but there is a lot of autonomy within institutions. The only mandates were the 2014 strategic agenda and a 2020 Open Access research mandate, both of which have been beneficial.  Robert also noted that students lobbied the Education Minister and had directly input to the 2014 sharing agenda.  This was also the case at the University of Edinburgh, where EUSA encouraged the University to support open education and OER. 
  • We have a political problem in that our education ministers don’t know much about education, so openness is never a priority.  We need to trust ourselves and continue with the grass roots work.  We need to feed messages up to government ministers that open education can be a solution to sustainability and other strategic agendas.  We need to take our advocacy up a notch, perhaps take out an advert in the press. 

Next steps

The next step will be to continue synthesising the outputs of the workshop and plenary panel, captured in this Padlet, with a view to drafting a new Open Scotland manifesto to share with the community and move the open education agenda forward. 

 

Made with Padlet

 

 

 

OER23 Conference: Imagining hopeful futures

I’m a bit late with this OER23 reflection, it’s taken me a couple of weeks to catch up with myself and to let some of the ideas generated by the conference percolate.  

It was fabulous to see the OER Conference returning to Scotland for the fist time since we hosted it at the University of Edinburgh in 2016, and I was particularly pleased to see the conference visit the University of the Highlands and Islands in Inverness.  Inverness holds a rather special place in my heart as the site of many childhood holidays (it seemed like such a big city compared to Stornoway!) and as a stopping off point on annual journeys home to the Hebrides.  I had a slightly weird feeling of nostalgia and home-sickness while I was there, it was odd being in Inverness and not traveling on further north and west. Perhaps not coincidentally, sense of place and community were two themes that emerged throughout the conference. 

As one of the few universities in Scotland, along with Edinburgh, with a strategic commitment to open education, including an OER Policy and a Framework for the Development of Open Education Practices, UHI was a fitting venue for the conference. Keith Smyth and his UHI colleagues were the warmest of hosts and the airy Inverness campus was a beautiful location with plenty of space to breathe, think, and (re)connect. It was lovely seeing so many colleagues from around the world experiencing a Highland welcome for the first time. 

UHI Inverness, CC BY, Lorna M. Campbell

One of the main themes of the conference was “Open Education in Scotland – celebrating 10 years of the Scottish Open Education Declaration” and Joe Wilson and I ran both a pre-conference workshop and the closing plenary panel to reflect on progress, or not, over the last ten years and to map a way forward.  I’ll be reflecting on these discussions in another post.

Rikke Toft Nørgård opened the conference with a fantastic and fantastical keynote on “Hyper-Hybrid Futures? Reimagining open education and educational resources Places // Persons // Planets” (slides, recording) that challenged us to imagine and manifest transformative speculative futures for education.  Her call for “open hopepunk futures in grimdark times” clearly resonated with participants. Rikke described hopepunk as a sincerely activist approach to fighting for a more hopeful future.  I particularly liked her vision for place-ful OERs; education that has a home, that belongs and dwells in placefulness, being some-where, not any-where. 

Anna-Wendy Stevenson also picked up on this idea of belonging and placefulness in her keynote “Setting the Tone: The democratisation of music eduction in the Highlands and Island and beyond” (recording). Anna-Wendy is the course leader of UHI’s award-winning BA in Applied Music, a blended learning course that enables students to study music in their own communities while providing opportunities for both virtual and place based residencies in the Outer Hebrides and beyond.  Having grown up in the Hebrides I appreciate the importance of having the opportunity to study at home, and the benefits this can bring to students and the community.  I left the islands to go to university and, like many graduates, never returned.  While eighteen-year-old me wouldn’t have passed up on the opportunity to move to “the mainland” in a month of Sundays (IYKYK), I would have jumped at the chance if there had been a possibility to go back home to continue studying archaeology at postgraduate level. It’s wonderful that students now have that opportunity. After Anna-Wendy’s keynote, it was lovely to hear her playing traditional Scottish music with some of her students who have benefited from this place-based approach to music education. 

It was great being able to attend the conference with a group of colleagues from the University of Edinburgh, several of whom were experiencing the conference for the first time. Fiona Buckland and Lizzy Garner-Foy from the Online Course Production Service gave a really inspiring presentation about the University’s investment in open education, which has resulted in 100 free short online courses and over 1000 open educational resources (OER) that have benefited almost 5 million learners over the last 10 years. It makes you proud 🙂

Tracey Madden told the story of the University’s digital badges pilot project and the challenges of developing a sustainable service that assures both quality and accessibility. Stuart Nicol and I shared the university’s experience of transforming the curriculum with OER and presented case studies from the fabulous GeoScience Outreach course and our indefatigable Wikimedian in Residence (slides). We shared a padlet of open resources, along with staff and student testimonies, which you can explore here: Open For Good – Transforming the curriculum with OER at the University of Edinburgh.

 

The Edinburgh team also had a really productive meeting with a delegation of colleagues from a wide range of institutions and organisations in the Netherlands to share our experiences of supporting open education policy and practice at institutional and national level in our respective countries. 

As with so many OER Conferences, hope and joy were prominent themes that were woven into the fabric of the event. Catherine Cronin gave us an update on the eagerly anticipated book Higher Education for Good: Teaching and Learning Futures, which she has been editing with Laura Czerniewicz. 

Prajakta Girme spoke about “Warm Spaces”; open multicultural space, or “pockets of community” for vulnerable communities and non-students within the university environment. Frances Bell and Lou Mycroft asked how we can use feminist posthuman storytelling to promote activism in FemEdTech and open education, challenging us to develop “productive approaches to exploring uncertain educational futures critically, retaining the pragmatic hope offered by Posthuman Feminism.”  Frances had brought one of the Femedtech quilts (it was lovely to see my Harris Tweed square at home in the Highlands) and she invited us to write speculative futures for the quilt assemblage.  You can read my micro-speculative future on femedtech.net here: Reconnecting with Joy.

Frances Bell and the Femedtech quilt, CC BY, Lorna M. Campbell

I also had a really lovely conversation with Bryan Mathers of Visual Thinkery about our shared experience of reconnecting with our Gàidhlig / Gaeilge language and culture. His Patchwork Province zines had me laughing and nodding along in rueful recognition. 

I always leave the OER Conferences inspired and hope-full and this year it was lovely to end the conference by sharing a quiet, reflective train journey with Catherine, Joe and Louise Drumm, who captured this beautiful image as we traveled home through the Highlands.

 

 

Open Scotland @10

OER23 Conference logoThis blog post was originally posted on the Open Scotland blog. 

To mark 10 years of the Open Scotland initiative we will be holding two events as part of the OER23 Conference to bring together members of the education community in Scotland to reflect on how the open education landscape in Scotland has evolved over the last decade against the backdrop of global crisis and uncertainty (Campbell and Wilson 2021). Hosted by ALT and the University of the Highlands and Islands, the OER Conference is taking place in Scotland for the first time since 2016. One of the main themes of the conference is “Open Education in Scotland – celebrating 10 years of the Scottish Open Education Declaration.”

Thigibh a-steach! Come and join us at the OER23 Conference in Inverness to contribute to shaping the future of open education in Scotland.

Open Scotland Pre-Conference Workshop

When: Tuesday 4th April, 15.30 – 17.00
Where: UHI Inverness and online
Who: Open to all.

This pre-conference workshop, facilitated by Joe Wilson and Lorna M. Campbell, will reflect on the Open Scotland initiative and discuss ways forward for the open education community. We’ll briefly address the history and impact of Open Scotland and explore the role of Open Scotland and the Scottish Open Education Declaration going forward.

We’ll ask whether the aims of Open Scotland are still relevant, whether the Scottish Open Education Declaration has a role to play in the future, and how it can be reframed to reflect current challenges and priorities.

How can we encourage more teachers, learners and education institutions across the sector to engage with open education?

How do we ensure that the Scottish education community tunes in to global open practice and makes most of the possibilities of open educational resources , open research , open textbooks and other opportunities?

Can we effectively lobby the Scottish Government to adopt policies that support open education and OER at the national level?

How can we in Scotland, the UK, and internationally, align with the principles of the UNESCO Recommendation on OER (UNESCO 2019)?

We invite key leaders, influencers, educators, open practitioners and advocates across the Scottish education community to join us. This workshop is free and open to all. Remote participation will be available for those who are unable to join us in Inverness. 

Registration
If you are not an OER23 delegate, please register here in order to participate: Open Scotland Pre Conference Session for External Delegates

OER23 Conference Closing Plenary: OpenScotland @10

When: Thursday 6th April, 16.20 – 17.00
Where: UHI Inverness and online
Who: OER23 Conference delegates

The closing plenary panel of the OER23 Conference will bring together open education advocates from Scotland and The Netherlands to reflect on the open education landscape in Scotland and internationally. We’ll discuss engagement with open education across Scotland, focusing on the benefits and affordances of open education and OER and how it can help to address local and global education challenges and priorities, while reflecting on the relevance of the original aim of Open Scotland: To raise awareness of open education, encourage the sharing of open educational resources, and explore the potential of open policy and practice to benefit all sectors of Scottish education.

Panel participants: Lorna M. Campbell, Open Scotland and University of Edinburgh; Scott Connor, UHI;  Maren Deepwell, ALT; Stuart Nicol, University of Edinburgh; Robert Schuwer, consultant and former UNESCO Chair on Open Educational Resources; Joe Wilson, Open Scotland and City of Glasgow College.

Background

Open Scotland is a voluntary cross-sector initiative, established in 2013, to raise awareness of open education, encourage the sharing of open educational resources, and explore the potential of open policy and practice to benefit all sectors of Scottish education. In the decade since its launch, Open Scotland has been supported by Cetis, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, the Association for Learning Technology, Reclaim Hosting, the University of Edinburgh and Creative Commons. Openness remains a key strategic principle for many of these organisations.

In order to achieve its aims, Open Scotland hosted the Open Scotland Summit (2013) and Open Education, Open Scotland (2014) at the University of Edinburgh, which brought together senior managers, policy makers and key thinkers to explore the development of open education policy and practice in Scotland. Members of Open Scotland contributed regularly to national conferences, and participated in international events including Open Education Global in Ljubljana, OERde14 in Berlin, Morocco Open Education Day, the Open Education Policy Network, UNESCO European Regional Consultation in Malta, and the 2017 UNESCO OER World Congress.

In 2014, inspired by the UNESCO Paris OER Declaration (UNESCO 2012), Open Scotland launched the Scottish Open Education Declaration (Open Scotland 2014), an open draft document that all members of the community were invited to contribute to. The Declaration called on the Scottish Government, the Scottish Funding Council and all sectors of Scottish education to endorse the principles of the UNESCO OER Declaration and ensure that educational materials produced with public funding are freely and openly available to all. With support from ALT Scotland and Creative Commons, the Declaration was brought to the attention of three consecutive Cabinet Secretaries of Education, however the Scottish Government declined to engage with these principles. Despite this lack of response, the Scottish Open Education Declaration has been influential elsewhere. It inspired the OER Morocco Declaration (Berrada and Almakari 2017), informed the OpenMed Project, and has raised awareness of open education within institutions, triggering discussions about open education at policy level.

Visit the Open Scotland blog to find out more about the initiative. 

References

Berrada, K. and Almakari, A. (2017) Déclaration du Maroc sur les Ressources Educatives Libres / OER Morocco Declaration. Available at: https://openmedproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/OER-Morocco-Declaration.pdf (Accessed: 9 January 2023).

Campbell, L.M. and Wilson, J. (2021) Open Educational Resources: An equitable future for education in Scotland. Available at: https://openscot.net/further-education/open-educational-resources-an-equitable-future-for-education-in-scotland/ (Accessed: 9 January 2023).

Open Scotland. (2014) Scottish Open Education Declaration. Available at: https://declaration.openscot.net/ (Accessed: 9 January 2023).

UNESCO. (2012) The Paris OER Declaration. Available at: https://en.unesco.org/oer/paris-declaration (Accessed: 9 January 2023).

UNESCO. (2019) Recommendation on Open Educational Resources. Available at: https://www.unesco.org/en/legal-affairs/recommendation-open-educational-resources-oer (Accessed: 9 January 2023).

Better late than never! 2022 end of year round up.

Is February too late (or early??) to write an end of year round up post? People often complain about January dragging but I swear it passed in the blink of an eye this year, and somehow we’re already half way through February. This is way, way, after the fact, but there are a few things I did at the end of last year that I don’t want to get lost in the churn. 

Although I didn’t manage to write an end of year review for this blog, I did write one for Open.Ed, the University of Edinburgh’s OER Service, which you can read it here if you’re interested: OER Service 2022 Roundup

EDEN NAP Webinar

In early December I was invited to take part in an EDEN NAP webinar on Institutional Approaches to Supporting Open Educational Resources, which explored the different ways that Universities are building open education capacity and acting as enablers of innovative open practice. I spoke about our experience of embedding strategic support for open education and OER at the University of Edinburgh. The other speakers were Professor Daniel Burgos, Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR), Dr Carina Ginty, Atlantic Technological University, and Fiona Schmidbauer, DHBW Karlsruhe. There was an impressive turnout of over 160 participants from all over Europe.  The webinar was recorded and I’ll link to it here once it’s online. 

ENCORE+ Webinar

I also took part in another webinar on OER and credentialing, run by the European Network for Catalysing Open Resources for Education (ENCORE+) Project. ENCORE+ is an ERASMUS+ Knowledge Alliance project, funded by the European Commission, which supports the uptake and innovation of open educational resources for education and business.  Earlier in the year I was interviewed by Dai Griffiths as part of a series of interviews exploring innovative approaches to credentialing learning in the European OER ecosystem, the opportunities that they offer, and the barriers to their application.  During the interview we discussed strategic support for OER at the University of Edinburgh, the role (or not) of OER repositories, and benefits for students creating open education resources and open knowledge as part of their accredited courses.  The webinar brought together several of the interviewees to discuss some of the themes that had emerged in the interviews in more depth.  You can read my interview here: ENCORE+ Interview.

Femedtech

At the beginning of December I took over from Maren Deepwell as administrator of the femedtech Twitter account.  Maren has managed the account and our guest curators for the last year and I’m hugely grateful for the simple and efficient process she handed over to me.  Clearly we need to question the ongoing viability of Twitter as a platform for femedtech given the (lack of) ethics of its current proprietor and the degradation of the platform itself. Femedtech has always been a loose collective with multiple channels and I know that some of our curators this year will be exploring how we can use those other channels, including femedtech.net, and potentially Mastodon, going forwards.  In the meantime, we’re going to continue curating the femedtech account and hashtag on Twitter, so if you’d like to put your name down for a curation slot you can volunteer here: Get involved with femedtech

I also did my own curation slot during December, the first time I’d curated for a couple of years. (You can read my reflection on my last curation slot here: Reflections on @Femedtech Curation.) I had planned to open a discussion about the ethics of remaining on twitter, and the logistics of moving to another platform such as Mastodon, but I got sidetracked by the ongoing debate about the ethics of AI art algorithms, their use of art works scraped from the commons, and the harmful stereotypes that appear to be inherent in the datasets and algorithm themselves. 

Critical Ignoring

I think the real highlight of my curation slot was coming across this paper by Anastasia Kozyreva, Sam Wineburg, Stephan Lewandowsky, and Ralph Hertwig on Critical Ignoring as a Core Competence for Digital Citizens.  

Low-quality and misleading information online can hijack people’s attention, often by evoking curiosity, outrage, or anger. Resisting certain types of information and actors online requires people to adopt new mental habits that help them avoid being tempted by attention-grabbing and potentially harmful content. We argue that digital information literacy must include the competence of critical ignoring—choosing what to ignore and where to invest one’s limited attentional capacities.

Critical ignoring is not a concept I’ve come across before but it’s something I’ve been consciously practising for the last couple of years.  If you spend any amount of time online it’s really hard not to get sucked into spirals of negativity, outrage and despair, especially when social media algorithms actively promote “controversial” content and push it into our feeds. Some people I know have sworn off social media altogether or take regular breaks to decompress.  I make frequent use of block and mute functions, and I also try to make a conscious decision as to whether it’s worth expending valuable emotional energy engaging with posts that will only anger or upset me.  I’ve also made more of an effort to separate my “work” and “non-work” time online.  It’s not always easy to know where the boundary lies but on days that I’m “not working” I log out of my main twitter account and ignore any e-mail sent to my work address.  This does mean that I sometimes miss personal messages sent through these channels, but I’m trying not to feel too guilty about that.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  The irony in all this is that I haven’t actually read beyond the first page of the Critical Ignoring paper…

UCU Industrial Action

I can’t finish this post without mentioning the latest round of UCU industrial action, which will see university staff striking for 18 days throughout February and March in protest at pay erosion and inequality, precarity, unsustainable workloads and pension theft. The first quarter of the year is always a really busy time for me because several open education events, including Open Education Week and preparation for the OER Conference fall in this period, so I find it really stressful not being able to work.  It’s going to be a long couple of months and the financial impact is going to be painful, but the alternative, just buckling down and doing our best in a system that is increasingly inequitable and exploitative is no longer sustainable. 

Photograph of statue of Donald Dewar surrounded by banners during Right to Strike rally.  Buchanan Street, Glasgow.

Right to Strike rally, Glasgow, February, 2023. CC BY, Lorna M. Campbell

Stepping Down: Reflecting on six years as an ALT and Wikimedia UK Trustee

Photograph of an ALT Conference delegate badge, white card with black text against a grey background.I’ve already written a post about the joy of reconnecting with colleagues at the ALT Conference last month, but the conference also marked a significant end point for me.  During the AGM, I formally stepped down from the Board of ALT, after my second term as a Trustee came to an end after six inspiring years. Earlier this summer my second term as a Wikimedia UK Trustee also came to close, so in some ways it feels a bit like an end of an era for me.  Both organisations have been a significant part of my professional life for the last six years and it’s been an honour and a privilege to serve on these boards.  I learned a huge amount from my fellow trustees over the years, and benefited enormously from working with a diverse group of people from a wide range of backgrounds, who I might not have had the opportunity to work with otherwise. I also really appreciated having the  opportunity to engage with the wider learning technology and open knowledge communities at a senior level and to contributing to strategic initiatives. And perhaps most importantly, serving as a Trustee gave me an opportunity to give something back to ALT and Wikimedia UK, in return for their ongoing commitment to openness, equity, community engagement and knowledge activism. 

If you’re curious about what the role of a Trustee involves, and are interested in finding out more, I wrote a reflection on my experience of serving on the ALT and Wikimedia UK Boards as part of my Senior CMALT portfolio, which you can read here: Communication and Working with Others. I also recorded this video for Trustees Week last year. 

 
Stepping down from these rolls certainly doesn’t mark the end of my involvement with ALT and Wikimedia UK though.  Far from it!  I’m still involved with the ALT Scotland SIG and the ALT Copyright and Online Learning SIG, and I’m also hoping that I can spend  bit more time editing Wikipedia and getting involved in community events.  I’m also wondering what to do next, so if you’ve got any suggestions, let me know! 

It just remains for me to say a huge thank you to Maren Deepwell, CEO of ALT, and Lucy Crompton-Reid, CEO of Wikimedia UK, for their inspiring leadership, and also to the Chairs of Board who guided us with patience and insight; Sheila MacNeil (ALT), Helen O’Sullivan (ALT), Michael Maggs (Wikimedia UK), Josie Fraser (Wikimedia UK), Nick Poole (Wikimedia UK) and Monisha Shah (Wikimedia UK).

OEG Voices Podcast

This post originally appeared on the Open.Ed blog.

Back at the beginning of the summer, my colleague Charlie and I had the very great pleasure of joining Alan Levine for an OEG Voices podcast to talk about the University of Edinburgh’s award winning open policies and GeoScience Outreach OERs.

OEG Voices picture of Lorna Campbell, Charlie Farley, Alan Levine and Paul Stacey.Charlie talked about the GeoScience Outreach course where students co-create teaching and learning materials that are then adapted by Open Content Creation interns and shared on TES Resources as a curated collection of OERs aligned to the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence.  These award winning open resource have already been downloaded over 100,000 times by teachers all over the world.  You can read more about the success of the GeoScience Outreach course in this blog post on Teaching Matters by Kay Douglas, Andy Cross, Colin Graham, Erica Zaja, Bonnie Auyeung, and Frederik Madsen – Geoscience Outreach: What we do, how we assess, and client/student reflections.

I discused the university’s commitment to developing and sharing open policies for learning and teaching, and role of Learning Technology Policy officer Neil McCormick, who leads the development of many of these policies.  Open.Ed has shared a suite of five open policies and guidelines, including our Lecture and Virtual Classroom Recording policies, our OER Policy, and our Digital Citizenship Guide, developed by Dr Vicki Madden.

You can listen to the podcast here – OEG Voices 040: Charlie Farley and Lorna Campbell on Two Award Winning Projects from University of Edinburgh