Retire and Refresh: Jisc, Jorum and Open Education

Jorum_logo_blueYesterday Jisc announced its intention to retire Jorum in September 2016 and “refresh its open educational resources offer”.   I’ve been involved with Jorum, in one capacity or another, since 2002 when Moira Massey and Sarah McConnell at EDINA, started drafting a proposal for a repository as part of the Jisc eXchange for Learning Programme (X4L), and I’ve also been a member of the Jorum Steering group since it was set up in 2005 to help guide Jorum through its transition to service phase.

I’ve seen Jorum develop through many iterations and technical incarnations and it’s been a long and interesting journey. There have been many stumbling blocks along the way, but we’ve seen real progress and have learned a great deal about the practicalities of education resource description, discovery and management. Both the education and technology landscapes have changed fundamentally since Jorum came into being thirteen years ago and it hasn’t always been easy for the service to adapt to those changes as quickly as the sector sometimes expected.  Despite these challenges, all members of the Jorum Team, both past and present, always remained fully committed to providing a useful service to the community and have shown huge dedication to supporting their users, so I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly thank every one of them for their efforts.

That said, I do have some concerns about Jisc’s continued involvement in the open education space.  As a result of the Jisc / HEA UKOER Programmes and it’s many precursors, Jisc developed an enviable international reputation for open education innovation.  The fact that there is still a lively and active community of practice around UKOER is testament to the success of the programmes in raising awareness of open education and starting to embed open education practice across higher education.  There’s sill a long way to go of  course, few institutions are actually creating open educational resources in any great volume, evidence of reuse is still slim, and we have so much more to learn about how teachers and learners find, share, and use educational resources.  There is also a danger that the open education community is singing to the choir rather than preaching to the masses.  (Obligatory religious metaphor; cf John Robertson)

University of Leeds Jorum Window

University of Leeds Jorum Window

However there does seem to be a resurgence of interest in sharing resources in both the further and higher education sectors over the last year.  HE institutions are starting to explore the potential value of developing open education policy and Glasgow Caledonian University recently became the first HEI in Scotland to approve an institutional OER policy, based incidentally on a University of Leeds policy originally created as part of the UKOER programme. GCU also plan to implement their shiny new policy through the creation of an institutional OER repository based on the University of Southampton’s EdShare platform.   Leeds are still actively supporting the sharing and discovery of open educational resources through their institutional Jorum Window, a valuable service provided by Jorum that other institutions were beginning to explore. The University of Edinburgh also has an ambitious vision for open education and intends to develop frameworks to enable staff to publish and share their teaching and learning materials as OER in order to enrich the University and the sector.  In addition, the OER Conferences, now supported by ALT, continue to go from strength to strength, despite many predicting their demise once the UKOER funding ran out.

There is also increasing interest in sharing resources in the further education sector, partly as a result of the FELTAG recommendations, the full impact of which have yet to be felt.  Following an ambitious programme of regionalisation in Scotland, colleges are starting to explore the potential of sharing resources within consortia.  This may not be the fully open sharing that many in the sector aspire to, but its a good start.  There is some way to go in the FE sector before the culture of competition transforms into a culture of cooperation and collaboration and this is where the support of organisations such as Jisc and the College Development Network is invaluable.

I’m not going to comment too much on the Jisc App and Content Store yet, as it’s clearly very early days and, as with any agile development, I expect it will go through many iterations before it sees the light of day.  However I will say that talk of customers and App Stores rather concerns me as it brings to mind commercial associations that sit rather uneasily with my conception of open education.

There is still a huge amount of open education knowledge and expertise within Jisc, not just within the Jorum team, but also across their account managers, subject specialists and senior co-design managers, and I sincerely hope that Jisc will build on the invaluable expertise of their own staff and colleagues across the sector to ensure that their new refreshed approach to open education really does meet the changing digital demands of the Further and Higher Education community.

OERde14 – The view from Scotland

[Cross posted to Open Scotland]

I’m delighted to have been invited to Berlin later this week to give a talk at OERde14 – The Future of Free Educational Materials.   I’ll be talking about a range of contrasting initiatives that have aimed to promote open education policy and practice in Scotland, England and Wales over the last five years, including the UKOER Programme, Open Scotland, OER Wales, the Welsh Open Education Declaration of Intent, the Scottish Open Education Declaration and the Opening Educational Practice in Scotland project. I’ll also be reflecting on the different approaches taken by these initiatives and asking what Germany can learn from the experiences of open education practitioners in the UK.

ETA My interview from the conference is now available on the OERde14 Videos page.

Abstract

The first and largest open education initiative in the UK was the UKOER Programme. Between 2009 and 2012 the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) invested over £10 million in UKOER, and funded over 80 projects at universities throughout England. UKOER proved to be hugely successful, however only English universities were eligible to bid for funding. As a result, there was arguably less awareness of the potential benefits of open education across other sectors of UK education. That is not to say there have been no significant open education developments in other parts of the UK, simply that approaches to open education have followed different paths.

In September 2013 universities in Wales issued the Wales Open Education Declaration of Intent, which announced Welsh Universities commitment to work towards the principals of open education and in direct response, the OER Cymru project was established. In a parallel initiative, the Welsh Government established an Open Digital Learning Working Group in early 2013, which published the report Open and Online: Wales, higher education and emerging modes of learning.

Meanwhile north of the border, interest was growing around the area of Open Badges, and MOOCs had also caught the attention of Scottish Higher Education.

In order to raise awareness of open education policy and practice more widely, Cetis, SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG, came together to launch Open Scotland in early 2013. Open Scotland is an unfunded cross-sector initiative that aims 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. Among other activities, Open Scotland launched the Scottish Open Education Declaration, based on the UNESCO Paris OER Declaration.

Open education in general, and MOOCS in particular, also caught the attention of the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council, and in early 2014 the Funding Council announced a £1.3 million investment in open education. Rather than issue an open funding call similar to the UKOER programme, SFC allocated their funding to the Open University to establish the Opening Education Practices in Scotland (OEPS) project, which aims to facilitate best practice in open education in Scotland.

These diverse programmes represent just some of the open education initiatives that have emerged in the UK; they provide a wide range of exemplars that may be of interest and benefit to open education practitioners in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

#Cetis14 Open Education: From Open Practice to Open Policy

Last week Li and I ran a session at the Cetis Conference on Open Education: From Open Practice to Open Policy.  My initial plan had been to focus on questions such as:

  • What, if any, is the value of open education policy?
  • Do institutions need open education policies?
  • Should government agencies play a role in the development of open education policy?
  • Are there conflicts between commercial interests and market forces, and open education policy and practice?
  •  How can open education initiatives be nurtured and sustained?
  • And what do we mean by “open education” anyway?!

However after talking to David Kernohan he suggested:

“Why not invent a country and create an open education policy for it? We treat the delegates as the government of said country, and we each present what we have done making recommendations for the policy. At the end we ask the “government” to discuss and reach a conclusion.”

So we invited six speakers to talk about their experience of open education policy and practice and, if they felt up to the challenge, to present their policy recommendations for our fictional country.  Marieke Guy of the Open Knowledge Open Education Working Group attended the session has already written an excellent summary of the presentations and discussions here: Cetis Conference 2014 – Time to unhide open. I’m not going to attempt to duplicate Marieke’s great post, which I can highly recommend, so I’ll just highlight a couple of points raised by speakers over the course of the session.  I’ve also posted a Storify of the twitter discussion and relevant links here.

David Kernohan, Jisc

David Kernohan of Jisc kicked off by discussing what is and is not a policy and asking why we might want policy in any given area.

To provide explicit support for a particular practice or idea…
… but not to enforce either the practice or the idea.

To provide a scaffolding for proposed future work…
… or to reinterpret earlier work in the light of a later idea.

To bring a matter to wider attention…
… with a hoped-for result that more concrete steps are taken.

David went on to present a potted history of Jisc’s involvement in open education (he even unearthed a picture of the dreaded #Cetis08 conference “pudding”) and the experiences of the UK Open Education Resources Programme.  David suggested that the success of UKOER was that it was non prescriptive and that multiple, small projects gave agency for people to “work in the open space”.  UKOER encompassed many policies, many people, many practices but resulted in one community.

David Kernohan, Jisc

David Kernohan, Jisc

David’s slides can be downloaded here – Policy, Practice, Chance and Control

Paul Richardson, Jisc RSC Cymru

Paul discussed different meanings of open, and along they way suggested that “MOOCs are a way of turning OER into an experience.”  He also presented a number of Welsh initiatives in the open education space including OER Wales Cymru, the Wales Open Education Declaration of Intent , Y Porth and the Open and online: Wales, higher education and emerging modes of learning Welsh Government report which Paul himself made an invaluable contribution to and which I’ve already blogged about here and on the Open Scotland blog.

Joe Wilson, Scottish Qualifications Authority

Joe gave a lively and thought provoking talk which focused on the potential benefits of open education practice and open educational resources in the schools and further education sectors.  This is a challenge when many education authorities still actively discourage their teachers from sharing resources.  Tis illustrates the gap between policy structures and teachers practice.  Joe also discussed the issue of skills development and called for greater support in upskilling teaching staff and raising awareness of open education.  Finally Joe concluded by introducing Open Scotland and the Scottish Open Education Declaration.

Joe didn’t use any slides but he was wearing a rather fine Desperate Dan t-shirt which later resulted in this dreadful pun on twitter.

Desperate DanDesperate Dan – an important steak holder in open education?

Desperate Dan © DC Thomson & Co. Ltd.
Desperate Pun © Viv Rolfe

Suzanne Hardy, Newcastle University

Suzanne Hardy, Newcastle University

Suzanne Hardy, Newcastle University

Suzanne told us the story of open education developments at Newcastle University.  Being a Russell Group university, Newcastle is highly risk averse and pushing through new policies takes “forever”.  However despite legal concerns about copyright and licensing, Newcastle has embraced MOOCs and will be running its first Futurelearn MOOC shortly, Hadrian’s Wall: Life on the Roman frontier.  Suzanne noted wryly that MOOCs are seen as a good marketing opportunity, and that “marketing trumps the lawyers”. In conclusion, Suzanne warned of the danger of policy becoming a tick box exercise that stifles innovation before reminding us that “it’s people that sustain open education, not policy, not practice”.

Suzanne’s presentation is available here.

Paul Booth, North West OER and Manchester Metropolitan University

Paul presented his own experiences of engaging in open education practice and, like previous speakers, highlighted the gap between open policy and practice.  On the one hand he was praised and rewarded for his open pedagogy, but at the same time he was also threatened with disciplinary action by his own institution. Paul also discussed the challenges of developing regional OER policy and warned that awareness of openness is still low and more needs to be done to promote open education.  Finally Paul rose to David Kernohan’s challenge and announced that he had established a new breakaway open education territory “kind of like Pitcairn” called it Granadaland with it’s own national anthem, sporting heroes and religion.

Granadaland's official sporting team

Granadaland’s official sporting team

cetis14_pb1

Grandaland’s official religion

Tore Hoel, Nordic OER and Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences.

Tore began by comparing the success of the Open Access movement to that of the open education movement adding “Why did open access succeed? It’s simple, there was a clear enemy.”  Tore suggested that much still needs to be done to raise awareness  and understanding of open education but added that OER can give organisations an opportunity to redesign their educational and financial models. Tore discussed the importance of multilingualism in developing open educational resources and also highlighted the Norwegian Government’s report on MOOCs.  In conclusion, Tore reminded us that “it’s not what you share it’s how you create it”.

Tore Hoel, Nordic OER

Tore Hoel, Nordic OER

Tore’s presentation can be downloaded here: CETIS14_OER.

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.

OCWC Global Twitter Highlights

I’ve made a storify of a few of my twitter highlights from the recent OCWC Global Conference in Lubljana here: OCWC Global Conference Storify.

ocwcglobal_storify

Without a doubt my twitter highlight of the entire event has to be from Peter Bryant….

OKF Open Education Working Group Advisory Board

Earlier this month I was delighted to be invited to join the Advisory Board of the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Open Education Working Group. The aim of the group, which is led by Marieke Guy, is “to initiate global cross-sector and cross-domain activity that encompasses the various facets of open education.”  Marieke has invited all Board members to write an introductory blog post for the group so here’s mine. It was published over at Open Education Working Group site last week.

okf_edu3

OKF Open Education Working Group

It’s hard to say when my own involvement in open education began. The start of the Jisc / HEA UKOER Programmes in 2009 is an obvious point of reference but many of the programmes and projects I was involved in long before that were concerned with sharing educational resources. Open licences were unheard of when I began working in education technology in 1997 so early projects I was involved with, such as Clyde Virtual University (SHEFC Use of the MANs Initiative) and the Scottish electronic Staff Development Library (SHEFC ScotCIT Programme), took a walled garden approach to sharing. Different methods of sharing, managing and disseminating educational resources were explored and developed over the next decade by a wide range of Jisc development programmes. Some of the ones I was directly involved in include Exchange for Learning (X4L), Digital Libraries in the Classroom, ReProduce, and the Digital Repositories and Preservation Programmes.

It was only with the launch of the Jisc / HEA UKOER Programme that I really got involved with open education as we might recognise it today though. On the surface, the primary aim of the HEFCE funded UKOER Programme was to get openly licenced educational content out there into the public domain, (the metaphor we frequently used was turning on the tap), however the underlying aim to the programme was to raise awareness of OER and embed open education practice within English higher education institutions. In keeping with the experimental and innovative nature of UKOER, Cetis recommended a novel approach to steering the programmes’ technical direction. Rather than identifying specific applications, standards, application profiles and vocabularies, we recommended that the UKOER programmes should adopt an open approach to the use of technology and standards. No descriptive standards, exchange mechanisms or specific technologies were mandated, thus allowing projects the freedom to choose the tools or technologies that best suited their requirements. The only provisos were that all projects should use the programme tag ‘ukoer’ and represent the resources they released in the Jorum national repository.

IntoWildCoverThis open approach to technology and standards enabled us to learn from real world practice and to surface technical issues and problem areas. As a result, Cetis role in the UKOER Programmes was more conversational than directional. We monitored projects’ progress with the adoption and use of a wide range of technologies, applications and resource description approaches and helped to identify common technical issues. At the end of UKOER we synthesised the technical outputs of the programmes and produced an open ebook called Into the Wild: Technology for open educational resources. Even this book was a result of open practice! The book was the result of booksprint using the open source Booktype platform and an open draft was shared with the community for input and comment.

Working with the UKOER Programmes was a hugely rewarding experience and I think its fair to say that we all learned a lot, not just about open education technology, but also about the culture and practice of sharing. Measuring the impact of short-term innovation funding programmes is notoriously difficult, but looking back now, two years after the end of UKOER, it really does look like the programme made a real difference in raising awareness of OER and embedding open educational practice in the English higher education sector.

Since the end of the UKOER Programmes in 2012 I’ve continued to engage with a wide range of open education developments, including the US Learning Registry initiative, Creative Commons, the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative, Wikimedia UK and the Open Knowledge Foundation.

More recently I’ve been involved with the Open Scotland initiative. Open Scotland is a voluntary cross sector initiative, led by Cetis, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, Jisc Regional Support Centre Scotland and the Association for Learning Technology’s Scotland Special Interest Group. The aim of Open Scotland is to raise awareness of open education, encourage the sharing of open educational resources, and explore the potential of open education policy and practice to benefit all sectors of Scottish education. To further these aims, we have recently launched the draft Scottish Open Education Declaration. This declaration builds on the UNESCO 2012 Paris OER Declaration but the scope has been widened to focus on open education more generally, rather than OER specifically.

http://declaration.openscot.net/

http://declaration.openscot.net/

The cornerstone of the Open Scotland initiative is our belief that open education can promote knowledge transfer while at the same time enhancing quality and sustainability, supporting social inclusion, and creating a culture of inter-institutional collaboration and sharing. I believe that open education can expand access to education, widen participation, create new opportunities for the next generation of teachers and learners and prepare them to become fully engaged digital citizens. I know that these are goals and beliefs that the OKF Open Education Working Group shares and I am privileged to have an opportunity to contribute to this group.

Open Scotland Webinar

Last week Joe Wilson of SQA and I presented a short webinar on the Open Scotland initiative and the Scottish Open Education Declaration.  The webinar, which was hosted by Celeste McLaughlin of Jisc RSC Scotland, generated some interesting discussion and debate around open education in Scotland.  A recording of the webinar is available here, and our slides are embedded below.

The Scottish Open Education Declaration was introduced in the context of other open education developments including the UNESCO / COL Paris OER Declaration, the Open Educational Resources in Europe project, and Welsh HEIs statement of intent to work to open education principals. The Open Scotland initiative welcomes participation from individuals and institutions and we encourage all those with and interest in open education to comment on and endorse the Scottish Open Education Declaration.  Joe encouraged participants to get involved as individuals and also to take the Declaration back to their academic boards to raise awareness of the initiative and to get their institutions to sign up.  At this stage, the main aim of the Declaration is to raise awareness of the potential benefits of open education policy and practice, a valuable next step would be to start gathering exemplars that illustrate each statement of the declaration in action.

Joe and I both highlighted examples of open education practice in Scotland and further afield and participants also suggested other examples of communities sharing educational resources including the Computing at School Scotland initiative which aims to promote the teaching of computer science at school, and the fabulously named Magic Physics Pixies and their Scottish Physics Teaching Resources network.  This discussion prompted Tavis Reddick, of Fife College, to ask:

“Are there any illustrative exemplars of, say, OER, which Open Scotland would recommend to show how sharing and remix could work in practice?”

Although Open Scotland hasn’t got as far as recommending specific resources, the UKOER Programmes produced a wide range of resources including the OER Infokit,  and the ALT Open Education SIG recently gathered a series of case studies for Open Education Week.  The University of Leeds have also produced guidelines on developing and using OER for staff and students which have been adopted and repurposed by Glasgow Caledonian University: Library Guidance on open educational resources.

There is also considerable interest in the potential of Open Badges across the sector. Joe flagged up SQA’s commitment to Open Badges  and Celeste highlighted the work of the Open Badges in Scottish Education Group and Borders College’s use of Open Badges to replace paper based certification for continuing professional development activities.

There was some discussion of the Re:Source repository of open education resources for the Scottish college sector, with questions being asked about how extensively it is currently being used and whether a sustainable funding model could be developed. One suggestion was that, in the longer term, recurrent funding for Re:source could potentially come from the things it might replace, such as teaching materials acquisition budgets. One participant noted that their college did not yet have a policy that allowed them to publish OERs to Re:Source, but added that they hoped their board would take an interest soon.

One very valid question raised towards the end of the webinar was “how will we know if we are getting any better at this?” There are currently no benchmarking guidelines or KPIs for open education in Scotland but it would certainly be very interesting to undertake a landscape study of current open education practice across all sectors of Scottish education.  This would act as a baseline against which we could measure progress, but a survey of this nature would require dedicated funding and resources.    We’re already aware of lots of interesting examples of open education practice in Scotland but I’m sure that are many, many more out there, so if you know of any, or if you’re involved in any open education initiatives at your own institution, please do get in touch!

Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference

Last week I went to the Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference in Paris where I presented two Cetis papers on the Open Scotland initiative and technology challenges from the Jisc / HEA UKOER Programmes. Both papers were well received and there was considerable interest in Open Scotland from colleagues from Norway.  The papers are available to download form Slideshare here:

Technology Challenges from the UKOER Programmes by Phil Barker and Lorna M. Campbell

Open Scotland by Lorna M. Campbell, Phil Barker, Sheila MacNeill and Joe Wilson

EADTU Conference,  Les Cordeliers, Sorbonne

EADTU Conference,
Les Cordeliers, Sorbonne

This is the first time I’ve attuned the EADTU Conference, with its focus on distance education provision in the HE sector, it’s a slightly different community from the one Cetis usually engages with. However there were many well known faces there and it was good to see such a large contingent from the Open University UK present. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to arrive in time to hear the opening keynote presentations however the papers I heard in the parallel sessions were excellent and the closing keynotes on the first day were suitably thought provoking. Inevitably MOOCs were a prevalent theme but I was encouraged that there was still a lot of discussion about other forms of open education practice and open education resources. It was also good to see Li and Stephen’s MOOCs and Open Education Cetis whitepaper quoted by one of the delegates from Lisbon.  Here’s a few of the highlights.

Variable cost minimisation business models in higher education
– Yoram Kalman, Open University of Israel

This excellent talk presented a coherent analysis of the nature and characteristics of business models and exploded many of the myths surrounding the ability, or not, of MOOCs to disrupt HE business models. Yoram’s presentation raised so many relevant issues that I’ll try and write a blog post summarising his main points.

Sketching the user interface of digital textbooks applied to formal learning environments
– Luis Fernandes, Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Unfortunately Luis himself was unable to be present but his paper was ably presented by his colleague Andreia Teles Vieira who demonstrated Luis etexbook implementation based on HTML5, EPub3 and CSS3. The implementation included book marks, annotation, and discussion groups, the ability to share via social media, rearrange and reorganise book content and compare different versions of books. Cetis have recently been discussing the potential of ePub3 and its ability to interoperate with other specification such as QTI, so I hope we can find out more about Luis work.

Do MOOCs announce a new paradigm for higher education?
– John Daniel and Stamenka Uvalic-Trumbic

Daniel suggested that while MOOCs are not a new paradigm for education, they may usher in other new paradigms and are accelerating three trends in HE:

• Shorter courses
• New types of awards such as open badges.
• Accelerate the move to online learning.

In response to these trends universities must develop new policies, execute online courses well and pay attention to quality. Uvalic-Trumbic developed the theme of quality and suggested that new courses and forms of assessment and accreditation need new forms of quality assurance, adding that open badges don’t take quality into account. I’m not sufficiently up to speed with open badges to know if this is actually true, so I’d be interested to hear other’s thoughts on the matter.

While I agreed with some of the points raised by this presentation I strongly disagreed with Sir John Daniel’s assertion that “Most MOOCs are OER with added assessment.” As I see it, most MOOCs have little to do with openness and even less to do with OER!

Foresights on Open Education 2030
– Yves Punie, Institute or Prospective Technological Studies, Seville

Yves presented the outputs of Imagining Open Education 2030 initiative, which called for vision papers covering three sectors; school education, higher education and lifelong learning. The vision papers and outputs of this exercise can be found here: http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/openeducation2030/

The following key tensions were distilled from vision papers and scenarios.

  • At the core of open education 2023 are unbundling, abundance, networking, flexibility and personalised learning
  • Learning services will not necessarily be free, under an open licence and accessible to all.
  • HE institutions will not disappear but need to redefine their role in the open education landscape – existing funding and quality mechanisms are not sustainable.

Yves also highlighted the SURF Policy paper e-InfraNet: ‘Open’ as the default modus operandi for research and higher education which can be downloaded here: http://www.surf.nl/en/publicaties/Pages/e-InfranetOpenreport.aspx

I haven’t had a chance to look at this paper but it does include this diagram illustrating the range of “opens”.

range of open

OpenupEd as a European answer on MOOCs: a student centred approach
– Fred Mulder, OUNL and UNESCO

Fred introduced the EU Opening Up Education initiative, which appears to be gearing up to become a direct competitor to US MOOC providers such as Coursera and Udacity. Opening up education is a subtle change from open education and shows that this is a process; there is no fixed model for education over time, there will always be diversity.
The term open is used widely but is not well defined. OER is one of the few terms that is well defined. The Hewlett Foundation defines OER as:

“OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”

But OER is not open education, there are five components of open education:

Supply side components
1. Open educational resources
2. Open learning services
3. Open teaching efforts
Demand side components
4. Open to learners needs
5. Open to employability and capabilities development

Opening Up Education is a globally linked and decentralised model that will provide a distinctive quality brand with high visibility and marketing potential. Participants will be able to engage with partners’ experience and expertise in developing MOOCs and evaluating and monitoring them from an institutional perspective. In addition partners will also have the opportunity to join cross-national projects with external funding. I also got the impression that there is, or will be an Opening Up Education platform, but that’s something I need to look into in more detail.

Open Scotland Follow Up

Yesterday Sheila and I met with colleagues from the ALT Scotland SIG, Jisc RSC Scotland and Cetis to start taking forward some of the actions we discussed at the Open Scotland Summit in Edinburgh at the end of June. I’d provide a link to my Cetis blog post summarising the event and outlining the deliverables and actions but unfortunately the Cetis blog server is down right now so you’ll have to trust me that I can remember what the actions were :} I’ll post the link as soon as the server gets rebooted. The Cetis blogs have now been restored and you can find the Open Scotland Summit Report and Actions here: http://blogs.cetis.ac.uk/lmc/2013/07/04/open-scotland-report-and-actions/

One of the key actions was to establish a working group, similar to Wales and the Nordic countries, that can stimulate research in the area of open education and hopefully inform future Government initiatives. As several of the delegates who attended the Summit in June expressed an interest in on-going participation, there seems to be a real appetite for taking this forward. In the first instance we’ve agreed to set up an Open Scotland blog to provide the group with an identity and a platform to publish information, articles and commentary on all aspects of openness in education. We’ll also use the blog to link to other related groups, lists and initiatives e.g. the Open Knowledge Foundation, OER-Discuss, the Scottish Open Badges Group, etc. Unfortunately someone is sitting on the openscotland.wordpress.com domain so we’ve had to settle for openscot.wordpress.com. There’s nothing to see there at present, but we hope to have the site up and running by the end of September. Several colleagues have already offered to contribute posts on different aspects of openness and how these relate to education and education policy in Scotland. We also discussed setting up a mailing list to disseminate information but as there was some concern about the proliferation of mailing lists we thought we would try setting up a google group instead.

The second key action from the June summit was to draft a position paper providing evidence of the benefits of openness with examples of how these can impact on Government priorities. As a starting point for this activity we’ve agreed to look at the Scottish Funding Council’s Outcome Agreements for 2013 – 2014 and to highlight areas where different aspect of openness could have a positive impact on the outcome agreement criteria. Once we’ve done a first pass through the Outcome Agreement criteria, we’ll post the resulting draft in a public document that everyone will be welcome to comment on and contribute to. Hopefully this will help us to focus on real tangible benefits of open education policies and practices and demonstrate how these can help to address current strategic priorities and challenges.

Another activity we discussed is to take the 2012 OER Paris Declaration and to start identifying examples of practice, from Scotland and neighbouring countries, that address the ten key points outlined in the Declaration document. I’m also keen to develop some case studies about institutions that have developed open education policies, but that’s an activity that would require rather more resources than we have at our disposal at present.

We also discussed the possibility of future Open Scotland events and hope to be able to build on the success of the June Summit to broaden the debate further. In the short term we have a couple of dissemination opportunities coming up; Joe Wilson of SQA and I will be doing a short presentation on Open Scotland and the work of the ALT Scotland SIG at the Jisc RSC Scotland Joint Forum event on the 31st of October, and earlier in the month we’ll we presenting a paper “Open Scotland – Policies and strategies for opening up education in Scotland” at the Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference in Paris on the 24th- 25th October. (When I say “we” that means that we’re not sure who’ll actually be going along to do the presentation yet!)

If you’re interested in keeping up to date with Open Scotland, keep and eye on the #openscot hashtag and this blog in the interim, or feel free to contact any of those involved.

Phil Barker phil.barker@hw.ac.uk
Lorna M. Campbell lorna.m.campbell@icloud.com
Linda Creanor l.creanor@gcal.ac.uk
Sheila MacNeill sheilamacneill@me.com
Celeste McLaughlin celeste.mclaughlin@glasgow.ac.uk
Joe Wilson joe.wilson@sqa.org.uk