Welsh Government Report on Open and Online

(Cross posted from Open Scotland blog)

Last week the Welsh Government’s Online Digital Learning Working Group published their report  Open and Online: Wales, higher education and emerging modes of learning. The group was established in February 2013 by Leighton Andrews AM, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Education and Skills at the time,

“to examine the potential for online digital learning and how the Welsh Government can support the higher education sector in this growing field.”

Wales O&OPaul Richardson of Jisc RSC Wales acted as professional advisor to the group and undertook the consultation exercise.  The report includes an invaluable background paper produced by Paul on Open and online resources: implications for practice in higher education institutions in Wales, which provides an invaluable overview of recent open education developments including OER and MOOCs, and quotes from a number of Cetis blogs and publications.  Although Paul’s paper focuses on the implications of open education for Welsh HEIs I can also highly recommend is as an excellent general summary of recent developments open education policy, practice and technology.

The report itself includes the following of seven recommendations addressed to the Minister for Education and Skills and higher education institutions.

To the Minister for Education and Skills

1. Widening access to higher education to those with low participation backgrounds.

Fund the development of O&O resources for use in schools and colleges, with the aim of raising aspirations of learners from low participation backgrounds. This scheme should be co-ordinated through collaboration between HEIs and schools and colleges in their region, via existing Reaching Wider Partnership networks.

Investigate the use of Hwb as a host for the O&O resources developed, with the intention of establishing a central repository where all schools and colleges may access these resources.

Extend the work of the Open University OpenLearn Champions project to cover the whole of Wales via the Reaching Wider Partnerships.

Liaise with NIACE Dysgu Cymru, Agored Cymru, and others to align O&O resource production with the needs of adult learners pursuing agreed progression routes, including CQFW.

2. Developing skills for the workplace and the Welsh economy

Develop a strategy, working with other agencies, to raise awareness of the potential for online learning to support economic development.

Use the Welsh Government’s sector panels to foster dialogue between stakeholders (including educational providers and employers) in order to identify opportunities to develop skills using online resources.

Examine how online learning should be integrated into the approach for programmes funded through the European Social Fund.

3.  Developing Welsh language skills for employment

Develop a Welsh language skills MOOC at higher education level so that students and work-based learners can develop their professional Welsh language skills and potentially seek certification for those skills.

To the higher education institutions

4. Reviewing institutional policies, monitoring developments and exploiting opportunities

Agree what the institution’s overall approach to open and online resources should be, monitor external O&O developments, and exploit opportunities to produce and use resources.

5.  Strengthening institutional reputation and brand

Exploit open and online resources in appropriate circumstances to showcase the quality of learning opportunities.

To the Minister and the higher education institutions

6.  Improving the skills of higher education staff

Institutions should provide academic staff with the skills and support they need to make most effective use of open and online approaches to learning.

HEFCW should continue to contribute to the costs of Jisc’s programme on open and online resources and take advantage of Jisc’s expertise.

HEFCW and the Higher Education Academy should take a lead on this agenda.

7. Licensing and sharing open educational resources

The Welsh Government should encourage the systematic adoption of open licensing for open educational resources produced by HEIs in Wales

Where possible staff and institutions should release open educational resources using an appropriate Creative Commons licence

Institutions should make open educational resources widely available, including via the Jorum repository.

Taken together with Welsh HEIs recent statement of intent to work towards the principals of open education, the publication of this report represents another important step forward for open education in Wales and provides inspiration for Open Scotland to continue raising awareness of open education policy and practice at senior management and government level.

The Open and Online report can be downloaded here and Andrew Green, chair of the Online Digital Resources Working Group has written an introductory blog post here MOOCs and other animals: ‘open & online’ report published

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!

Upper Clyde Shipyards: Scottish Industrial Heritage and Maritime Identity

govan_1_smallA couple of weeks ago the fabulous Port Towns and Urban Cultures folk posted an article I wrote on the history of the Upper Clyde Shipyards and the Scottish media’s reaction to announcements of the threatened closure of the Govan yard at the end of last year.  If you’re interested, you can read the post here:

Upper Clyde Shipyards: Scottish Industrial Heritage and Maritime Identity

And while you’e over there, I can highly recommend having a browse around the Port Towns and Urban Cultures site as they post a wide range of fascinating articles. One of my recent favourites is Daniel Swan’s “It’s because we’re just women.” Listening to women in port town industries

What I Know Is

“We are all publishers now, publishing has never been so ubiquitous”
- Padmini Ray Murray

Earlier this week I was speaking at What I Know Is an interdisciplinary research symposium on online collaborative knowledge building organised by the University of Stirling’s Division of Communications, Media and Culture, together with Wikimedia UK.  It was a completely fascinating and eclectic event that covered everything from new models of academic publishing, issues of trust and authorship, non-hierarchical networks of knowledge, extended cognition, collaborative art and the semantics of open.

ally_crockford

Allly Crockford

Trust was a recurring theme that ran through the event. Symposium chair Greg Singh touched on fundamental issues of digital literacy and trust in his opening talk and Ally Crockford, the National Library of Scotland’s Wikimeian in residence, explored these themes in a talk about tensions and anxieties that persist around Wikipedia and collaborative authoring.  Issues of trust persist around Wikipedia partially due to unfinished nature of many entries, however Ally argued that the evolving nature of Wikipedia is one of its strengths, you can see the history of everything written there.  More fundamentally, Ally argued that Wikipedia democratises knowledge and teaches the value of thinking critically.  Wikipedia is no longer a resource, it has become a structure for open access knowledge.  Ally also picked up on continued anxiety and distrust of open access policies that lingers in academia, and in the humanities in particular, a sentiment that was echoed by many in the room.

Padmini Ray Murray, University of Stirling, picked up on the theme of open access and explored new models of academic publishing including Knowledge Unlatched  and the Palgrave Pivot initiative, a novella approach to academic publishing.  However she also acknowledged that there is a real danger of an academic divide developing around open access as many authors in developing countries can not afford article processing charges. Padmini also challenged us all to contribute more to Wikipedia, arguing that it’s our responsibility as digital citizens. Contributing to Wikipedia can challenge the unassailable voice of the academic, and that is no bad thing.

cognition online

Cognition Online

The second session of the symposium focused on extending cognition and agency and we had two proper philosophy presentations from real live philosophers Mike Wheeler and Zoe Drayson.  Mike introduced the concept of cognitive niche construction; the process of building environmental structures to enable cognition.  Humans excel at creating environments that help us to think more effectively and constructively.  We embedded cognition by out sourcing tasks outside our thinking brain.  Extended cognition suggests that thinking is not bounded by the brain, it is spatially distributed across brain, body and world. Technology can be viewed as an extension of adaptive memory.  In the “Google age” the organic brain will now stores the access mechanisms of how to use technology to find information, rather than information itself.  Real-time crowd sourcing, as on Twitter or Wikipedia, means that ownership of information is challenged.  Mike suggested that one reason people are reluctant to contribute to Wikipedia is that the relation of the information you submit is unstably related to you.

Zoe expanded on the theme of knowledge and its relation to truth and belief.

Knowledge is true belief (+ something extra) = a combination of what a person believes + true information about the world

Zoe explored whether wikis challenge the standard account of knowledge because they are collaborative and online, and argued that neither the online nor the collaborative aspect of wikis conflict with the idea that information can constitute knowledge.

The third symposium session explored collaborative community initiatives.  Penny Travlou focused on networked communities, creativity and spatiality.  She talked about how collaborative art practices have been inspired by the open source computing community and introduced the Furtherfield initiative, a nurturing space where people work in non-hierarchical, network communities.

I spoke about Open Scotland as a collaborative online initiative to raise awareness of the potential benefits of open education practice within Scottish education.  I’ve given variations of this presentation several times recently and it’s always interesting to see how aware, or not, people are of open education.  In this case only two or three people in an audience of around forty had come across the UKOER Programme and Open Badges, were a similarly alien concept.  However, there was a huge amount of interest in the potential of open education and an interesting discussion after my talk about how both academics and students could explore and embed more openness in their own practice.

Greg Singh and Toni Sant

Greg Singh and Toni Sant

The day rounded off with a wide-ranging conversation between Toni Sant and Greg Singh.  Toni explored the idea of knowledge construction as bricolage, an every day process of putting things together from other things we find lying around.  (This rather made me think of the Wombles, but it was getting rather late in the day by that point!)  Toni also gave us a lightning tour of the full range of Wikimedia activities and introduced their education and outreach programmes.  The symposium was drawn to a suitably rousing conclusion with Toni challenging us to

“Be open, collaborative, flexible, global.  Don’t be afraid of the future. We can create it together. Be bold…just do it”

Speakers

  • Lorna Campbell (Cetis/ Open Scotland/ Open Knowledge Foundation)
  • Dr Zoe Drayson  (University of Stirling)
  • Dr Padmini Ray Murray  (University of Stirling)
  • Dr Toni Sant  (University of Hull / Wikimedia UK Academic Liaison)
  • Dr Greg Singh (University of Stirling, Symposium Chair)
  • Dr Penny Travlou (University of Edinburgh)
  • Professor Mike Wheeler  (University of Stirling)
  • Dr Ally Crockford (University of Edinburgh / National Library of Scotland Wikimedian in Residence)

Storify

My Cetis’ colleague Brian Kelly has collated a Storify of tweets from the symposium here.

Open Scotland at Jisc DigiFest

 - this time with festival pic!

I missed a trick at Jisc DigiFest yesterday.  All the other presenters at David Kernohan’s splendid “Whatever happened to the MOOC?” session kicked off with a festival anecdote. David and Viv Rolfe, even had pictures of themselves playing at festivals! How cool is that?! I, however, launched straight into open education policy and practice :} Afterwards, James Clay rightly complained about my lack of festival-going anecdote.  So here, as promised and by way of recompense, is a picture of me at Glastonbury in 1992. And once you’ve all stopped laughing, there’s a copy of my presentation below.

Glastonbury 1992

Glastonbury 1992

Open Scotland

“We’ve heard about some really inspiring open education developments, many of which have their roots in the UKOER programmes. We know that it’s notoriously difficult to measure the impact of short term innovation funding, but two years after the end of UKOER, it’s interesting to look back and see that the programme does seem to have had a hugely positive impact right across English higher education. One of the aims of UKOER was to embed open education practice across the sector and it’s actually starting to look as if has done just that.

The situation is rather different north of the border.  Scottish institutions were not eligible to participate in the UKOER and, arguably, this has resulted in lower awareness of the potential benefits of open education, and open education practice is less well embedded across the sector.

Although there have been no comparable large scale funding initiatives, we have seen a number of innovative open education developments within Scottish education, particularly in the area of open badges and MOOCs, and groups like the Open Knowledge Foundation and Wikimedia UK have also made real efforts to engage with the education community.

In an attempt to join up these initiatives and disseminate open education practice more widely, Cetis, SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and ALT Scotland, launched Open Scotland, a voluntary cross sector initiative that aims to raise awareness of open education, encourage the sharing of OER, and promote the development of open policy and practice.

Open Scotland partially takes its inspiration from Nordic OER “a network of stakeholders to support uptake, adoption and collaboration around OER in the Nordic countries” and we’ve also been inspired by Higher Education institutions in Wales who came together to agree a statement of intent to adopt open educational principles.  We see this statement as a positive development and are interested to see what impact it will have in practice.

Open Scotland has undertaken a number of awareness raising activities including the Open Scotland Summit, which brought together senior managers, policy makers and key thinkers to explore the development of open education policy and practice in Scotland. The Open Scotland blog was launched to disseminate news relating to all aspects of openness in education and to act as a focal point for discussion and debate.  We have also just this week released the first draft of a Scottish Open Education Declaration.  This is based on the UNESCO Paris OER Declaration, but extends its scope to focus on open education in general, rather than OER in particular. We invite all those with an interest in open education to contribute to shaping this draft declaration so we can reach a consensus on open education principles that will benefit all sectors of Scottish education.

There have also been some significant developments at Government level.  In a speech earlier this year, the Cabinet Secretary for Education outlined the Scottish Government’s vision of higher education and acknowledged the potential of MOOCs to form new pathways to learning, to widen participation and promote a culture of collaborative development and reuse. While it is hugely encouraging that the Scottish Government has started to acknowledge the potential of open education, there is some concern that the scope of this vision is insufficiently broad and may fail to encompass the wider benefits of open education to the Scottish sector as a whole. We all know that MOOCs are just one component of the wider open education landscape.

Open education policies and practice have the potential to benefit teachers and learners right across the sector, in schools, colleges and universities, in formal and informal learning scenarios, and to support life long learning right across the board. Open Scotland will continue engaging with these communities to highlight the benefits of all aspects of open education, to encourage the development of open education policy for Scotland.”

The Scottish Open Education Declaration

oew-blog-posts-introThe third annual Open Education Week takes place from 10-15 March 2014. The purpose of Open Education Week is  “to raise awareness about the movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide“.

Cetis staff are supporting Open Education Week by publishing a series of blog posts about open education activities. The Cetis blog will provide access to the posts which will describe Cetis activities concerned with a range of open education activities.

A little history….

The origins of the Open Scotland Initiative can be traced back to the OER12 Conference in Cambridge where Sir John Daniel, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth of Learning, presented a keynote about the COL /  UNESCO Open Educational Resource Survey and the Paris OER DeclarationJoe Wilson of SQA and I were both in the audience that day, and when Sir John mentioned that the survey had been sent out to all Commonwealth Governments, OECD Commonwealth countries and UNESCO Member States, we couldn’t help wondering if a copy had ever reached the Scottish Government.  As far as we were able the ascertain, this widely disseminated questionnaire never found its way north of the border to Edinburgh, so here was no Scottish response.

At the same time, the third and final year of the HEFCE funded UKOER programme was drawing to a close.  Although Scottish institutions were able to benefit from the resources released by UKOER projects, they had not been eligible to bid for funding and participate in the programme itself.  Arguably this resulted in lower awareness of the potential benefits of open education across the sector, and open education practice was less well embedded within institutions.

 Open Scotland

These were just two of the drivers that encouraged Cetis, SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG to come together to form Open Scotland.  Open Scotland is a voluntary 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. In June 2013 the group hosted the Open Scotland Summit, which brought together senior managers, policy makers and key thinkers to explore the development of open education policy and practice in Scotland.

Scottish Open Education Declaration

http://declaration.openscot.net/

During the summit, participants explored the potential of developing an Open Declaration for Scotland based on the UNESCO Paris OER Declaration.  There was general agreement that the Paris Declaration was a “good thing” however many colleagues felt it was too focused on OER and that a Scottish declaration should encompass open education more widely.  The result is the Scottish Open Education Declaration, a draft statement adapted from the Paris OER Declaration.  In order to coincide with Open Education Week, the first draft of the Scottish Open Education Declaration has been shared online using the CommentPress application to enable all members of the community to add comments and feedback.  We invite all those with an interest in open education in Scotland to comment on and contribute to this draft and to encourage their colleagues to join the debate.