A Good Week for Open Education?

Because I am a true believer in the power of reusable, repurposeable, remixable open content I have repurposed part of this blog post from an e-mail David Kernohan sent to the OER-Discuss mailing list earlier this week titled “A big week for open learning in the UK”.  Cheers David! :)

There’s certainly been an explosion of activity in the open education space this week; in addition to the announcement of the winners of the Reclaim Open Learning Contest, the publication of the BIS Maturing of the MOOC report, and the launch of FutureLearn, all of which David mentioned, this week also saw higher education institutions in Wales announce their support for open education principals, the Open Knowledge Conference, which took place in Geneva, featured a panel on Open Education, and, back in the UK, Jorum relaunched.  Okay Jorum actually relaunched last week but it still good news so lets not be pedantic!

 Welsh HEIs Adopt Open Educational Principals

To my mind this is possibly the most significant and encouraging development of the week.  Times Higher Education reported than the vice chancellors from Wales’ eight universities would be committing to adopt open educational principles to support open education practice and the use of open education resources. The aim of this initiative is to encourage universities to share content, mostly in the form of lecture notes and course materials, which can be reused across the sector and beyond.  The resources will be hosted by individual institutions but a dedicated portal will provide access to these materials and act as “showcase doorway”.   In an e-mail to OER-Discuss, Hayden Blackey, Prifysgol De Cymru,  confirmed that  Higher Education Wales had agreed to a  “common statement of principals which will be available form their website shortly.” You can read the full THE article here: Welsh universities commit to sharing course material online

I’m hugely encouraged by this very positive step taken by the Welsh Higher Education sector, this is exactly the kind of commitment we hoped to encourage through the Open Scotland initiative.  I sincerely hope that Scottish Higher Education is taking note, and will be inspired to follow suit.

Reclaim Open Learning Innovation Contest

Congratulations to DigiLit Leicester and Phonar Ed at Coventry University, who won two of the five prizes awarded at the Reclaim Open Learning Innovation Contest.  The contest, which is sponsored by  MacArthur Foundation, the Digital Media and Learning Hub, and the MIT Media Lab, aims to embrace a model of open learning that focuses on the use of openly licensed reusable content and collaborative modes of peer to peer learning.

The Maturing of the MOOC

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills published their literature review of massive open online courses and other forms of open distance learning: The Maturing of the MOOC by Stephen Haggard.  So far, I have only had time to briefly skim the review, but it looks like it will be a valuable addition to the growing corpus of reports, commentary and data relating to all aspects of MOOCs.  It’s also great to see that the review makes frequent reference to the Cetis whitepaper by Li Yuan and Stephen Powell MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education.

FutureLearn Launch

FutureLearn launched with much fan-fair and equal parts enthusiasm and cynicism from the ed tech community.  I’m not going to say too much about the launch as so many blog posts and reports have already covered that ground. On balance the first courses look rather interesting, though I am curious to see how they will distinguish themselves from other MOOC offerings.  I still find it rather disquieting that the whole FutureLearn brand seems to be predicated on exclusivity, which rather calls into question their commitment to openness.  Of course this is a criticism that can be levelled at other MOOC providers, but it does rather beg the question,  can you be open and exclusive?  I really don’t know the answer to that.

David’s e-mail to OER-Discuss kicked off a very interesting discussion on FutureLearn’s decision to include the following prohibition in their Code of Conduct :

“As the FutureLearn community’s first language is English, I will always post contributions in English to enable all to understand, unless specifically requested to do otherwise.”

Kate Bowles has written a thoughtful blogpost about this issue here: For all to understand, and you can follow the OER-Discuss conversation here.

New Jorum Launches

I’ve been involved with Jorum since it was just a glimmer of a proposal in the project team’s eye so it’s great to see that the service has come this far, and is continuing to go from strength to strength.  Jorum relaunched at the beginning of the month with a new look and a host of new features that will make it easier for users to search for and select resources.  In addition, new reporting features have been added to provide access to resource usage data that can be viewed and exported in a range of formats. And last, but by no means least, the long awaited Jorum REST API, which will provide direct access to content usage data and metadata,  will be released in October.

Open Knowledge Foundation Conference

I wasn’t able to attend the OKFN Conference in Geneva, but I followed as much of the live stream as I could online.  I was very pleased to see that one of the topics covered by the conference this year was Open Education.  Doug Belshaw facilitated a panel that included Jackie Carter of Mimas and Mathieu d’Aquin of the Open University, which looked at facets of open education – resources, data and culture.

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