As part of its on going commitment to open education, the University of Edinburgh has recently approved a new Open Educational Resources Policy, that encourages staff and students to use, create and publish OERs to enhance the quality of the student experience. The University is committed to supporting open and sustainable learning and teaching practices by encouraging engagement with OER within the curriculum, and supporting the development of digital literacies for both staff and students in their use of OERs.
The policy, together with supporting guidance from Open.Ed, intends to help colleagues in making informed decisions about the creation and use of open educational resources in support of the University’s OER vision. This vision builds on the history of the Edinburgh Settlement, the University’s excellence in teaching and learning, it’s unique research collections, and its civic mission.
The policy is based on University of Leeds OER Policy, which has already been adopted by the University of Greenwich and Glasgow Caledonian University. It’s interesting to note how this policy has been adapted by each institution that adopts it. The original policy describes open educational resources as
“…digitised teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released by the copyright owner under an intellectual property licence (e.g. Creative Commons) that permits their use or re-purposing (re-use, revision, remixing, redistribution) by others.”
However Edinburgh has adapted this description to move towards a more active and inclusive definition of OER
“digital resources that are used in the context of teaching and learning (e.g. course material, images, video, multimedia resources, assessment items, etc.), which have been released by the copyright holder under an open licence (e.g. Creative Commons) permitting their use or re-purposing (re-use, revision, remixing, redistribution) by others.”
This definition aims to encompass the widest possible range of resources that can be used in teaching and learning, not just resources that are developed specifically for that purpose. This description acknowledges that it is often the context of use that makes a thing useful for teaching and learning, rather than some inherent property of the resource itself.
Although open licensing is central to the University’s OER vision, this is much more than a resource management policy. In order to place open education at the heart of learning and teaching strategy, the University’s OER Policy has been approved by the Senate Learning and Teaching Committee. The policy is intended to be clear and concise and to encourage participation by all. By adopting this policy, the University is demonstrating its commitment to all staff and students who wish to use and create OERs in their learning and teaching activities, and who wish to disseminate the knowledge created and curated within the University to the wider community.
Towards the end of last year I was interviewed by the OEPS Project as part of their series of case studies on open education practice in Scotland. During the interview I spoke about the Open Scotland initiative, the Scottish Open Education Declaration, OER16, open education initiatives at the University of Edinburgh and the continued need to raise awareness of open education within the Scottish Government and at senior management level. Here’s a little quote from the interview:
“…there has been a danger in some quarters to expect OER alone to transform education … some people have expected that simply resources to be transformative… that’s not the case. OER is simply content with an open license, that’s all it is. And that alone will not transform education, as part of the wider open education landscape, I think it will, and I feel very, very strongly that there are moral reasons, there are ethical reasons, why publicly funded educational content should be available under an open license. And I think particularly in a country like Scotland, which has a very strong tradition of education, that I kind of find it odd that open education has never quite slotted in at the government vision level.”
Tomorrow I’ll be taking part in the first ALT-C ‘Community Call’ where I’ll be in conversation with ALT’s Chief Innovation, Community and Technology Officer, Martin Hawksey. Among other things, I’ll be talking about my role in open education technology, policy and practice advocacy, my involvement with ALT, and my work with EDINA and LTW at the University of Edinburgh. I’ll also be giving an update on OER16 and outlining the conference themes.
The Community Call is free to join and will be hosted as a Google Hangout On Air at 12.30 PM. You can watch the call from the Google+ page, YouTube Channel or embedded on the ALT website, and you’ll be able to ask questions during the call from the Google+ page or via Twitter by using the tag #altc. I hope you’ll come along and join us!
ETA: In case you missed it, here’s the video of the event. If I look rather bemused and there’s a delay in me answering Martin’s questions it’s because I was hearing everything repeated with a 2 second delay!
Last week Catherine Cronin brought Alice Marwick’s review of Nathaniel Tkacz’s Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness, to my attention and it’s left me with a lot of food for thought. I haven’t had a chance to read Tkacz’s book yet but there are a couple points that I’d like to pick up on from the review, and one in particular that relates to the post I wrote recently on Jisc’s announcement that it intended to “retire” Jorum and replace it with a new “App and Content store” : Retire and Refresh: Jisc, Jorum and Open Education.
I tend to shy away from socio-political discussions about the nature of openness as I find that they often become very circular, and very contentious, very quickly. I do agree with Tkacz and Marwick that openness is inherently political but I certainly don’t believe that openness is intrinsically neoliberal. To my mind this analysis betrays a rather US centric view of the open world and fails to take into consideration many other global expressions of openness.
If I’m interpreting Marwick correctly, Tkacz also seems to be arguing that openness must necessarily be non-hierarchical, which is an interesting perspective but not one that I wholly buy into. While I think we need to be aware of the dangers of replicating existing hierarchical power structures in open environments, I think it’s somewhat idealistic to expect open initiatives to flourish without any power structures at all. So yes, there are hierarchical power structures inherent in Wikipedia, but I think there are many more egregious examples of openwashing out there.
“The PC revolution was launched with PCs that invited innovation by others. So too with the Internet. Both were generative: they were designed to accept any contribution that followed a basic set of rules (either coded for a particular operating system, or respecting the protocols of the Internet). Both overwhelmed their respective proprietary, non-generative competitors, such as the makers of stand-alone word processors and proprietary online services like CompuServe and AOL. But the future unfolding right now is very different from this past. The future is not one of generative PCs attached to a generative network. It is instead one of sterile appliances tethered to a network of control.”
Marwick elaborates on the this generative – tethered dichotomy and situates it in our current technology context.
“Those in the former (generative) group allow under-the-hood tinkering, or simply messing with code, are championed by the maker movement, and run on free and open-source software. Tethered devices, on the other hand, are governed by app stores and regulated by mobile carriers: this is the iPhone model….The most successful apps of today, from Uber to Airbnb to Snapchat, are participatory and open only in the sense that anyone is free to use them and generate revenue for their owners.
Most of these apps use proprietary formats, don’t play well with others, make it difficult for users to port their content from one to another, and are resolutely closed-source.”
Now, I’m not sufficiently familiar with Zittrain’s work to know if his thinking is still considered to be current and relevant, but his warnings about a future of closed technologies tethered to a network of control, rather amplified the alarm bells that have been ringing in my head since Jisc announced the creation of their App and Content store. As I mentioned in my previous post, the idea of an App Store sits very uneasily with my conception of open education. Also I can’t help wondering what role, if any, open standards will play in the development of the new app store to prevent lock-in to proprietary applications and formats.
Zittrain suggested that developing community ethos is one way to “stop the future” and counter technology lockdown.
“A lockdown on PCs and a corresponding rise of tethered appliances will eliminate what today we take for granted: a world where mainstream technology can be influenced, even revolutionized, out of left field. Stopping this future depends on some wisely developed and implemented locks, along with new technologies and a community ethos that secures the keys to those locks among groups with shared norms and a sense of public purpose, rather than in the hands of a single gatekeeping entity, whether public or private.”
I absolutely agree that when it comes to the development of education content and technologies we need a community ethos with shared norms and a sense of public purpose, but to my mind it’s increased openness, rather than more locks and keys that will provide this safeguard. In the past Jisc played an important public role by fostering communities of practice, supporting the development of innovative open technologies and sharing common practice and I sincerely hope that, rather than becoming a single gatekeeper to the community’s education content and applications, it will continue to maintain this invaluable sense of public purpose.
Doesn’t time fly? It’s almost a fortnight since I joined colleagues at what has now become an annual event in the Scottish education technology calendar; the ALT Scotland one day conference. One of the things I really like about this event is that it consistently brings together colleagues from all sectors of Scottish education to discuss issues relating to open education technology, policy and practice. The theme of this year’s event was Sharing Digital Practice and Policy in Scottish Education, and it was highly appropriate that it was hosted by Glasgow Caledonian University as they have just approved their new institutional OER policy.
Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to put together a storify or write a full summary of the event, however thanks to Martin Hawksey’s fine audio visual skills you can view the entire livestream of the event on the ALT YouTube channel here: AM / PM. I do want to pick up on one of the themes that emerged from several presentations though and that is the problem of blocked pipelines and infinite loops.
Infinite Loop II by Faruk Ateş, CC BY-NC 2.0
Marion Kelt, Senior Librarian: Digital Development and Information Literacy at GCU, was the first to raise this issue in her talk about the lengthy process of getting GCU’s Open Educational Resources policy approved by the university. At one stage this involved being referred to an institutional IPR policy that she eventually discovered did not actually exist! This is just one example the kind of infinite loop it’s very easy to get drawn into when trying to introduce new policy. Often it’s unclear which management structures within the institution have the authority to ratify new policy, particularly if that policy has evolved from the ground up. The danger is that draft documents get endlessly stuck in limbo, waiting for approval that never comes. Thankfully Marion is nothing if not persistent and after going round these loops several times she was eventually successful in getting the policy approved. GCU’s Open Educational Resources Policy, which is based on the University of Leeds‘ OER policy, can be accessed here.
Joe Wilson, of the College Development Network, highlighted a similar infinite loop. When he was appointed as Chief Executive of CDN earlier this year, Joe made it his number one priority to encourage the FE sector to sign up to the principles of the Scottish Open Eduction Declaration, an initiative he has been involved with since its inception in 2013. Joe began by taking the relevant papers to the Committee of Regional Chairs, which is composed primarily of deputy principals of colleges. They were broadly supportive but advised taking the Declaration to the Principals’ Forum. The Principals’ Forum were also very interested and keen to do something, but they in turn suggested that it was the Government’s responsibility to take a stance on open education. Suffice to say, while there appears to be some interest in adopting open education principals and practice in the FE sector, there are still a lot of blockages in the pipeline. As Joe said “we’re still at the stage of I’m not going to show you mine unless you show me yours”. However I’m quite sure that if anyone has the vision and determination to clear these blockages, it’s Joe.
Infinite Loop by Dave Walker, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Which brings me on to my own infinite loop…Earlier this year the ALT Scotland SIG Committee brought the Scottish Open Education Declaration to the attention of Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning. We were pleased to receive the following positive and encouraging response from the Higher Education and Learner Support Division.
“The Open Education Declaration and its aim at implementing wider and more equitable access to education and to lead the way in Europe is a noble initiative with potential to enhance diversity as well as many of our key aims, including widening access to education through free access to high quality education and to redraw traditional boundaries between informal and formal learning.”
“SFC also funds Jisc which supports the development and use of Open Educational Resources through platforms, repositories, and projects.”
However Jisc’s recent announcement that it will be closing Jorum, the UK OER repository for higher and further education and the skills sector, and “refreshing” their approach to open educational resources, does rather beg question who, if anyone, is supporting open education in Scotland?
I have no immediate answers as to how we break out of these infinite loops and clear the blockages in policy pipelines. Sometimes it’s a case of identifying exactly where the blockage lies, sometimes it’s more to do with identifying that one person who has both the vision, the authority and the determination to make a stand and take the decision to move things forwards.
There is one blockage I have been able to clear however. During the meeting several colleagues asked how much longer the Scottish Open Education Declaration would be available only as a draft. They explained that the Declaration’s draft status was preventing them from using the document to promote open education within their own institutions as the draft status meant that senior managers were unwilling to give it serious consideration. As there have been no further comments on the Declaration since draft 0.2 was published towards the end of last year, the status of the document has now been updated from draft 0.2 to edition 1.0. Hopefully I’ll be publishing a short post on this update over at the Open Scotland blog shortly.
Yesterday 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
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.
A couple of weeks ago, along with many of my colleagues, my post with Cetis at the University of Bolton came to an end following an institutional review. I’ve been working for Cetis in one capacity or another for fourteen years (!), since Charles Duncan and I kicked off the CETIS Educational Content SIG way back in 2001. It’s been an eventful journey to say the least, and I’ve had the pleasure of working with some amazing people along the way.
So what’s next on the cards? Well, I’m delighted to say that I’ve added a new string to my bow; at the beginning of March I took up a new part-time post as Digital Education Manager with EDINA at the University of Edinburgh. I’m very lucky to be job-sharing with Nicola Osborne, who was formerly EDINA’s Social Media Officer and whose work I’ve admired for a long time. Digital Education Manager is a new post at EDINA and I know that Nicola and I are both looking forward to developing new opportunities with colleagues within the university and further afield.
As I’m currently working with EDINA two days a week, I’m also available for projects and consultancy work and am looking forward to working in partnership with former Cetis colleagues and others. In particular, I’m looking out for opportunities that will allow me to remain active in the open education space, so if I can be of any assistance, please do let me know!
It’s rather late in the day to be posting an OER15 blog post, but better late than never hopefully! :} As ever it was a hugely enjoyable and inspiring conference, and as is often the case, Marieke Guy of Open Knowledge beat me to it and wrote a great summary of the conference in her blog post OER15: Window Boxes, Battles and Bandwagons. I’m not going to try and duplicate Marieke’s fab write up but I do want to pick out a few of the highlights of the conference.
Taking OER Mainstream – Cable Green
The keynotes were excellent as always. Cable Green was in typically unequivocal form in his opening talk Taking OER Mainstream. He reminded us that in order to be considered as OER, content must be free and you must have legal rights to reuse, revise, remix, redistribute and retain it. And lest there be any ambiguity around Creative Commons licences, Cable stated that resources licensed with the No Derivatives clause are not OER.
Cable Green, CC BY 4.0
Cable also touched briefly on open washing, which Audrey Watters has defined as
“having the appearance of open source and open licensing for marketing purposes while continuing proprietary practices.”
And he called Udacity out for openwasing with their Open Education Alliance, which despite the name, does not appear to be open in any sense of the word.
Cable went on to suggest that locking content behind paywalls, and restrictive licences creates “artificial scarcity in a world of abundance” and argued that it
“borders on immoral and unethical behaviour the way we spend public funds today on education. All publicly funded resources should be openly licensed by default.”
However OER is not just about saving money it’s about increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of public funding and ultimately, creating a more educated citizenry to work peaceably towards solving grand challenges. Cable concluded by inviting comment and feedback on the draft OER Implementation Plan, which is aiming to identify the top strategic priorities for OER. You can comment directly on the document or on twitter using the hashtag #oerplan
Open Education and the Broader Policy Environment – Open Policy Network
I was delighted to be able to join a panel session with Cable immediately after his keynote, alongside fellow Open Policy Network colleagues Nicole Allen of SPARC and Alek Tarkowski of Centrum Cyfrowe Poland, discussing open education and the broader policy environment. Picking up on the themes he’d introduced in his keynote, Cable highlighted the importance of providing support to move from policy to implementation, Alek highlighted the work of the Polish open e-textbooks program and Nicole discussed what we can learn from the success of Open Access advocacy. I particularly liked Nicole’s point that while policy plays an important role in promoting open education, it is not hugely effective in engaging students in OER; the involvement of the library can be much more important here.
Nicole Allen, Lorna M Campbell, Cable Green, Alek Tarkowski. Picture by Simon Horrocks.
I presented a short case study on crowdsourcing policy from the ground up, based on our experiences of developing the Scottish Open Education Declaration. While this can be a good way to engage communities in policy development; acting on policies that are not supported by funding is challenging and pushing community policy up to government level can be difficult. However I was inspired by Alek’s comment that in Poland, they had been working on open education policy for many years before the government sat up and took notice, but when they finally did, all the groundwork had already been laid.
Kevin Mears, CC BY 4.0
The immensely talented Kevin Mears drew this clever sketch note of our session, but I should clarify that I didn’t quite say “the time for declarations has passed”. That was a direct quote from Cable’s keynote and he was actually suggesting that we now need to move beyond declarations of intent to active implementation. This is something I absolutely agree with, declarations are a useful tool to help raise awareness of the value of open education but they are simply one step along the way and ultimately the role of policy has to be to inform and transform practice.
Open Education in Scotland
In terms of the Scottish Open Education Declaration, there would be huge value in evidencing the points of the declaration with examples of practice from across the sector, and judging by the number of colleagues who presented from Scottish institutions, there is certainly plenty of practice going on. I’m hoping to (eventually!) blog an overview of Scottish colleagues’ contribution to the conference over at Open Scotland, along with my slides from, Common Ground, a short paper I presented on open education initiatives across all sectors of Scottish education.
Picture by Catherine Cronin
The Spaces of Open Educational Experience – Brian Lamb
This was the first time I’d heard Brian Lamb talk and he was every bit as engaging and thought provoking as you might expect. Brian suggested that when it comes to embracing the open web scalability, sustainability and institutional wide impact are still an issue. One solution to this problem is that we need to build “training wheels for the open web” to help colleagues who struggle. Two initiatives that do just that are Domain of One’s Own, which provides web space to encourage colleagues at University Mary Washington to explore the creation and development of their own digital identities, and the fabulously named SPLOT! which aims to make it easy to post activity to the open web without creating accounts, or providing personal information. One important point I learned from Brian’s presentation is that all cool developments happen over drinks 🙂 Oh and he also highlighted the excellent development work of Pat Lockley which gets him extra points in my book.
OER on Mainstreet – Josie Fraser
The theme of this years conference was Mainstreaming Open Education, and while I think we all agree that we do want to see open education as an integral component of mainstream education I confess to being slightly uneasy that we run the risk of neglecting the experience of many colleagues for whom open education practice is increasingly being pushed to the margins as a result of budget cuts, redundancy and the casualisation of teaching contracts.
Josie Fraser touched on these themes in her brilliant keynote about Leicester City Council‘s policy giving permission to school staff to openly licence the educational resources they create in the course of their work. Josie acknowledged that the mainstream can be a very normative and exclusionary place, synonymous with privilege, and tokenising rather than embracing, however it can also recognise diversity and value difference. Digital literacy is key to engaging people so they can critically challenge their online environments.
What really inspires me about Josie’s work with Leicester City Council, it that it provides an excellent example of how open education policy really can support transformative practice. If you haven’t already listened to Josie’s keynote, I can highly recommend it. It’s worth an hour of anyone’s time. Unless you’re a dolphin lover.
At the end of each OER conference it’s traditional for the organisers to pass the baton to the new co-chairs and this year I’m delighted to say that the baton passed to Melissa Highton and I. We’re honoured to announce that, for the first time ever, OER16 will take place in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh in April 2016 so watch this space!
The event began with an update from the OEPS Project team outlining their progress in supporting a network of open education practitioners, developing a Scottish open education hub, collating case studies and supporting the development of new content and practice. There was considerable discussion as to the role of the hub, which has been revised following discussions at the first OEPS forum. Although the hub will facilitate aggregated OER search, it will focus more on being a community hub for open education practice. For a comprehensive update on OEPS progress, the project recently published their first report here: First OEPS Project Report.
An international perspective on opening educational practices – Laura Czerniewicz
Undoubtedly the highlight of the morning, was Laura Czerniewicz remote presentation from Cape Town on international perspectives on opening educational practices. Laura spoke about how openness and the internet have reconfigured the post traditional education landscape and presented a series of case studies from South Africa. Laura went on to suggest that open education exists in an extremely contested and complex environment. In Africa there has been some scepticism about open education as it is seen as an extension of the commodification of knowledge, however Africa has a strong narrative culture of sharing which can be harnessed to encourage the sharing of open education resources and practice (Jane-Frances Agabu, National Open University of Nigeria). One of the most interesting and challenging points Laura raised in her presentation centred on the legitimacy of piracy as a means of sharing educational content in the face of rising text books costs.
“Is it unethical to want to be educated or is it unethical to charge so much for books? To have to pay that amount when you can’t afford it?”
A valid question indeed.
Towards the end of her talk Laura also discussed the potentially valuable role of open education policy, although she also cautioned:
“Policy is great, but policy without budget can be problematic.”
This is certainly a point I would agree with. In order to make an impact, policy ideally needs to be backed up by adequate resources and funding, however this also begs the question of how to support unfunded policies that emerge from the community such as the Scottish Open Education Declaration.
The Scottish Open Education Declaration – the way forward
In the afternoon I presented two workshops on future directions for the Scottish Open Education Declaration. The second draft of the Declaration was published by Open Scotland in December 2014, after receiving a small amount of very welcome funding from the OEPS Project. Shortly afterwards, the ALT Scotland SIG forwarded the declaration to Angela Constance, the new Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning. Although Open Scotland has not been in a position to actively promote and disseminate the declaration recently, primarily due to lack of funding, it was evident from participants at the workshops that there still seems to be real appetite across all sectors of Scottish education to continue taking the Declaration forward. Several participants said that they had found the declaration useful for raising awareness of open education within their own institution and for triggering discussions about open education at policy level. The Scottish Funding Council also appear to see some merit in the Declaration and during discussions with workshop participants and members of both Open Scotland and the OEPS Project, we were able to identify several steps to take the Declaration forward.
Evidencing the Declaration
While the Declaration may have some value as an aspirational statement of intent, clearly it will carry considerably more weight if each point can be evidenced by examples of existing practice in Scotland and further afield. Examples of existing practice could be crowd sourced and collected via the Declaration Comment Press site and collated from evidence gathered by the OEPS Project.
Evidence of Impact
In order to highlight the value of both open education and the Declaration at government level it would be useful to be able to provide evidence of positive impact. Assessing the impact of open education initiatives is always difficult as quantitative measures have a tendency to miss the bigger picture and, arguably, the ethos of open education. Gathering qualitative user stories and case studies is likely to be a more useful way to provide evidence of the impact of the Declaration. The case studies being collated by the OEPS Project will hopefully be of particular value here, but continued efforts should be made to gather user stories from across the sector.
Harmonising the Declaration with current policy
When the first version of the Declaration was drafted in early 2014, we made a conscious effort to ensure that it tied in with Scottish Government policies and strategic objectives. Clearly the policy landscape has changed over the last twelve months and it would be useful to revisit the Declaration to ensure that it supports current policy particularly with regard of formal and informal learning, social inclusion and widening access.
Engaging Universities Scotland
A number of bodies and agencies have been identified that could potentially provide valuable support for the Declaration, one of which is Universities Scotland. Although an encouraging number of university colleagues have already made valuable contributions to the declaration, it would be beneficial to engage senior managers to ensure that open education is supported at policy level across the higher education sector.
Engaging schools, colleges and the third sector
It is important that the Declaration represents all sectors of Scottish education; therefore it is critical that we find routes to engage not just higher education but also schools, colleges and the third sector. We would welcome suggestions from colleagues as to how to raise awareness of the Declaration and encourage engagement with open education across all sectors of Scottish education.
The Scottish Open Education Declaration is an open community draft and we continue to encourage all those with an interest in open education in Scotland and beyond to comment on the document here http://declaration.openscot.net/
Clearing the post-Christmas mail backlog is always a bit of a chore, but it was well worth it to find two emails from the OER15 committee saying the papers I submitted have been accepted for this year’s conference, which is taking place in Cardiff in April. I’ve had a paper at all but one of the OER conferences since they kicked off in 2010, though I believe John Robertson was on presenting duties first time round. OER is one of my favourite conferences and it’s been great to see it going from strength to strength, particularly when many predicted its demise after the UKOER programme came to an end in 2012. The programmes are always engaging and eclectic and it’s been encouraging to see international participation growing over the years. It’s fitting that the conference should be held in Wales this year as there have been some really positive open education initiatives developing there over the last few years including the 2013 Wales Open Education Declaration of Intent, the launch of OER Wales Cymru and the publication of the Welsh Government’s report Open and Online: Wales, higher education and emerging modes of learning. I’m really looking forward to going to Cardiff as it’s a city I’ve never visited, but I also can’t help hoping that one of the next OER conferences can be held in Scotland!
Common Ground – an overview of the open education landscape in Scotland.
Author: Lorna M. Campbell
The profile of open education in Scotland has risen significantly over the last year and open education initiatives have increased across all Scottish education sectors. Such is the profile of open education that, in their State of the Commons report, Creative Commons named Scotland among fourteen nations that have made national commitments to open education, through legislation or projects that lead to the creation, increased use or improvement of OER.
This paper will present an overview of the open education landscape in Scotland, focusing on significant policy and practice advances and identifying some of the drivers that have influenced these developments.
MOOCs continue to have an impact in HE, however a number of universities are broadening the scope of their engagement with open education and are increasingly looking to embed open policy and practice across the institution. Building on the success of their MOOCs and the steady maturing of technology, the University of Edinburgh has committed to scaling up their open education offering and pledged to make openness a core part of their business. At Glasgow Caledonian University, open education developments have been lead by the library, where staff have developed OER guidelines, which are being incorporated into formal institutional policies.
There has been less progress in further education; the sector has undergone a significant period of turmoil resulting from the process of regionalisation and the promising Re:Source OER repository initially failed to gain traction. With the majority of structural changes in now in place and new appointments to the sector’s supporting bodies, it is to be hoped that colleges will reengage with open education, resulting in a resurgence of interest in OER and increased adoption of Re:Source.
Open education has yet to have a significant impact on the school sector, however there is growing awareness of the value of OER and encouraging open education practice in schools. GLOW, the Scottish schools national intranet aspires to move towards increased openness and to encourage teachers to become open educators.
Although there has been no open funding call comparable to HEFCE’s UKOER Programme, in 2014, the SFC allocated £1.27 million to the Open University to establish the Opening Educational Practices in Scotland project, which aims to facilitate best practice in open education in Scotland.
Open Scotland, the cross-sector collaborative initiative launched by Cetis, SQA, ALT and Jisc RSC Scotland in 2013 continues to engage with all of these sectors and initiatives and with international bodies including the Open Policy Network, the Open Education Consortium, Wikimedia Foundation and Open Knowledge, to raise awareness of open education and promote the potential of open policy and practice to benefit all sectors of Scottish education. In late 2014 Open Scotland launched the second draft of the influential Scottish Open Education Declaration incorporating input from colleagues across the sector.
Education in Scotland is widely regarded as a shared common good, and open educators are increasingly coming together to share their experience of open education policy and practice in order to benefit the sector as a whole.
Open Education and the Broader Open Policy Environment
Authors: Nicole Allen, Cable Green, Lorna M. Campbell
Governments (and education institutions) around the world generate huge amounts of publicly funded research, data, and educational materials. Open policies, or policies that require open licenses for publicity funded resources, can maximize the impact of public investments and support open education by enabling the use and re-use of these valuable resources.
Join members of the Open Policy Network (OPN) — a newly launched coalition of organizations and individuals working to support the creation, adoption, and implementation of open policies across the world — for a discussion about some of the latest trends in open policy and how it relates to open education. Also learn about how the OPN is actively working to support open policy efforts and how you can get involved. More information about OPN is available at https://openpolicynetwork.org.