On Monday I gave a presentation on Open Scotland and the Scottish Open Education Declaration at a Scottish Higher Education Developers event hosted by the inestimable Jisc RSC Scotland. Vicki Dale was kind enough to tweet my presentation and Sheila MacNeill drew one of her fabulous visual notes, so I’ve collated them into a little Storify here and embedded the presentation below.
(Cross posted from Open Scotland.)
Earlier this month the Policies for OER Uptake Project (POERUP), drew to a conclusion and published its final reports and deliverables on the POERUP Referata. The overall aim of POERUP was to undertake research to understand how governments can stimulate the uptake of OER by policy means. Led by Sero Consulting and involving the Open Universiteit Nederland, Athabasca University, the University of Leicester, Université de Lorraine and EDEN, POERUP ran from 2011 – 2014. The project’s key deliverables include a final report, thirty-three country reports focusing on the national policy context relating to OER, a comprehensive list of open education initiatives with OER maps, policy advice for universities, colleges and schools and, policy proposals for eight EU countries, plus Canada.
The Country Option Pack for Scotland (pdf) puts forward evidence based policy recommendations for higher education, colleges and schools, though many recommendations are applicable across all three sectors. The recommendations are directed at the Scottish Government and Government funded education agencies, rather than at individual institutions.
Many of the policy recommendations put forward by Open Scotland are echoed by POERUP and the pack takes the Scottish Open Education Declaration as its starting point.
In particular, the report focuses on the importance of open licensing, and calls on Scotland’s funding bodies to ensure that
“any public outputs from their funded programmes are made available as open resources under an appropriate license.”
The POERUP team suggest that a small amount of funding investment can go a long way to help create a culture in which open education can flourish, and they recommend that the Scottish Funding Council invests in open education by setting up an innovation fund to support new online initiatives in higher education, further education and the school sector with a commitment to opening up education.
The report also focuses on the potential of developing more flexible approaches to measuring and accrediting knowledge and competences including workbased learning, flexible learning and accreditation of prior learning.
In addition, there is also a welcome emphasis on professional development across all three education sectors, with the report calling for the establishment of an adequately funded
“professional development programme to help lecturers, teachers and administrators understand the benefits and uses of OER and open licensing.”
The report highlights the potential importance of the College Development Network’s Re:Source OER repository in developing a national quality assurance standard for OER content produced in Scotland and urges the initiative to consider establishing and funding an OER evaluation and adoption panel.
The POERUP report represents a valuable step forward in promoting the development and uptake of policies to support open education in Scotland and it is to be hoped that the Government agencies towards whom it is addressed will take note and act on these recommendations.
Later this week my colleague Phil Barker and I will be giving a webinar on the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI) as part of the ASIS&T DCMI webinar series. The webinar takes place on Wednesday 19th at 15.00 UTC and you can register here. Registration costs $25 and a recording of the webinar will be made freely available after the event.
The Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI) is a collaborative initiative that aims to make it easier for teachers and learners to find educational materials through major search engines and specialized resource discovery services. The approach taken by LRMI is to extend the schema.org ontology so that educationally significant characteristics and relationships can be expressed. In this webinar, Phil Barker and Lorna M. Campbell of Cetis will introduce schema.org and present the background to LRMI, its aims and objectives, and who is involved in achieving them. The webinar will outline the technical aspects of the LRMI specification, describe some example implementations and demonstrate how the discoverability of learning resources may be enhanced. Phil and Lorna will present the latest developments in LRMI implementation, drawing on an analysis of its use by a range of open educational resource repositories and aggregators, and will report on the potential of LRMI to enhance education search and discovery services. Whereas the development of LRMI has been inspired by schema.org, the webinar will also include discussion of whether LRMI has applications beyond those of schema.org.
Last Friday I went along to the EduWiki Conference in the distractingly beautiful St Leonard’s Hall at the University of Edinburgh. I have to confess to being a bit of a Wikimedia fangirl; I’m not a Wikimedian myself, but I’m a huge fan of Wikimedia’s work in the education domain and I believe Wikimedia has an important role to play, not just in disseminating open educational resources, but also in developing open education practice. This was highlighted by the recent Wikimedia Deutschland OERde14 Conference I went to in Berlin, which brought together over 300* participants from all sectors of German education. This is the first time I’ve managed to get to the EduWiki Conference in the UK and it certainly lived up to expectations. I’m not going to attempt to summarise the entire conference, but I do want to pick out a few highlights
The Conference was opened by Peter McColl, Rector of the University of Edinburgh and editor of the progressive blog Bright Green. McColl highlighted the venerable tradition of the Commons, describing Wikipedia as a perfect example of the Commons, a resource that we come together to create and which we can all share and use.
The morning keynote was presented by Floor Koudijs, Senior Manager of the Wikipedia Education Program who introduced just a few of the 70 education projects Wikimedia funds world wide. These include Wikipedia School (Athens), which teaches Wikipedia writing to adults as part of the Greek Ministry of Education’s Education for Lifetime programme. Several countries also include Wikipedia editing skills as part of their initial teacher training programmes.
Floor’s presentation provoked an interesting discussion about the potential importance of Wikipedia in engaging the public with research and demonstrating academic impact. Melissa Highton, Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services at the University of Edinburgh suggested that citing open access articles in Wikipedia should result in increased evidence of impact while at the same time helping to change attitudes to Wikipedia in in academia. Toni Sant, Wikimedia UK Education Organiser, added that Research Councils UK are starting to show an interest in Wikipedia and that EduWiki was mentioned positively at the 6th international Conference on Integrity and Plagiarism earlier this year.
Marc Haynes, Wikipedian in Residence at Coleg Cymraeg, spoke about Welsh Wicipedia and Porth Esboniadur, a reference resource for Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol. Training in wiki skills is provided as an ongoing part of Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol’s academic staffing programme. Marc noted that colleagues are not keen on using CC BY SA licenced content due to the perceived difficulty of mixing it with CC BY content. This is an issue that Cable Green actually addressed on twitter recently, advising that resources that mix licences should state
“Unless otherwise noted, all content in this (content type) is under a CC BY 4.0 license”
Martin Poulter, Jisc’s former Wikimedia Ambassador gave a highly engaging talk about the benefits of “Wikimedia comprehension exercises” to educate colleagues and overcome misconceptions. He then challenged us to locate various tools and useful information, such as quality ratings and translations, around Wikimedia. Even with such a knowledgeable audience, I could hear lots of people commenting, “Ooh! I didn’t know that was there!”
Greg Singh, Lecturer in Communications, Media & Culture at the University of Stirling, also touched on Wikimedia misconceptions, telling us that his students often ask ‘Why doesn’t wikimedia act more like amazon?’ – because it’s not a social media platform and it’s not a bookseller!
Cetis’ Brian Kelly and Filip Maljković of Wikimedia Serbia gave a whistlestop tour of Wikimedia projects in the UK and Serbia which I’m not even going to attempt to summarise, but you can find their slides here.
In the afternoon I went along to the “Wiki*edia Projects in Schools” workshop led by Daria Cybulska and featuring thought provoking contributions from John Johnston, Ian Stuart, Ally Crockford and others. Several themes emerged from the workshop including the use of Wikimedia to enhance digital literacy, the possibility of working with Gaelic medium educators to develop Gaelic wikipedia entries for use by teachers and the pros and cons of integrating wikipedia resources with lesson plans. The discussion also drifted into GLAM territory, with several participants mentioning teachers’ fear that they will be caught using licensed content. At this point John Johnston suggested that what we really need is a “wee weans licence” i.e. a licence that allowed children to use content in the course of their education without fear of copyright infringement. John also advised that we shouldn’t be too ambitious when introducing Wikimedia in schools. Don’t dive straight into editing, start off by demonstrating how to use Wikipedia as a source and how to reuse content with appropriate attribution. Iain also suggested that making Wikipedia available in a closed environment, such as a usb stick or a closed network, might encourage its use in schools. Sadly I had to leave before the workshop ended, but I left participants cheerfully discussing how to harness the power of “love and happiness and guilt-tripping” to promote use of Wikimedia in schools 🙂
I’ve put together a Storify of my tweets from EduWiki here: https://storify.com/LornaMCampbell/eduwiki and Brian Kelly has posted his Storify here: https://storify.com/briankelly/eduwiki-2014-conference
* I’m guessing. I don’t know how many people were actually there but I vaguely remember someone mentioning 300!
(Cross posted to Open Scotland)
Last month’s Newsletter from the Open Education Consortium focused on open education in Europe and featured the following article on Open Education in Scotland written by Joe Wilson of SQA and I. Many thanks to Igor Lesko for inviting us to contribute!
“The use of technology in our future learning framework will continue to grow and be supported by the growth of open educational resources, providing greater learning opportunities without barriers.”
– Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning
Open Scotland, is a cross sector initiative led by the Centre for Education Technology, Interoperability and Standards (Cetis), the Scottish Qualifications Authority, the Jisc Regional Support Centre in Scotland and the Association for Learning Technology’s Scotland Special Interest Group. The aim of this unfunded initiative is to raise awareness of all aspects of open education and explore the potential of open policy and practice to benefit all sectors of Scottish education. Scotland has a distinctive and highly regarded tradition of education, however policies to support and embed open education are in their infancy and, to date, there have been no open funding calls to support open education across the sector.
Despite the absence of top down strategic drivers, a considerable number of open education initiatives have emerged across the Scottish education sector including MOOCs, OER repositories, OER guidelines for staff and students, and adoption of Open Badges. Building on these developments, and experiences gained from supporting open education programmes elsewhere in the UK, Open Scotland aims to encourage the sharing of open educational resources, embed open educational practice and lobby for policies that support open education at the national level. In order to achieve these aims Open Scotland has hosted a number of events including the Open Scotland Summit, which brought together senior managers, policy makers and key thinkers to explore how openness can help to address key strategic priorities including curriculum change, knowledge transfer, quality assurance, change management and articulation; and Open Education, Open Scotland which provided a platform for practitioners from all sectors of Scottish education to share their experiences of adopting and promoting open education practices.
Inspired by the UNESCO Paris OER Declaration, Open Scotland has also launched the Scottish Open Education Declaration, which builds on the principals of the UNESCO declaration, but expands its scope to encompass all aspects of open education practice. The Scottish Open Education Declaration, http://declaration.openscot.net/ is an open community draft, which we encourage all those with a commitment to open education to contribute to and comment on.
In a parallel development to the grassroots Open Scotland initiative, the Scottish Funding Council has allocated £1.27 million to the UK Open University to establish the Opening Educational Practices in Scotland (OEPS) project, which aims to facilitate best practice in open education in Scotland. The OEPS project launches on the 13th of September and we anticipate that it will engage with other open education initiatives across Scotland. We hope that all those with a commitment to open education can work together to develop Scotland’s unique education offering to support social inclusion and inter-institutional collaboration and sharing, and enhance quality and sustainability.
 Open Scotland, http://openscot.net
 Cetis, http://cetis.ac.uk
 Scottish Qualifications Authority, http://sqa.org.uk
 Jisc RSC Scotland, http://www.jiscrsc.ac.uk/scotland
 ALT Scotland SIG, https://www.alt.ac.uk/get-involved/special-interest-groups/scotland
 MOOCs at the University of Edinburgh, http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/online-learning/moocs/moocs
 Re:Source, http://resource.blogs.scotcol.ac.uk/
 Glasgow Caledonian University Library Guidance on Open Educational Resources, http://www.gcu.ac.uk/library/usingthelibrary/copyright/openeducationalresourcesandlibraryguidance/
 Borders College Case study, http://www.rsc-scotland.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/23042013bordersOB.pdf
 Open Scotland Summit, http://openscot.net/event-reports/open-scotland-report-and-actions/
 Open Education, Open Scotland, http://openscot.net/event-reports/open-education-open-scotland-report-presentations/
 Scottish Open Education Declaration, http://declaration.openscot.net
 Opening Education Practices in Scotland, http://oepscotland.org/
(Cross posted to Open Scotland.)
This rather crowded map of open education in Scotland is the product of a brief ten minute brainstorm I took part in at the launch of the Open University’s Opening Education Practices in Scotland (OEPS) project in Edinburgh last week.
Open Education in Scotland
Contributors: Linda Creanor, Natalie Lafferty, Heather Gibson, Peter Cannell and Lorna M. Campbell
My scribbles may not be very legible, and the geography is questionable, but even if you can’t read the text, this map does give a good impression of the sheer breadth of open education practice already taking place across all sectors of Scottish education. And it also gives a good impression of the significant task facing the OEPS project if they are to effectively engage with existing open education initiatives in Scotland. This is a point that Sheila MacNeill and Joe Wilson have already raised in two thoughtful blog posts (Stuck in the middle with…open and #Oepsforum14 #Openscot Reflections.) Though supportive of the project and enthusiastic about its potential, both Sheila and Joe have raised valid questions about how OEPS plans to support existing open practice in Scotland, and how it will construct a distinctly Scottish narrative of open education.
During a typically thought provoking presentation on The Battle for Open, Martin Weller warned us that if we don’t engage with open education practice now, we’ll be sold a packaged version of what it is. To my mind, engagement with existing open education initiatives in Scotland will be key to the success of the OEPS project. It is critical that the project engages practitioners in creating a Scottish narrative of open education, rather than delivering a packaged alternative.
I’m not going to attempt to summarise the entire meeting, you can get a good flavour of the event from Sheila and Joe’s blog posts, this storify put together by Heather Gibson of QAA Scotland and Martin Hawksey’s TAGS archive. There are a couple of points I want to reflect on however.
The OEPS Online Hub
One of the objectives of the OEPS project is to build an “online hub to encourage and share best practice in open education”. This hub, which will be based on the OU’s existing OpenLearn Works platform, is being developed by members of the OEPS team based at the OU’s Open Media Unit in Milton Keynes. In a parallel session focused on the hub, we were asked to prioritise user stories and requirements, devised by the project team, from the perspective of practitioners and learners. The group I was part of went a bit off piste with this task and in the process raised some valid questions regarding the role of the hub. There was some confusion as to the exact nature of the online hub, and whether it was intended to be an OER repository. One participant questioned whether there was a real need for another online repository in Scotland when we already have Jorum and Re:Source, and the uptake of centralised repositories generally is notoriously low. The project team explained that although the hub will aggregate resources from other OER collections and enable users to export content, it is not intended to compete with existing OER repositories such as Jorum and OER Commons, it’s aim is primarily to support a community of open education practitioners. While there was a suggestion that this approach sounded a little bit “if we build it they will come”, it’s reassuring to know that OEPS will be focusing on supporting practitioner communities rather than on building another platform in what is already a very crowded space. Questions were also raised regarding the users stories and requirements drafted by the project team, with one participant asking whether a requirements gathering exercise had been undertaken in Scotland to determine the sector’s specific need for an online hub.
The Thorny Issue of Funding
The second point I want to reflect on is the rather thorny issue of funding, or more precisely, the relationship between funding and open education. This is an issue that Martin Weller touched on during his Battle For Open presentation. Martin pointed out that most battles are about money, and that there is a lot of money at stake in open education. This is certainly a point I would agree with, in some quarters at least. Martin also introduced the concept of “guerrilla research” which he contrasted with traditional research as follows…
from The Art of Guerilla Research by Martin Weller
While this is an attractive model, (and I ❤ Beaker) I can’t help wondering how guerrilla research is supported; after all, it’s hard to “Do research” without funding at some level. And the same applies to open education, we all know that open doesn’t equal free, and that funding is required to support open education practice. Sheila MacNeill has written compellingly on this subject in her earlier blog post Open education practice, luxury item or everyday essential? I’m not going to re-hash Sheila’s arguments, but I think there are a lots of undercurrents relating to the relationship between openness and funding that we still need to surface.
Which brings me back to the scribbled map at the top of this post. Many of the open education initiatives in Scotland are unfunded, voluntary, or funded on institutional shoestring budgets. It’s commendable that Scottish education has done so much with so little, and perhaps this is what sustainable open education practice looks like, but it does make me wonder how much more could be achieved if funding was available to support open education right across the sector. While it’s hugely encouraging that the Scottish Funding Council has made a significant investment in open education by funding the OEPS project, and I have every confidence that the project team will make a significant contribution to supporting open education practice in Scotland, I can’t help holding on to a glimmer of hope that at some stage in the future SFC will launch an open education funding call that is open to all sectors of Scottish education.
Co-authors & Project Team: Michelle Brennan, OER Information Services Manager; Lisa Petrides, CEO ISKME.
ISKME’s OER Commons offers a comprehensive infrastructure and suite of services for educators globally, including groups of curriculum specialists, administrators, content providers, teachers, librarians, and technology and resource decision-makers who seek to implement high quality and adaptable curriculum through the use, evaluation, and improvement of open educational resources (OER).
Launched in 2007, OER Commons serves as a digital library and collaboration platform for content providers and emerging open education practitioners at all levels. Engaging with over 500 OER content providers from around the world, ISKME provides the open scaffolding necessary for knowledge sharing and access to teaching and learning materials, strategies, and curricula online. The site has over 35,000 registered users, 55,000 resources, and millions of visitors from 193 countries.
ISKME first created OER Commons in 2007 as a digital library and content hub to support OER discoverability, use, and reuse. Together with OER content providers and educators, OER Commons aggregates content collections, enriches resource metadata, and curates and organizes rich metadata to support the use and reuse of collections. Resources cover all subject areas and levels of education. OER Commons resources span a wide range of formats including html, ebooks, pdf, video, audio, games, courses, lesson plans, lectures notes, and search tools to enable users to find resources for different contexts of use.
The OER Commons platform today features Open Author, an inclusively designed authoring and remixing environment to support the creation and adaptation of media-rich OER, hosted locally on the platform. The authoring environment produces OER that are accessible using a broad range of assistive technology devices such as screen readers. Open Author resources can be downloaded as PDF or SCORM, or as a “teaching bundle”, a zip file containing PDF and media components. The OER Commons infrastructure also supports the evaluation and improvement of quality OER with embedded Common Core State Standards (CCSS) alignment tool and Achieve OER Rubric tool and EQuIP Rubric evaluation tool, developed by several states partnered with Achieve to support collaborative review of CCSS-aligned content, as well as the ability to align content to the Next Generation Science Standards.
The system uses the Django Python framework, which powers OER Commons Platform and Learning Registry application. OER Commons authored content uses Creative Commons licenses, while aggregated resource collections from around the web contain a wider array of applied licenses. OER Commons displays all licensing data in a clear and concise way, making licensing information accessible to all users, regardless of previous experience with OER content.
OER Commons uses an internal metadata profile based on modified LOM, which includes additional fields added to support different projects and initiatives e.g. CELT, A11y and LRMI. As an early adopter of the LRMI specifications, ISKME has mapped all 55,000 OER Commons resources to LRMI-compliant metadata. LRMI and A11y markup is included in the HTML of resources so it can be found by search engines and other applications operating on top of the OER Commons platform. Metadata can be exported as HTML or XML. OER Commons metadata does not use the exact terminology of LRMI, but a mapping has been created from the internal metadata schema to LRMI. The alignmentObject is used to align to NGSS and Common Core state standards. Some Schema.org properties are also used.
The full OER Commons metadata profile is available for collection providers to download. In addition, ISKME provides a metadata sample template for providers to build and export their metadata for inclusion in OER Commons.
OER Commons features a number of different metadata workflows:
- Content can be submitted to OER Commons by collection providers and cataloguers who work directly with the OER Commons digital librarian. Collection providers send a CSV file to a metadata technician who reviews the data, normalises it, and uploads it in bulk.
- Individual users can upload content and metadata via a web form. All resources and metadata are reviewed before submission.
- The content authoring tool also allows users to create metadata. Some metadata is computed e.g. licensing, as many people are not familiar with different variations of open licenses. The system walks them through the licensing process step by step and computes the appropriate license based on their response.
- Users can interact with resources once they have been catalogued and have had basic metadata added. Free text can be added by users which then becomes keywords and resources can be aligned with a range of standards including Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and other specialized standards.
Metadata is kept consistent internally by digital librarians to ensure all works well within the application to support search and discovery. OER Commons is committed to maintaining a rich metadata ecosystem with robust checks and balances to ensure high quality metadata.
Metadata that is shared with the Learning Registry is largely in the form of Dublin Core, though some LRMI and Schema.org properties are also used. All resources that have been evaluated using the Achieve OER Rubrics are shared with the Learning Registry. These rubrics help users determine the quality of OERs and the degree to which they align with Common Core State Standards. When uploading to the Learning Registry, LRMI and Schema.org markup is taken from the internal metadata schema and mapped across to Dublin Core. Getting resources back from the Learning Registry has proven to be problematic due to the difficulty of filtering resources.
ISKME brings its OER Commons infrastructure and tools to address organizations’ curriculum needs and facilitate team workflows in customized areas of the site. Network Hubs are a key component of ISKME’s comprehensive solutions for hosting and indexing content and facilitating collaboration and collection development for a specific audience. In terms of future developments, OER Commons continues to build tools to additional alignment standards, e.g. National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies, as well as modified state-specific Common Core standards.
Microsites are comprehensive solutions for hosting and indexing content for a specific audience, and can be located at subdomains of oercommons.org, or be distinguished by a customizable URL at the domain level. Microsites contain all features available on the main site, but house their own collections as well as special curated collections of the full OER Commons database of resources. Microsites on OER Commons can be structured as one or more “network hubs”, in which a single microsite is the organizing umbrella for a number of sub-collections or networks. Within a microsite, resources are presented in the context of customized taxonomies and our digital librarians work hand in hand with partners and content providers to identify, categorize, and describe relevant content.
Additionally, ISKME serves as a thought leader around content and metadata interoperability, is a launch partner for the Learning Registry, serves on the LMRI Advisory Board, and leads a project for the US Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) on the creation of cloud-based learner profiles for accessibility. ISKME is part of the GLOBE consortia of repositories from around the world that seeks to build common ways to share and federate educational resources and metadata.