The Voice of OER15

Typical.  You wait a week for an #OER15 blog post and then two come along at once!  Thanks to the folks at CADARN for this inspiring little video which really captures the spirit of the conference.  Featuring, among others, David Kernohan, Cable Green, Hayden Blackey, Josie Fraser and me.

I think I may have got rather carried away with my enthusiasm for open education in the interview :}

OER15 – Better late than never!

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.

cc_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

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

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.

Thanks to Catherine Cronin for taking a rare semi-decent picture of me!

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.

OER16

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!

Looking forward to OER15!

OER15_logoClearing 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!

This year I’ll be presenting one full paper on behalf of the Open Scotland initiative, and one short paper about the work of the Open Policy Network with Nicole Allen of SPARC and Cable Green of Creative Commons.

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.