OER13 Lightning Talks

Writing in Booksprints

Presenter and authors: Phil Barker, Lorna M. Campbell, Martin Hawksey, CETIS and Amber Thomas, University of Warwick.
Session: LT50, #abs50

A booksprint is a facilitated, highly structured intensive writing process.  This booksprint ran for two and a half days, involved four people and was facilitated by Adam Hyde.  The aim of the sprint was to produce a synthesis and summary of the technical outputs of the UKOER Programmes  Once a chapter is written it’s passed on to another author, not for editing but co-creation.  The initial author does not “own” the chapter.  During this sprint each chapter was re-written by three authors.  The team used Booki.cc open source authoring platform to facilitate the collaborative writing. Booki is much like other collaborative writing applications but incorporates additional tools for ebook creation.   By the end of the two and a half day sprint the team had written a 22,000 word book.  Some of the authors were concerned that the quality of the writing would be compromised but this does not seem to have been the case. Colleagues who have read and reviewed the book have all responded positively to it.

Phil Barker - Writing in Booksprints

Booksprints are ideal for people who have a shared conception of a topic and want to present it together, or alternatively want to present different aspect of a topic.  The content has to be material that is already known to the authors. This is not unlike the situation lecturers are in when they are producing course materials.  Booksprints could be an excellent way to produce educational resources as it’s an inherently open approach to content production.  We talk a lot about sharing educational resources but we don’t talk nearly enough about sharing the effort of creating those resources.  In order to produce really high quality resources we need to share the task of content creation

Into the Wild – Technology for Open Educational Resources can be downloaded free from CETIS Publications.  A print on demand edition is available from Lulu.

For further information on booksprints, see booksprints.net

Libraries, OA research and OER: towards symbiosis?

Presenter: Nick Sheppard, Leeds Metropolitan University
Session: LT73, #abs73

Leeds Metropolitan University have established a blended repository to manage both their research and teaching and learning resources, including OERs. They have been involved in a number of JISC funded projects including the Unicycle UKOER project.  The blended repository was originally based on Intralibrary and they have now implemented Symplectic.  There has been considerable emphasis on developing research management workflows.

Open access to research is changing dramatically in light of Finch and role of institutional repositories and there are synergies with Creative Commons potentially being mandated by Research Councils UK.  Nick also referred to Lorcan Dempsey’s recent posts on “Inside Out” libraries, which focus on the changing role of institutional repositories and libraries.

Nick Sheppard - Closing the institutional UKOER circle

Leeds Met have worked closely with Jorum and Nick said that he believed that the new Jorum API is a game changer which will allow them to close the institutional OER circle.

Why bother with open education?

Presenter and authors: Viv Rolfe & Mark Fowler, De Montfort University
Session: LT77, #abs77

De Montfort have undertake a huge body of OER work since 2009.  OER is incorporated into the institutional strategy for teaching an learning and OER is also is part of  the De Montfort PG cert course.

Despite this, when the team interviewed senior executives about OER, none could name any major institutional projects.  They saw the marketing potential of OER but didn’t appreciate the potential of OERs to enhance learning.  There is a distinct lack of buy in from senior staff and a lot of work is needed to change their mindsets.

Viv Rolfe

Student researcher Libor Hurt undertook a student survey on attitudes to OER.  28% had heard of OERs. OERs are used to supplement lectures and for informal learning.  They are seen as being good for catching up with complex subjects but are less used to study for assessments. Students overwhelmingly share stuff with each other, usually through facebook and e-mail. This is naturally how students work now and could have a major impact on OER down the line.  Students also loved producing OERs, lab videos and quiz MCQs.  However while students are happy to share within the university, they are less happy about sharing their OERs with the public, or those that are not paying fees.  Institutional strategies need to be mindful of this and need to communicate that universities are not giving away whole courses, they are just sharing some of the best bits.  Only a few students cited plagiarism concerns as a reason not to share.  From a student perspective, there is a real tension between paying fees and sharing OERs

It doesn’t matter if everyone in the institution isn’t sharing, as long as there are enough to get momentum going.  However it is important to get senior managers on board, OERs need to be enshrined in institutional  policy.

Taking care of business: OER and the bottom line

Presenters and authors: By John Casey, University of the Arts, Jonathan Shaw & Shaun Hides Coventry School of Art and Design, Coventry University.
Session: LT112, #abs112

Talking about open in a closed education system is a lightening conductor for many thorny issues – power, control, ownership, identity, pedagogy, technical infrastructure, cultures, policy, strategy and business models.   The OER space is a very productive but scary space.

Media is about coproduction and teaching is itself a form of media production.  Coventry fell into open learning with the #Phonar and Creative Activism #creativact courses which opened up their classes.  Rather than having courses led by individuals, they now have teams of people all thinking and operating in different ways. Professional partners have also shown an interest in participating in these courses.   They are thinking about how they conceive the design process of teaching, and are working with students and professional partners to let content evolve.

Shaun Hides - consequences of oer

OER is a political problem, you need to lobby senior management. OERs don’t just open up content, they change institutional practice.  There are many unintended consequences and we need to deal with new educational and economic models of co-production.

Students and OERs: Exploring the possibilities

I’m currently at the OER13 conference where yesterday Toni Pearce, NUS Vice President (Further Education) presented an genuinely insightful and thought provoking keynote based on the results of a wide ranging survey of student attitudes and online behaviour, which will be published later in the year. The keynote was very well received and generated considerable positive discussion at the conference and on the twitter backchannel. This is a brief summary of the points Toni raised.

The NUS is a political organisation interested in the expansion of educational opportunities, social justice and social cohesion. What are the benefits of open education for groups that are excluded from traditional education? Students are not a homogenous group and some are better positioned to gain advantage from open education than others.

Students are conservative in their use of OERs. Many do use OERs but they are more likely to use them if they are used as part of course or recommended by lecturer. “Traditional” students (i.e. young students in full time education) are very frim about the value of face to face learning and will defend lectures to the death. Lecturing is not an out of date mode of teaching, though podcasting and video captures of lectures is becoming increasingly popular.

Students appreciate the convenience of OERs, they are used to access content at home and revise topics. OERs are primarily used as a labour saving device, not to change how students learn. This is not transforming education; it is just making it more convenient. OERs have not unsettled traditional hierarchies of knowledge.

A small number of students use OERs before entering HE to learn about HE institutions and the experience of higher education. More structured support is needed to facilitate this transition.

In determining the value and reliability of any resource, look is important. Students tend to equate look with value. If a resource looks professional, it is regarded as being reliable.

Students struggle to find appropriate OERs, the volume of resources is overwhelming. Some students bemoaned the failure to develop the equivalent of Dewey Decimal classification for online resources (!), though clearly this is not a viable option. Students lack sophisticated search skills, they need support to situate their use of learning resources in the context of developing their knowledge.

Students often share resources on twitter and facebook, which many find easier to use than VLEs. Sharing is a relationship for cyclical advantage, not altruism, and students will keep resources to themselves in order to gain competitive advantage. Few students create their own OERs or adapt existing resources. While they are happy to use OERs created by others they are unlikely to create their own resources due to concerns they would be co-opted by others. It is also concerning that some students believe that people who are not registered to education institutions should not have access to resources.

Current students are not the key audience for OERs. Education has a tendency to leave you with a desire to keep learning forever. OER has the potential to expand access to learning and make education more widely available to those excluded from traditional educational institutions. There is a widespread belief that OERs can bridge the gap between formal and informal learning experiences.

Students place great value on being able to work together with other students. Technology can be isolating despite access to more and more resources and technologies that support collaboration. Students worry about the lack of learning community and value traditional study environments. Communities give us the assurance that others share our experiences. We can accomplish more as a community than alone as individuals. Our identity comes from the communities that we are part of, which is why web 2.0 social applications can be so effective. The biggest opportunity for OERs is to create communities of education for those that do not have them.

Education is about collaboration not passive consumption but students have little interest in structuring their own learning journeys. However we are moving into unpredictable territory and students need to take control of change.

Will institutions be able to continue offering OER for free? Openness sits uneasily beside marketization and competitiveness and increasing fees will only exacerbate this. No one quite knows what to do about MOOCs. Should we try to control the growth of MOOCs or should we let them proliferate? Opinions are becoming very polarised, but maybe it’s all hype like the Internet bubble. However MOOCs are important because they have started a public conversation about educational technology and part of that conversation has to be about whether openness will be swallowed up by privatisation and competition. We need a balanced thoughtful discussion about the future of education.

This blog post was also posted to the OER13 conference blog here: http://oer13.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/students-and-oers-exploring-the-possibilities/

CETIS at OER13

I was really encouraged to hear from our CETIS13 keynote speaker Patrick McAndrew that next week’s OER13 conference in Nottingham is shaping up to be the biggest yet. In our Open Practice and OER Sustainability session Patrick mentioned that the organising committee had expected numbers to be down from last year as the 2012 conference had been run in conjunction with OCWC and attracted a considerable number of international delegates and UKOER funding has come to an end. In actually fact numbers have risen significantly. I can’t remember the exact figure Patrick quoted but I’m sure he said that over 200 delegates were expected to attend this year. This is good news as it does rather suggest that the UKOER programmes have had some success in developing and embedding open educational practice. It’s also good new for us because CETIS are presenting three (count ‘em!) presentations at this year’s conference :}

The Learning Registry: social networking for open educational resources?
Authors: Lorna M. Campbell, Phil Barker, CETIS; Sarah Currier, Nick Syrotiuk, Mimas,
Presenters: Lorna M. Campbell, Sarah Currier
Tuesday 26 March, 14:00-14:30, Room: B52
Full abstract here.

This presentation will reflect on CETIS’ involvement with the Learning Registry, JISC’s Learning Registry Node Experiment at Mimas (The JLeRN Experiment), and their potential application to OER initiatives. Initially funded by the US Departments of Education and Defense, the Learning Registry (LR) is an open source network for storing and distributing metadata and curriculum, activity and social usage data about learning resources across diverse educational systems. The JLeRN Experiment was commissioned by JISC to explore the affordances of the Learning Registry for the UK F/HE community within the context of the HEFCE funded UKOER programmes.

An overview of approaches to the description and discovery of Open Educational Resources
Authors: Phil Barker, Lorna M. Campbell and Martin Hawksey, CETIS
Presenter: Phil Barker
Tuesday 26 March, 14:30-15:00, Room: B52
Full abstract here.

This presentation will report and reflect on the innovative technical approaches adopted by UKOER projects to resource description, search engine optimisation and resource discovery. The HEFCE UKOER programmes ran for three years from 2009 – 2012 and funded a large number and variety of projects focused on releasing OERs and embedding open practice. The CETIS Innovation Support Centre was tasked by JISC with providing strategic advice, technical support and direction throughout the programme. One constant across the diverse UKOER projects was their desire to ensure the resources they released could be discovered by people who might benefit from them -i f no one can find an OER no one will use it. This presentation will focus on three specific approaches with potential to achieve this aim: search engine optimisation, embedding metadata in the form of schema.org microdata, and sharing “paradata” information about how resources are used.

Writing in Book Sprints
Authors: Phil Barker, Lorna M Campbell, Martin Hawksey, CETIS; Amber Thomas, University of Warwick.
Presenter: Phil Barker
Wednesday 27 March, 11:00-11:15, Room: A25
Full abstract here.

This lightning talk will outline a novel approach taken by JISC and CETIS to synthesise and disseminate the technical outputs and findings of three years of HEFCE funded UK OER Programmes. Rather than employing a consultant to produce a final synthesis report, the authors decided to undertake the task themselves by participating in a three-day book sprint facilitated by Adam Hyde of booksprints.net. Over the course of the three days the authors wrote and edited a complete draft of a 21,000 word book titled “Technology for Open Educational Resources: Into the Wild – Reflections of three years of the UK OER programmes”. While the authors all had considerable experience of the technical issues and challenges surfaced by the UK OER programmes, and had blogged extensively about these topics, it was a challenge to write a large coherent volume of text in such a short period. By employing the book sprint methodology and the Booktype open source book authoring platform the editorial team were able to rise to this challenge.

Innovation, sustainability and community – reflections on #cetis13

The theme of this years CETIS conference was Open for Education: Technology Innovation in Universities and Colleges, as usual we had a wide and diverse range of sessions but if there was one theme that underpinned them all it was how can we sustain innovation in the face of the challenges currently facing the sector?

Sustainability was the explicit theme of the Open Practice and OER Sustainability session Phil and I ran. Three years of HEFCE UKOER funding came to an end last autumn and, while there’s no denying that the programmes produced a significant quantity of open educational resources, did they also succeed in changing practice and embedding open education innovation across the English HE sector? Judging by the number of speakers and participants at the session I think it’s fair to say that the answer is a resounding “Yes”. At least in the short term. Patrick MacAndrew, who has been involved in organising this year’s OER13 conference, pointed out that while they expected a drop in numbers this year, as UKOER funding has ended and the event is not running in conjunction with OCWC, in actual fact numbers have risen significantly. Practice has changed and many institutions really are more aware of the potential and benefits of open educational resources and open educational practices. Though as several participants pointed out, MOOCs have rather eclipsed OERs over the last 12 months and the relationship between the two is ambiguous to say the least. As Amber Thomas put it: “MOOCs stole OERs girlfriend”.

seesaw

David Kernohan used the memorable image of a teddy bear lecturer playing happily on a seesaw with his friends and with lots of open educational resources and innovative technologies until all the money ran out and all that was left was the teddy bear and the resources. However I can’t help thinking that the real threat to OER sustainability is that the next thing to disappear might be the teddy bear, and after all it’s the teddy bears, or rather the people, that sustain communities of innovation and practice. With this in mind, there was some discussion of the importance of subject communities in sustaining innovative educational practice and Suzanne Hardy of Newcastle reminded us that Humbox, an excellent example of an innovative and sustainable development presented by Yvonne Howard of Southampton, was originally a collaboration between four HEA subject centres. The legacy of the subject centres is certainly still visible in the sector, however as many talented people have had to move into other roles and those that have managed to hang on are increasingly under threat, how much longer will the community of open educational innovation be able to sustain itself?

The latter half of Scott Wilson’s session on Open Innovation and Open Development also focused on sustainability and again the discussion circled round to how can we sustain the community of developers that drive innovation forward? It’s more years than I can recall since their demise, but the CETIS SIGS were put forward yet again as a good model for sustaining innovative communities of developers and practitioners. I also suggested that it was still possible to see the legacy of the SHEFC Use of the MANs Initiative in the sector as a surprising number of people still working in educational technology innovation first cut their teeth on UMI projects.

There was some discussion of the emergence of “boundary spanning people and blended professionals” but also a fear that institutions are increasingly falling back on very traditional and strictly delineated professional roles. At a time when innovation is increasingly important, many institutions are shedding the very people who have been responsible for driving innovation forward in the sector. At the end of the session, Scott asked what is the one thing that organisations such as Cetis and OSSwatch should do over the next six months to help sustain open innovation and open development? The answer that came back was Survive! Just survive, stay alive, keep the innovation going, don’t loose the people. The fact that Scott was wearing a zombie t-shirt while facilitating the session was verging on the poignant :}

Meanwhile over in Martin Hawksey and David Sherlock’s Analytics and Institutional Capabilities session Ranjit Sidhu of SiD was laying into all manner of institutional nonsense including the sector wide panic that followed clearing, the brutal reality of the competitive education market, the millions spent on google advertising, the big data projects that are little more than a big waste of money and, last but not least, the KIS. Ranjit showed the following slide which drew a collective murmur of horror, though not surprise, from the audience.

Unistats

If you look carefully you’ll notice that the number of daily request to Unistats for data is….9. Yep. 9. It hasn’t even hit double figures. One colleague who was responsible KIS returns recently estimated that the cost to their institution was in the region of a hundred thousand. Multiply that across the sector…Does anyone know what the total cost of the KIS has been? And the return on investment? As one participant commented in response to Ranjit’s presentation, KIS is not a tool for students, it’s a tool to beat VCs over the head with. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions…

I think it’s fair to say that a lot of us went to CETIS13 not knowing quite what to expect and even fewer of us know what the future holds. Despite these uncertainties the conference had a noticeably positive vibe, which more than a few people remarked on over the course of the event. We’re all living in “interesting times” but the brutal reality of the crisis facing HE has done little to dent people’s belief that sustaining open innovation, and the community of open innovators, is a fundamental necessity if the sector is to face these challenges. I certainly felt there was a real spirit of determination at CETIS13, here’s hoping it will see us through the “interesting times”.

Open Practice and OER Sustainability at #cetis13

The Cetis13 Conference is just days away and excitement is mounting to fever pitch. Or something. Sadly, if you haven’t already booked your place at the conference, you’ve missed the boat. Don’t despair though! You can still follow the fun on twitter, #cetis13, and this year we will also be streaming our two keynotes, “Digital Citizenship and Open Social”
by Josie Fraser and “The Path to Open Learning is Paved with Good Intentions” by Professor Patrick McAndrew. You can find the livestream here http://jisc.cetis.ac.uk/cetis13live

This year, for our sins, Phil and I are running the following session:

Open Practice and OER Sustainability

HEFCE funding of the HE Academy/JISC Open Educational Resources programme has come to an end, but this should not mean the end of UK OER. The emphasis of the programme was always on sustainable release of resources and change in culture and practice, not a one-off dumping of teaching materials. Through the programme we have seen changes in approaches to the management of learning resources, learned about how they can be disseminated openly, and embarked on new practices in Open Education that go well beyond (and occasionally do not even include) open access to learning materials.

In this session we will reflect on some of these changes and new approaches, with an emphasis on which are sustainable and how various technologies might help with sustainability. A good starting point for discussion would be “Technology for open educational resources – Into the wild” which reflects on several areas covered during the UK OER programme, though there are also many issues worth discussing that are not well covered in that book, for example management of the creation of OERs and practices in Open Education.

When Phil, Martin and I were initially planning this session we drew up a wish-list of people that we knew would be able to make a really thoughtful contribution to the debate. Based on the assumption that maybe only about half of our dream team would be able to participate, we e-mailed a dozen speakers and were <cliche>stunned and delighted</cliche> when almost everyone said yes! So we are now in the enviable position of having ten of the UK’s most challenging and thought provoking open education thinkers presenting in the space of just over three hours. Just look at our lineup….

  • David Kernohan (Jisc)
  • Joe Wilson (SQA)
  • Sarah Currier (Jorum/Mimas)
  • Yvonne Howard (ePrints Edshare / Humbox / Southampton)
  • Suzanne Hardy (Medev / Newcastle)
  • Pat Lockley (pgogy)
  • Marion Manton (Oxford)
  • Julian Tenney (Nottingham)
  • Nick Sheppard (Leeds Met)
  • Amber Thomas (Warwick)

We haven’t asked our presenters for titles in advance so I am looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts and perspectives on OER and sustainability. I think it’s fair to say that this line up should make for some lively discussions! Particularly as Suzanne has promised to deliver her presentation through the medium of interpretative dance, while David Kernohan will be favouring light operetta. At least that’s what they said on twitter, so it must be true, right? Oh, and Pat has threatened to do another video…. And all I have to do is chair the session and make sure no one talks for more than ten minutes. Easy? Wish me luck :}

Look forward to seeing you at #cetis13!

#chatopen Open Access and Open Education

Do open access and open education need to work together more? That was the question posed by Pat Lockley and discussed on twitter on Friday evening by a group of open education folks using the hashtag #chatopen.

Open access in this instance was taken to refer to open access repositories of peer-reviewed papers and other scholarly works and associated open access policies and agendas. There was general agreement that open access and open education proponents should work together but also recognition that it was important to be aware of different agendas, workflows, technical requirements, etc. Suzanne Hardy of the University of Newcastle added that it was equally important to take heed of open research data too.

Although the group acknowledged that open access still faced considerable challenges, there was a general consensus that it was more mature, both in terms of longevity and uptake, and that it was embedded more widely in institutions. Amongst other factors, the relative success of open access was attributed to the fact that most universities already had policies and repositories for publishing and managing scholarly outputs, while few had comparable strategies for managing teaching and learning materials. Phil Barker added that research outputs were always intended for publication whereas teaching and learning materials were generally kept within the institution. Nick Sheppard of Leeds Met also pointed out that most institutional repositories could not handle teaching and learning resources and research data without significant modification. This led to the suggestion that while institutional repositories fit the culture of scholarly works and open access well, research data and OERs are much harder to manage and share.

In terms of uptake and maturity, although there was general agreement that open access was some way ahead of open education, it appears that open data is catching up fast due to institutional drivers such as the REF, high level policy support and initiatives such as opendata.gov. Funding council mandates were also recognised as being an important driver in this regard.

Different interpretations of the term ‘open” were discussed as the open in open access and open education were felt to be quite different. The distinction between gratis and libre was felt to be useful, though it is important to recognise more subtle variations of open.

There was some consensus that teaching and learning resources tend to be regarded as being of lesser importance to institutions than scholarly works and research data and that this was reflected in policy developments, staff appointments and promotion criteria. Furthermore, until impact measures, funding and business models change this is likely to remain the case. Open access and open education both reflect institutional culture but they are separate processes and this separation reflects university polices, priorities and funding streams.

The group also felt that different communities had emerged around open access and open education, with open access mainly being the concern of librarians and open education the domain of eLearning staff. Phil refined this distinction by suggesting that open access is driven by researchers but managed by librarians. However Nick Sheppard of Leeds Met suggested that the zeitgeist was changing and that open access, open education and open research data are starting to converge.

In response to the question “what open education could learn form open access?” one lesson may be that top down policy can help. Although open education processes are more complex and diverse than open access, the success of open access could aid open education.

Pat wrapped up the session by asking where next for open education? What do we do? Lis Parcell of RSC Wales cautioned against open education becoming the domain of “experts” and emphasised the importance of enabling new audiences to join the open debate, by using plain language where possible, meeting people where they are and providing routes to help them get a step on the ladder. There was also some appetite for open hackdays and codebashes that would bring teachers, researchers and developers together to build OA/OER mashups. Nick put forward the following usecase:

“I want to read a research paper, text mined & processed, AI takes me to relevant OER to consolidate learning!”

Finally everyone agreed that it’s important to keep talking, to keep open education on the agenda and try to transform open practice into open policy.

So there you have it! A brief summary of a wide-ranging debate conducted using only 140 characters! Who says you can’t have a proper conversation on twitter?! If you’re interested in reading the full transcript of the discussion, Martin Hawksey has helpfully set up a TAGS Viewer archive of the #chatopen here.

If you want to follow up any of the points or opinions raised here than feel free to comment below or send a mail to oer-discuss@jiscmail.ac.uk

Many thanks once again to Pat Lockley for setting up the discussion and to all those who participated.