Open Scotland Report and Actions

“Open Policies can develop Scotland’s unique education offering, support social inclusion and inter-institutional collaboration and sharing and enhance quality and sustainability.”

This was the starting point for discussions at the Open Scotland Summit at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, which brought together senior representatives from a wide range of Scottish education institutions, organisations and agencies to discuss open education policy for Scotland. Facilitated by Jisc Cetis, in collaboration with SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG, Open Scotland provided senior managers, policy makers and key thinkers with an opportunity to explore shared strategic priorities and scope collaborative activities to encourage the development of open education policies and practices to benefit the Scottish education sector as a whole.

Keynote and Lightning Talks

Dr Cable Green, Creative Commons’ Director of Global Learning opened the summit with an inspiring keynote on “Open Education: The Business and Policy Case for OER”. Cable began by quoting Cathy Casserly and Mike Smith of Creative Commons and the Hewlett Foundation:

“At the heart of the movement towards Open Educational Resources is the simple and powerful idea that the world’s knowledge is a public good and that technology in general and the Worldwide Web in particular provide an opportunity for everyone to share, use, and reuse it.”

Cable Green, Creative Commons (image by Martin Hawksey)

Cable Green, Creative Commons (image by Martin Hawksey)


Cable went on to discuss the significance of the Cape Town Declaration, the development of Creative Commons licences and the Paris OER Declaration before concluding that:

“the opposite of open is not ‘closed’, the opposite of open is ‘broken’.”

A series of lightning talks on different aspects of openness and open education initiatives in neighbouring countries followed Cable’s keynote; “Open Source in Education” by Scott Wilson of OSS Watch, “Open Data” by Cetis’ Wilbert Kraan, “MOOCs: The Elephant in the room?” by Sheila MacNeill, also of Cetis, David Kernohan of Jisc presented the HEFCE funded UKOER Programmes, Tore Hoel of Oslo and Akershus University College introduced the Nordic Open Education Alliance, and Paul Richardson presented the perspective from Wales.

Challenges, Priorities and the Benefits of Openness

During the afternoon participants had the opportunity to break into groups to discuss issues relating to openness, and how greater openness could help them to address their current strategic priorities and challenges.

The key issues raised included the following:

There are compelling arguments that old models for publishing research and content are outdated. New models are needed and again the arguments for these are compelling, however these new models require changes in attitude and practice. University business models don’t necessarily need to be built on sale of content, instead they can be built on access to great faculty, support, facilities, maximising efficiency through collaboration, etc. There is a lot of insecurity in the sector, staff are worried about their jobs, so there needs to be clarity about their roles and responsibilities and what they are paid to do.

Open Scotland Discussion Group

Both within and between organisations there are different perceptions of “open”. For example, quality and assessment bodies have increased external openness by sharing assessment criteria, however due to confidentiality agreements institutions have to limit the data that is available to the public.

There is still a tendency to release OER under restrictive open licences, limiting the ability to re-use, revise, re-mix, re-distribute the new resource. One way to overcome the “closed mind” mentality is to develop policy to support openness, however open doesn’t equal free or without cost, investment is required to make resources open.

Openness is not always recognised, there are pockets of open activity throughout Scotland but these are not joined up. E.g. there are good examples of long-standing open practise among public libraries.

Lack of quality assurance is still raised as a barrier to OER. Cable Green suggested there needs to be a shift in attitude and culture from “not invented here to proudly borrowed from there”. Under Creative Commons licence, resource creators can invoke a non-endorsement clause in situations where an original work is re-purposed but the originating authors does not approve of the repurposed work.

Open Scotland Discussion Group

Learners are co-creators of knowledge. How do we engage them? Learners, rather than institutions need to be central to all discussions relating to open policy and practice.

What can Scotland learn from other countries? The UKOER programme evidenced interest in OER and willingness to change practice south of the border. How can Scotland learn from this and use this experience to springboard ahead? There are parallels between Scotland, the Nordic Countries and the devolved nations, is there scope for working collaboratively with other countries?

How can open education policies and practices address the “Big Ticket” government agendas? Post 16 educations, widening access, knowledge transfer, driving changes in curriculum models, school – college – university articulation.

The education sector is undergoing a period of massive change and it is difficult to cope with additional new initiatives and agendas. However the sector can also capitalise on this period of change, as change provides opportunity for radical new developments.

Open Scotland Discussion Group

At the school level the curriculum for excellence is changing the way children think and learn and universities and colleagues need to be ready for this. How can openness help?

Funding has been cut drastically in the FE sector. Does this mean that fewer students will be taught or that colleges need to be smarter and make greater use of open educational resources?

Articulation could be key to promoting the use of OER in Scotland. Many HEIs have produced resources for FE – HE articulation that could be released under Creative Commons licences.

An Open Education Declaration for Scotland

burghead_saltireUsing the UNESCO Paris Declaration as a starting point, the groups explored the potential of developing a Scottish open education declaration.

There was general agreement that the Paris Declaration was a “good thing” however many participants felt it was too focused on OER and that a Scottish declaration should encompass open education more widely.

In addition, the Paris Declaration focuses on “states”, a Scottish declaration would need to define its own stakeholders. It would also be beneficial to develop a common vocabulary (e.g. OER, open education, open learning, etc.) to enable effective communication and identify actions that move us forward.

While there was agreement that the statements of the Paris Declaration were beneficial, it was felt that a degree of contextualisation was required in order to demonstrate these statements and principals in action. One group suggested that it might be useful to have a grid of the Declaration’s statements that stakeholders could fill in to provide evidence of the statements in action. Cable Green added that projects are on going internationally to implement specific actions from the Declaration and suggested that Scotland might consider selecting one or more statements to take forward as actions.

Actions and Deliverables

Action 1 – Establish a working group, similar to Wales and the Nordic countries, that can stimulate research in the area of open education and inform future Government white papers. Cetis, SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG to discuss taking this forward.

Action 2 – Invite participants from those nations that are further ahead of Scotland in promoting the open Agenda. Work with the other devolved nations in the UK.

Action 3 – Use the working group to focus on key Government priorities and agendas, e.g. learner journeys, articulation, work based learning, knowledge transfer.

Key Deliverable 1: A position paper providing evidence of the benefits of openness with examples of how these can impact on Government priorities. (Cetis and the ALT Scotland SIG chair to meet in late July to begin work on a first draft. All drafts will be circulated publically for comment and input.)

Key Deliverable 2: A Scottish Open Learning declaration (including topologies, grids and action focussed statements).

Key Deliverable 3: Government policy on open education. This will require stakeholder groups to state how they will engage with and contribute to the implementation of the policy.

Continuing the Discussion

All these points are open to discussion and we would encourage all interested parties to contribute to the debate. Please feel free to comment here, or to contact the event organisers directly at the addresses below. If you blog or tweet about Open Scotland, or any of the issues raised as a result, please use the hashtag #openscot so we can track the discussion online.

Phil Barker, phil.barker@hw.ac.uk; Lorna M. Campbell, lorna.m.campbell@ilcoud.com; Linda Creanor, l.creanor@gcu.ac.uk; Sheila MacNeill, sheila.macneill@me.com, Celeste McLaughlin, Celeste.McLaughlin@glasgow.ac.uk, Joe Wilson, joe.wilson@sqa.org.uk.

Resources

Open Scotland Overview: http://blogs.cetis.ac.uk/lmc/2013/05/03/open-scotland/
The Benefits of Open Briefing Paper: http://publications.cetis.ac.uk/2013/834
Open Scotland Presentations: http://wiki.cetis.ac.uk/Open_Scotland
Open Scotland Videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/CetisUK
Open Scotland Storify: http://blogs.cetis.ac.uk/sheilamacneill/2013/06/28/open-scotland-the-twitter-story/

Acknowledgements

Cetis would like to thank the following people for making the Open Scotland Summit possible: Phil Barker, Andrew Comrie, Linda Creanor, Martin Hawksey, Cable Green, Sheila MacNeill, Celeste Mclaughlin, Joe Wilson.

Thanks also to our presenters Cable Green, Tore Hoel, David Kernohan, Wilbert Kraan, Sheila MacNeill, Paul Richardson, Scot Wilson.

Arran Moffat and GloCast recorded and edited the presentations and valiantly attempted to stream Cable’s keynote through three foot thick tower walls!

And finally….

A word from one of our participants:

Now is the right time to push the open agenda forward. Scotland hasn’t missed the boat, sometimes it’s good to wait for the second wave.

The Benefits of Open

The following paper was produced to act as a background briefing to the Open Scotland Summit , which Cetis is facilitating in collaboration with SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG. The Benefits of Open draws together and summarises key documents and publications relating to all aspects of openness in education. The paper covers Open Educational Resources, Massive Open Online Courses, Open Source Software, Open Data, Open Access and Open Badges.

The Benefits of Open briefing paper can be downloaded from the Cetis website here: http://publications.cetis.ac.uk/2013/834.

Such is the rapid pace of change in terms of open education research and development that several relevant new papers have been published since this briefing paper was completed less than a fortnight ago. The following recent outputs are likely to be of particular interest and significance to those with an interest in open education policy and practice, both in Scotland and internationally.

Journeys to Open Educational Practice: HEFCE OER Review Final Report.
Authors: L. McGill, I. Falconer, J.A.Dempster, A. Littlejohn, and H. Beetham,
Date: June 2013
URL: https://oersynth.pbworks.com/w/page/60338879/HEFCE-OER-Review-Final-Report

“Over recent years, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has funded UK wide initiatives that explore and support open educational practices (OEP) and resources (OER). The HEFCE OER Review is a cumulative synthesis of the experiences and outcomes of those interventions. It incorporates all phases of the JISC/HE Academy’s Open Educational Resources Programme (UKOER) and the Open University’s Support Centre for Open Resources in Education (SCORE) activities.

The HEFCE-funded OER work in the UK has been extensive and has impacted on strategy, policy, practice (of a wide range of stakeholders, including learners), research, curriculum design, delivery and support. Projects have explored barriers and enablers, and developed solutions to address the individual, institutional and community issues of embedding sustainable practice and widening engagement with OER.

The purpose of the HEFCE OER review has been to deepen understanding and produce a solid evidence base that enhances the status of the UK work within the international OER arena and offers some conceptual and practical ways forward.”

POERUP Policies for OER Uptake Progress Report
Authors: POERUP Project Partners
Date: June 2013
URL: http://poerup.referata.com/w/images/2011_4021_PR_POERUP_pub.pdf

“1. POERUP’s overall aim is to develop policies to promote the uptake of OER (Open Educational Resources) in the educational sector, not for their own sake but to further the range of purposes for which institutions deploy OER: wider access (including internationally and in particular from developing countries), higher quality or lower cost of teaching – and combinations of these.
2. POERUP is focussing largely on the universities and schools subsectors of the education sector, but is also paying attention to the non-tertiary postsecondary subsector – the ‘colleges’ – since they are often the loci of the kind of informal learning that OER facilitates and also crucial to skills development.
3. The original focus of POERUP was to focus on policies at the ‘national’ level (including governments of devolved administrations). However, in the increasingly regionalised and part-privatised environment for education, where some governments are actually withdrawing from setting ICT policies for their sectors, it is now felt more appropriate to focus also on policies for institutions, consortia of these and private sector actors who facilitate change.
4. POERUP is putting substantial effort into understanding the state of play of OER in a range of countries, within the policy context in these countries, and as part of the wider development of online learning in these countries – but cognisant also of the worldwide moves towards Open Access for research literature.

8. The first round of country studies is essentially complete and now POERUP is turning its attention to a more delicate level of analysis. The key to this is to understand the ways in which OER communities can develop and foster activity without sustained long-term amounts of government funding. Particular tools for Social Network Analysis will be used to achieve this.
9. Seven case studies for OER communities have been chosen across the various education sectors for analysis by POERUP partners. These include the schools-focussed projects Wikiwijs (Netherlands), Bookinprogress (Italy) and Hwb (Wales/UK); HE-focussed projects OER U, Futurelearn (UK) and Canadian OER HE community; and one MOOC-based project to cover informal adult learning.”

Open Educational Resources and Collaborative Content Development: A practical guide for state and school leaders
Authors: T.J. Bliss, D. Tonks and S.Patrick, International Assoication for Online K12 Learning.
URL: http://www.inacol.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/inacol_OER_Collaborative_Guide_v5_web.pdf

While this report focuses primarily on the benefits and affordances of open educational resources for the US K-12 sector it includes a useful analysis of the benefits of open educational resources.

“Other countries and important non-governmental organizations are also beginning to recognize the potential of OER. The Organization for Economic Cooperative Development (OECD) explains, ‘Governments should support OER as good policy because educational institutions (particularly those publicly financed) should leverage taxpayers’ money by allowing free sharing and reuse of resources. Quality can be improved and the cost of content development reduced by sharing and reusing. Sharing knowledge is in line with academic traditions and a good thing to do. OER expands access to learning for everyone but most of all for nontraditional groups of students and thus widens participation in education and can bridge the gap between non-formal, informal, and formal learning.’”

ALT Scotland SIG Meeting

The ALT Scotland SIG, which both Martin Hawksey and I are involved in, is holding a meeting this week on Thursday the 20th at Glasgow Caledonian University from 10.30 – 15.30. Registration for the event is now closed, however there are still a few places available so if you would like to come along please drop Linda Creanor a mail at l.creanor@gcu.ac.uk.

The agenda is as follows:

10.30 – 11.00 COFFEE/TEA and registration
11.00 – 11.10 Welcome and overview of the day (Linda and Joe, including introductions to steering group members)
11.10 – 11.40 The Coursera experience (Christine Sinclair, University of Edinburgh)
11.40 – 12.10 Open Badges (Grainne Hamilton, JISC RSC Scotland)
12.10 – 12.40 How does Open Education impact on practice in Scottish institutions? (Discussion groups + plenary feedback)
12.40 – 13.20 LUNCH
13.20 – 13.30 Update on ALT (John Slater, ALT)
13.30 – 14.00 ALT’s ocTEL Mooc experience: designing the platform (Martin Hawksey, CETIS); the tutor/participant view (Linda Creanor, GCU & Grainne Hamilton, JISC RSC);
14.00 – 14.30 Open education and the Scottish Qualification Authority (Joe Wilson, SQA)
14.30 – 15.00 Key issues for ALT-Scotland SIG members (discussion groups)
15.00 – 15.10 Summary and actions for ALT-Scotland SIG
15.10 – 15.30 COFFEE/TEA/CAKES

What do FutureLearn’s Terms and Conditions say about open content?

ETA If you want to review yesterday’s twitter discussion about FutureLearn’s Terms and Conditions, Martin Hawksey has now set up one of his fabulous TAGSExplorer twitter archives here.


The appearance of FutureLearn’s new website caused considerable discussion on twitter this morning. Once everyone had got over the shock of the website’s eye-watering colour scheme, attention turned to FurtureLearn’s depressingly draconian Terms and Conditions, which were disected in forensic detail by several commentators who know more than a thing or two about licensing and open educational content. I’m not going to attempt to summarise all the legal issues, ambiguities and inconsistencies that others have spotted, but I do want to highlight what the Terms and Conditions say about educational content. You can read FutureLearn’s full Terms and Conditions here but the salient points to note in relation to content licensing are:

All FutureLearn’s content and Online Courses, are the property of FutureLearn and/or its affiliates or its or their licensors and are protected by copyright, patent and/or other proprietary intellectual property rights under the laws of England and other countries.

– Fair enough, I guess.

Users may not copy, sell, display, reproduce, publish, modify, create derivative works from, transfer, distribute or otherwise commercially exploit in any manner the FutureLearn Site, Online Courses, or any Content.

– If content can not be reproduced, modified or transferred then clearly it can not be reused, therefore it is not open.

Future Learn grants users access to their content under the term of the Creative Commons Attribution – No Derivatices – Non Commerical 3.0 licence.

– Again, use of the most restrictive Creative Commons licence means that FutureLearn content cannot be modified and reused in other contexts, therefore it is not open in any meaningful sense of the word.

Any content created by users and uploaded to FutureLearn will be owned by the user who retains the rights to their content, but by doing so, users grant FutureLearn “an irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free and non-exclusive licence to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such User Content on the FutureLearn Site and/or in the Online Courses or otherwise exploit the User Content, with the right to sublicense such rights (to multiple tiers), for any purpose (including for any commercial purpose).”

- Unless that content happens to be subtitles, captions or translations of FutureLearn content….

FutureLearn may on occasion ask users to produce subtitles and translations of content in which case the same rights apply, but, and it’s a big but, in the case of captions and translations “you agree that the licence granted to FutureLearn above shall be exclusive.”

So there you have it, FutureLearn content will not be open educational resources in any real sense. I can’t say I’m surprised by FutureLearn’s Terms and Conditions and the approach they have taken to licensing educational content, but I am more than a little disappointed. Many colleagues have commented previously that the relationship between MOOCs and OERs is problematic, now it seems to have hit the skids altogether. I suppose I have to acknowledge that FutureLearn press releases have never said anything about the actual content of their courses being open, but I did hope rather naively that as the Open University have been at the forefront of OER initiatives in the UK, FutureLearn would buck the trend and take a similarly enlightened approach to their content. For the record, the Open University licenses their OpenLearn content under the more permissive Creative Commons ‘Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share-Alike’ licence. You can see the OpenLearn Intellectual Property FAQ here.

As time passes, I can’t help thinking that the approaches to content licensing taken by the UKOER Programmes are starting to look increasingly radical… Anyone remember those heady days when universities were releasing their educational content under CC BY licence? Was it all just a dream?

bladerunner-unicorn

The thorny issue of MOOCs and OER

Along with the news that GCU and the Scottish College Development Network are developing guidelines for the creation and use of open educational resources, another Scottish news item caught my attention this week. Finally, after weeks of speculation, it was announced that the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde will join the FutureLearn partnership alongside the University of St Andrews which had previously signed up. You can read the press release here.

I can’t claim to have read every press release issued by FutureLearn but it’s telling, though not remotely surprising, that for all their apparent commitment to:

“…free, open, online courses from leading UK universities…”
- FutureLearn Press Release

“…removing the barriers to education by making learning more accessible…”
- Simon Nelson, FutureLearn, CEO

“…opening access to our learning to students around the world…”
- Colin Grant, Associate Deputy Principal at the University of Strathclyde

FutureLearn doesn’t appear to make any mention of using, creating or disseminating open educational resources. Although it’s rather disappointing, I can’t say that it’s particularly surprising. I haven’t got any statistics, but anecdotally, it seems that very few xMOOCs use or provide access to open educational resources. The relationship between MOOCs and OERs is problematic at best and non existent at worst. As Amber Thomas memorably commented at the Cetis13 conference “it’s like MOOCs stole OER’s girlfriend.” Perhaps I am being overly pesimistic about FutureLearn’s commitment to openness, after all, the initiative is being led by the Open University, an institution that has unquestionably been at the forefront of OER developments in the UK.

Of course St Andrews, Glasgow and Strathclyde aren’t the first Scottish universities to join the MOOC movement, the University of Edinburgh has already delivered six successful MOOCs in partnership with Coursera, including the eLearning and Digital Culture MOOC (#edcmooc) which my Cetis colleague Sheila MacNeill participated in and has blogged about extensively. Sheila recently presented about her experiences of being a MOOC student a the University of Southampton’s Digital Literacies Conference alongside #edcmooc tutor, and former CAPLE colleague, Dr Christine Sinclair, now with the University of Edinburgh. I wasn’t able to attend the event myself but I followed the tweet stream and was interested to note Sheila’s comments that the Edinburgh MSc module on digital cultures in more “open” than the Coursera MOOC on the same topic.

edcmooc

It didn’t take much googling to locate the eLearning and Digital Cultures MSc course blog which, sure enough, carries a CC-BY-NC-SA licence. I don’t know if this licence covers all the course materials but it certainly appears to be more open than the Coursera version of the same course and it’s very encouraging to see that the Edinburgh course tutors are continuing to support open access to their course materials at the same time as engaging with MOOCs. I wonder if the Scottish FutureLearn partners will show a similar commitment to opening access to their educational resources? I certainly hope so.

Small steps in the right direction

I was very encouraged by a couple of posts to the oer-discuss mailing list this week highlighting two Scottish institutions that are in the process of in developing guidelines and policies for the creation and use of open educational resources. The first post came from Marion Kelt, Senior Librarian at Glasgow Caledonian University, who shared the first draft of GCU’s Library Guidance on Open Educational Resources, which is based on guidelines developed and implemented by the University of Leeds.

GCU Library encourages all staff and student to create and publish OERs and the guidelines strongly suggest that the use and creation of OERs should be the default position of all schools, departments and services.

“Unless stated to the contrary, it is assumed that use, creation and publication of single units or small collections will be allowed. Where use, creation and publication are to be restricted, Schools, Departments and Services are encouraged to identify and communicate a rationale for restriction.”

The guidelines recommend that OERs should be licensed using the Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC-BY) and make it clear that it is the responsibility of individual staff and students to ensure they have the rights to publish their resources. GCU should be identified as the licensor and copyright holder and staff are encouraged to assert their moral rights to be properly acknowledged as the author of the resources.

The guideliens also recommend that GCU resources should be deposited in Jorum, and that audio or video based OER teaching resources should be deposited in the university’s multimedia repository, GCUStore.

Following Marion’s post to oer-discs I asked list members if they knew of any other Scottish F/HE institutions that were developing similar policies or guidelines. Jackie Graham of the Scottish College Development Network replied that they are also in the process of developing

“…a policy statement for the organisation, and a set of guidelines for staff on the use and sharing of OER. This work is being undertaken as part of the Re:Source initiative which aims to encourage and facilitate the greater open sharing of resources across the college sector in Scotland.”

Re:Source is a Jorum-powered window onto the Scottish FE community’s open content which launched in November 2012. The service uses the existing Jorum digital infrastructure, together with customised branding and interface, to providing access to a rich collection of content from Scotland’s Colleges.

It’s hugely encouraging to see Scottish universities and colleges taking steps to formulate coherent institutional OER guidelines and it’s even more encouraging that these guidelines acknowledge the beneficial role that institutional libraries and the Jorum national repository can play in supporting the creation, use and dissemination of open educational resources within institutions and across the sector.

In light of the forthcoming Open Scotland event that Cetis are running togther with SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and ALT Scotland SIG, I’d be very interested to hear if any other Scottish colleges or universities are in the process of developing similar guidelines or policies for the creation or use of open educational resources, or the adoption of open educational practices more widely, so if anyone knows of any more examples I’d be very grateful if you could let me know.

Open Scotland

In collaboration with SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG, Cetis is hosting a one day
summit focused on open education policy for Scotland which will take place at the National Museum of Scotland at the end of June. The event, which will bring together senior managers, policy makers and key thinkers, will provide an opportunity for critical reflection on the national and global impact of open education. Open Scotland will also provide a forum for identifying shared strategic priorities and scoping further collaborative activities to work towards more integrated policies and practice and encourage greater openness in Scottish education.

The Open Scotland keynote will be presented by Cable Green, Creative Commons’ Director of Global Learning. Creative Commons are a non-profit organization whose free legal tools provide a global standard for enabling the open sharing of knowledge and creativity. Representatives of the Scottish Government, the National Library of Scotland, SQA, ALT Scotland, the University of Edinburgh, Glasgow Caledonian University, the Nordic OER Alliance, the EU Policies for OER Uptake Project, Kerson Associates, Jisc, Jorum, Jisc RSC Scotland and OSS Watch will be among those attending. A synthesis and report of the outputs of the summit will be disseminated publicly under open licence.

Open Scotland Overview

“A smarter Scotland is critical to delivering the Government’s Purpose of achieving sustainable economic growth. By making Scotland smarter, we will lay the foundations for the future wellbeing and achievement of our children and young people, increase skill levels across the population and better channel the outputs of our universities and colleges into sustainable wealth creation, especially participation, productivity and economic growth.”
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/Performance/scotPerforms/objectives/smarter

How can Scotland leverage the power of “open” to develop the nation’s unique education offering? Can openness promote strategic advantage while at the same time supporting social inclusion, inter-institutional collaboration and sharing, and create new opportunities for the next generation of teachers and learners? The Scottish Government’s ‘Scotland’s Digital Future’ strategy, published in 2011, sets out the steps that are required to ensure Scotland is well placed to take full advantage of all the economic, social and environmental opportunities offered by the digital age. However, whilst the Scottish Government has been active in advocating the adoption of open data policies and licences it has yet to articulate policies for open education and open educational resources. In March 2013, the Scottish Funding Council published a ‘Further and Higher Education ICT Strategy’ that builds on the Scottish further and higher education sectors’ culture of collaboration and the range of national shared services that are already in place, many of which are supported by Jisc, JANET UK and others. What kinds of open policies and practices can we develop and share across all sectors of Scottish education to help implement these strategies and move them forward?

Scotland has a proud and distinctive tradition of education, which is recognised internationally. The Curriculum for Excellence is transforming schools to better equip our children for the challenges of the 21st century. With our colleges and universities experiencing major changes in terms of structure, funding and access, Scotland’s colleges are opening up their educational content to the world through the new Re:Source OER repository. The University of Edinburgh have pioneered the delivery of MOOCs in Scotland, recently attracting over 300,000 students to six online courses, and Napier University is embracing open practice through their open 3E Framework for teaching with technology, which has been adopted by over 20 institutions globally. The Jisc RSC Scotland are making extensive use of the Mozilla Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI), which enables an open, standards-based way to issue digital recognition and accreditation. The Scottish Qualifications Authority is exploring how open badges can be built into the national qualifications system and the ICT Excellence Group, which is overseeing the re-development of the Scottish schools’ intranet GLOW, are also investigating their potential use

Elsewhere, the HEFCE funded UKOER Programme has been instrumental in stimulating the release of open educational resources and embedding open practice in English HE institutions. SURFNet in the Netherlands recently published their second ‘Trends Report on OER’, and a group of Nordic countries have launched the Nordic Alliance for OER. The UNESCO 2012 Paris Declaration called on governments to openly license publicly funded educational materials, and later that year the European Union issued a public consultation on “Opening up Education – a proposal for a European initiative” in advance of a new EU Initiative on “Opening up Education” expected to launch in mid-2013. Underpinning many of these developments is an increased acceptance and adoption of Creative Commons licences.

We are experiencing a period of unprecedented flux in all sectors of teaching and learning. For better or for worse, the advent of MOOCs has opened a public debate on the future direction of post-school education, though the balance of commercial opportunities and threats from the increased marketisation and commodification of education is still unclear.

Open Scotland is a one day summit facilitated by Jisc CETIS in collaboration with SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG. The event will provide an opportunity for key stakeholders to critically reflect on the national and global impact and opportunities of open education, provide a forum to identify shared strategic interests and work towards a more integrated Scottish approach to openness in education.

“UNESCO believes that universal access to high quality education is key to the building of peace, sustainable social and economic development, and intercultural dialogue. Open Educational Resources (OER) provide a strategic opportunity to improve the quality of education as well as facilitate policy dialogue, knowledge sharing and capacity building.”
http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/access-to-knowledge/open-educational-resources/

Cetis       SQA
rscs_logo_feb11_v1-scotland1       alt_logo

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/

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!