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.

#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.

The creative potential of openness

“Our assumption is that we need high degrees of control. We’re frightened by openness and we tend to underestimate the amount of creative potential it can unlock.”

This assertion was made on the Radio 4 In Business programme by James Boyle, Professor of Law at Duke University, North Carolina and Chair of the Creative Commons Board. The theme of this week’s edition, titled Free for All, was open business models and copyright regimes. The programme, which also includes an extensive interview with Chris Anderson of Long Tail fame, provided a good general overview in non-technical terms to many of the key issues relating to business models based on open source software and the provision of “free” content and services. Details of the programme are available from the In Business home page and the podcast can be downloaded here.