OEP in a Scottish Context

by Ronald Macintyre, OEPS project team

OEPS in the Scottish context

OEPS in the Scottish context

The question of what OEP looks like in Scotland arose at the start of the OEPS advisory forum and the end of the day – with the question of underlying values to the fore. I had alluded to some thoughts on my short slot in the morning where I looked back to an older tradition of Openness in Education within Scotland, citing miners and weavers in the C18th, and including a quote from the 1790 Statistical Account about the uncommonly high levels of literacy in Scotland that pointed to a much older tradition of education in Scotland being seen as “common social good”; a focus on access and equity ought to shape OEP in Scotland.

The Statistical Account for Scotland, from Scottish Book Town Wigtown, circa 1790 noted [uneasily] increased literacy meant … “Servility of mind, the natural consequence of poverty and oppression, has lost much of its hold here. …. An attention to publick affairs, a thing formerly unknown among the lower ranks, pretty generally prevails now.” (p17 Rose 2002)

Rose J. (2002) “The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes”, Yale University Press, New Haven

Pete Cannell built on this in his reply looking at the way structures in Scotland like credit frameworks and the fact that Scotland is a wee place and people work together which makes for distinctive educational practices. However, when we look at OEP in a Scottish context from outside we might well listen to @UKOER managed by @dkernohan

On one level he is right, there has not been a Scottish specific OER focus, even though many of us engaged and been differentially drawn into OER/OEP through broader engagement programmes. Here I am thinking of people from JISC/CETIS, ALT, and notably GCU who have been key players in OER/OEP in the UK and Europe with numerous other education providers and individuals who have been drawn in to OEP. So perhaps one could say we have been lead and lagged behind, in that way I am not sure how different our OEP is from anywhere else. Though perhaps, with our tradition of access to education and our scale, our report card might say “could do better”

Another way to look at it might be about opportunities to do better. For example, in the UK, our telephony and most of our data is wired, while, as has well documented, some African countries have leapfrogged this intermediate and messy solution and gone straight to mobile devices. Perhaps OEP in a Scottish context can “leapfrog” lots of issues encountered by OER early adopters; certainly the narrative shift from resources onto practices tells us something, it suggests a maturing context. In the workshop, with the help of giant coloured post it notes, we mapped what the focus on Open and Educational Practice might mean in a Scottish context. As noted on twitter, messy.


Tag Cloud of OEP in Scottish Context

Tag Cloud of OEP in Scottish Context

While one might question how valid an analysis a tag cloud is, it certainly helps clear things up a bit. Stripping out words like ‘Education’, ‘Practice’ what seems to stand out is; ‘Access’, ‘Collaboration/Sharing/Cooperation’, ‘RPL/APL’, and writ large ‘Learning’ and ‘Learners’. Looking through the actual comments what seems to emerge is Access in relation to the accessibility of resources but also what they might enable educators and learners to access, and this is often linked to questions around RPL/APL. Comparing this with my notes from the workshop we seemed to hang on the [Scottish] “Enlightenment” post it and the sense that in Scotland education is a something open to all and whose benefits are shared by all. These values were taken as a given, and people quickly moved on to what does Open enable Educational Practices to do. Yes, sharing and collegiality between educators in Scotland, it’s a wee place; we can work together, but to what end. Does being open do something, something we cannot otherwise achieve? What seemed to emerge was that openness allows educators to share good practice and enhances the learners experience, but in order for the benefits of that learning to be shared by all the community we need to engage with the thorny issue of how we recognise that learning, and beyond recognition, accreditation.

What does this tell us about OEP in a Scottish context? My sense is that what emerged from the day was a stage that we can “leapfrog”, partly because some of those in Scotland have experience of those early battles, and partly because some do not. It means the discourse accounts for, but is no longer simply about how we enable openness, but a maturing focus on what openness enables. It is an acknowledgement that Scotland is a wee place and links between sectors allow us to “do things” that might not work elsewhere, a focus on the learner, and the learning journey, and questions around how openness supports and enhances the journey. I suppose my underlying sense is of the start of the conversation about what this means.

For more information about developments in RPL in Scotland see http://www.enhancementthemes.ac.uk/flexible-learning/recognition-of-prior-learning

Posted on October 28, 2014, in Event, Report, workshop and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Ronnie – What about #openscot http://openscot.net/ or College Development Network Re-Source http://resource.blogs.scotcol.ac.uk/ or SQA’s and work of others including RSC Scotland work around Open Badges I know list of open things in Scotland is not long to date – but makes omission more surprising – and much of this work has gained international recognition.

    Leapfrogging is a game that involves getting leverage from the shoulders of giants 😉

    Great to see project blog up and running

    • Good point Joe, sorry for not listing everyone I thought a general indication that organisations and individuals have been differentially drawn and lead OER/OEP would be okay, of course you are right it is much broader than the list I made.

      I do like the standing on the shoulders of giants of attributed to Newton but much older as I recall. I think that is what I was perhaps clumsily trying to say when I indicated that we could leapfrog those early concerns with how to be open and move onto what openness enables in practice. We can do this because some people have already been through it, but I also feel its important to recognise the importance of those people who have not fought those early battles and can look at things without the baggage.



      PS I of course should say views are my own

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