Thinking About Open: Workshop Tour I

by Beck Pitt (OEPS project)

Last week (w/c 26 October) saw myself and Bea conduct the first of our workshop tours and participate in a number of events. Here’s a brief rundown of the highlights and a summary of notes from the sessions:

Thinking about Open at the University of Dundee

On Tuesday we headed up to Dundee to facilitate the first of our Thinking about Open workshops on this tour (slidedeck available here). As part of the first half of the workshop we explore and brainstorm what openness means (take a look at the photos of people’s contributions from the Dundee and UWS sessions above and below!) and then look at different examples of open practice (see case study cards) before taking a look at what OER is and how it is being used by educators and inspiring change around the world. The second half of the workshop focuses on barriers and challenges to OER/OEP, how to overcome these and the role of policy in facilitating change. The workshop aims to facilitate discussion and explore best practice and possible next steps.

Checking whether resources can be reused (and the time implication) was a concern with one participant noting that there had been cases of copyrighted resources being labelled as openly licensed on sites such as Flickr. Having to check the providence of a resource multiple times and via multiple channels highlights the need for raising the profile of best practice more generally to help mitigate issues of this type of incorrect attribution. Other examples noted during discussion included differences in sharing practices, with instances of others refusing to share reading lists being described by one participant.

Later on in the workshop we looked at possible barriers and challenges to using OER.  A lively discussion around possible challenges followed with one challenge (“time”) being identified as underpinning many of the issues raised. “Digital competency” was also perceived as an important barrier to OER adoption. Without appropriate training or support how will people know about OER or open practices? It can be difficult for people to know where to find OER, or ascertain what material is open. After all if you can find material online (e.g. by “googling it”) then can’t the material be reused? As people are often lacking in time it was suggested that training on finding, (re-)use and sharing of OER is included as part of institutional training for new staff. Training to use software for creating resources and legacy issues with different formats were also highlighted. This type of institution led activity would also help to build confidence, mitigate concerns about sharing material, as well as providing staff with digital literacy skills.

In addition, in order to embed open practices it was noted that working together to create resources or incentivising engagement with OER and OEP through recognition or promotion for teaching posts might be potential avenues to explore. Earlier in the workshop employer expectations and the requirements of professional bodies were also highlighted and more synergy between these might also help embed OEP and use of OER in institutions.

DigitalMe Open Badges workshop, Glasgow (28 October 2015) 

On Wednesday I headed over to Glasgow to participate in the DigitalMe Open Badges workshop. My notes from the session can be found at “Open Badges as Bridges: Design, Create, Connect”.

Bridges Programme AGM, Glasgow (29 October 2015) 

On Thursday we were delighted to participate in the Bridges Programme annual AGM, hear about the great work Bridges do in conjunction with other organisations and employers to help support asylum seekers, refugees and migrants by enabling them to develop their skills, establish networks and access educational and training opportunities. Read some of their client case studies.

A particular highlight was seeing colleague Lindsay Hewitt of The Open University in Scotland (OUiS) receive an Education and Training award for their work with Bridges in developing and using the reflection toolkit.

Going Open at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS)

Friday saw us head over to the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) in Paisley to run a large Thinking about Open workshop (check out the slidedeck). With a mix of colleagues including librarians, management, lecturers and instructional designers there was a multiplicity of perspectives but with similar concerns and experiences.

The “dark side of OER” was noted by one group in the openness brainstorm (see photos above) with loss of control, intellectual property rights (IPR) issues and a lack of understanding of sharing being potential barriers to use.  The danger of sharing (admittedly not a specific issue to OER) was also highlighted later on: what is to stop someone editing material so that it distorts its original meaning? On the positive side participants noted the ability to personalise learning through using open resources, “cohort identify” and peer support. Trust was also highlighted as an important factor for reuse of materials: are the resources credible? Is it easy and time efficient to find these resources?

It’s worth noting that at both Dundee and UWS examples of collective ownership resonated with participants: the Byron Statistics example where students and their teacher rework the class material annually was highlighted as particularly pertinent by several people during an early workshop activity focused on this and other case studies.

Internal recognition and encouraging people to develop more open practices (particularly in instances where peers have concerns or don’t know how to use or what OER is) were noted as critical to facilitating engagement, particularly as lack of clarity over IPR is a major barrier to sharing beyond one’s own institution. Like Dundee, UWS are in the process of developing institutional policy to encourage OER/OEP with a particular focus on IP and copyright issues. Introducing a policy such as that at Glasgow Caledonian clarifies IP/copyright and enables people to share resources they create as part of their job on an open license and therefore with a wider community.  It was agreed that a top down and bottom up drive to facilitate OEP/OER was needed to transform collective practice. However, it is not just institutional policy that is required but a structure to ensure the success of that policy: encouraging people to engage with OEP/OER through supportive, integrated training that simultaneously meets any external requirements is required. In addition case studies and examples of people who didn’t know about OEP/OER who moved to embrace more open practices, or examples of people that you know becoming more ‘open’, were noted as important within this context.

Later discussion highlighted the need for incentivisation to kick start engagement and encourage adoption: can OEP and the creation of OER be taken into account within the context of promotion? What about possible enhanced profile or an increase in citations? How can we measure the impact of any change in practice?

Collaborative authorship and leaving one’s ‘ego’ at the door (“let’s take the egos out of it“) is also important: open peer review and being open to receiving feedback from colleagues/students were highlighted as important practices which change the culture or collective practices at an organisation as well as potentially improving standards. Building on the idea of needing to push your ‘ego’ aside one participant reflected on the need to learn from students, with the role of reflection and working together with students (“facilitating a collective dose of humility”) also being discussed.

Fancy the team visiting your institution or organisation to conduct a workshop? Find out more!

About Beck Pitt

Researcher on the Open Education Research Hub and Opening Educational Practices in Scotland and CEPOL projects. Based at The Open University (UK).

Posted on November 2, 2015, in Event, Research, workshop and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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