Search Results for caring counts

Caring Counts in the Workplace launch, Glasgow: 8 June 2015

by Beck Pitt and Caroline Anderson (OEPS project)

Beck, Bea and Caroline were at Citizen M, Glasgow on Monday for the The Open University (OU) in Scotland’s symposium to launch Caring Counts in the Workplace, an exciting new open educational resource (OER) to enable managers to support carers in balancing their caring and work roles. Nicely timed at the beginning of Carers Week and also in the year that Carers Scotland celebrates its 50th anniversary, the day brought together carers, support workers and employers to learn about the new course, find out more about how it was developed, its benefit to both employer and employee, and its potential for transforming lives. This post aims to act as a snapshot overview of some of the rich and interesting discussion and events from the day.

Caring Counts in the Workplace builds on the success of, and accompanies Caring Counts: a reflection and planning course for carers, which launched in July 2014 and was created in conjunction with 20 carers (“developed with and for carers”). Caring Counts in the Workplace is created for managers and policy makers and developed in collaboration with the Equal Partners in Care (EPiC) project (Scottish Social Services Council and NHS Education for Scotland) and with Carers Scotland, the course is aimed at employers who recognise that fostering an environment where every member of staff feels supported in the workplace is good employment practice, and who understand the benefits of having carer-supportive policies. Both courses provide the opportunity to earn OEPS open badges which demonstrate that you have participated in the course.

James Miller (Director of the OU in Scotland) and Jamie Hepburn (MSP, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health) kicked off proceedings. Jamie Hepburn reiterated the Scottish Government’s commitment to carers and young carers, to supporting them to ensure they have the same opportunities to fulfil their potential, balancing their life goals with caring, and creating carer-friendly communities. The Minister talked about the Carer Positive kite mark, a Scottish Government funded initiative operated by Carers Scotland which currently involves over 50 organisations across Scotland, before congratulating the OU on achieving the first ‘Engaged’ level of the kite mark. The OU is the first of Scotland’s universities to achieve the Carer Positive kite mark, and Tony O’Shea Poon accepted the award on behalf of the Open University. In his thanks Tony highlighted that the rights of the carer must be aligned with the responsibilities of the employer.

Next we heard from Professor Allison Littlejohn (OU) on research highlighting Ten things skilled professional learners do differently before a range of speakers officially launched Caring Counts in the Workplace. During this session we heard from carer Lesley Bryce who talked about her own experiences: from recognising herself as a ‘carer’ to the impact that Caring Counts: a reflection and planning course for carers had on her.  As Lesley has described it elsewhere:

“I think you definitely lose confidence if you have to give up a career, for whatever reason. Reflection helps you realise your potential, which can get lost in your caring role” (p8, Open Pathways to Education).

We also heard how Caring Counts in the Workplace is already having an impact: Seonad Hoy of social housing provider the Wheatley Group reported that 10 managers had already signed up to participate in a pilot of the course whilst ongoing support for carers at the organisation includes events during Carers’ week and flexible working practices. Wheatley Group are also actively working towards progressing to the next level of the Carer Positive Kitemark. The need for employers to support carers in varied ways was also highlighted by Gill Ryan who noted that the Scottish Courts Service provides services such as free Power of Attorney to its employees.

After lunch we heard about the amazing work of the Bridges Programmes which has been supporting refugees and asylum seekers in Glasgow since 2002. Maggie Lennon highlighted the importance of reflection for everyone they support and described the role and impact of the Reflecting on Transitions OER (also carrying OEPS badges) which was developed to enable their clients think about their current situation, previous experiences and think about next steps.

Prior to the plenary session, where we explored next steps and takeaway points, a number of parallel sessions enabled us to explore different initiatives in more depth.  Participants had the opportunity to hear more about the content and structure of the new Caring Counts course, find out more about Carer Positive and the Kitemark and the new Open Pathways to Higher Education which has been designed to help support learners explore OER available on the OU’s OpenLearn platform in a structured way. The session also introduced the idea of Open Learning Champions and supporting others use of OpenLearn materials.

Beck has produced a quick Storify to capture in more depth the speakers’ thoughts and participant contributions and the research team are looking forward to working with Lindsay Hewitt and the Caring Counts team to document the impact of Caring Counts over the coming months. Presentations, photos and more from the day will also be available via the Caring Counts blog shortly and we’ll be adding further resources, blog posts etc. on the event as they go live!

 

Our collection of open resources and practices

As the OEPS project draws to a close, there is much to celebrate.  We are pleased to share the growing collection of open courses, resources, case studies and open practice guidance which the project has helped produce and showcase the online platform, OpenLearn Create, which the project has helped further develop for hosting open materials and practices and where the OEPS collection is hosted.

In the OEPS collection:

Resources for OEP includes case studies on how other people and institutions have used open educational resources and practices; guidance on ways of finding, using, creating and sharing high quality open educational resources (OER) and how to use open educational practices and research on open education.  These are worth exploring to find something which might be similar to your own experience and give you encouragement to continue investigating the fascinating world of open learning and what it enables for so many people.

The OEPS team have written two courses about open educational practices, Becoming an open educator and Supporting Collective learning in workplace and community settings and have also been involved in co-authoring a course about creating courses – How to make an open online course.

OEPS also worked with the Scottish Association of Marine Science (SAMS) to create a short course called My seaweed looks weird for post graduate learners about seaweed aquaculture to explore best practice in seaweed cultivation.

We have produced two short resources introducing secondary school children to using the Open Science Lab tools to enhance their learning of Analysing pesticides or testing for genetic variations using quantitative PCR analysis (polymerase chain reaction).  Early in the OEPS project these were piloted with two schools in Scotland and have been revised slightly as a result of the pilot.

Courses developed with OEPS or inspired by it:

Early in the project The Open University in Scotland produced 3 badged open courses for carers which carry the OEPS badge design – see the OU in Scotland collection for Caring Counts: a self-reflection and planning course for carers, Caring Counts in the Workplace and Reflecting on Transitions.

We are working with Parkinson’s UK on their collection of courses and Dyslexia Scotland and Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit on a collection of courses.  So far Understanding Parkinson’s and Introduction to Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice have been published and each organisation has worked with OEPS to develop more courses which are coming soon.

More recently we’re pleased to see that the OEPS project has encouraged independent course creation – see the free resource for teachers Grow your own loaf created by the Royal Highland Education Trust, inspired by the OEPS project and hosted online as the result of the availability of the free open platform which the OEPS project has helped improve.

Using the OEPS collection

We hope that you will find the OEPS collection useful, not only as a legacy of the project but also as a place to find and share information on open educational practice. The collection can be updated so please contact the OLC team if you would like to contribute to it.

 

 

 

 

Open Learning Champions – a model for widening participation

In the first of a number of blogs about OER17, Gill Ryan, Learning Partnerships Officer at The Open University in Scotland (OUiS) explains what her presentation will cover.

Gill Ryan, OEPS Forum 4 (CC BY 4.0, Beck Pitt)

Gill Ryan, OEPS Forum 4 (CC BY 4.0, Beck Pitt)

OUiS operates a network of Open Learning Champions, working in partnership with a range of voluntary sector organisations, community learning groups, libraries and others. The aim is to provide open learning in familiar spaces using open educational resources (OER) on OpenLearn and OpenLearn Works, as well as massive online open courses (MOOCs) on FutureLearn. The project has managed to successfully engage with people who may not otherwise consider themselves ‘learners’, and who may face significant barriers to accessing more traditional widening participation programmes.

Lane (2012) suggests that ‘inexperienced and unconfident learners’ may not gain much benefit from open educational resources without the support of a tutor. Open Learning Champions address this absence of support, through offering light touch facilitation and in some cases the possibility of peer support, within an existing and trusted relationship. This can be seen in the context of what Cannell (2016) describes as ‘a movement’ towards developing partnerships which target widening participation groups, and provide contextualised use of OER as well as support. For example, a group of carers may be supported by a carer support worker to undertake a relevant open educational resource, such as Caring Counts – a self-reflection course for carers available on OpenLearn Create.

The OUiS has run a series of workshops for champions to introduce them to open educational resources, develop their confidence in navigating the platforms and supporting learners, and explore different pathways from open educational resources into higher education and other positive destinations. Since June 2015, 17 workshops have taken place and there are now 127 champions from 60 organisations. Initial evaluation of the pilot (Ryan & Hewitt 2015) suggested that each champion may reach eight learners. My presentation at OER17 will present the findings of follow-up evaluation on the impact of the first year, which suggests that each champion is reaching 10 or more learners and that the learners they engage come from more difficult to engage groups, making this an effective widening participation model.

Open Education Week 2017

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Open Education Week 2017 runs from 27th-31st March and is a celebration of the global open education movement. Featuring inspiring initiatives, organisations and people around the world that further open education, OE week offers a myriad of activities, webinars and information to help you connect with and find out more about the impact and benefits of openness in education.

As it happens, the OEPS steering group meeting will take place on 28th March, mid-way through Open Education Week. The OEPS steering group includes five higher education institutions dedicated to furthering open education in Scotland. To celebrate and showcase their work, and that of other organisations they partner with, we thought it would be interesting to highlight some of the exciting open education activities happening across the Group.

University of Edinburgh

 

University of Glasgow

 

University of Highlands and Islands

 

University of Strathclyde

 

Open University in Scotland / Open University

 

Opening Educational Practices in Scotland

 

Want to get involved? You can browse the wide range of activities that individuals and organisations are hosting around the globe on the Open Education Week website, and don’t forget if you do participate, host your own event, want to share a resource or idea and join in the conversation use the hashtag #openeducationwk. If you tweet any of our activities or resources, please include @OEPScotland and let us know what you think!

 

Some Thoughts on Open Badges, Recognition and Credit

The use of open badges as a way of recognising a short episode of learning is on the increase in Scotland. There have been significant changes since we started working on the OEPS project in summer 2014. It may be useful to categorise the use of badges in three ways.

  1. Awarding badges for the recognition of activity that contributes to continuing professional development (CPD). Examples of organisations taking this approach include Borders College (an early adopter), City of Glasgow College, Scottish Social Services Council and some Health Boards.
  1. The recognition of co-curricular and extra curricular activity; The University of Abertay is using open badges in the former context for its Law students and is considering whether badges might be integrated with the HEAR statement to recognise extra curricular achievements.
  1. To reward the successful completion of an openly licensed online course; The Open University now offers a suite of eleven such badged online courses (BOCs). A further 10 courses in the same style are scheduled for release during the rest of 2016. A small number of other badged courses have been developed through the OEPS project in partnership with Scottish Universities and Third Sector Organisations.   The number of individuals in Scotland with one or more such badges is rising rapidly.

The landscape is evolving and diverse. Open Badges are awarded against a wide range of criteria. In some cases this may simply be for attendance or participation. In others, students are required to submit some evidence of learning such as a reflection on how a workshop had influenced their professional practice. The OU BOC and OEPS badges are typically awarded for successful completion of one or more online quizzes.

While, particularly in the CPD field, digital badges are being awarded for face-to-face activity and traditional forms of learning, certificates are also being used to recognise achievement on online courses. Free courses, offered by MOOC platforms such as FutureLearn and Coursera, and by providers such as ALISON, may supply successful learners with certificates for a fee. This is part of an emerging business model in online education.

It’s unusual for MOOCs or free openly licensed (OER) courses to be a given a level. However, FutureLearn the Open University and the University of Leeds are offering a route from one of their free online courses to study on a degree or MBA programme.

Most forms of study that result in the award of an open badge represent relatively few hours of learning, typically in the range 5 – 25 hours (although there are a few outliers at both ends of the range). Thus, before considering validity and level, the potential credit value of a single badge is normally small. However, the significance of credit is contextual and not necessarily directly related to size. While for a graduate, 2 credit points at SCQF level 7 might not be very relevant, for an adult learner with no, or little, post compulsory educational experience it might be very important.

Currently recognition based on criteria that require evidence of reflection or other complex outcomes is normally assessed manually before the badge is enabled. This can be expensive and sets limits on scale. Online courses with quiz assessments allow for the awarding process to be automated and can therefore deal with much greater numbers. However, although there has been some very creative use of quizzes (see for example ‘Caring Counts’) this method of assessment does curtail the kinds of learning outcomes that can be effectively assessed. So, for example, the Understanding Parkinson’s course developed by OEPS asks learners to engage in significant reflection on practice and on what they have learned through the medium of a log – however, the success criteria for the course are currently based on more restrictive quiz based questions. Evaluation of this and other similar courses suggests that the reflective activity is a strong impetus to learning. The OEPS project is investigating whether it’s possible to develop automated peer assessment that could work at large scale.

As the numbers of participants on badged courses increases there will be individuals who have portfolios of badges in their Mozilla backpack that may add up to a significant investment in learning. What should be the attitude of colleges and universities to this kind of experience? There is potential for much greater use of RPL and where the badged experience could feed into an ‘empty box’ type module that supports the award of credit.

Pete Cannell

 

How can open educational practices and openly licensed resources support transitions?

Ronald Macintyre and I, on behalf of the OEPS team, attended the 2016 Enhancement Themes Conference on Student Transitions on the 9th June.  These notes outline the content of our presentation.  The slides are available on the OEPScotland slideshare site.

We began by explaining that Opening Educational Practices in Scotland is a three-year project funded by the Scottish Funding Council and led by the Open University in Scotland.  The project is tasked to develop increased understanding of design, production and use of OER and OEP in Scotland with a particular focus on widening participation and transitions.

Before looking at transitions we gave a brief introduction to Open Education Resources (OER) and Open Educational Practices (OEP) and noted that they are becoming an increasingly important part of the educational landscape.  The range and scope of free, openly licensed courses is increasing rapidly.

In the course of the project we have been developing our understanding of the relevance of OER and OEP to educational transitions. While some of our observations are relevant more generally, we focused in the presentation on transitions from non-formal or informal learning to formal learning at college or university.  We then considered three connected ways in which OER and OEP are relevant to discussion of transitions.

The first starts from a student focus.  Individuals making educational transitions do so in a world where digital technology has become ubiquitous.  For some, a prerequisite of engaging with education is the acquisition of basic skills for digital participation.  Many more will have experience of working with digital devices and tools such as Google and YouTube.  They begin the learning journey that comprises their personal transition with a set of digital life-skills, assumptions and expectations.  These are valuable and important, but not necessarily sufficient to operate in digital learning environments.   Some of this experience will have been mediated through the availability of free and openly licensed material – although that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will have explicit knowledge of ‘open education’.   On course, in institutions, students continue to engage with digital resources.  Acknowledging, understanding and influencing their behaviour is increasingly important for educators.

We argue therefore that good practice in supporting transition into formal education needs to acknowledge and value existing digital skills.  Success and retention in formal education requires sustained support for the development of digital literacy skills appropriate to learning in further and higher education.  A core part of digital literacy is an awareness of OER and issues relating to the use and sharing of openly licensed material.

Our second point concerns the impact of openly licensed materials on curriculum development.  Educational institutions are often perceived as the custodians of ‘content’.  But if good quality content is freely available, what then is the role of the college or university?  We’ve explored some of the issues that are raised in a paper ‘Lifelong learning and partnerships – rethinking the boundaries of the university in the digital age’.  In that paper we argue that in a as boundaries are reconfigured the role of the university in developing pedagogy and student centred supportive practice is heightened.  We note that OER and OEP is already having an impact outside the academy, as third sector and other organisations concerned with non-formal learning, start to use OER and students acquire new types of credentials in the form of Digital Badges.

Finally we note that open education has been heralded as opening up new possibilities for widening participation.  In practice, however, the use of OER and OEP in lifelong learning has been relatively limited.   The OEPS project has worked with partners to understand why the promise of OER has not yet been fulfilled.  Some reflections on this can be found in ‘Revisiting Barriers to Widening Participation in HE’. There have also been very few examples of OER courses being reversioned or remixed to address the needs and context of different learners in a lifelong learning context.  One exception to this is ‘Caring Counts’, an OER developed at the OU in Scotland, which has its origin in a course designed to support refugees and migrant workers into education and employment. This was then reversioned on two occasions, once to meet the needs of Carers wanting to make the transition into education and again to meet the needs of professionals working for Carers’ organisations.  The advent of new and more user-friendly authoring tools, which allow educationalists to edit, modify and add to openly licensed courses has the potential to enable low cost reversioning of good quality OER to suit specific widening participation groups.   Sharing and developing resources across and between institutions becomes possible.

In conclusion we suggest that:

OER can help support learners and fill missing steps on learner journeys and/or in curriculum that aims to support transitions.

It’s necessary to accept OER and OEP are part of learner journeys; openness is pushing into HE through learners’ experience, and we need to support and develop learners’ ability to use these resources.

OER and OEP have the potential to reshape the development of curriculum, to help providers reach out, allow communities and learners to reach in, to create curriculum relevant to learners and their context.

 

Pete Cannell and Ronald Macintyre (for the OEPS project team)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mapping OEP in Scotland: Your Stories

Haven’t checked out the OEPS Hub in a while? Don’t miss the opportunity to browse the latest additions, including a growing number of mini-case studies of best practice across the sector, with advice and tips from people who are experimenting and developing open practices and initiatives across Scotland, as well as a variety of perspectives on openness. Case studies recently released include:

Thanks to everyone who has taken part in an interview to date; it’s been great to capture your thoughts and experiences. If you enjoyed reading these, and would like to talk with us about your own open practices and what’s happening where you are, please get in touch!  You can tweet me @BeckPitt or contact the OEPS project.

 

Photo/Picture credits (from top left): Natalie Lafferty (via Twitter), Lorna Campbell (via her blog, CC-BY 3.0), Stephanie McKendry (via her Strathclyde profile), “Open, Open, Open” (CC-BY 4.0 International, Beck Pitt), “Life is Sharing” (CC-BY 2.0, Alan Levine)

Free online course for carers

Caring Counts is a self-reflection and planning course developed with and for carers. Working with carers and carer’s organisations, The Open University in Scotland has developed a badged free online course to support carers to reflect on their caring journey and identify the skills and abilities they have gained and continue to gain in their caring role.

The course features the stories and experiences of a range of carers from very diverse backgrounds and caring circumstances, who share their lives in text and on film. Users have the option of completing a series of quizzes to gain a digital badge marking their achievement in completing the course.

This course is for carers of any age and at any stage in their life or caring role, it is flexible and adaptable to fit into your training and support programmes.

As well as helping carers recognise and value their skills and experiences and suggest opportunities for learning and other ideas for personal development, the course includes detailed information about career planning for those thinking about employment, or those thinking about returning to work and/or study that they may have had to put on hold.

Learners can gain a Caring Counts digital badge which recognises their learning through completing online quizzes that lead to a digital badge that acknowledges successful course completion. Digital badges are a useful way of demonstrating participation and recognising informal learning.

The OU in Scotland are working with a range of partners at national and local levels to support carers and carers centre staff to make full use of the course as well as to develop professionals’ knowledge and understanding of carers’ experiences.

You are welcome to explore the course and share details about it with others, or talk to the course team about opportunities for training and development and how they might be able to support you to make the best use of this free online resource.

Caring Counts is available at www.open.edu/openlearnworks/course/view.php?id=1688

The Open University supports carers in a range of ways, which you can read about in this leaflet designed for carers http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/LearnDevDist/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/OU_Carers_2014.pdf – the OU in Scotland are sending copies of this leaflet to carers centres across Scotland.