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!

 

Action Research into the Learner Experience

The issue is examining why it is we follow a particular track

oransay

Credit: Ronald Macintrye, Postal Deliveries to the tidal Isle of Oransay, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Evaluation of Learning Experience of e-Learning Special Interest Group (ELESIG) recently launched a MOOC on the EU MOOC platform and aggregator EMMA. The MOOC is titled “Researching Learners experiences and use of technology using action research” #LERMOOC (see here). It includes linked case studies based on partnership work by OEPS. In them I reflect on the three phases of content development, reflecting on design, production and use. I explore the value and tensions around working in partnership with an external organisation, in this example Parkinson’s UK.

The value of partnership comes from getting closer to the learners and their experiences through working with practitioners, in particular in the design phase where you can surface and test assumptions, evaluating them as part of the design process; but also in use, where the materials can be embedded in existing social contexts through the partner’s networks. The tension is often about how systems speak to each other; sometimes these are technical questions, sometimes ones of organisational culture.

The purpose is to create partnerships with organisations to allow you to get closer to understanding the learners, it is exploratory, and the case studies focus on the process, on wayfinding, surfacing my own action research into the learner experience as part of being a reflective practitioner.

Click on this link to read the OEPS case studies.

SSSC Open Badges

Towards the end of February I spoke to Keith Quinn, Learning & Development Manager (Digital Learning) and Rob Stewart, Learning and Development Adviser at the Scottish Social Services Council offices in Dundee.

SSSC (Pete Cannell CC-BY 4.0)

Photo: ‘SSSC’, Pete Cannell CC-BY 4.0

More than 200,000 people work in social services across Scotland; the workforce includes social care workers, social workers, social work students and early years workers. SSSC are responsible for registering the workforce, making sure that they meet the standards set out in the SSSC Codes of Practice.  As part of its support for the professional development of the social services workforce SSSC has developed the SSSC Open Badges website.

Currently 107 different badges are available through the platform.  The underlying pedagogic model is based on using badges to recognise situated learning.  Badges are awarded for reflecting and acting on learning not simply for attendance or participation.  Assessment and verification of reflective activity is carried out by employers, line managers and sometimes by SSSC staff.  Social care organisations can register with the system and are allocated a unique code.  Learners can then submit the code for their particular employment and will be assessed by someone with knowledge of their context.  This decentralisation allows the system to operate at scale, SSSC sample to ensure consistency of standards.

One of the challenges for SSSC is developing a culture in which online learning is seen as engaging and relevant.  They are aware that many learners identify online with tick box approaches and so in developing the use of badges that recognise reflection and reward active engagement they are ‘trying to break what’s in people’s heads about just clicking …’.   They have deliberately avoided quiz-based assessment.  In part this is a challenge about changing perceptions, however, it is also about supporting learners to develop their skills.  Support is offered for reflective writing but learning can also be evidenced in other forms, for example using video. The learning and development team are also actively engaged in supporting and modeling good practice in digital learning design.

Organisations can use the SSSC platform to badge their learning materials.  Currently ten are doing so and the figure is likely to rise to around fifty in the next twelve months. To date 830 badges have been awarded and the number is rising rapidly.

If you have an interest in professional development and in the use of micro credentials for professional learning I’d strongly recommend browsing the SSSC site.  The short video explaining what digital badges are and can do is particularly good.

 

Pete Cannell for the OEPS team

Mind, this is about Learning

In April 2017 Pete Cannell and I have a paper at OER17 called Mind the Gap, it is concerned with lifelong learning and the role of free open online resources in filling in and creating routes into learning for those distanced from it, and more broadly reflects on the gaps within those journeys as local authorities colleges retreat from this space and Third Sector organisations look to fill those structural holes as best they can. I selected the title for its double meaning, to be careful, and to remember and keep it in our minds. It was only when I started to listen to Rosa Murray at the recent forum organised jointly by Learning for Sustainability Scotland (LfSS) and OEPS on shared values, my use of to mind’ means ‘to recollect’ and this use is a particularly Scottish thing .

Rosa touched on her work with Rowena Griffiths, asking us to consider whether we “mind enough”; suggesting the need for us to explore what a “pedagogy of minding” looked like (here are the slides). The workshop was about sustainability, and the role of openness and open practices in supporting learning for sustainability.Most attendees were “at home” in this space and looking to learn from OEPS about openness. In the self-organised afternoon discussion groups three clusters emerged:

  • How to use openness in teacher education, how to make it meaningful and engaging in ways that align to their values;
  • How and/or will openness transform education, and if it does what will it look like;
  • How to open up content to use and reuse.
LfSS end of session whiteboard

Figure 1: End of session whiteboard, Tim Smith, CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0

Big questions, questions that often surface when considering open educational practices. However, the focus on sustainability and equity and social justice did draw out some different issues. In particular, there were questions around who is empowered by openness and ensuring that openness and putting stuff online is not used as an argument for withdrawing support for other activities.  For me this went back to what Rosa said about shared values, and minding.  She suggested there was a particular Scottish focus on sustainability as a question of equity and social justice. For LfSS minding is about learning to care about the world, to mind about inequalities.

Concern about the world, care for the environment, has moved from the margins to the mainstream, to a point where every pupil in Scotland is “entitled” to learn about sustainability. As a movement OER/OEP is a long way from this, more people are using open resources, but do more people care. Is it something to care about, what are the things we ought to care about, and what would a pedagogy of minding about openness look like? An approach to education that plays on the distinctive Scottish sense of minding, of saying “I mind”, a sense between remembering, caution and caring.

Honestly, I have no answers, but I think openness is at the heart of a pedagogy of minding, as both a something that goes in as a value, and is an outcome of caring. If I look at Joe Wilson’s blog post about the UNESCO European Regional Consultation on OER and even further back to the work done on the Open Scotland Declaration, I see the articulation of a particular Scottish approach to openness. As the OER/OEP community looks forward, perhaps it is useful to take a side glance at the work done on sustainability, as the focus on values, and minding, might suggest a way forward.

 

Ronald Macintyre

 

 

 

 

Some Reflections on “The Gathering” 2017

At the SCVO Gathering in February we had a stall where we collected information about Third Sector engagement with free open online materials, we used an interactive poster as a survey tool, with a good response rate, and we ran a workshop on day 2, which 21 people came to. A fuller report on the outcomes of this is forthcoming, but we thought it was worth sharing an impressionistic account of the workshop.

OEPS stall at the Gathering 2017

Figure 1: The OEPS stall at ‘The Gathering’ by OEPS CC-BY-NA-SA 2.0 

In the workshop OEPS and Parkinson’s UK shared our experience of the opportunities and challenges of working with each other to create OER (for example Understanding Parkinson’s) and we also explored Scottish Union Learn’s work supporting users of OER. We kept it brief, because we wanted to allow space for others to explore this area. We asked two sets of questions, one set were a “what if”, and the second to think about what openness might enable.

In the first set we asked people to imagine a future where education is free and open, and then reflect on what it would enable for them as an organisation that uses, or may produce, resources to support their clients. On the broader scale while people did think it might be empowering and allow some to overcome barriers, they were concerned who would be empowered, and whether it might accentuate inequalities. They saw it would give them reach as organisations and might reduce costs of delivery and development, but were worried about the ability of their organisations to cope.  While they recognised the opportunities for organisations and clients, this concern around capacity was also expressed in relation to delivery. There was a lot of concern expressed about business models of openness and how this might be supported in the long term

In the second set we asked them to dig a little deeper and reflect on what open would enable, getting them to think about what would need to happen to make it happen, what needed to change within their organisation and what it would enable them to do for their clients. There was a focus on strategic leadership within the organisation and the need for resources (both finance and people) to be allocated to the area. There were also responses around lowering the bar, with organisations feeling that developments costs and technical difficulties were still prohibitive. People felt funders would need to recognise the costs of being open and there would need to be clear and transparent ways of establishing the value for their clients. The emphasised that costs should not just be for development work or one off pilots, but also for maintaining and developing their staff and supporting clients on a long-term basis. In some ways this is a broader issue for the Third Sector, with the tendency for funding to be short term being a long-term problem. Thus the concern was not openness, which was seen as positive, but openness without long-term support.

Tag cloud of participant responses in the Gathering Workshop

Figure 2: Tag cloud of participant responses to questions in the Gathering Workshop. OEPS CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

The tag cloud is based on the comments on the big bits of paper on the tables.  It may appear that worries dominated hopes, however, going around the tables and in plenary people were more positive about the possibilities for them and for clients. They recognised that they needed to operate in this space in order to meet the needs of their clients in an increasingly digitised world. They were not approaching it from wide-eyed techno-utopianism, but recognised the challenges for them and their clients. Those challenges relate to open and online in a broader context, of how to support people into the digital world, and questions within the Third Sector more broadly around strategic change, and how to sustain activities. I think this is probably a question we need to ask ourselves in the OER/OEP community.  It is all very well having resource to make something open, but what about the resources to ensure it is used and that it remains useful, so asking how to enable things to be open, what openness enables, and how to ensure it is sustained.

Ronald MacIntyre and Pete Cannell

 

Resources:
If you retain, reuse, revise, remix or redistribute these then please tell us what you’ve done with them and share back any remixing or revisions.

Slideshare of the workshop

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OEPS_interactive_poster_print_ready

Storify: OEPS @ the Gathering 2017

 

 

OEPS presentation at Open Education Global Conference 2017

Today, 10 March, is the OEPS project presentation at the Open Education Global Conference in Cape Town.  Anna Page is presenting for the OEPS project.

The presentation is all about our experiences of working with partners in producing open online courses and resources as we aim to open practice on participatory course production and share what we have learned.

The abstract for the presentation is as follows:

How can open educational practices be used to enable more learners to benefit from specialist knowledge online in accessible, engaging ways? Opening Educational Practices Project (OEPS) is collaborating with external partners to develop course creation skills they need to deliver their first free, open online courses.

OEPS explores how OER can support people distanced from education by applying ‘what works’ in widening participation to OER (Cannell et al 2015). Courses are co-created through a participative learning design process focusing on learner needs and context. By contributing their practice-based knowledge partners develop confidence and skills for future initiatives (Macintyre 2015). Existing OER may not suit their context as they create online courses for workforce development and lifelong learning. This became a two way learning process for both partners and OEPS. Moving from focussing purely on learning design to learning through and for doing (Kemmis 2010) we reconceptualise what creating content in partnership means for OER production and practice. In parallel we collaborated to create OER about open educational practices and OER.

While learning through doing we have questioned roles and responsibilities, what existing production processes at The Open University needed amendment and how technologies for OER hosting can support partner and learner needs.

This presentation will share experiences of partnership collaboration and models for OER production emerging from this collaborative process which may be adapted by others. It will also show impact evaluation of OER created including the OEPS course and how methods of OER creation have evolved as a result.

The abstract and extended narrative can be downloaded at Opening practice on participatory course production extended narrative

The slides can be viewed below

OEPS poster at OE Global Conference 2017

OEPS poster at OEGlobal CC BY

OEPS poster at OEGlobal CC BY

As explained in our post on International Women’s Day on 8 March, OEPS is presenting a poster and a presentation during this year’s Open Education Global Conference which is taking place in Cape Town from 8 – 10 March.

Today, 9 March, is the poster session with the OEPS poster covering the highlights of the Open Educational Practice case studies we’ve been gathering as part of this project.

The poster abstract is below:

The Opening Educational Practices in Scotland (OEPS) project, funded by the Scottish Funding Council for 3 years, aims “to enhance Scotland’s reputation and capacity for developing publicly available and licenced online materials, supported by high quality pedagogy and learning technology” (https://oepscotland.org/).  This means increasing the capacity of the Scottish sector to develop and use free open online content.

On the OEPS hub website (www.oeps.ac.uk) the project has been compiling a growing repository of case studies illustrating open educational practice in different contexts.  The case studies are real life examples of open education as practiced by different individuals in education and in the third sector, they explore widening participation, learning in the workplace, OER in schools, OER as a tool for enabling cultural and policy change, student support and the process of building OER in partnership.  OEPS has been working with partners both within and outside the academy to create open educational resources.  Some partners are using the OER they create as routes for continuing professional development of workforce, others are using them as an additional tool for teaching post graduate students specific topics within their field while others are using them for lifelong learning.  Some of these OER creation partnerships have become case studies to illustrate to those new to OER and OEP how they might utilize OER for their context.

In this poster we plan to highlight the thematic links between the case studies, the OER which OEPS has helped create and what they enable for the partners with whom the project is working to create open educational resources.

The poster PDF can be downloaded at OEPS Poster for OE Global 2017

The presentation is taking place on Friday 10 March and details will be shared in the next post.

International Women’s Day 2017 Be Bold for Change

Last year on International Women’s Day we brought you a roundup of some of the wonderful women in OER. This year we thought we’d keep things a bit closer to home and tell you what OEPS is doing to #BeBoldforChange on gender equality.

In the last year we’ve had the privilege to work with more wonderful women. For example our first OER on Understanding Parkinson’s was led by the Claire Hewitt from Parkinson’s UK. She is now a champion for open education in her organisation and the wider third sector. How to make an open online course was written by the OU Free Learning team lead by Patrina Law with contributions from Anna Page and OEPS; and Becoming an open educator was developed by the OEPS team, lead by Beck Pitt (not to brag but we were pretty pleased when this course received an honourable mention at the recent Open Education Global awards).

We’re proud that three of our team (Anna, Bea and Beck) are at the Open Education Global conference in Cape Town, South Africa on International Women’s Day. The programme there has host of keynote speeches from women. Anna will be presenting a paper on participatory course production in open practice (here’s a sneak peek)

and also has a poster on the OEPS Hub (www.oeps.ac.uk) and good practice case studies. Beck and Bea will also be participating in a number of ways. Follow us on twitter (@OEPScotland) to hear their reflections on open education and gender issues at the conference. They will also be at OER17 conference in early April. This is also showcasing some fantastic keynotes and plenaries with women. Indeed the conference theme ‘The politics of open’ is a rallying cry for gender equality and social justice. Beck, Bea and colleague Martin Weller, will be presenting a paper on the international context of open educational practice as it relates to Scotland; and Anna will be presenting a paper on the development of OpenLearn Create, drawing on the experiences of OEPS co-production of courses hosted on it.

So what will OEPS do to #BeBoldForChange?

  1. We will encourage more girls into STEM education and careers. We are working with the Equality Challenge Unit to produce an open educational resource (OER) that will support the development of STEM capital in education. This course is particularly focused on gender equality and how to address conscious and unconscious gender bias. We hope that this will support teachers to challenge gender bias and also to develop STEM capital.
  2. We will continue to promote open education as a means to break down barriers to education, widen participation and to facilitate women’s access to education. For example open educational resources cover a wide range of subjects, and can be accessed at a time and place that suits the learner.

What will you do to #BeBoldForChange?

 

 

 

Newsletter March 2017

The latest edition of the OEPS newsletter is out now! Download a copy here.

oeps-march2017-newsletter_finaloeps_march_newsletter_p2newsletter_march_p3

Learning for Sustainability workshop

[Walk in] Patrick Geddes Steps, Patrick Geddes was an Edinburgh based architect, planner, and early green thinker often cited as the source of the term “Think Global Act Local”.  Image Source, Jones Bob,  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Patrick_Geddes_Steps_-_geograph.org.uk_-_896501.jpg (CC BY-SA 2.0)

[Walk in] Patrick Geddes Steps, Patrick Geddes was an Edinburgh based architect, planner, and early green thinker often cited as the source of the term “Think Global Act Local”.
Image Source, Jones Bob,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Patrick_Geddes_Steps_-_geograph.org.uk_-_896501.jpg (CC BY-SA 2.0)

OEPS and Learning for Sustainability Scotland will be running a workshop on the 3rd of March at the University of Edinburgh. The purpose of this workshop is to explore the role of free open online learning material in supporting the work of Learning for Sustainability (LfS) practitioners in Scotland. The idea of the workshop arose out of a meeting in late 2016 which a range of LfS partners attended.

At the meeting we were all struck by the overlaps in our approaches to educational practice. On the surface there is a view that questions of sustainability and open education are questions about practice itself, and about changing practice. Our sense of educational practice as something social and situated, and then broader sense of values, a commitment to equity and social inclusion informed our both of our approaches at a deeper level.

It is always pleasing to spend an afternoon with people to who share similar questions about educational practice, but in the end one is left wondering – So What?. In this case ‘So What?’ resulted in a Task Group to explore the questions, see the invitation to join the Task Group and the forthcoming event.

During the day we will – very briefly – share some experiences of working with free and open and our thoughts about those overlaps. However, most of the day will be given over to discussion and exploring the opportunities and challenges around free open online learning materials and to support learning for sustainable development

If you are interested in joining the discussion then we look forward to seeing you on the day, here is a link so you can book your place.

Ronald Macintyre