We are delighted that our ‘Understanding Parkinson’s for health and social care staff‘ open educational resource, created in partnership with Parkinson’s UK Excellence Network, has been shortlisted for the 2017 Scottish Charity Awards in the Demonstrating Digital category of the Awards with winners due to be announced on 22 June.
The nomination also means the course is in the running for the Scottish Charity People’s Choice Award – voted on by members of the public.
Katherine Crawford, Scotland Director at Parkinson’s UK, says: “Parkinson’s UK is thrilled that the judges have recognised our trailblazing Understanding Parkinson’s course. Developed in Scotland, the programme harnesses the power of digital learning to help health and social care professionals provide even better services for people with Parkinson’s in Scotland and throughout the UK.
“The course is free, easy to access and simple to use and already we are seeing around 30 people passing the course each month. Course graduates tell us they plan to improve practice and influence change in their organisations. This will provide better services and improve the lives of the 11,000 people in Scotland – and 127,000 in the UK – with Parkinson’s.
“We’re delighted too that we are in the running for the People’s Choice Award and we call on all our supporters to get behind our bid and vote for us online”
Pete Cannell, Co-Director of the Opening Educational Practices in Scotland (OEPS) project said: “This course and the way it has been developed by Parkinson’s UK is ground-breaking and we’re delighted that has been recognised. Combining their expertise on Parkinson’s with our knowledge of open education and accessible learning to create Understanding Parkinson’s’ increases understanding of the condition and helps people to access relevant and useful information, tips and ideas where and when they want. That others can adopt and adapt the course for free helps it reach an even wider audience and do more good.”
Sign up for the ‘Understanding Parkinson’s for health and social care staff‘ course
The Universities Association for Lifelong Learning (UALL) annual conference was held in York on the 6th and 7th of April. The conference themes highlighted the local, regional and international dimensions of lifelong learning. The introductory plenary by Professor Karen Stanton, Vice Chancellor of York St Johns University, highlighted the challenges that adult education faces. In England, mature HE enrolments have fallen by nearly a third since the introduction of the high fee regime. In Scotland, although the policy environment is different, there has been a steep decline in part-time provision through the college sector and major reductions in the opportunities offered through Community Learning Development. However, Karen noted emerging themes in policy agendas in which lifelong learning is critically important.
The presentations at the conference reflected the conference themes and were clustered into four main areas: Pedagogy, partnership, work based-learning / professional development and outreach. Contributions from Scandinavia on innovative, work-based approaches to professional education were particularly interesting. The OEPS contribution was entitled ‘Creating openly licensed courses for use in workplace and community settings’. In it we looked at the pressures on third-sector organisations with an interest in education and training as a result of the decline in mainstream adult education provision.
In the UK organisations that are not part of the formal education sector play an important role in supporting lifelong learning. Third sector organisations and trade unions are prominent in this activity although public and private employers also play a part. For the third sector the last decade has been a time of significant change, with reductions in funding, changes in role and a need to adapt to new educational demands driven by the rapid increase in the availability and use of digital technology. The OEPS presentation drew on evidence from a large-scale project in Scotland that aimed to increase the use of free and openly licensed online courses by non-traditional learners. It explored the ways in which the third sector is responding to new challenges and looked at the advantages that online learning and openly licensed educational resources have for organisations engaged in promoting online learning. We examined the advantages that online learning and openly licensed educational resources have for such organisations and reflected on the nature and value of educational partnerships that work across the informal/formal boundary and explored examples of where such partnerships extend to the coproduction of new educational materials and educational practice. We then outlined the challenges that such partnerships present and outlined how we had incorporated approaches drawn from participatory design in the Learning Design workshops we have facilitated with partners. We noted that as a result, partners develop insight into the learner context at the same time as challenging deep-seated perceptions and assumptions about appropriate practice and pedagogy.
The UALL 2017 awards winner was also announced at the conference and went to the Brighton based community project ‘The Bevy‘. We were pleased that the OEPS project was runner up and highly commended. This is recognition for all those individuals and organisations which have participated in the multiple strands of the OEPS project and shared practice, ideas and creativity.
by Anna Page (OEPS project)
After spending time at OE Global in Cape Town, 4 weeks later I was attended the first day of OER17 in London, chaired by Josie Fraser and Alek Tarkowski, where I was fortunate to hear two great keynote speakers challenge our perceptions about open education. Maha Bali encouraged us to think about how OER might be viewed in situations where intellectual property of material is less relevant to teachers because of their country curriculum situation or where academic freedoms, taken for granted in many Western democracies, are not available to certain groups of society, particularly women. Or where access to the internet was limited or restricted, depending on ability to pay (access to the internet is never free). She pointed out the inequalities of treatment of internet users with some being more vulnerable to harassment, trolling or surveillance than others. In addition the interpretation of accessibility of materials came under scrutiny. Maha Bali asked the question about whether openly licenced works follow the letter but not the spirit of openness. She asked us to think about which of two options was more openly accessible: the use of complex academic language in an openly licenced article or material written in accessible language but carrying a more restrictive Creative Commons licence, such as no derivatives. She challenged us to think about the model of western funding for third world projects which did not explore the needs of the beneficiaries and impose solutions which subsequently don’t work or influence those seeking funding to conform to western ideas of what should work, without due regard for the cultural and contextual needs of their communities.
Maha opened up her keynote to get live open educational practice stories from the audience, which meant the development of her keynote was not ‘complete’ until she was delivering it as she responded to each story and led into the next prepared idea seamlessly, therefore breaking the accepted view of a lecture being about delivering ideas in one direction of transmission rather than exchange, a demonstration of ‘open educational practice’ in action. She also explored the birth of ideas and intentions (comparing them to seeds) and how they might be nurtured first in private (hidden deep inside) then emerge into the public when they were ready to be shared (make explicit) where nurturing would need to continue by all involved to reap the rewards.
Later, in the second keynote, Diana Arce got us to think about the use of art as a tool for involving people in political activism. She took us through a thought-provoking and lively journey of how art in public spaces is used and interpreted taking into account who commissions it and the location in which it is placed. She showed how audience involvement in its creation was essential to empower people to understand, think and grow, offering them an alternative narrative via open spaces to share art and dialogue. The essential message was “don’t tell people what to think”, use art to help their ideas and contributions emerge. Open projects could use artists as strategists for development of open resources, going to where people are in order to engage them in the act of creation and knowledge building.
After the first keynote at OER17, I attended a panel discussion called Perspectives on Open Education in a World of Brexit & Trump (#trexit), with panellists Maha Bali, Lorna Campbell (from Open Scotland), James Luke and Martin Weller. In addition to the four panellists, there were video recordings from 4 others who contributed real life examples of how these votes which have changed the global political landscape are affecting their academic practice, which the panel then discussed and opened to the floor for comments and questions. It was sobering to see how the laptop ban on flights from certain countries to the US and UK is seriously affecting the progress of a PhD student and had also negatively affected keynote presenter Maha who had travelled from Egypt without her laptop or presentation on a memory stick (she had put it into cloud storage online before travelling). The theme of the conference was very evident in this discussion, and it was clear that ‘Open is always political’.
I also enjoyed the subsequent parallel session which included the OEPS presentation Exploring International Open Educational Practices presented by Beck Pitt, Bea De Los Arcos, and Michelle Reed in which they explored various definitions of OEP, some of the case studies and the emerging framework of open practice based on the research to date. This was followed by Catherine Cronin and Laura Czerniewicz’s Critical pragmatism and critical advocacy: Addressing the challenges of openness which explored how purist definitions of open can be a limitation to open practice, with pragmatism helping to address the challenges. Then Michelle Harrison and Irwin Devries presented Advocating for Open: the role of learning support professionals in changing practice, which reminded us that external online support networks are often the only source of support the lone open educational practitioner might have if their institution doesn’t have a policy or support mechanism for OER, and this has not changed much in the past two years, according to their research.
From my perspective, the key messages which crossed both conferences showed that the awareness of OER, what it is, how it can be used, reused, and created is still in its infancy in many educational organisations, let alone in the third sector and there is much to do to make it and the practices which enable it to become more mainstream. A rallying cry at OE Global was for OER advocates to be more vigorous in actively marketing OER and OEP. This would help to balance the professional HE marketing of their online lectures/open textbooks/MOOCs which often drowns out really good community produced OER which may have better pedagogical value than a series of online video lectures not viewed in their original context. The thorny question of how to measure the impact of OER was also voiced at both conferences, though to a certain extent good practice surrounding this question is explored in Becoming an open educator.
In addition, a strong message was that OER will not be adopted by learners and teachers if it is imposed, only if it is created collaboratively, The OEPS experience of collaborative open course production in partnership is one example of how this can work to the benefit of learners. Widening participation continues to be a strong theme of the OEPS project and will be discussed at the forthcoming Porous University seminar in May 2017. In both the OE Global and OER17 presentations I shared the questions we consider when we reflect on partnerships using open education: “if partners are looking to OER development as a way to fill structural holes in individual learning journeys, what are the implications for formal learning providers with a focus on widening participation? Does this mean that formal providers would have less of a role in widening participation if external organisations fill these holes or, more constructively, can formal providers see this as an opportunity to work more closely with external organisations to enhance their formal curriculum? By using OER created as a bridge to formal learning, learners can be provided with qualifications which directly relate to their career and lifelong learning opportunities?” (OEPS presentation extended narrative for OE Global 2017).
In a world of #trexit and austerity budgets which are reducing public services including education, it is all the more vital for HE, FE and third sector organisations to work in collaboration to ensure that a good education is open to as many people as possible.
Image credits: Josie Fraser and Alek Tarkowski welcome us to OER17, Beck Pitt presenting for OEPS at OER by Anna Page and licensed CC BY 2.0. Maha Bali and Diana Arce images by Josie Fraser for OER17.
by Anna Page (OEPS project)
Attending a Higher Education conference is always unique to each person. There is always a lot going on and with presentations scheduled in parallel sessions it is impossible to attend everything or talk to everyone. This year OEPS had a poster and a presentation at OE Global which for the first time was held in Cape Town and then a few weeks later had several presentations at OER17 in London. These are my reflections of attending both conferences.
I was fortunate enough to present a poster and presentation for OEPS at the 3 day OE Global conference, hosted by the University of Cape Town and chaired by Dr Glenda Cox, in the mother city of South Africa. The conference was held in the city based international conference centre, rather than on campus which sits on the lower slopes of Devil’s Peak. OE Global is organised by the Open Education Consortium and has always been in the ‘global north’ so it was good that the open education researchers in the ‘global south’ were given the opportunity to host it and challenge ‘global north’ perspectives about open educational resources (OER) and open educational practice. I had not attended OE Global before so it was an enormous privilege to travel such a great distance to present on behalf of OEPS in the city of my birth. Everyone I spoke with at the conference was very engaged in open education and how it might be used to improve the educational opportunities of a wider group of learners.
There was significant representation at OE Global by two overlapping groups – the ROER4D project, convened by UCT and the GO-GN researchers, convened by the OERHub based at The Open University. I attended several presentations by people from these groups, including a discussion about making use of MOOCs at UCT and another about understanding lecturer’s adoption of OER at three South African universities, postgraduate students as OER capacitators and exploring open educational practices of first year students at a SA university. I was interested in collaborative practices, so attended a presentation on teacher collaboration and practice (by Melissa King of BRIDGE, an NGO) which also explored the thorny question of measuring impact of OERs and one about teacher professional learning communities in India (this was a ROER4D sub project).
I was fascinated by the experience of an OER creation novice, Professor Jasmine Roberts from the USA, who discussed the impact of authoring OER on student engagement, learning and retention when she authored an open textbook for her students because the existing textbooks didn’t cover what they needed for their class. Early in her presentation she identified key reasons why more teachers are not using or creating OER: This is the same issue that Josie Fraser and others discussed at the OEPS forum 4 last year and is a challenge common to both ‘global north’ and ‘global south’ educators. Some of us in the session were able to point Jasmine to online resources which offer such advice and support, such as OEPS Becoming an open educator and How to make an open online course OERs on OpenLearn Create. However it was also clear from her experience that supportive open educational practice networks to help with answering specific questions about OER creation can help give OER creation novices the confidence to make a good start or to avoid some of the pitfalls along the way. It was encouraging to learn that the open textbook she offered her learners for free was well received, proved accessible to the learners and had a positive impact on their learning and enjoyment of the class.
The issues about making the work of researchers in the global south more visible and discoverable was explored by a presentation about the ROER4D curation and dissemination strategy. This strategy aims to make content open by default when it is legally and ethically possible to do so, especially if this increases its value to learning. I liked the fact that in the reasons why it was necessary to have such a strategy, all the arguments for good academic practice were cited as also good open educational practice. This was approached in a way to make it attractive to an academic to implement.
The poster sessions were in the coffee breaks and I was able to discuss the poster with several people as well as hand out OEPS leaflets, stickers and OpenLearn pens!
My presentation was on the last day in the final session before the closing plenary. It was encouraging to have an interested audience and some good questions about what OEPS has been doing with opening up practice on participatory course production. Beck Pitt, OEPS Researcher, live broadcast the presentation via Twitter Periscope.
After the closing plenary panel it was time for goodbyes as everyone dispersed back around the globe after taking in some of the sights of Cape Town.
Part 2 covers OER17 in London and my reflections on comparing the themes of the two conferences.
— Beck Pitt (@BeckPitt) March 10, 2017
Image credits: Cape Town Convention Centre, OE Global Gala Dinner, View of Table Mountain and Lions Head and Anna by the OEPS Poster by Beck Pitt and licensed CC BY 2.0.
Following hot on the heels of the OE Global conference in Cape Town is the OER17 conference in London. This year the conference theme is ‘The Politics of Open’.
OEPS has two presentations in the same parallel session period in different rooms. One is by Ronald Macintyre and Pete Cannell (presented by Ronald) called ‘Mind the Gap: Structural Holes, Open Educational Practices and the Third Sector’. The other OEPS by Anna Page is called ‘From OER to OEP – enabling open educational practices via platform development and open course building exemplars’. OEPS researchers, Beck and Bea are also presenting on Wednesday in a later session. They are presenting on ‘Exploring international open educational practices’. There is also a presentation from Gill Ryan from the Open University in Scotland (where OEPS is hosted). Her presentation is called ‘Open Learning Champions: a model for widening participation’.
While Ronald will explore the OEPS experiences of working with different partners to develop small badged open courses with third sector organisations and curating learning journeys, Anna will talk about the work OEPS has been doing to further develop the platform on which those courses are being hosted. Specifically, she will focus on the evolution and use of OU Labspace / OpenLearn Works which was relaunched as OpenLearn Create in January 2017 as an online platform for hosting OER by anyone. She will examine the improvements and developments which the OEPS project identified for the platform and collaborative course production. She will also briefly discuss the extent to which collaborative open educational practices promoted by OEPS in these exemplar courses are helping to change cultures in both education and third sector organisations who are exploring OER as a means for wider participation in their subject expertise. Beck and Bea (along with their colleagues from the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University) will examine the meaning of OEP in three stages:
- Review examples of OEP in the Scottish context.
- Recontextualise these examples and examine them within the international context, through the use of exemplar case studies from around the world.
- Present an emerging framework of open practice based on their research to date.
In doing this they aim to further develop a definition of OEP through a systematic analysis of international open practices.
The abstracts for the presentations can be viewed online at the OER17 conference website:
Slides for the presentations are on Slideshare:
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.
Our latest open online course ‘Introduction to Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice’ is now live. The course has been developed by the Dyslexia Toolkit Working Group, led by Frances Ranaldi of Education Scotland, and developed in partnership with the Opening Educational Practices in Scotland project.
‘Dyslexia and inclusive practice’ is the first of three linked courses supporting the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit. The toolkit and the courses will increase support for educators to deliver inclusive education across Scotland.
The course is aimed at teachers, community educators and anyone with an interest in inclusive practice and supports the recommendations of the 2014 Education Scotland Review: ‘Making Sense: Education for Children and Young People with Dyslexia in Scotland’. It also links to the General Teaching Council of Scotland’s professional standards.
We are delighted to launch the course during Open Education Week as it is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the impact of open education on teaching and learning. This course is an example of how free and openly licensed courses are a cost-effective and easily accessible means of disseminating nationwide training on key issues in education. From South Lanarkshire to Shetland, West Lothian to the Western Isles educators will be able to access this course at a time, pace and place that suits them. This substantially increases the opportunities for educators to develop their inclusive practice in education.
As with all our courses if you use, reuse, remix, revise or redistribute it then please let us know as we’d love to know how it’s being used.
For further information about dyslexia see the Dyslexia Scotland website.
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
- The University of Edinburgh are hosting a number of events as part of OE week. Find out more about the use of open educational resources (OER) at their three pop-up events.
- Head on over to the Open.Ed website for a range of guides, resources and information on OER at Edinburgh.
- Read some of the OEPS case studies about the University of Edinburgh’s open practices. These include a look at how they are embedding open practices in Creating a culture of open and a closer look at the benefits of Wikipedia for learning and teaching in Collaborating to build “a city of information literacy, a city of Wikipedia”.
University of Glasgow
- OEPS have developed a number of case studies with University of Glasgow colleagues including Openness at the University of Glasgow which looks at the promise, impact and process of developing MOOC and Open access and flipped learning at Glasgow University focused on educator created open access videos and their role in a flipped learning context.
- And don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for the forthcoming OER Global Determinants of death and dying.
University of Highlands and Islands
- Does your seaweed look weird? If so, you need the open course My seaweed looks weird which was joint produced by UHI, OEPS and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS).
- Read Steering Group member Frank Rennie’s paper OER (open educational resources): e-tips which reports on the impact of two e-textbooks and associated OER produced by educators at UHI.
- Come and explore “openness, space and place” in HE at UHI on 8 and 9 May 2017. The Porous University is now open for submissions and bookings … don’t forget to mark the date and get involved!
University of Strathclyde
- See how OER and MOOC can contribute to widening participation in HE in the case study Joining the dots: Widening participation at the University of Strathclyde.
Open University in Scotland / Open University
- Access the OU’s open educational resources and courses on OpenLearn or learn how to use open courses via the Open Pathways to Higher Education.
- You can also create and host your own open educational resources for free on OpenLearn Create and you can access other organisations’ resources there too, for example NESTA and the Rockefeller Foundation; World Vision Ethiopia and UNICEF; The Social Partnerships Network; TESS-India and TESSA.
- If you want to read more about some of The Open University in Scotland’s open education initiatives read Building confidence: The impact of open course Caring Counts.
- Find out more about the OU in Scotland’s Open Learning Champions event and Open Learning Champions network or even get involved.
Opening Educational Practices in Scotland
- OEPS has co-developed a range of open badged courses including Understanding Parkinson’s with Parkinsons UK and the forthcoming Introduction to Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice with Dyslexia Scotland in partnership with Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit.
- We’ve also produced a number of badged open courses, from Becoming an open educator which looks at how openness could enhance your teaching to How to make an open online course (in conjunction with the OU Free Learning Unit) which guides you through the process of creating this type of OER.
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!