Save the date! OEPS final event

Save the date: 11th September OEPS final event at Dynamic Earth

OEPS final event save the date (by Anna Page, CC BY NC SA 4.0)

‘The promise of open education’ conference is the final event of the OEPS project. It will take place on Monday 11th September in Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh. Further details about the event will be made available soon, however please save the date in your diaries.

Open badges – new developments

I attended the mini conference ‘Open Badges: what, why and how’ at the University of Dundee on 19th June.  Dundee is working with the Universities of Abertay and Aberdeen, under the aegis of the QAA Scotland Transitions Enhancement Theme, to explore the use of Open Badges.  The focus of the project is on transitions from university to employment and the use of badges to recognise employability skills through extra- and co-curricular activity.  The University of Abertay already has some really interesting experience of using this approach with their LLB students. The conference also included presentations from Grainne Hamilton on her work at Digital Me and Doug Belshaw who looked at the future of Open Badges in a talk titled ‘Open Badges in Higher Education: 2.0 infinity and beyond!’.

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Doug Belshaw speaking at Dundee Conference, image by Pete Cannell, CC0

Still on the theme of transitions the Open University’s suite of Badged Open Courses (BOCS) on OpenLearn.  There are now seventeen available.  The majority are concerned with supporting transitions from informal to formal learning.  However, the latest addition to the collection is ‘Succeeding in postgraduate study’ aimed at supporting the transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study. Whilst this free, openly licensed course was written by the OU, it will be of interest to colleagues across Scottish higher education and applicable to any student making the transition to postgraduate study in Scotland. The selection of Badged Open Courses on OpenLearn Create also continues to grow, including the OEPS collection.

Pete Cannell

 

After the Porous University

The Porous University set out to reconceptualise university. Does it need to have boundaries, could those boundaries be porous or even non-existent? What would this look like? Why might this be desirable? Over two day these and many other questions were considered. There are many tweets, Periscopes and other social media from the event on #porousuni sharing emerging ideas.

After the event the discussion and thinking continued across many of the participants’ blogs including:

In addition to the The-Porous-University-Symposium—Provocations, for us some further provocations came to mind:

  • If the promises implicit in OER’s 5Rs are to be realised there needs to be a major shift of focus from technical standards for interoperability to simple practical methods of obtaining content  for use, development of simple tools for remixing and support for sound pedagogical frameworks.
  • Generally speaking HE is failing staff and students by not thinking through the digital literacy skills that are needed in a world or ubiquitous smart devices and openly licensed content.//
  • Open approaches could transform curriculum development but only if there is a rethinking of what kinds of academic labour is valued and what kinds of systems underpin collaboration and sharing.
  • There is a disconnect between the academy and the informal learning sector that requires new models of partnership and engagement.

 

What do you think?

Exploring barriers to participation in open, online learning

The 38th Annual CALRG conference started on 14th June 2017. During the afternoon session OEPS presented ‘Exploring barriers to participation in open, online learning’.  Across the three-years of the project our work with partner organisations has enabled us to develop a deeper understanding of barriers to participation and to consider how the literature on widening participation correlates with that on digital participation, access and literacy.

The presentation shared our learning on these issues including the key barriers to participation identified during our action research:

  • Online platforms that look / feel like a university
  • Vast quantity of information available
  • Perception that online learning means individual learning
  • Past negative experience of online learning
  • Limited digital literacy
  • Distinction formal learning v. everyday self-directed learning

We also explained our participatory design, co-creation process for developing in new open educational resources and presented two case study examples of how we have incorporated these practices and findings into free open courses hosted on OpenLearn Create.  We made suggestions as to why other institutions might find participatory design of open educational resources useful and how the barriers to widening participation in open, online learning might be addressed including through contextualised pedagogy, focusing on learners, using trusted gate keepers / facilitators to engage learners, providing opportunities to share social learning and make connections between existing skills /digital literacy and online learning.

 

The slides for the OEPS presentation can be accessed on Slideshare.

All the presentation slides from the CALRG conference, conference papers and poster presentations are available on the CALRG website.

 

Pic credits:

‘Promise of open education’, by Anna Page, CC BY NC SA 4.0

‘Tackling barriers’, by CALRGatOU

 

Is open and online reconfiguring learner journeys?

Tuesday 6th June marked the first day of the 3rd International Enhancement in Higher Education Conference held in Glasgow. The conference coincides with the final year of QAA Scotland’s ‘Transitions’ enhancement theme. At the Enhancement Themes Conference in 2016 the OEPS team explored the relevance of OER and OEP to educational transitions. This year in our presentation we focussed on the question ‘Is open and online reconfiguring learner journeys?’

We noted that learner journeys may involve transitions from informal or self-directed to formal learning, between sectors and between education and employment. These transitions are negotiated in environments where digital technology is becoming ubiquitous. Organisations that support transitions now believe that supporting the development of digital skills is essential and some are making use of open resources.   Almost all students, young and mature, now arrive in HE with some digital skills – some may have new forms of credential (open badges). These provide a platform for developing digital literacy and the skills appropriate to learning in higher education.

We raised the possibility that as a result it may be necessary to rethink the pedagogy that underpins transitions and concluded with two questions for reflection:

  • Is there a disconnect between pedagogy, practice, student needs and student experience?
  • And if there is what does this imply for supporting widening participation transitions?

et 2017ET Themes by Pete Cannell, CC BY SA 4.0

The slides for the OEPS presentation can be accessed on slideshare.net

All the presentation slides from the Enhancement Themes conference (keynote and parallel), conference papers and poster presentations are available on the Enhancement Themes website.

Pete Cannell

 

 

‘Supporting collective learning’ course launched

The latest OEPS open educational resource (OER) Supporting collective learning in workplace and community settings is now live. The course will support anyone involved in organising informal learning in the workplace or in community settings, for example Union Learning Representatives, support workers, volunteers with third sector organisations or people with similar roles in their workplace or community. The course explores how groups of learners can use free online courses. The course draws on the experiences of the OEPS project in working with a wide range of informal educators in using open educational practices and resources.

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Wordle‘, created by Pete Cannell at wordle.net, licensed as Public Domain CC0

Commenting on the launch of the course, OEPS Co-Director Pete Cannell, said: “We’re delighted to launch this course which pulls together the good practice of many informal educators across Scotland. Open courses like this one enable individuals who can’t access college/university to engage in learning at a time, place and pace that suits them, this in turn widens access to education and if they want, can be a stepping stone to formal education. We’ve openly licensed this course so it can be shared, adapted and rebranded by other organisations such as unions and charities to use in their own ways without copyright restriction which we hope will widen its reach even further.”

What does open mean beyond releasing content? #porousuni

Guest blog by Sheila MacNeill, Senior Lecturer (Digital Learning), Glasgow Caledonian University. Originally published on 5th May on her blog HowSheilaseesIT.

I’m really looking forward to the Porous University Symposium being held at UHI, Inverness next week.  The event is fundamentally an opportunity to create some space to create/extend conversations around open-ness.   There are no formal presentations or papers instead:

the symposium will be structured around a number of short provocations that address specific questions or issues, followed by break-out discussion and opportunities to further explore and synthesise the thinking that emerges.

In the spirit of open-ness here is my provocation. It’s much more about stimulating and continuing an already rich dialogue. Please feel free to add any of your thoughts in the comments and will incorporate them into the discussion, or tweet using #porousuni.

What does open mean beyond releasing content?

This blog post from Alan Levine gives a helpful definition of the differences between porosity and permeability.

when you say porosity it really means just the volumetric measure of open space. If you want a metaphor, maybe this is measure of “openness” in terms of 5Rs.

But when you say permeability you are talking about the ease of moving something through that space, and while the amount of space is a factor, others influence whether that can happen. Specifically that could mean if the spaces are well interconnected, like pathways, like networks? Maybe that is practice or pedagogy?

So in terms of the porous university maybe we need to be focusing on the permeability of people (staff, students, the wider community) and the ways we navigate through university spaces, both physical and digital.

So what does open porosity actually look like in practice? Is it about formal (licensed) open content and infrastructures or is it human processes, practice and connections?

During April there has been quite a wide-ranging debate on the definition of open pedagogy facilitated through the Year of Open. Should it be defined and aligned only to the 5Rs of retain, reuse, revise, remix, redistribute? Does using the term pedagogy actual create more exclusion? Is open practice far more permeable, inclusive and powerful?

In these challenging times open has to mean more than content it has to be building and sustaining open networks and connections. However, is an obsession with licensed content, our academic discourse(s), our research outputs actually narrowing the opportunities for open education outwith the academy?

Recommended viewing/reading.

 

This post was originally published as one of a number of provocations at the Porous University event OEPS co-hosted with the Learning and Teaching Academy, University of Highlands and Islands.

It was published on HowSheilaseesIT under Creative Commons License . It is republished under the same CC BY NC SA licence.

 

Open doesn’t work.

So, that’s the attention-grabbing headline out of the way…

But the evidence is in the numbers. Despite some incredible Open Educational Resources being available, they are simply not used as much as they should; The Open University has enviable retention rates, but only when considered as *distance* education retention rates, far lower than proximate universities; open online courses, the dream of so many liberal practitioners, have some of the poorest retention and success rates of any type of learning and teaching. Ever.

Just making stuff ‘open’ does not work.

It’s not a new argument – being open ensures that only those who are aware, able and capable can actually make use of it. When it is merely open, it is the culmination of a neoliberal wet dream, ensuring a greater filter is placed on social mobility than if explicit characteristics were the determinant. Ironically, the open movement has become a coopted centrepiece of the neoliberal movement – it is possible to claim we are open whilst actively ensuring only some get through.

Conversely, an educational elite utilises ‘open’ to claim scaled benefits through student-centred learning, usually through demonstration and single inspirational examples. It often relies on a techno-progress paradigm of ‘always open’ digital engagement – everyone contributes and is happy to do so leading to amazing things. The technology-as-progress-narrative is heavily utilised and pessimistic voices are not allowed. Normal, ordinary and non-aspirational are not represented here. Again, the open movement is coopted in the construction of this dream.

This provocation claims that the word ‘open’ is the underlying problem – open, on its own, is not enough and never has been.

If open worked, people would be using libraries regularly and successfully.

If open worked, people would be using open courses regularly and successfully.

If open worked, we wouldn’t even be having this ‘conversation’.

And that’s because there is no such thing as ‘open’ in itself. It’s a descriptor and qualifier – a word that describes and changes things it’s attached to. To see that in action go back to the original ideas behind the OU again:

“…to provide education of University and professional standards for its students and to promote the educational well-being of the community generally.”

That was the blank cheque. The vague dream – nothing more. The hard reality required decades of work to ensure both the academic quality as well as the scalability to do what administrators in universities keep forgetting is needed – engage in a form of teaching that allows, promotes and develops learning through personal development.

The model the OU evolved used open as a qualifier – not as a dream or ethical stance. It was a practical, teacher-y thing to do and became known as Supported Open Learning.

In other words, it was realised very early on that open is not enough. You can’t just open doors and say “here’s a bunch of stuff, I’ll be back to subject you to a terrific examination later in your life!”. In fact, simply being open and doing nothing as you allow students fail is arguably worse than being closed (I won’t cite the literature on this because it will make you cry).

Open has to be supported properly because there is not one type of student when you serve a general population. Outside a normal self-selecting university population fraction, a huge range of learning and teaching is required – this is the population for whom normative education is more likely to be less effective.

And that’s before we consider supported open pastoral care, general learning development, additional educational needs, outlying academic communities…

Open education isn’t something that exists in and of itself (except to further the ideologies outlined above).

So I agree with, and give the last word to, @sheilmcn on this: open is something you do.

 

Guest blog by Derek Jones, Lecturer in Design, The Open University.

This post was originally published as one of a number of provocations at the Porous University event OEPS co-hosted with the Learning and Teaching Academy, University of Highlands and Islands.

Newsletter May 2017

Hot off the press! Download a copy of the latest OEPS newsletter.

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Parkinson’s course shortlisted for Scottish Charity Awards

sca-2017-finalist-DemonstratingDigitalWe 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.”

More information:

Vote for ‘Understanding Parkinson’s’ in the Scottish Charity Awards

Sign up for the ‘Understanding Parkinson’s for health and social care staff‘ course

Scottish Charity Awards

Parkinson’s Excellence Network and read their news update on the awards nomination.