Category Archives: Announcement

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.


From OER to OEP – OEPS at OER17

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’.


Image credit: CC-BY-NC Taro Taylor remixed for OER17

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:

  1. Review examples of OEP in the Scottish context.
  2. Recontextualise these examples and examine them within the international context, through the use of exemplar case studies from around the world.
  3. 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:

Mind the Gap: Structural Holes, Open Educational Practices and the Third Sector [1516]

From OER to OEP – enabling open educational practices via platform development and open course building exemplars [1486]

Exploring international educational practices [1549]

Open Learning Champions – a model for widening participation [1525]


Slides for the presentations are on Slideshare:

Mind the Gap: Structural Holes, Open Educational Practices and the Third Sector

From OER to OEP – enabling  open educational practices via platform developmen and open course building exemplars

Exploring international educational practices


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.

Understanding dyslexia and inclusive practice

Introduction to Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice badge

Introduction to Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice badge

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.

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” (  This means increasing the capacity of the Scottish sector to develop and use free open online content.

On the OEPS hub website ( 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 ( 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?




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, (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, (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


“The Gathering”

“Hands at the Cuevas de las Manos “, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina Image Source: Mariano,, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

“Hands at the Cuevas de las Manos “, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina Image Source: Mariano,, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

OEPS will be attending the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) event “The Gathering” on the 22 and 23 of February 2017 with a stall (near the entrance) and a workshop on the 23 of February at 10 am. Why are we operating in this space, after all OEPS is an HE project isn’t it?  The short answer is many of OEPS key partnerships are with Third Sector organisations, and we have something to share about our experiences. Our starting point was research in widening participation which suggests the most effective way to draw someone distanced from learning into education is through partnerships with organisations they trust – see a recent OEPS post about Barriers to participation in online learning. So, we also have plenty to learn from attending.

Rather than reflect on OEPS interest, perhaps a more interesting thing to consider is why the Third Sector is operating in this space. When we consider the role of the Third Sector, we typically think about their role in filling gaps, the spaces left by the public and private sectors, structural holes often experienced most acutely by the most vulnerable in our society. Exclusion is experienced across a range of axes, and these can layer over and accentuate each other.  Our partners tell us education is one of these, and access to good quality free and open as a resource for educators and learners is vital.

We will share our experience of partnership working and using approaches informed by participatory design to develop approaches to engaging people in the design, production and use of OER. Partners from Parkinson’s UK and Scottish Union Learn will be on hand to share experiences. However, we are also aware our experiences are partial, a snapshot.  The workshop is an opportunity for us to share the issues but also to share the questions and learn together. In particular looking at what a future which assumes education and information is free and open look like for Third Sector organisation and for learners/clients they support.

We still have a few spaces left. You will need to register for “The Gathering”  (which is free) before being able to book the workshop.

We look forward to seeing you at the event.

Ronald Macintyre

Hot off the Press: Three new case studies are go!

We’ve published a number of interesting case studies and best practice examples over the past 6 weeks. To help keep you up-to-date, here’s a quick round up of the latest posts. Explore these and other case studies on

  • Collaborating to build “a city of information literacy, a city of Wikipedia” features Ewan McAndrew, Wikimedian in Residence at The University of Edinburgh. If you’re interested in finding out more about how Wikipedia ensures entries contain “fact checked information”, ideas for using Wikipedia in your teaching or are curious about what an edit-a-thon is you’ve come to the right place!
  • Find out more about how the Social Innovation Academy led by Edinburgh’s People Know How use OER to enable community focused training in partnership with a range of organisations. How did the scheme benefit participants and what’s next for this exciting collaboration?
  • Read more about how students are using Wikibooks to co-create open textbooks and critically engage with their own use of social media platforms as part of The University of Stirling’s Digital Media and Culture module led by lecturer Greg Singh in Using OER to Test Assumptions…  If you’re thinking of using open knowledge platforms in your teaching, don’t miss reading Greg’s advice!

Have you got an idea for a case study or open educational practice you want to feature? Get in touch! We’d love to hear from you. Tweet @BeckPitt and @OEPScotland or email for more information.

Beck Pitt

Picture credits: 

Group brainstorm photo (People Know How: Used with Permission); Greg Singh (used with permission) and Edinburgh Gothic – Wikipedia editathon for Robert Lewis Stevenson Day 09.jpg by Mihaela Bodlovic ( [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons